When Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF gang were wobbling a week ago after their surprise defeat in what were to be successfully rigged elections, a little push might have led to the peaceful collapse of one of the world’s most disgusting regimes. The key individual at that crucial and all-too-brief moment was South African president Thabo Mbeki. Twelve million people needed him to pull the plug on the guy who had looted their country and thrown them to the dogs.
Instead, Mbeki went to the mat to save Mugabe’s hide. As African heads of state gathered in neighboring Zambia to pressure for the election results to be honored (starting with an announcement of what they were, two weeks after the fact), Mbeki first flew to Harare to meet Mugabe and announce that a ‘natural process’ was under way and that there was ‘no crisis’ in the country, thus delivering a huge boost to the shaky dictator.
No crisis. I suppose one’s perspective on that would depend on whether you’ve had a square meal in the last couple of years.
The latest news reports from British papers suggest that Mugabe is lining up his thugs to rerun the elections and rig them better this time, intimidating the defenseless citizens with deadly attacks on villages that dared to support the opposition. Recent event in Kenya have shown how quickly these tactics can spiral out of control and lead to a real bloodbath.
If that happens, it will be interesting to see if Mr Mbeki spins that as another ‘natural process’ or something regrettably unnatural for which he, of course, bears no responsibility.