‘ The similarities between Tsvangirai and [US President] Bush are numerous, they are startling. Both men have a predilection for crime, Tsvangirai having had several brushes with the law for treason stretching back to allegations of spying for Apartheid South Africa in 1989, and Bush of drunk driving. Both failed their nation when it needed them most.’
– Caesar Zvayi in Zimbabwe’s Herald
Most of us in the west struggle to see how anyone can justify Friday’s sham election in Zimbabwe. Tories variously calling for sending in the SAS in Boys Own style or cutting off the electricity only show how limited Britain’s role is despite, Mugabe’s posturing.
The only country with a meaningful role to play is South Africa, but despite race riots at least partly provoked by the strain of taking on Zimbabwean refugees, it is South Africa that protects Mugabe.
Generations of colonial rule have left Africa apparently uninterested in a transition to democracy. In societies with no experience or culture of self-rule, African leaders have found it easy to wield power in the dictatorial manner to which the people had become accustomed. The democratic institutions – like parliaments on the Westminster model – former ruling powers tried to leave behind are all too easily portrayed as colonial impositions.
To the generation that includes South African president Thabo Mbeki, Robert Mugabe is still a hero who led the great struggle against white minority rule… a hero who can be forgiven anything. But these events show great war leaders too often find the transition to democracy too much to cope with; they can never surrender.