Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

Not yet Uhuru for Zimbabwe

Posted by CM on April 2, 2007

Are things at a “tipping point” for Zimbabwe’s defiant but embattled Robert Mugabe? This question has been asked repeatedly in the last few weeks. Most who have attempted to answer this question have given some variation of “yes.”

But whether the violence of the last few weeks represents a watershed in the country’s politics will only really become clear in hindsight, perhaps years after major change has taken place, whatever form it may take. The feelings against Mugabe are so strong in many quarters at home and abroad that many are too eager to believe that some ill-defined “tipping point” has been reached.

Certainly the last few week’s shocking events are seminal in Zimbabwe’s deterioration over the last several years. Just when we think things cannot get any worse politically or economically, like clock work they have. So I don’t question that we will always look back at this period as a particularly big step on the way down. Whether it can be seen positively in the sense that the sooner we hit bottom, the faster we can start climbing back up, I am not at all sure.

Western commentators and journalists, particularly of the British variety, are simply generally too blind in their enraged hate of Mugabe to ask and answer the “tipping point” question dispassionately. Many of us Zimbabweans may also be too desperately eager for change to look at this neutrally.

Here is an analysis from Siphamandla Zondi with the Institute for Global Change in South Africa : “My view is that it is just another level in the continuing deterioration of the situation in Zimbabwe that started as far back as the beginning of the 1990’s when you had massive student uprisings and workers picketing all over the place…so I see this as just a logical step in the continued consolidation of state power and the use of state
power to stifle opposition and discontent. Just another symptom of a state that feels pushed into a corner. That is frustrated. That is in panic. That treats everything as some kind of a political ploy from some big brother somewhere,” he says.

Is the opposition a true threat to President Mugabe? Zondi says, “We have to accept that it is not yet the tipping point. It’s not yet the beginning of a collapse, the beginning of a crisis. It’s certain not so for a number of reasons. One is that the ruling party is still well entrenched in Zimbabwe politics…and is assisted by the failure, dismal failure of the opposition to build its base and use it to launch an alternative in Zimbabwe.”

He says that external pressure won’t work on Mugabe until there’s a strong, united opposition that can challenge the ruling ZANU-PF party in rural areas and in ZANU-PF strongholds. That opposition needs the support of SADC, the Southern African Development Community.

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Probably not what many of us want to hear, but it is hard to fault the man’s logic.

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