July 1, 2008

HARRISONBURG—In his weekly “Strategic Interests” column for the World Defense Review—anticipated again this week because of breaking news developments as well as the upcoming Independence Day holiday weekend—Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University, looks at prospects for resolving the Zimbabwe crisis after last Friday’s “reelection” of incumbent Robert Mugabe of the Zimbabwe Africa National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) as a result of the forced withdrawal of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), from the presidential race following a regime-orchestrated campaign of violence and intimidation.

Noting Mugabe’s self-inauguration to a sixth term and his subsequent presence at the annual summit of African Union heads of state and government which meets this week in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Dr. Pham observes that the regime “will enjoy little international credibility except perhaps with neighboring South Africa’s lame duck president, Thabo Mbeki, whose ambassador to the United Nations, Dumisano Kumalo, spent last Friday derailing an emerging Security Council consensus to declare the runoff illegitimate.” The article goes on to cite condemnation of the “sham election” from various figures, including Senator John McCain, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, British Foreign Secretary David Milliband, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Queen Elizabeth II, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and President George W. Bush.

Despite the general reprobation of the Zimbabwean regime, Dr. Pham notes that “ before the world sees the back of Mugabe, three major challenges must be confronted”:

First, while Mugabe is certainly the one individual most culpable not only for the hijacking of the Zimbabwean people’s democratic aspirations, but for their material ruination by the world’s highest inflation rate, he is not alone… The history of the Zimbabwean regime since independence is an all-too-long catalogue of progressively worsening crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses perpetrated against millions of people by literally thousands of judges, government officials, military and police officers, ZANU-PF cadres, and others acting at Mugabe’s behest. Even if miraculously Mugabe could somehow be made to disappear, whether figuratively or literally, from the political stage, these accomplices would still be around and need to be dealt with.

Second,…while the responsibility for this tragedy reposes primarily with the Mugabe regime, some of the blame must be shared by its enablers abroad, not least of whom are those African leaders who have for years doggedly taken a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach to Zimbabwe’s downward spiral… Until African leaders [step up], not only will removing Mugabe will be difficult, but it will be well-nigh impossible to take the AU as a whole seriously.

Third, once Mugabe and his accomplices are forced from power, the tasks which Zimbabweans will face in rebuilding their country after ZANU-PF’s nearly three decades of misrule will be more than daunting… The international community needs to prepare for the eventual political transition in Harare by developing a contingency plan to quickly and generously help the long-suffering Zimbabweans back on their feet, not only for humanitarian reasons, but also to ensure the stability of the government that inherits the disaster that will be the legacy of Mugabe’s megalomaniacal thirst for power.

To read the full text of the article, “Beyond Mugabe’s Madness,” click here.