A Resounding, Dubious Victory

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Robert Mugabe, long-time president of Zimbabwe, is in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, attending a meeting of the African Union, celebrating his "victory" in the latest "election" there. (A victory implies that there was a contest and an opponent, and participants in an election, by definition, have "the right or ability to make a choice.")

Although the six-term president has been criticized in the press by some African leaders, The New York Times reports that they haven't accosted him:

For their part, African leaders showed little appetite for public confrontation with Mr. Mugabe. Dressed in a characteristically natty suit and tie, the 84-year-old leader, once feted as a liberation hero, slumped in an arm-chair in a cavernous conference hall, using a headset to follow speeches that, in part, demanded negotiations to end his absolute power. When the cameras moved away from him, he was seen hugging fellow African leaders, The Associated Press reported.

We'll ask Heidi Holland, a journalist in Johannesburg, for her reaction to the news from Harare. She has written about Mugabe — and she has had the opportunity to interview him. What questions do you have for her?



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The Nigerian caller should ask why his government is now encouraging former Zimbabwean farmers to come to Nigeria!

Sent by H Beitz | 3:57 PM | 6-30-2008

I lived in Zimbabwe from 2001-2003. While I was there it seemed there were so many government policies that combined to ruin the economy. Stealing farms from the whites was only part of the story. Mugabe set an outrageous exchange rate at the banks making it impossible for anyone to import good using Zimbabwe dollars. He forced exporting companies to exchange half their foreign currency for zim dollars, literally for pennies on the dollar, driving many companies out of business or out of the country. He set price controls on some basic goods like bread, cooking oil, sugar, and flour, making those goods impossible to buy without sitting in a queue for days and forcing shop owners to hike up the prices on everything else to make up for their losses on the controlled goods. He put price controls on bus fares, forcing buses to either operate illegally to make a profit or to stay parked, resulting in many people being forced to miss work. The list of failed policies goes on and on. My question is: Was Mugabe unaware of the negative effects his policies would have or did he come up with them on purpose to tighten his grip on power? It seems like ZANU-PF sits around every day trying to think of new ways to ruin their country and I'm wondering why.

Sent by Brady White | 4:49 PM | 6-30-2008

I appreciate the author's attempt to convey the "real" Robert Mugabe. However, I disagree with the author's suggestion to develop a form of international diplomacy that is tailored to learning Mugabe's inner psyche and behavior. In theory, this might help get through Mugabe. But I think it is a little TOO LATE. Why should the repressed citizens of Zimbabwe and the international community take time to bow down to his ways? I was in Africa a few years ago and spoke to several Zimbabwean refugees in Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa. They would agree with me that Mugabe deserves to be lambasted and humiliated. He is not a psychiatric patient that needs to be attended. This "shy" and "insecure" persona that the book has conveyed IS fully aware of his egregious actions against his fellow countrymen.

Sent by Pablo Soledad | 5:55 PM | 6-30-2008

I was disappointed by the callers in last week's show who criticized the west's meddling in Zimbabwe and the media's anti-Mugabe "bias." Did they miss the reports about the political opponents who had their hands and feet chopped off before being burned to death?

Sent by Jeff Gregerson | 5:58 PM | 6-30-2008

Mugabe is a Monster but so is US allay Ethiopia's dictator Melles Zenawi. He sloughtered 193 people after the 2005 election and jailed more than 50,000 people. He also imprisoned the whole opposition leaders and charged them with treason. This is a breathtaking hypocracy by the west.

Sent by Daniel | 12:38 PM | 7-1-2008