Foreign Policy Blogs

The State of Zimbabwe

Although the mandate of this blog is primarily to deal with South Africa, I plan to take a catholic view of my responsibilities and will regularly feature news and commentary from the rest of Africa. Consider my approach to represent a coupling of the Pan-Africanist dream with the fact that South Africa does not exist in a vacuum, not to mention that Africa tends to get such short shrift that this is a worthwhile venue to bring attention to problems, concerns, and successes on the continent.

One of the countries to which I will devote considerable attention is South Africa's increasingly fragile neighbor across the Zambesi River, Zimbabwe. Indisputable independence hero and now ruthless kleptocratic Big Man Robert Mugabe long ago adopted the mantle of de facto President-For-Life. But things are changing swiftly at the nadir of Zim's descent into madness.

Today's Johannesburg Star has an article reporting that respected international think tank The International Crisis Group (ICG) has issued a report, “Zimbabwe: An End to the Stalemate,” in which it has expressed optimism about a possible breakthrough in the long-running Mugabe-fueled crisis. Their hope is based largely on the splintering within Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. For so often it seemed that the only hope for a challenge to ZANU-PF would come from the emergence of a viable opposition party, with Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) harboring the hopes of those who dared wish for change. but Mugabe was always one step ahead of the opposition, which itself has fractured in the last year or so.

For more than a year-and-a-half of my commentary on Zimbabwe, including lots of links to news and analysis over that time, go here. As is the case with many observers, I have grown optimistic in recent weeks that winds of change are blowing through Zimbabwe, but I am well aware of the realities that Big Men rarely go without a fight. Mugabe is a crafty despot. Let that reality temper your optimism even as you hold on to hope. But do hold on to that hope.