Zimbabwe Election: Mugabe Fights to Retain Power

March 28, 2008 04:10 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The country Robert Mugabe has run for 28 years is today a socioeconomic disaster. Few imagine Saturday’s election could see him willingly depart.

30-Second Summary

Two weeks ago, an opinion poll gave opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai 28 percent of the vote, Mugabe 20 percent and Simba Makoni, a former Mugabe ally running as an independent, 9 percent.

Tsvangirai is a leading trade unionist and popular opponent of Mugabe, who was beaten up by police last year. Makoni is a former ZANU-PF finance minister who Mugabe recently said was “'like a prostitute.”

Few, if any, analysts envision a free and fair election. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has already employed scare tactics, and police officers may be present at polling places. Amnesty International even claimed officials forced opposition party supporters to eat their campaign posters.

The United States and the European Union have been prevented from monitoring the elections, leaving the African Union, and representatives from China, Iran and Russia to keep watch.

Zimbabwe’s economic failure and Mugabe’s determination to hold on to power have betrayed the promise of his presidency’s early days. Mugabe was a symbol of African optimism when he took the helm of a newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980. Today, Zimbabwe has the lowest life expectancy in the world, hospitals lack medicines, schools have “no textbooks or teachers” and “electricity and water are available only occasionally,” according to Robert I. Rotberg. Inflation is over 100,000 percent.

But an article from The Times of London sees Mugabe’s grip on the nation slipping. The Times reported on “an onslaught of mockery” in a country where “the climate of terror has lifted.”

Headline Link: ‘Liberation Hero Mugabe Now Fights for Survival’

Background: The election

Opinion & Analysis: The future of Mugabe and Zimbabwe

Key Players: Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Makoni

Robert Mugabe
Morgan Tsvangirai
Simba Makoni

Background: Zimbabwe

Country profile of Zimbabwe
‘Zimbabwe, the Land of Dying Children’

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