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What to do about Mugabe

  • 09 January 2008

Towering rage is the only legitimate reaction to the latest outrage in the benighted, despoiled, corrupted, starving, bankrupt nation known as Zimbabwe. The cold blooded killing of an opposition activist, in Highfields, a high density suburb in Harare, and the shooting of mourners at his wake was merely the latest excess of an evil dictatorship.

A similar tale is told by the arrest and bashing to the point of death of opposition leaders at a prayer meeting organised by the Save Zimbabwe Coalition, a group of patriots committed to old fashioned causes such as justice, democracy and the rule of law. Meanwhile, the half-witted talk about such sops as cricket boycotts, and the puffy-chested pursue democracy by landing bombs upon civilians.

Matters came to a head in Zimbabwe on Sunday. Alas, Mugabe and his Mercedes-driving apologists have more heads than hydra. Political gatherings have long since been banned by the dictatorship. Mugabe's crazed isolation has become more marked in recent weeks as doctors and teachers downed tools to protest about low pay. Inflation had passed 1,000% and rifts were reported in Zanu PF, a party consisting of lame ducks whose strength nowadays lies in the rural areas where elections are easier to fix. To retain power and live longer, Mugabe has transformed his supposedly beloved country into a peasant society ruled by a rich elite. Sales of luxury cars are booming even as the economy collapses.

Despite the dictator's control of the airwaves, newspapers, courts and food distribution, and the best efforts of the dreaded, ubiquitous and brutal secret police ( CIO), the struggle for democracy has continued unabated. Although the opposition party split into two factions over the issue of taking part in rigged senate elections, the desire to be rid of the tyrant has not wavered. Human rights lawyers, civil action groups, church leaders, and women's groups have carried on the fight. It has not been easy. Mugabe and his soldiers will stop at nothing to retain power. The snouts are deep in the trough.

Accordingly, the Save Zimbabwe Coalition decided to hold not a political meeting but a prayer meeting in Highfields. Zimbabwe is a religious country full of churches and outstanding schools. Even some Zanu PF leaders feign allegiance to christian ideals. Mugabe has managed to secure the appointment of some tame and bribeable Bishops. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church especially has joined the women and labour unions in their defiance. Indeed the opposition has much in common with Solidarity in Poland, except that it lacks a focal point and a charismatic leader.

Of course the State was not prepared at this dangerous hour to allow a meeting