Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Zim opposition leader kidnapped

Bob Mugabe's dictatorship in Zimbabwe is clearly near its end. But as I explained earlier, despotisms are often at their most oppressive at the end. A few weeks ago, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other key opposition figures were nakedly brutalized by Mugabe's thugs and yet another wave of violence against perceived opposition supporters saturated the country.

Even African leaders started to break their long silence about Mugabe's terror. The deputy foreign minister of South Africa, a government who'd been Bob's most sycophantic ally, said Zimbabwe was on the verge of meltdown. He warned that it was now difficult to see how the country could avoid a complete collapse.

Faced with the despots intransigence, Tsvangirai hinted that his Movement for Democratic Change were working with members of the ruling ZANU-PF to orchestrate an exit strategy for Mugabe.

"I'm sure that there is national convergence on such a roadmap being worked out between some of the ruling party members and the MDC," he said.

Western diplomats say that Zanu-PF power-brokers Emmerson Mnangagwa and Solomon Mujuru are both keen to replace Mr Mugabe as the party's candidate next year.

The surprising, if timid, about-face by Mbeki is seen as a sign by many that Pretoria does not want the embarassment of chaos in Zimbabwe in 2010 (to when Mugabe wants to postpone presidential elections), the year in which South Africa will host the prestigious soccer World Cup.

Interestingly, this piece in Foreign Policy magazine's blog cites a report by the International Crisis Group on Zimbabwe. It concludes that European and American sanctions on top officials in the regime (not the whole country) are working. ZANU-PF leaders cite their personal financial situations as motivation for wanting Mugabe out. “We have businesses which we worked hard over years to set up which are collapsing. It is about time we change course”, said a senior politburo member.

But not surprisingly, as Mugabe sees more and more writing on the wall, he ratchets up the violence to preserve his own selfish ownership of the country. Earlier today, his insecurity forces kidnapped opposition leader Tsvangirai, just before he'd been scheduled to give a news conference on the government's increasing war against its own people to the few journalists who are actually able to work in the country.

"Tsvangirai and a number of others we have not been able to identify have been taken by police in a bus. We don't know their whereabouts. We don't know if they have been charged," said an aide to the MDC chief.

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