Zimbabwe: Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai Must Go
On Zimbabwe President-elect Obama should do the unthinkable! He should ask Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Chance (MDC), to go.
Both men are holding Zimbabwe to ransom. A deal for a unity government signed last September is stalled as both men wrangle over the allocation of ministries.
Meanwhile, the so-called international community plays dangerous partisan games. Mugabe is demonized left, centre and right. He is blamed for the stalled unity deal. We are told that he refuses to yield enough power to give substance to Tsvangirai's Prime Minister portfolio.
But Tsvangirai is equally to blame. He has consistently frustrated the unity talks. He has shifted goal posts, offered few concessions and tabled a new set of demands at every turn. He insists on getting all the ministries he wants.
Whose agenda is Tsvangirai advancing? Most EU countries, France and the UK in particular, opposed the unity deal from the beginning. They made it clear they want Tsvangirai installed president on the basis of the inconclusive election of March, 2008. They want no part for Mugabe in the unity goverment.
Now Mugabe must go, former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, revealed last December. The most radical of Mugabe's critics want him dragged to The Hague to face trial for crimes against humanity.
The West's position is counter-productive. The unity deal calls for an interim government led by Mugabe as President and Tsvangirai as Prime Minister. The deal recognizes Mugabe. It requires him and Tsvangirai to work together. Isn't this what Zimbabweans want?
Needless to say, a unity government would heal a country ravaged by poverty, disease and political violence for more than ten years now. A unity government would repeal Zimbabwe's draconian laws, depoliticise the security forces and install institutions to run democratic elections.
But most importantly, a unity government would pave the way for Mugabe's peaceful removal from power.
The international community’s uncompromising "Mugabe must go" position may now actually be the single biggest impediment to finding a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.
First, it trivializes the unity deal, a home-grown product that is also overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Africans.
Second, it elevates Morgan Tsvangirai to the status of Messiah. Buoyed by this status, and the unconditional support that comes with it, Tsvangirai's new strategy is to delay the unity government as long as it takes to bring the Zimbabwe economy to its death bed. He hopes Zimbabweans will eventually implode, confront Mugabe and force him out of power.
Tsvangirai has become part of the Zimbabwe crisis. In fact, he is another Robert Mugabe in democratic disguise. The West's unconditional support puts him exactly where Mugabe was not long ago, when he killed and dined with world leaders.
In the early 1980s, apartheid South Africa sponsored an insurgency in southern Zimbabwe. Mugabe unleashed his ruthless, North Korea-trained 5th Brigade military unit, exterminating 20,000 innocent villagers.
The international community neither intervened nor chastised Mugabe. He was the local conduit through which the US and other global powers pressured the South African Apartheid regime to return to majority, democratic rule.
Of course Mugabe was handily rewarded for his role. In 1984 Scotland's Edinburgh University awarded him an honorary doctorate of law degree. The University of Massachusetts awarded Mugabe the same degree in 1996, with Michigan State University following suit in 1990.
But Queen Elizabeth II made the grandest act of dictator-coddling. In 1994, Mugabe became the Knight Commander of the Order of Bath, knighted by Her Majesty.
The current global campaign for the dictator’s ouster is really born of the hallowed “responsibility to protect” doctrine in international interventionism? Something doesn't add up with this doctrine!
Violence in Zimbabwe killed some 400 people since 1998. A thousand reportedly died of cholera recently. From the same year to date, some 5.4 million died in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A significant number died of non-violent but war-related causes, including: malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition. Amnesty International suggests that 40 000 women were raped in the DRC in the last six years.
Both Zimbabwe and the DRC are perfect examples of the classic "failure of leadership". The DRC situation calls for intervention by the international community to act in defense of the defenseless even more. But hey, the regime in Kinshasa was "democratically elected" while Mugabe stole last March's election.
Better still, Mugabe's violence touched white Zimbabweans while the fatalities in the DRC are all black. Zimbabwe's genocide grabbed global headlines only after the post-1999 killings, which claimed 300 lives. But now these killings included about a dozen white Zimbabweans. The dictator had also started repossessing white-owned farms to give to landless black peasants.
To many silent and silenced Zimbabweans, the international community would not have stirred had Mugabe not killed whites. The call for his ouster is motivated by the desire for vengeance. Tsvangirai is a weapon is this arsenal of revenge.
President-elect Obama must show willingness to listen to Zimbabweans views like this one. The "Mugabe must go" position has been in play since 2000. It brought Mugabe's evil to the forefront of the international community's consciousness but no solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.
If the solution to the Zimbabwe crisis is that someone must go, then both Mugabe and Tsvangirai must go!
Tags: Zimbabwe , Zimbabwe Crisis , Robert Mugabe , Morgan Tsvangirai , Unity Deal , Mugabe Must Go , Poverty , Violence
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