Sunday, 27 April 2008

Workers trump states

Mugabe’s 28-year grip on Zimbabwe must be loosening significantly if the country’s Electoral Commission can defy him by confirming the loss of his parliamentary majority. The whole idea of the recount was bizarre to start with—it was held even though the three-week-old presidential vote’s results haven’t even been announced yet. Since the recount clearly was arranged to reverse the ZANU-PF electoral defeat, for Commission officials to rise to this level of rebellion suggests that cracks are appearing in the ruling party.

Meanwhile, South African president Mbeki continues to gaze lovingly into Mugabe’s eyes, but his own workers apparently are seeing a bit straighter. South African dock worker unions brilliantly refused to unload a boatload of Chinese weapons headed for the Zimbabwean tyrant in solidarity with the people who would be beaten and slaughtered with them.

That action set off similar resistance in Mozambique and even Angola, where the president of that one-party state met very publicly with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer who is touring Africa to forge an anti-Mugabe coalition. Since the Angolans are historically close allies of Mugabe, that photo-op indicates a tidal wave shift.

Even the British, who as the former colonial power prudently kept their mouths shut in the first few days, are now joining the chorus against Mugabe, apparently in the assumption that he can’t use the old Rhodesia bugaboo to shore up his position.

It’s a pity that an American government led by the Republicans, the party that longest stood shoulder to shoulder with the old apartheid regime, should now be the taking the lead to end one of Africa’s worst nightmares, rather than the liberated South Africa of Nelson Mandela. But at least the people are having something to say, too.

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