Monday, May 12, 2008
Ironies of democracy
News from Zimbabwe today is that the Mugabe government has decided not to allow observers from the United Nations or Western nations to monitor the upcoming presidential runoff election unless international sanctions against the country are lifted. The still-unscheduled runoff between longtime president Robert Mugabe and challenger Morgan Tsvangirai could bring real change to Zimbabwe, where Mugabe has presided over the collapse of the country's economy and has been blamed for human rights abuses. But supporters of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change have been subjected to political violence since before the March election, when Mugabe's party lost its parliamentary majority and lost the presidential race. The long-delayed official count showed Tsvangirai ahead but by not enough to avoid a runoff, although Tsvangirai claims the results were tampered with. Zimbabwe formerly had a powerful economy and was a supplier of food to its African neighbors but now is suffering from shortages of fuel and food and from the highest inflation rate in the world. Mugabe, a former guerrilla leader who has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is viewed as an independence hero by many in Africa.