Tina K. Russell

July 2, 2008

And those wounds were caused by… whom?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 3:28 am

African Union Calls for Settlement in Zimbabwe – NYTimes.com
The African Union on Tuesday urged the creation of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe to heal the nation’s deep political wounds after President Robert Mugabe’s triumph in a one-candidate runoff election widely condemned as a sham.

I’m too sleepy right now to write much, but I will say that I don’t think a Kenya-style unity government is the right option for this particular crisis. Remember, part of the reason it happened in Kenya was that we needed a solution–any solution–to stop the violence, which was completely out of control and perpetrated by and against the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki’s tribe, the Kikuyu. That is, the stolen election simply caused long-simmering tensions to erupt and an immediate solution was needed, even if it went to the distasteful length of allowing Kibaki to retain his illegitimately obtained seat.

In Zimbabwe, in contrast, there are two parties in this violence: Mugabe’s crew, consistently the perpetrator, and everybody else, consistently the victims. There is no compelling reason to reward Mugabe with legitimacy for beating and killing the opposition into submission. In Kenya, the violence was out of control. In Zimbabwe, the violence is controlled by one man: Mugabe. (I’m also uncertain that Mugabe would be willing to hand any real power to a Prime Minister Tsvangirai, or that the odious and continuous locking horns of Mugabe and Tsvangirai–or whatever bizarre, Hydra-like cabinet springs forth from lengthy discussions and dispute–would produce an effective government.)

I prefer Nicholas Kristof’s solution: we find some way to entice Mugabe to retire, quietly, with whatever shred of dignity he has remaining. Mugabe’s a small man, and people respond to incentives.

Op-Ed Columnist – If Only Mugabe Were White – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com
The solution is for leaders at the African Union summit this week to give Mr. Mugabe a clear choice.

One option would be for him to “retire” honorably — “for health reasons” after some face-saving claims of heart trouble — at a lovely estate in South Africa, taking top aides with him. He would be received respectfully and awarded a $5 million bank account to assure his comfort for the remainder of his days.

The other alternative is that he could dig in his heels and cling to power. African leaders should make clear that in that case, they will back an indictment of him and his aides in the International Criminal Court. Led by the Southern African Development Community, the world will also impose sanctions against Mr. Mugabe’s circle and cut off all military supplies and spare parts. Mozambique, South Africa and Congo will also cut off the electricity they provide to Zimbabwe.

The Chinese word for “crisis” is comprised of two characters: one meaning “danger,” and the other meaning “holy #@$! we’re all gonna die.” We shouldn’t let well-meaning idealism, or the spirit of coming together, obscure that Zimbabwe is the victim of Mugabe’s tyranny and that he is not likely to share power in actuality, whatever he accedes to in name.

June 24, 2008

The least bad option

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 8:25 pm

Mugabe Rival Quits Zimbabwe Runoff, Citing Attacks – NYTimes.com
The leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition party withdrew Sunday from a presidential runoff, just five days before it was to be held, saying he could neither participate “in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process,” nor ask his voters to risk their lives in the face of threats from forces backing President Robert Mugabe.

The opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, the standard-bearer of the Movement for Democratic Change, said at a news conference in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, that his party was facing a war rather than an election, “and we will not be part of that war.”

A governing party militia blocked his supporters from attending a major rally in Harare on Sunday, the head of an election observer team said. The opposition said rowdy youths, armed with iron bars and sticks, beat up people who had come to cheer for Mr. Tsvangirai.

It was the latest incident in a tumultuous campaign season in which Mr. Tsvangirai has been repeatedly detained, his party’s chief strategist jailed on treason charges that many people consider bogus, and rampant state-sponsored violence has left at least 85 opposition supporters dead and thousands injured, according to tallies by doctors treating the victims.

I’m kind of disappointed that Tsvangirai dropped out, because I held out a remote fantasy–kept aloft by my incessant clapping–that he would stay in and win Friday’s election, even though international monitors have been ejected, his supporters are being beaten up, imprisoned, and killed, he isn’t being permitted to run a campaign, and the incumbent has said that he would sooner go to war than transfer power.

Had Tsvangirai stayed in, we, the international community, would be in an awkward position. Had he won, we’d have to say, “Get out, Mugabe! Listen to the voice of your people!” But, had Tsvangirai lost, we would–rightly–have to decry the sham of it all, the beatings, the persecutions, the crippling, anti-democratic rule of Robert Mugabe. Basically, there were no good options, and I think Tsvangirai may have chosen the least bad one.

That said, I wish Thabo “There Is No Crisis” Mbeki, president of South Africa (not nearly the man his predecessor was; you might say he’s a “half-Nelson”), had engaged Mugabe more forcefully. We don’t know if it would have worked or not, but South Africa had more power and credibility in the region than any country on Earth, and Mbeki chose not to use it. That’s a shame.

March 29, 2008

On Desperation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tina Russell @ 1:13 am

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Hands Out Cars – New York Times

The joke there is so easy, I can’t even be bothered to try.

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