Mugabe can no longer bank on Africa
- From: not@thisaddress. (Mastic)
- Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 08:48:17 -0500
Your friend Mastic (now out of prison hospital)
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Mugabe can no longer bank on Africa
Monday 26 March 2007
By Justin Muponda
HARARE - Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis has started to
ruffle leaders in the region and in Africa and analysts said cracks were
emerging on their solidarity with President Robert Mugabe, who has been
criticised over a violent crackdown on the opposition.
Mugabe, a veteran of the country's 1970s liberation struggle, has enjoyed
sweeping support on the continent for his anti-Western stance but increasing
turmoil at home which threatens regional stability is worrying African
Zimbabwe has fallen from a model African economy to a country battling an
economic crisis highlighted by the world's highest inflation rate of 1 730
percent, unemployment of more than 80 percent and shortages of foreign
currency, food and fuel.
"There is growing unease about the Zimbabwe situation, in fact I could say
many African leaders are embarrassed by Mugabe's politics," John Makumbe, a
University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer said.
"He can no longer count on full support from his colleagues in Africa,"
added Makumbe, who is a strong critic of Mugabe's rule.
Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 and critics say his
policies, especially the seizing of white commercial farms to give to
blacks, has not only strangled commercial agriculture, but has escalated the
A cunning political fox who has outmaneuvered opponents in the past, Mugabe
is under increasing pressure over the economic crisis, which has increased
tensions and the spectre of political unrest.
Police early this month brutally stopped an opposition prayer rally in
Harare's Highfield township, fearing it could be a springboard for protests
to topple Mugabe from power.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and several opposition and civic group leaders were wounded and
taken to hospital after they were allegedly tortured by police in custody.
The incident sparked international outrage with the United States and
Britain calling for more sanctions against Harare while some African leaders
for the first time criticised Mugabe's conduct.
African Union (AU) president John Kuffor, AU chairman Alpha Konare, Zambian
President Levy Mwanawasa all spoke out against the Zimbabwe government's
heavy-handed tactics against opponents while others who have stood by Mugabe
have quietly expressed frustration with the turn of events in the southern
The government has also threatened a crackdown on Western journalists it
accuses of being part of a propaganda crusade against Mugabe's rule.
"Zimbabwe's problems have not only caused apprehension among Western
countries but I believe, and this is my take on this, that there is growing
frustration within Africa, which has (in the past) shielded Mugabe from the
West," Eldred Masunungure, a leading political commentator said.
"So it is probable and very likely that in future that solidarity they have
accorded Mugabe will break but I do not think to such an extent that he will
be totally isolated. He will feel the pressure," Masunungure added.
Divisions within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) were
brought to the fore last Friday when a planned meeting of its organ on
security and defence was cancelled without explanation.
The meeting was scheduled for the weekend but SADC diplomats in Harare
suggested there was no consensus on how to tackle Mugabe, with others adding
the region is "uneasy over Zimbabwe".
"We are doing what we can but it might not be at the pace which we would
have liked," said a senior diplomat, who spoke on condition he was not
named. "But what we are against is for the West to prescribe how we should
confront the Zimbabwe problem, it will not work like that."
South Africa, which the West has put pressure to use its influence to tackle
its northern neighbour, has continued with its much criticised quiet
diplomacy in the face of the worsening Zimbabwe crisis.
Zimbabwe Vice President Joice Mujuru was in South Africa at the weekend for
talks with her counterpart Phumzile Mlambo-Nqcuka. No details of the meeting
between Mujuru and Mlambo-Nqcuka were available but some media speculated
their discussions centered on the deteriorating crisis in Zimbabwe.
"I think there will be more and more leaders speaking out on Zimbabwe as the
magnitude of our crisis continue to be felt," said Makumbe.
Millions of Zimbabweans have in the past seven years fled the country from
the political and economic chaos and analysts saw a new wave of people
leaving the country for better-paying jobs abroad. - ZimOnline
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