December 08, 2008

Anyone interested in "saving" Zimbabwe?

With an inflation of 11,200,000 %, a severe cholera outbreak, a life expectancy of 44 years for men and 43 for women, the situation in Zimbabwe could hardly be worse. Robert Mugabe was a political prisoner in the 60's who later became the first black leader of Zimbabwe. But now, he is no longer seen as the liberator who fought for his people. He has remained in power since 1980, heading a totalitarian regime in which the opposition has been oppressed, most of the media has been under control of the government, and with a severe health crisis. Some figures show that more than 1.6 million people live with AIDS in the country.

In March 2008, Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential election, but managed to win the second round, as his main challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, retired from the race alleging an unfair competition. Tsvangirai's supporters were heavily pressured by governmental forces, and the election was qualified as unfair by different observers. Something must be done immediately to stop Mugabe to continue ruining the people of Zimbabwe.

After the cholera outbreak international leaders have increased their pressure on Mugabe's regime, but the question is, who will take the lead in directing an international force to quit Mugabe (if that would eventually happen) and let the Zimbabwean people freely elect their political leadership. The issue is very delicate, as interventionism is a very dangerous resource that very few actors will be willing to take, specially after the disastrous American invasion of Iraq. South Africa's political situation is delicate now, as few weeks ago president Mbeki resigned over allegations of corruption, so that country is not in a condition to lead a force to solve Zimbabwe's crisis. UK's Gordon Brown has said that "enough is enough" on the issue of Zimbabwe, but its not clear to which extent his government could intervene. In the case of the US, the transition and the focus that the Obama administration will have to solve the mess on Iraq and Afghanistan will also make it dificult to direct such an international force, although Hillary Clinton could adopt the issue as her first duty as the top US diplomat.
So while someone decides to do something, the Zimbabwean people continue suffering, and dying.

No comments: