Thursday, January 11, 2007

Looking past Mugabe

It looks like the end may be nearing for Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.

Fed up with a ruined economy, the director of Zimbabwe's top law enforcement body, Augustine Chihuri, has told Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF party that the state security forces have "had enough" of attempting to enforce the government's bizarre laws attempting to prop up the nations' the nation's centrally planned economy, and he has urged the government to stop relying on the police to solve the nation's economic and political ills.

Considering that Mugabe's government is accustomed to relying on the state security services to strongarm the political opposition, this is a serious rebuke to Mugabe and Zanu PF. And it's coming at a bad time for Mugabe.

Sensing the blood in the water, the sharks are circling. Mugabe's longtime political rival, Edgar Tekere, has rejoined Zanu PF after writing a sensational tell-all book about Mugabe that depicts him as a "weak man" who played a "very marginal" role in Zimbabwe's war of independence. Perhaps emboldened by Tekere's presence, the Zanu PF legislature, which for decades served as a rubber stamp parliament, is starting to rebuff Mugabe. After Mugabe sought a constitutional amendment to extend his six year term by two more years (ruling until 2010), a group Zanu PF MPs started a "Stop Mugabe" campaign, and even more unthinkably, joined a parliamentary coalition with the opposition MDC party to thwart Mugabe's ambitions.

Mugabe could, perhaps, cling to power without the police, or without support from politicians inside his own party, but he cannot hope to get by if he loses both. It could be that Mugabe's age (he'll be 83 in December) is catching up with him, and his rivals sense that he no longer has the vigor to crush his enemies. Perhaps there is also fear that Mugabe's role in the economic and social meltdown in Zimbabwe will lead to the collapse of the state - and their jobs. Perhaps they're just getting prepared for the inevitable day when Mugabe is gone. At any rate, it will take nothing short of a minor miracle for Mugabe to stay in charge for much longer.

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