Sunday, June 22, 2008

Opposition Leader Pulls out of Zimbabwe Presidential Election


New York Times Financial Times 1 Financial Times 2

After months of violence perpetrated by current Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe and his ruling party, Zanu-PF, Morgan Tsvangirai has announced that he will pull out of the run-off election. Morgan Tsvangirai represented the Movement for Democratic Change (“MDC”) in the March presidential elections and forced a run-off election with President Mugabe set for June 27. However, any hope of changing leadership has been extinguished now that Tsvangirai has exited the run-off election.

Robert Mugabe came into power in Zimbabwe some 28 years ago. Once viewed as a liberator who could do no wrong, Mr. Mugabe has become much more violent and tyrannical during his rule. Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s economy is facing dire times with record inflation and millions of people fleeing the country to go to neighboring countries like South Africa. In the March elections the MDC won big gains in Zimbabwe’s parliament, and had hoped to win the presidential run-off election. Mugabe, however, did anything he could do to stop this from happening.

Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF operatives jailed Morgan Tsvangirai multiple times throughout the campaign season. Zanu-PF also killed over 70 MDC supporters. As the months passed a free election soon became an impossibility. Recently, Mugabe was quoted as saying that “only God who appointed me will remove me from office.”

Many critics are calling for Zimbabwe’s African neighbors to exert pressure on Zimbabwe’s leading party to stop its flagrant human rights violations. However, Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner, South Africa, has done little to persuade Mugabe to change his ways. The United Nations Security Council is set to meet and discuss the situation in Zimbabwe on Monday, June 23. The African Union and the South African Development Community have yet to comment on the elections.

It is unclear as of yet what affect the recent actions by Mugabe will have on Zimbabwe’s standing in the international community, but many believe Zimbabwe’s already shaky reputation will take a hit. Zimbabwe economists and businessmen believe the economy will not be able to withstand the turmoil for much longer. Morgan Tsvangirai’s Presidential bid offered hope to those in Zimbabwe, but in the end the threat of further lives being taken was too great to continue in the race.


How should the African Development Bank react to these human rights violations? Should they continue to offer aid to Zimbabwe? Consider the fact that the World Bank has not given aid to Burma for over 20 years due to its military junta’s brutal regime.

Do you think that South Africa should step up its diplomacy in Zimbabwe? Surely the influx of Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa is putting a strain on the country. Is it time to move from its “quit diplomacy” and start hard talks with Zimbabwe?

1 comment:

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