Zimbabwe on the brink

DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has an op-ed in today’s Guardian in which he predicts that President Robert Mugabe is about to bring the hammer down to maintain power after last week’s election, the results of which have still not been released: Adept at stealing elections from the hands of voters, Mugabe ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
595612_080407_mugabe2.jpg
595612_080407_mugabe2.jpg

DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has an op-ed in today's Guardian in which he predicts that President Robert Mugabe is about to bring the hammer down to maintain power after last week's election, the results of which have still not been released:

Adept at stealing elections from the hands of voters, Mugabe is now amassing government troops; blocking court proceedings where we have attempted to seek an order simply for the electoral commission to release the final tally of the March 29 poll; raiding the offices of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); and casting a pall of suppression and gloom over the country. The feared militias, made up of misguided activists and the same war veterans who pushed for and benefited from the disastrous land confiscations from the late 1990s, are being mobilised. This can only mean, despite some earlier evidence to the contrary, that sanity has been discarded along with truth in the offices of Zanu-PF.

DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images

Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has an op-ed in today’s Guardian in which he predicts that President Robert Mugabe is about to bring the hammer down to maintain power after last week’s election, the results of which have still not been released:

Adept at stealing elections from the hands of voters, Mugabe is now amassing government troops; blocking court proceedings where we have attempted to seek an order simply for the electoral commission to release the final tally of the March 29 poll; raiding the offices of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); and casting a pall of suppression and gloom over the country. The feared militias, made up of misguided activists and the same war veterans who pushed for and benefited from the disastrous land confiscations from the late 1990s, are being mobilised. This can only mean, despite some earlier evidence to the contrary, that sanity has been discarded along with truth in the offices of Zanu-PF.

Tsvangirai goes on to promise Mugabe that he need not fear prosecution if he steps down.

Mugabe, predictably, is going back to one of his favorite tactics by raiding the country’s few remaining white-owned farms and accusing white farmers of trying to regain their lost property amid the election chaos:

“Land must remain in our hands. The land is ours, it must not be allowed to slip back into the hands of whites,” President Mugabe told a crowd gathered at a funeral of his wife’s uncle.

Stoking racial tensions has worked for Mugabe in past times of crisis, but the fact that election results have still not been released and he is accusing his own handpicked election commission of “errors and miscalculations” is probably a sign that Mugabe did much worse than expected. Mugabe’s “father of the nation” routine is going to be harder to pull off this time. Short of resorting to brute force on a massive scale, it’s hard to see how he gets out of this one.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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