Sunday, May 11, 2008


Outside of Burma, the biggest thing on our plate is Zimbabwe. The situation has “somewhat” calmed down a bit. After FIVE whole weeks the election results were finally released. They announced that Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, had a plurality with 47% (followed by Mugabe with 42%) but not a majority, in which case the constitution says you must do a run-off. The opposition (MDC) believes that is false and that their candidate, Tsvangirai, won with 50+% of the vote. I agree with that educated guess. So as of now we are not sure if the MDC and Tsvangirai will even participate in the run-off election.

Remember, there is government-sponsored violence going on throughout the country right now. The violence is to intimidate people into voting for Mugabe in the “case” of a run-off which has now been announced (May 2nd). So here is the rub: if the MDC takes part, the run-off could be rigged and they lose. If they don’t take part, MDC loses by default. So it’s a lose-lose situation especially with the violence helping to close the gap. MDC (led by Tsvangirai) won’t announce whether they will take part until the date of the run-off has been set and the results have been verified properly. According to the constitution the run-off is supposed to take place within 3 weeks of the announcement of the results. Given that constitutions limit on the time to release the results was violated I doubt there will be an issue or fallout or repercussions for not keeping to constitutional regulations on presidential run-off voting.

As of now, no one wants to go on in and force Mugabe out. There has been lots of subtle or calm diplomacy. Mbeki sent people to Harare (earlier he was there himself saying “there is no crisis” something which South Africans have criticized him about). The AU (African Union) sent Ping, the administrative head of the AU. SADC (South African Development Community—regional group of 14 countries of which Zim is a part) sent a group led by the Angolan foreign minister. All of this has had no real effect or not perceptible effect, at least. We are still lost and waiting to see a verification of the first results, when this run-off election will be, and if MDC will take part.

At the least, the MDC will want better monitoring for the run-off election, but I’m not sure if Mugabe will allow these foreigners in to intimately monitor the process. People have been beaten and there have been a few deaths among teachers, opposition supporters, and others in the country. It’s a scary time in Zim, and those who were in power under Mugabe do not want to go.

The biggest problem is that Zim currently cannot afford another election. To be honest, they couldn’t afford the first one and printed a lot of money to fund it raising the official inflation rate to something like 165,000% with the real rate being higher.

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