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Zimbabwe media: We’ll have none of this Egypt stuff here

Over the last few days we’ve been covering how democratic protesters in countries ranging from Yemen to Russia are trying to invoke the events in Egypt and Tunisia to bolster their cause. But Robert Mugabe’s government seems to be trying to pre-empt such a movement before it even forms:  State radio, which is controlled by ...

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Over the last few days we’ve been covering how democratic protesters in countries ranging from Yemen to Russia are trying to invoke the events in Egypt and Tunisia to bolster their cause. But Robert Mugabe’s government seems to be trying to pre-empt such a movement before it even forms: 

State radio, which is controlled by Mugabe loyalists, said Thursday that Tsvangirai — the former opposition leader — intended to incite his supporters to hold a mass uprising against three decades of authoritarian rule by Mugabe.

The state broadcaster cited recent remarks by Tsvangirai to the U.S.-run Fox News in which he defended mass protests in Tunisia and Egypt and allegedly implied he supported similar action in Zimbabwe. It claimed Tsvangirai was planning an uprising "against himself" as he had taken vows to join the government when a power-sharing coalition was formed in 2009.

Supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party were reportedly attacked by pro-Mugabe mobs throwing stones in Harare this week. For the record, here’s what Tsvangirai actually told Fox News during an interview conducted at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week: 

Amy Kellogg: What do you think of events in Egypt and Tunisia, and how do they relate to Zimbabwe?

Prime Minster Morgan Tsvangirai: There are two issues. One is the general resentment of autocratic regimes, the manner in which these governments have stayed in power forever and ever. I think people resent that, naturally. But there is also another aspect which I have pointed out in the last interview. The aspect of incumbents leaving power to their children, dynasties, as we may call it. That is very resented by the people. 

So it’s like a spring. The more pressure you put on a spring, the more it will bounce. 

I think what we are witnessing here is a general suppression of the people. People are demanding more freedoms and there is nothing wrong with that.

AK: Could that happen in Zimbabwe and is President Mugabe nervous?

MT: To me, when people take their rights, and start demanding more rights, there is nothing wrong with that, including in Zimbabwe. That was the whole purpose of our struggle for the last 10 years

It certainly doesn’t sound like Tsvangirai’s calling for a revolution. Generally speaking, he’s preferred to work within the system, even to the point of joining the same government that has imprisoned and tortured him and his supporters. Is it really a good idea for the Zimbabwean state media to be making the Egypt association for him? 

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