Turning Thirty by ProQuest

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									THEWORLDTODAY.ORG MARCH 2010
PAGE 18
          ZIMBABWE
          Richard Horsey, OPEN SOCIETY FELLOW AND FORMER UNITED NATIONS OFFICIAL, BASED IN SOUTHERN AFRICA




          Turnıng Thırty
          Almost exactly thirty years ago, on March 4 1980, Robert Gabriel
          Mugabe was elected Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. As Bob Marley
          performed before assembled international dignitaries, Mugabe took
          up office on April 18, the day of formal independence from Britain.
          Hopes were running high, and he was the man of the moment. But
          today Zimbabwe is virtually a failed state, mired in political and
          economic crisis. A year into a unity government which has pressed
          the pause button on bitter divisions, the country’s future is uncertain.

                          | INDEPENDENT THINKING ON INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
                                                                                        THEWORLDTODAY.ORG MARCH 2010
                                                                                                                                                 PAGE 19




p                   RESIDENT     ROBERT      MUGABE’S


                    imprisonment, invite comparisons with
                                                          BITTER
                    struggle against white rule, and his long

                    Nelson Mandela. Indeed, his stature on the
                    African continent – both for his success in
                    Zimbabwe and for his staunch support of
          the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa – is hard
               to overstate. After thirty years at the helm, and
having just turned 86, one might think that the time was
ripe for him to do what Mandela did at the same age – retire
from public life and spend his time in ‘quiet reflection’.
                                                                       of current efforts should therefore not be to isolate and
                                                                       sideline ZANU-PF, as many including Britain are doing,
                                                                       but precisely the opposite.
                                                                           The unity government has many problems, but one
                                                                       enormous benefit has been that it brings former political
                                                                       enemies around the same negotiating table, day after
                                                                       day. This has helped moderate the polarisation, and it
                                                                       provides an opportunity for the international community to
                                                                       engage with all sides.
                                                                           By reaching out to more pragmatic and forward-looking
                                                                       elements within ZANU-PF, rather than backing them into a
But there is no sign of that.                                          corner, we increase the chances of a negotiated political
                                                                       settlement for the post-Mugabe era. Difficult as this may be –
                                                                       and although distasteful to some – the alternative is that
HANGING ON                                                             ZANU-PF, or factions within it, attempt to cling on to power at
    His reluctance to step down is in some ways                        all costs. And with its recent history of political violence, those
understandable. Another freedom-fighter-turned-despot, the             costs could be high indeed for the people of Zimbabwe
								
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