What about Zimbabwe?

TNR‘s James Kirchick asks an intriguing question: "Will the Candidates Recognize Morgan Tsvangirai as President of Zimbabwe?"

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the
Movement for Democratic Change, is the legitimately elected president
of Zimbabwe. Or at least he should be. He won that country’s
presidential election (and his party won its parliamentary election) on
March 29th, a victory that has been denied to him and his colleagues
over the past three months as Robert Mugabe has murdered nearly 100
opposition supporters, tortured many more, and driven thousands from
their homes. A week after the election, the Zimbabwean junta announced
that Tsvangirai did not win an outright majority, thus forcing a
runoff scheduled for this Friday. On Sunday, however, Tsvangirai announced
that he was dropping out of the election, stating that "we cannot stand
there and watch people being killed for the sake of power."

So here’s a question for
Senators Obama and McCain. Back in April, Assistant Secretary of State
for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer declared
Tsvangirai the winner of the March 29th election, and certified that he
won over 50% of the vote. Recognition of him as the duly elected
president of Zimbabwe — with all of the diplomatic measures that would
imply, specifically spelled out today in a New York Sun editorial — should have been forthcoming, yet the State Department has been reluctant to go that far. With Tsvangirai hiding in
the Dutch Embassy for fear of his life, will either of you call upon
the United States to recognize him as the elected president of

Sounds good to me. But wouldn’t that constitute "regime change"?

10 Responses to “What about Zimbabwe?”

  1. dcl says:

    I suppose it comes down to a willingness to enforce the statement. Something much harder than making it for sure.

  2. Andrew says:

    This issue mainly rests with the sub Saharan African nations. Do they care enough to put sincere pressure on Mr. Mugabe? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. The best thing the Zimbabwean people have going for them is that their dictator is 84.

    PS Brendan: watch out for the 2008-09 Butler Bulldogs. They are going to make some noise again.

  3. Youngblai says:

    I’m in agreement with Andrew. The biggest problem is that Mugabe is seen as a hero by most of the leaders of these nations. Kinda hard to take a man you revere out to the woodshed. Especially since it’s arguable whether there’s actual overmatch between the surrounding nation’s armed forces and Zimbabwe’s.

    On an aside, this makes me even more respectful of Nelson Mandela. In many ways, had he chose, he could have been South Africa’s Mugabe. Instead, he ceded power gracefully and in accordance with democratic principles.

  4. Joe Loy says:

    Youngblai, good point about Mandela.

    Andrew, I’ve No idea as to the site’s provenance, affiliations or journalistic Chops but FWIW, according to reportage at AllAfrica.com the most likely, and/or most desireable, outcome may be an interim/transitional Government of National Unity, into which Mugabe would be nudged/cajoled/browbeaten/Forced by his annoyed & embarrassed Neighbors. (South Africa, I gather, is Key. They’re the regional Big dog, apparently.)

  5. Brendan says:

    LOL Andrew, best juxtaposition of comments ever! But what triggered your enthusiasm for Butler’s prospects?

  6. Brendan says:

    P.S. But A.J. Graves graduated. Can the Bulldogs continue to excel without him?

    Also… Butler vs. Davidson – how awesome would that game be? Alas, I don’t think Davidson participates in BracketBusters. Somebody make this happen!!

  7. Joe Loy says:

    Well I’m kicking myself now.

    Last night when commentposting here re Zimbabwe I had wanted to ventilate my customary Flippancy, not Only by (a) Shoehorning in somesort of reference (for Brendan’s enjoyment) to the Old SNL routine re “Fondue pots for Namibia”, and (b) noting (for Andrew’s) that Rhodesia maintains an Embassy in Iceland ;> (that’s Iceland, buster, don’t go Misreading the Consonant just to bust my hibernian butt :) ~~ BUT :} ALSO: (c) by self-parodyingly Questioning how Zimbabwean Election Law (sic :) could possibly effectuate so belated a “withdrawal” by somehow implementing removal of a candidate’s Name from the nationwide Ballot so soon before Election Day.

    But whilst writing my comment I thought: Naaah. The situation in Zimbabwe is too serious to Joke about.

    Well. Per CNN it seems my formerly self-censored Flippancy has Flopped right over into Hararean Reality [emphases added]:

    HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) — The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ruled Wednesday that Friday’s presidential runoff will proceed as planned despite the withdrawal of opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, according to the panel’s chairman.

    “The commission met today to deliberate on the contents and letter [from] Tsvangirai,” Election Commission Chairman George Chiweshe told reporters at a news conference.

    “It was unanimously agreed that withdrawal was well out of time and for that reason, the withdrawal was of no legal force.”

    A journalist in the capital of Harare reported Chiweshe’s comments to CNN. The journalist is not being identified because of concern for the person’s safety.

    … On Tuesday, the Movement for Democratic Change hand-delivered a letter signed by Tsvangirai to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, saying it will not participate in the runoff with Mugabe.

    … Despite his withdrawal, Tsvangirai’s name will remain on the ballots because they are already printed, the commission said.

    The state-run Herald newspaper reported that Mugabe said Tuesday that he would be “open to discussion,” but only after the runoff. The Herald did not elaborate.

    … Condemning the election as a “sham” and an “illegitimate exercise,” Tsvangirai told CNN that Mugabe seems intent on holding a “one-man race.”

    Well Mugabe may be Intent on it but it sounds like the ZEC didn’t get the Memo. / OTOH maybe they figure leaving Tsvangarai on the ballot (which is probably a logistical necessity anyway), AND finding his letter to have “no legal force”, will legitimize Mugabe’s re-election once they get through “counting” the “votes” in the still-“contested” race.

    But it also sounds to me like Friday is the time for the Voters to mark their ballots for Tsvangarai in such overwhelming numbers that not even Mugabe’s thugs can contrive to Cheat (not to mention Beat and Murder) their way out of the mighty Landslide. / Remember, in the First round they were able to screw with the results only enough to deprive Tsvangirai of an absolute Majority (forcing the Runoff) ~ but not enough to put Mugabe in the lead, let alone give him the majority.

    This way here see, After the Runoff ex-president Mugabe can be Open to Discussion of Who might be willing to take him into Exile. (Iceland, perhaps? :)

  8. Andrew says:

    I usually catch up on my email and Charlie Rose at about this time. He has several folks on right now talking about the post election politics of Zimbabwe. One commentator from Brown Univ. says that Mugabe and the military are tied together. As I assumed in the previous post, this guy is not going anywhere. The international community does not have the willpower to remove him or his successor.

    Brendan – I don’t know if that was juxtaposition, but you should know that the Bulldogs will be a perennial force in the coming years. We got screwed versus your adopted town’s home team, but alas we have the best recruiting class we have ever had coming in. It’s been great reading your blog.

  9. Brendan says:

    I just realized, you aren’t Andrew Long, are you? I can’t imagine why he would refer to Butler as “we.” I should have known; he probably would have said something more neocon-ish and/or inflammatory about Zimbabwe anyway. :)

    Anyway, as someone who has seen Butler play in person twice (once in BracketBusters against Southern Illinois, and once in the Sweet 16, when they woulda/coulda/shoulda beaten eventual champ Florida), I certainly hope they remain a force. Viva the mid-majors!

  10. Andrew says:

    The above Andrew is definitely not the Andrew. My position is, we should take low-hanging fruit when we can get it, as evidenced by my hawkish comments on Burma a few weeks ago. Knocking out Mugabe and incapacitating his thugs would be so easy and painless for us, we’re idiots not to do this quick service to humanity. But unfortunately Democrats only like humanitarian wars when the president is a Clinton. And even then they had to watch two genocides in the Balkans and Rwanda to wise up to the idea that America ought to do something about protecting people from thuggish rulers.