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Friday, March 28, 2008

Tomorrow's Election in Zimbabwe

One of my favorite subjects is Zimbabwe, or as I call it, "The Worst Country in the World." So, I thought I would be remiss if I didn't say something about tomorrow's Presidential election in Zimbabwe.

Despite the fact that President Robert Mugabe will more than likely win re-election in what is expected to be a wildly illegitimate poll, the aftermath of the contest will probably cause yet more strife for one of the more put-upon (to put it lightly) populaces in the world.

[Just as an aside, Zimbabweans have had to endure a Mugabe monarchy, violent oppression, the destruction of their internal agricultural systems - once the "breadbasket" of southern Africa - and resulting food shortages, not to mention 100,000% or greater rates of inflation. So, that probably sucked.]

If the election isn't rigged (which it will be - it just depends how badly), the vote will be split between the three main candidates, Mugabe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and Simba Makoni who was formerly a member of Mugabe's government until he fell out of favor. Tsvingirai would probably win at least a plurality (the winner must exceed 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off) as he is the furthest removed from the Mugabe regime. However, Makoni may inspire an anti-Mugabe revolution in the ruling Zanu-PF party.

I'm not well versed enough in the internal politics of Zimbabwe to effectively handicap the race. My point here is that: a) Mugabe would lose free and fair elections, and b) there is a lot of potential for unrest if the elections are not free and fair.

There is the potential for a popular uprising if the election is rigged in favor of Mugabe. Remember Kenya? That'll be nothing compared to Zimbabwe. Kenya is a relatively well off African country whereas Zimbabwe, well, see above "probably sucked" comment. The opposition has said they are organizing protest rallies and Mugabe said, "Just dare try it." That's fairly ominous.

Also, if the growing dissatisfaction with Mugabe inside the Zanu-PF results in a rift in the party with party members getting behind Makoni, who will the military back? They are the ones necessary to properly steal the election. We saw that recently in Venezuela when the military in that country refused to help Hugo Chavez steal a referendum that would have effectively cemented his power to become the Castro of Venezuela. Instead, he will now be term limited out of office and Venezuelans can get on with their lives. Could this happen in Zimbabwe?

Let's hope so. Also, let's hope that whatever happens, there is little to no violence. Zimbabweans have had enough suffering; it would be nice if they could start an upward spiral rather than always the reverse. (Sadly, my money is on the violence. Once again, way to go, Bob. Why don't you go bribe some more voters?)

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