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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Mugabe: the endgame

It's the endgame for Mugabe.

He may have been asleep at the wheel for years, ruling Zimbabwe via syphilitic spite and paranoid oppression as it collapsed into a downward spiral of economic and social disaster.

But no one's prepared to tell him to leave just yet.

Strange to think that this year, these few weeks actually, will have accounted for the passing of Ian Paisley, Bertie Ahern and Robert Mugabe. Historians will have fun making sense of that list in years to come.

At this point, of course, Mugabe, the great survivor, has outlasted the Irishmen. While the Western media, briefed by the MDC, are announcing that Zanu-PF have lost the parliamentary elections and Mugabe the presidency, it's worth looking at what the Zimbabwean media are saying.

They're saying
it's a hung parliament and that the presidency will require a re-run, as neither candidate surpassed 50% of the vote.

Of course the Herald is a government-run mouthpiece for Zanu. We know this. But that's why it is informative at this time when we're being informed of MDC victory by breathless foreign correspondents who are actually in Johannesburg and nowhere near the ground.

It's very likely what the MDC are saying is correct. It's most probable they did win both elections. It's certainly likely that Zanu sought to rig the results.

But if Zanu had really rigged the results, as they have done in the past, we wouldn't still be at this political impasse in Zimbabwe.

So what is really happening on the ground? What can we understand by this long, drawn out count, by these gnomic reports of ties from the government media?

Simply this: Zanu wants power-sharing in government, and none of them have the balls to tell Mugabe he's lost. They want a second ballot to confirm it categorically, but only after they have obtained concessions from Tsvangirai.

What concessions? The ones he has already offered. No witch hunts. No prosecutions. National unity.

And if they don't get them? Well, there's always force of arms.

But there is not the appetite for a civil war on any side. The country is too beleaguered, too ravaged by hyperinflation, unemployment, the collapse of the farming and tourism industries, by the madman's stubbornness.

Once he's gone, things can get better. Zanu are happy to dispense with him in order to have a say in restoring this beautiful land to something like its former prosperity.

It's just that no one yet has the balls to tell him he's got to go.

Previously: Everyone waits for the madman to die

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