Zimbabwe's political future in turmoil

A quick tour of Zimbabwe's political horizon this week revealed that the softly diplomatic approach by the European Union (EU), the commonwealth and Southern African Development Community (SADC) will not reign in Robert Mugabe's despotic rule.

Mugabe provided blank checks of "political things to do" since September 2001 but then reneges on his promises. He agreed to allow election observers and international journalists cover the historic election. Despite these claims, he pressed on with his usual way of doing things undeterred, confident he is the only one destined to rule Zimbabwe. The EU brandished a threat of target or "smart" sanctions but has not acted. Because of this, Mugabe continues to play political games with commonwealth, EU and SADC leaders because he knows they are toothless bulldogs.

The looming sanctions target property held overseas by Mugabe and his inner circle, rather than affect the ordinary Zimbabwean. The U.S. House of Representatives already passed the Zimbabwe Democracy Bill and Economic Recovery Act, empowering the application of sanctions against Zimbabwe's ruling party leadership.

Driven by the compelling realities of the political scenario in Zimbabwe, Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, pushed for the election of Zimbabwe from the commonwealth. He met a hurdle from some members in the commonwealth action committee who preferred to take a more calibrated approach to Mugabe.

Zimbabwe, a pivotal nation in southern Africa, is in a fast forward mode of economic collapse. Mugabe's heartless war veterans have invaded factories, closed factories and crippled tourism -- a hard earner of foreign currency -- and have flung Zim into an abyss of economic depression. Inflation rose to 112 percent last week and foreign currency is as uncommon as snow in the Sahara Desert. The ripple effect of economic hardships is interminably felt in the whole Southern Africa region.

According to the BBC, financial investigators believe Mugabe and his ZANU. P.F. members used proceeds of 22 years of access to the national treasury to buy houses and other real estate in England, the United States and elsewhere. About $1.6 billion traced by international investigators passed through London and Switzerland financial institutions. A once-praised economic system has been brought to its knees. Instead of attracting foreign investors, Zimbabwe now incurs the dislike of international donors and organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

"The presence of Zimbabwean soldiers in the Congo has provided a perfect conduct for getting money safely away through a maze of middlemen, offshore companies and independent contractors," said John Robertson, a Zimbabwean economist, who has had a fish-in-water view of Zimbabwean economics since 1980.

In the interest of humanity, the EU, Commonwealth, the SADC countries and the United States should impose targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his cohorts. Banning the ZANU. P.F. leadership from globe-trotting around the world will make them feel the pinch. Mugabe and his wife, Grace, shuttle to and from London and New York on shopping sprees. To add salt to a wound, Mugabe commands Air Zimbabwe's six planes (jokingly known as ZANU. P.F. taxi service for quasi-official business) at a few hours notice. Closing that avenue could hurt his henchmen in their comfort zone.

Those children of ZANU. P.F. politicians who are getting education overseas should be sent back to attend college in Zimbabwe. There should be a ban on arms exports to Zimbabwe. The trigger-happy state agents use the arms to kill or maim innocent citizens of Zimbabwe who prowl the streets.

The EU should repackage its position to reflect the worsening political crisis in Zimbabwe. By forcibly stabbing an accusing finger at the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the British government at his campaign rallies, Mugabe demonstrated beyond doubt that he will crush anybody who poses as a stumbling block in his way to power.

He tells the rural people that it is Tsvangirai and the British government that have ruined the Zimbabwe economy, but his basic laws of economics asserted themselves on the Zimbabwean political landscape. This is a trivial pretext meant to hoodwink the Zimbabweans into a world of make-believe.

As you move around Zimbabwe, the physical scars of the political violence in some areas, combined with the emotional scars from beatings received from war veterans, are a testament of Mugabe's despotic leadership. Zimbabweans are less impressed. Mugabe is focusing on the trees of political survival and fails to see the forest of basic economic, emotional and political needs.


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