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Posts Tagged ‘Mugabe’

After the controversial 2008 presidential election in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe began a brutal terror campaign against his people which would later become known simply as, “The Fear.” Having entered the country in secret, journalist, author and native Zimbabwean Peter Godwin watched as Mugabe insisted on a runoff election and then launched a campaign against the opposition known as “Operation Let Us Finish Them Off.” Godwin chronicled the election aftermath in his new book, The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe, which he will discuss at the Council on April 28 at 6 PM.

Register for the program here. Listen to an interview with Godwin on NPR’s Fresh Air here.

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Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition party MDC, announced today that he will join President Mugabe in a power-sharing deal drafted in September. This comes after months of deadlock, and while there is much celebration, many are worried that the deal was signed too hastily without sufficient certainty in its terms. An AllAfrica article today quotes an MDC Member of Parliament saying, “His [Tsvangirai’s] own political future will be compromised. ZANU-PF will use Tsvangirai to resuscitate their party: if people say they’re hungry – blame it on Tsvangirai. He came in promising change, and he won’t be able to deliver. If he says his hands are tied, people will say, ‘Why did you go in knowing your hands would be tied?'”

According to the NY Times, the opposition voted unanimously for joining the power-sharing agreement, and many are celebrating the end to the stalemate – though it remains to be seen if the deal will bring positive change. Western governments may maintain their sanctions, despite the growing toll on the country’s population from rampant hunger and a raging cholera epidemic, until President Mugabe shows himself to be true to his word.

Watch Jane Wales discuss the situation in Zimbabwe with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Gareth Evans, and Helene Gayle last April at GPF. And read our previous posts on Zimbabwe here and here.

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Celia Dugger of the NY Times filed a story just moments ago reporting that one of Mugabe’s inner circle, Air Marshall Shiri, was shot in the hand on Saturday night during a night-time ambush.  Mugabe is calling it a failed assassination attempt, while the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) believes it is the result of an increasingly tense (and violent) battle among Mugabe’s core supporters over who will succeed the President. If the MDC is correct, this points to further cracks in Mugabe’s core support, with significant implications for the stability of the country. (See our December 1st post) Zimbabwe may wake up soon to a military coup, or a state of emergency – both with dramatic consequences.

Crisis Group released a new report today calling on leaders in Zimbabwe to accept that the power sharing deal is “hopelessly deadlocked,” and urging them to implement a non-partisan transitional government that will govern for 18 months leading up to new presidential elections. The report calls for Mbeki to step aside, and allow for a new SADC negotiator to take his place – someone that is perceived as more neutral. “With the meltdown of vital social services, a cholera epidemic that has claimed 1,000 lives, the flight of a third of the population and a third of its remaining citizens facing starvation, Zimbabwe urgently needs a credible and competent government able to inspire confidence at home and abroad”, says Francois Grignon, Director of Crisis Group’s African Program. “A non-partisan transitional administration directed by a neutral Chief Administrator could achieve this”. Watch Crisis Group President, Gareth Evans, speak about the role of philanthropy in Zimbabwe and the responsibility to protect at our GPF conference last April, with colleague Samantha Power.

Meanwhile, The Elders continue to put pressure on regional and international governments to help find a solution to the stalemate, and even more so, to help alleviate the drastic humanitarian situation described above by Grignon. There has been a lot of focus on the political situation. In the process the needs of the people were forgotten. We came to focus on the people and make a judgment on what we can do,” said Elder Kofi Anan of their visit to the region. Read more about the Elders mission here. Jane Wales, our CEO & President, served as Interim CEO for the Elders during its first year, from July 2007-2008.

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All health, sanitation and water supply services have collapsed in Zimbabwe. A nationwide cholera epidemic is spreading, almost half of the population is in need of food aid, water is in short supply, and the government remains deadlocked over a power sharing agreement. This morning, about 40 soldiers began looting shops in downtown Harare and marching through the streets, recruiting sympathizers, chanting “enough is enough” after growing impatient while waiting in long bank lines for their salaries. The riot was the third to take place this week. But today, these looters were President Mugabe’s own soldiers – the men who normally put down riots, not incite them. Never before have Mugabe’s own security forces acted out against the state, and the significance should not be ignored. They are the core of his support, and if he loses them, he may lose everything.

The riots come just a few days after Elders Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, Jimmy Carter, former US President, and Graca Maçhel, human rights activist, attempted to visit the country to assess the humanitarian situation. Mugabe denied them entry visas, and so the Elders met with refugees outside the country and chastised the international community – particularly southern African leaders – for not doing more to help end the crisis. Jane Wales, World Affairs Council CEO & President, served as the Acting CEO for the Elders in their first year, from July 2007 until July 2008.

In April, Jane Wales spoke in conversation with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Chairman of the Elders, at the Global Philanthropy Forum 2008 conference in Redwood City. Also present were Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE, and Gareth Evans, President of Crisis Group.

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Beginning at about 1min and 20 seconds in, they speak about the situation in Zimbabwe and options for the country going forward.

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