With Low Turnout, Zimbaweans May Be Voting to End Mugabe’s Reign
That appears to be what’s happening today in Zimbabwe. Violent intimidation by strongman president Robert Mugabe toward the supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai caused the insurgent candidate to withdraw from today’s runoff election several days ago.
Besides wanting to protect his supporters from increasing violence, Tsvangirai’s motivation appeared to be force the international community, particularly leaders of other southern African nations, to repudiate the legitimacy of today’s balloting. For years, the fellowship of African leaders have looked the other way as Mugabe not only spectacularly mismanaged Zimbabwe’s economy, but also terrorized its people, intimidating those who would even consider voting for opponents.
Some African leaders have spoken out against Mugabe’s scare tactics in recent days. But, disappointingly, the African National Congress (ANC), ruling party in South Africa, has basically supported this sham election. South Africa is the most important power in that region of Africa and, in spite of the evidence, may, by its support, give Mugabe’s thuggery a patina of legitimacy it doesn’t deserve.
But so far, turnout in Zimbabwe is low. That may give wise members of the international community sufficient cover for saying what the Zimbabweans are today obviously saying: The government of Mugabe is illegitimate.
It will be of little importance for Britain or the United States to make such statements, or even the United Nations. Britain is Mugabe’s favorite straw man, the one-time colonial power he constantly claims wants to re-take Zimbabwe. The US is portrayed as a colonial apologist. The UN is composed of many nations Mugabe might readily dismiss.
But if South Africa and other African countries, who have for decades legitimated Mugabe’s dysfunctional and violent reign of error, were to refuse to accept the results of today’s Zimbabwean runoff, it might be the beginning of the end for Mugabe and the start of a new beginning for Zimbabwe.
The people of Zimbabwe, by not voting, appear to be voting. They want Robert Mugabe to leave the presidency. The international community ought to recognize what they’re telling us.
[This has been crossposted at my personal blog.]