Drastic Measures Needed to Deal With Mugabe

EDITORIAL – As we went to press yesterday, power-sharing talks in Zimbabwe were still going on. Former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, went back to Harare on Tuesday to mediate in the crisis again.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC)-appointed mediator erroneously thought the September 15 signing ceremony he presided over had paved way for a permanent solution to the long running crisis.

To those who know Robert Mugabe well, the optimism that greeted the signing ceremony was delusionary. It has always been clear that the dictatorial Mugabe was still not ready to share power with the opposition. This boggles the mind. The man should be grateful for any deal that still gives him a lease of life given the ruinous havoc he has visited upon that once-great nation.

All things equal, he was supposed to have long joined the Charles Taylors of this world at the International Court Justice in The Hague to answer charges of crimes against humanity.

We are doubtful whether Mbeki’s efforts will bear any fruit this time around. The ink had hardly dried on the September 15 signing ceremony when Mugabe and his goons went back to their old ways.

They harassed and illegally detained opposition supporters, spewing out shameless propaganda on state-controlled media.

Two weeks down the line, Mugabe unilaterally appointed a cabinet and swore in his two deputy presidents.

These are not the actions of a man ready to share power.

The time has come, even for those Doubting Thomases, that other measures are urgently needed to knock sense into Mugabe’s head. SADC and the African Union must take-over the Zimbabwean peace process.

The new South African leadership, which currently holds the SADC chairmanship, must expeditiously move to ensure it drives the precarious process to its logical conclusion.

Fortunately, South Africa is the only country in the region with economic and military clout to get the necessary attention from Mugabe.

The Zimbabwean crisis calls for drastic measures. For a start, SADC can expel the illegitimate Mugabe regime from its ranks. Secondly, economic sanctions that include suspension of supplies can be effected. Of course, some will naturally argue that sanctions will hurt ordinary Zimbabweans. But the fact of the matter is that more than 90 percent of ordinary Zimbabweans are already experiencing deprivations, suffering and oppression.

We are convinced that concerted punitive measures will hasten the collapse of the brutal Mugabe regime and afford Zimbabweans an opportunity to reconstruct their country.