Skip to comments.Mugabe election call - fresh trouble for Zimbabwe in 2011?
Posted on 12/12/2010 10:30:19 PM PST by vikingd00d
Harare - Zimbabwe's autocratic president, Robert Mugabe, is determined to hold elections by June. With his Zanu (PF) party in shambles, and opinion polls suggesting a drubbing, one might be forgiven for thinking the elder statesman was beginning to lose it.
The country has been ruled for the past 19 months by a coalition government involving the 86-year-old president and pro-democracy leader Morgan Tsvangirai. The atmosphere between the two is so brittle they have not spoken to each other in months.
'We don't look each other in the eye,' Tsvangirai said recently.
Mugabe has said he has no more use for the power-sharing administration, that it would be dissolved next year and that presidential and parliamentary elections would be held.
And yet, an election could hardly come at a worse time for him. The Zanu (PF) hierarchy has admitted that the party's structures are 'shambolic.' People in rural areas, where the bulk of his traditional support is found, report that local Zanu(PF) committees, which once ran their lives, have disappeared.
A survey published in August by the reputable Harare-based Mass Public Opinion Survey Institute said that, if a presidential election were called, Tsvangirai would win 57 per cent of the national vote, while Mugabe would get just 10 per cent.
The reasons could hardly be more obvious. Until the inauguration of the coalition government, in February 2009, the country had been dragged through economic ruin, violence and mayhem as Mugabe fought off attempts at change.
Since February 2009, Harare's municipal workers have been collecting household garbage and filling potholes. National mobile phone coverage has soared, from 11 per cent to 55 per cent of the population.
Beyond that, the economy has begun to grow after eight years of a cumulative 40 percent drop in gross domestic product (GDP), with GDP now forecast to hit 9 per cent in 2011. Hospitals shut in 2008 have reopened. The ratio of schoolbooks to pupils is increasing dramatically.
Zimbabweans know this is no coincidence.
'The reason is because the MDC is now in the government,' said Tonderai Chakubva, a corporal in the army. 'Mugabe has been in power for 30 years and all he has done is ruin the country.'
But even if most indicators of the electoral mood appear to be against Mugabe, that is unlikely to trouble him. Five of the six elections held since 2000, when he began to face real opposition for the first time since gaining power, took place amid fraud and violence.
Commenting last month on Zanu (PF)'s defeat in the country's only peaceful elections, held in March 2008, Mugabe's defence minister, Emmerson Munangagwa, told voters: 'In the last elections you voted for the wrong party. If you don't vote for us in the next election, we will rule, even if you don't want.'
The Zanu (PF) has already started deploying its violent militia in rural areas to re-establish previous patterns of brutal intimidation. Last week, non-governmental organizations said Zanu (PF) was also taking control of famine relief deliveries.
Meanwhile, the private sector has been voicing alarm about Mugabe's populist programme of economic 'indigenization' - which forces foreign and white-owned companies with assets of more than 500,000 dollars to give up 51 per cent of their shares to black Zimbabweans.
'Take what is yours,' Mugabe says. Many believe his cronies are already positioning themselves to grab the richest pickings once the law comes into effect.
'The country has advanced significantly since early 2009,' said a Western diplomat. 'It's pulled out of the misery of the previous year because there are new partners in government who seem to have an idea on how to run a country.
'But Mugabe is perfectly happy to throw all that out and drag the country back to what it was just to stay in power.'
Satan sure wants him alive.
He unites them in their hate. Kill the white people.
we need to relocate un hq to harare for the best for the un, zimbabwe and the us
This might be us in 2012.
Reminds mw of the Rev Wright.
Speaking of Zimbabwe, whatever happened to Cathy Buckle, who used to write about life there? Somebody used to post her stuff here on FR.
She still blogs, latest from Dec 11: http://www.cathybuckle.com/