Mugabe and the rest of Africa/ Mugabe et le reste de l’Afrique

Voici un article de Tawanda Mutasah (directeur exécutif de l’Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa) qui nous indique que les chefs d’États africains commencent à confronter Mugabe qui semble s’être tirer dans le pied en ayant voulu persécuter l’opposition. Cette dernière, sous l’initiative de la centrale syndicale ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions), a déclencher un mouvement de grève générale qui n’a malheureusement pas été suivi partout (lien en anglais). Il faut comprendre que la présence policière a été forte. D’ailleurs, le travail des journalistes devient de plus en plus difficile. The Independent nous annonce même la mort d’Edward Chikombo, un caméraman de la chaîne nationale ZBC, qui a été assassiné.

Here is an article by Tawanda Mutasah (executive director of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa) who tells us that leaders from African states start confronting Mugabe, which seems to have shot himself in the foot by persecuting the opposition. The opposition, under the initiative of the ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Unions), started a general strike movement that unfortunately wasn’t followed everywhere. But we have to understand that the police presence was strong. The journalists’ work has become difficult and the Independent even tells us that Edward Chikombo, a cameraman for the state broadcaster ZBC, was assassinated.


When the leaders of other Southern African countries met Robert Mugabe last week in Tanzania, they talked tough behind closed doors – telling him to stop his regime’s brutal oppression of dissidents and the slow starvation of his people. But in a troubling public gesture, the same leaders called for the removal of “all forms of sanctions against Zimbabwe.”

In fact, the sanctions on travel for Mugabe and his henchmen are one form of pressure that has actually been successful.

Why should Mugabe be able to “bash” his people – in his own words – and then leave them without electricity and water while he commandeers the national airline to go to London and shop at Harrods? Before the current travel restrictions, he was famous for doing just that.

For a decade, Mugabe has shored up his regime by violent suppression of pro-democracy movements at home, coupled with Africanist appeals for legitimacy abroad. But in the aftermath of shocking attacks this month on opposition leaders, his position looks increasingly precarious.

It is increasingly unclear whether Mugabe is fully in control in Zimbabwe. The current crackdown defies even the perverted logic of self-preservation.

Why would Mugabe shoot himself in the foot by ordering mass arrests of activists and passers-by alike in the vicinity of the Harare headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change? The arrest of the movement’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the abduction and torture of prodemocracy organizers have fueled outrage.

It is possible that the government has already started to disintegrate, and Mugabe – though he would not admit it – has lost control of the security apparatus of his party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, or Zanu-PF.

Human rights defenders in Africa worry that Mugabe may continue to hide behind African regional mechanisms while he destroys Zimbabwe. Many leaders in our region have been reluctant to reject Mugabe’s attempts to use his Africanist credentials to shield himself from criticism – as when he questioned the “Africanness” of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights after it criticized abuses in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe and his inner circle have consistently tried to pull the wool over the eyes of their African neighbors, using a combination of diversionary theatrics, and poker-faced lies – such as the 13-page document recently issued to African embassies that claims that Tsvangirai was “at no time” assaulted while in police custody, despite the photographs of his wounds that appeared in newspapers worldwide.

Some African leaders have taken encouraging steps in recent weeks. In addition to the Southern Africa Development Community meeting in Tanzania to discuss Zimbabwe’s crisis, the African Union’s chairman, John Kufuor, and commission head, Alpha Konare, raised concerns about human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. South Africa finally expressed its discomfort over events; and Zambia’s president, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, called Zimbabwe a “sinking Titanic.”

In the face of the Mugabe regime’s dissembling, African leaders must be crystal clear in their demands. First, they must insist that Zimbabwe adhere to democratic standards – and the African treaties that Zimbabwe has signed.

Second, African leaders must hold Mugabe accountable to an immediate process to end his country’s crisis. This should include, in the year remaining before Zimbabwe’s next presidential elections, a credible road map for a democratic constitution, an immediate restoration of the rule of law, a framework for free and fair elections under international supervision and transitional guarantees of non-partisan control of key state institutions such as the army an the police.

African leaders must overcome their reluctance to criticize one of their own. In the face of the disaster in Zimbabwe, we should all be speaking up.