The Mugabe We Know
I was surprised at how calm the elections in Zimbabwe were this week. A peaceful transition is probably the last thing anyone would have predicted. Negotiations have been underway for a run-off election which would confirm that Mugabe had lost the presidency. He could settle into a quiet, but wealthy, retirement.
Unfortunately, the Mugabe we know has appeared. Government forces have begun harassing Mugabe’s political opposition and foreign journalists covering the situation.
Paramilitary police raided opposition offices at a hotel in central Harare, ransacking rooms as riot police moved in to arrest foreign journalists at a guest house in the capital.Diplomats said that as many as five journalists were arrested, including a reporter from the New York Times and one Briton.
The moves, described by opposition leaders as the beginnings of a “crackdown”, came after a day in which the besieged octogenarian leader appeared in public for the first time since the polls in which he was defeated by his challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Zimbabwean law provides that a runoff election will be required if the challenger does not get 50%+1 vote. The opposition claims they got 50.3 percent, but no official count has been released. The fear is that Mugabe will put off announcing the official results so as to give himself more time to intimidate the opposition before any runoff.
Meanwhile, the average Zimbabwean is too poor to care.