Mugabe would be laughable, if not so tragic

Oh, for a sign of divine providence in the face of Robert Mugabe’s loony assertion that “only God” can remove him from office.

The man—he can no longer be called a leader—has become ever more unhinged of late, telling a meeting of businessmen in Bulawayo recently that the “MDC will never be allowed to rule this country—never, ever”. He also said: “Only God who appointed me will remove me—not the MDC, not the British.”

If it were not so tragic that opposition members—about 90 at the last count—have been killed by Mugabe’s thugs, his head-in-the-sand attitude would be laughable.

Mugabe’s ravings have all the hallmarks of a madman with his back against the wall. This plays into opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s hands, who this week rightly withdrew from the June 27 run-off election and said there would be no negotiating with Mugabe if he went ahead with his one-man election.

Nevertheless, Zimbabweans streamed to the polls on Friday. Mugabe has said, at this late stage, that he’s willing to negotiate after the poll, but—if his actions in the past are anything to go by—don’t hold your breath.

Mugabe, predictably, has poured scorn on his opponent, with one of his ministers suggesting that Tsvangirai should be out campaigning instead of trying to set conditions for Mugabe.

Remember, the latest election fracas is after years of sustained complaints about Mugabe’s misrule, which, by the way, he still sees fit to blame on others.

One could be forgiven for thinking, listening to the empty rhetoric that Mugabe continues to spout, that there has never been any real or meaningful engagement with his government. What exactly have the Southern African Development Community and President Thabo Mbeki been doing for all these years?

SADC finally sat down this week to discuss the problem, but we have had no word on the nature of its discussions. Mbeki, pointedly, did not attend, saying he had not been invited.

SADC leaders must now issue an extensive statement of disgust at Mugabe’s misrule. Masters of understatement, they noted only this week that the situation was a matter of “grave concern”.

There seems to be nothing any entity can do to bring pressure to bear on Mugabe. Smart sanctions? Cutting the electricity supply? Is that really the best we can come up with?

The time has come to withdraw ambassadors, and expel Mugabe’s. What is the point of constructive engagement when none is forthcoming from Zimbabwe?

There is so much real work to be done in Africa. The distraction of a mad, crackpot demagogue willing to do anything to cling to power can no longer be tolerated.

Jacob Maroga
The Eskom chief still earns more than most South Africans will see in a lifetime, despite his utility’s pahetic power-management record, but at least he had the decency to refuse his annual bonus. No expensive new German car this year, then?
Jo’burg metro police
This week, in a pay protest, Johannesburg metro police barricaded roads, locked in journalists and—worst of all—shot at their South African Police Service colleagues. These are public servants meant to uphold the laws of the country. How did it go so wrong?

Most-read stories
June 22 to 25

1. Zuma: Zimbabwe is out of control
The situation in Zimbabwe is now out of control, African National Congress president Jacob Zuma told a conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

2. Tsvangirai quits violence-plagued election
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew on Sunday from the June 27 presidential run-off election, citing political violence and an unfair poll that would favour President Robert Mugabe.

3. Pressure on UN to act against Mugabe
Zimbabwe’s crisis will move to the UN Security Council on Monday, as the international community contemplates fresh sanctions against Robert Mugabe’s government.

4. Mbeki ‘not invited’ to Zim meeting
Southern African leaders will hold an emergency meeting in Swaziland on Wednesday to discuss the crisis in Zimbabwe but key negotiator President Thabo Mbeki will not attend, officials said.

5. When darkies are dazed, leaders are few
It was one of those cold winter’s nights. Whisky and beer flowed. The music made a better background than the tapestry and the conversation was serious, but not too serious. Then Tango, a friend and one of those who in the old days were called “politically minded”, said: “I am giving up on darkies.”

6. ‘To attack Zuma is to attack the revolution’
“We will kill and die for Jacob Zuma”, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema told a Youth Day rally—prompting a complaint to the Human Rights Commission and the laying of intimidation and contempt of court charges.

7. AU joins chorus of concern over Zim
The African Union on Monday joined a chorus of international concern and dismay over the withdrawal of Zimbabwe’s opposition from a presidential run-off because of severe pre-election violence.

8. Tsvangirai takes refuge in embassy
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has pulled out of a presidential run-off election because of violence, sought refuge overnight in the Dutch embassy, officials of that country said on Monday.

9. Mugabe defies pressure to stop vote
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday defied mounting pressure from both inside and outside Africa to call off Friday’s presidential election, saying he had a legal obligation to go ahead.

10. Zimbabwe is about all of us
The situation in Zimbabwe is disturbing. The crisis is not only affecting the people of Zimbabwe, but is a great concern for all Africans. The recent sad and regrettable events in South Africa clearly underline the linkages and interdependence of our affairs.

Top 10 compiled for a shorter period of time than usual because of the move to the new Mail & Guardian Online in the period considered

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