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Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.


We commented on Zimbabwe's election earlier this week, warning our readers to brace themselves.

Despite the early lead of the opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF has declared victory with a shocking 2/3 of the vote.

Last week, Freedom House explained the impending election as not meeting several basic protocols of free and fair elections:

Upcoming parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe face the likelihood of being severely compromised as repression against the country's political opposition increases steadily....

The Zimbabwean government has also barred several international observer missions from entering the country to monitor the elections, ensuring a virtual news blackout on March 31.

Indeed, the election could not be truly free and fair, because President Robert Mugabe’s government withheld food aid from supporters of opposition parties and prevented opposition candidates from accessing the media.


Freedom House rankings of Zimbabwe:

Click for larger image.

Click for larger image.

Gateway Pundit notes that the rampant fraud in Mugabe's playbook includes zombie voters:

...between one and two million of those voters, according to different estimates, are zombie voters, people known to be dead or who have been registered twice.

But wait, there's more.

In terms of stifling free and objective journalism in Zimbabwe, only Libya, Burma, Turkmenistan, and North Korea have less freedom of the press.

Over the past decade, in particular, there has been a significant deterioration in press freedom in Zimbabwe:

Click graph for larger version.

Indeed, Zimbabwe is among the "Worst of the Worst" (.pdf) in terms of government repression. And yet, Zimbabwe, along with several other repressive countries, sits on the Human Rights Commission at the United Nations, and Mugabe was even invited to address the 59th session of the UN General Assembly.

As we've noted before, the most significant UN reform would involve revoking the equal standing of unfree regimes, as well as linking how the UN views a regime with how that regime treats its citizens.

But it's not just a lack of political or press freedom in Zimbabwe; the 2005 Index of Economic Freedom classifies Zimbabwe among the worst countries in terms of economic freedom. Mugabe's Zimbabwe is classified as "repressed," with a score of 4.36 (1 being best, 5 being worst).

Roger Bate, writing in National Review, wonders if Zimbabweans and the international community can come together to demand that Mugabe step aside:

Zimbabwe's opposition leader has accused the ruling party of trying to steal Thursday's parliamentary elections. Morgan Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change, said "disgusting, massive fraud" had been committed and that Zimbabweans should "defend their vote."


Can the people of Zimbabwe emulate those of Ukraine? If they do, and are beaten back by Mugabe's army, will anyone act? Will the good words of Tony Blair and Condoleezza Rice be backed up by action, such as the removal of all aid to the region if its leaders condone the election, and immediate pressure on U.N. Security Council for a resolution to intervene militarily to prevent possible political slaughter by the army?

Mugabe is no mere novice at rigging elections. Flash back to 2002. Brett D. Schaefer, of The Heritage Foundation, wrote, on March 14, 2002:

Over the past year, Mugabe instituted measures that further destroyed the country's economy and trampled the rule of law, even sanctioning attacks on opposition supporters, in his single-minded determination to remain in office. Moreover, his supporters used various measures to steal the election and prevent people from voting, including vote fraud, intimidation, and delays. Following a court-ordered third day of voting on March 11, the official results show that Mugabe's tactics were successful in an election that was neither free nor fair....

The United States and its allies should warn Mugabe that a stolen election will not absolve him of responsibility for his despicable actions that include murder and that increase poverty and the destruction of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

The Cato Institute's Dr. Marian L. Tupy believes it is "Time for Africa to Stand up to Mugabe," noting:

Today, Zimbabwe has the dubious honor of being the fastest shrinking economy in the world. A few well-known statistics provide an insight into life in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

* Between 1999 and 2003, the economy contracted by over 30 percent.

* Unemployment stood at 80 percent of the economically active population in 2004.

* Per capita income was lower in 2004 than in 1980 -- the year Mugabe came to power.

* Life expectancy fell from 56 years in 1985 to 33 years in 2003.

* After rising to 500 percent in 2004, triple digit inflation continued in 2005.

* Foreign direct investment and tourism plummeted.

* In January 2005, over half of Zimbabwe's population needed emergency food aid.

* Out of a population of 12 million, between 3 and 4 million Zimbabweans emigrated abroad.

Zimbabwe is not as ripe for democracy as Ukraine was in late 2004, but it is not unreasonable to believe that the people of Zimbabwe, if supported by the international community (including bloggers), could assert their wishes for prosperity, a free society, and respect for the rule of law-- and succeed.

Sokwanele blog reports:

Only a few days ago the courageous Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, advocated a non-violent and peaceful uprising to remove an entrenched dictatorship that has caused untold suffering to the people of Zimbabwe. It seems the people are heeding that call.

The people of Zimbabwe who are rising up to throw off the chains of oppression deserve the support of the international community. Pray God we may not fail them at this hour.

Publius Pundit responds:

Yes, pray for them. And pray that this is true as well. If it does happen, will Mugabe crack down? Most likely. If he doesn’t, then he could lose his government. If he does? He certainly doesn’t face consequences unless it doesn’t work.

But is resistance worth it? Yes. Mugabe can’t be allowed to falsify the elections and become absolute ruler over Zimbabwe’s constitution. If there was ever a moment to save themselves, this is it.

It's an uphill battle, to be sure, for those who desire democracy in Zimbabwe, but count WILLisms.com among those supporting the freedom loving people of Zimbabwe. As "The Dude" (from The Big Lebowski) would put it:

This aggression will not stand, man.

Unfortunately, it looks like Robert Mugabe's aggression just might stand. The arsenal of words and deeds that could change the Mugabe regime along the lines of what happened in Ukraine last year is small, but the important thing is that hope exists. If the people can truly rise up and begin to take back their country, the international community must be there to support them, if only rhetorically and diplomatically. While Zimbabwe's opposition likely will not follow "the blueprint" as closely as we've seen recently in other countries, it must at least try.

VOA reports that the leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change, not accepting the fraudulent results, is meeting on Saturday to chart its course forward.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai thus far has called on the people of Zimbabwe to defend their vote:

"This government has fraudulently once again betrayed the people," said Mr Tsvangirai in what was seen as an indirect call for a mass uprising in response to what the opposition called "rigged results."

....Mr Tsvangirai said the MDC would not settle for merely appealing the result in Zimbabwe's biased courts, a strong hint that mass action is being contemplated.


More background on Morgan Tsvangirai.

Count us as hopeful but very pessimistic on Zimbabwe; however, we're rooting for the underdog MDC, the forces of freedom, against the evil Mugabe machine.


Mark Steyn has a great flashback piece from 2002 on Mugabe (via Another Rovian Conspiracy).


U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a official statement, noting the election was "not free and fair."

[More on Zimbabwe, here]

Posted by Will Franklin · 1 April 2005 06:50 PM


Mugabe needs to be thrown in jail and get that ugly mug of his up on a mug shot! He really should be so thankful he did not enter any beauty contests! Ugh! Ugh! that mug...

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at April 2, 2005 01:32 PM