Only Southern African States Can Help Zimbawbe, Says Expert | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 25.06.2008
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages


Only Southern African States Can Help Zimbawbe, Says Expert

Having seen off the opposition with a campaign of violence, President Robert Mugabe is pressing ahead with Zimbabwe's run-off election. DW spoke to an expert about the country's political crisis and who can solve it.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

Mugabe has been in power for 28 years

The vote on Friday, June 27, was scheduled after neither President Robert Mugabe nor his challenger Morgan Tsvangirai won outright the parliamentary elections in March.

Official results put Tsvangirai ahead of Mugabe, but with not enough votes to avoid a run-off.

Since then, the country has been wracked by ongoing violence and the ruling party Zanu-PF's brand of aggressive campaigning. Mugabe has remained defiant in the face of growing international criticism and calls to cancel the vote, while Tsvangirai has withdrawn from the poll and sought refuge in the Netherlands.

His opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says some 86 supporters have been killed and 200,000 forced from their homes by militia supporters of the ruling Zanu-PF party.

On Wednesday, June 25, Southern African leaders held an emergency meeting in Mbabane, Swaziland, to discuss the crisis, although the region's designated mediator, South Africa President Thabo Mbeki was not present.

DW talked to Peter Molt from Trier University to find out what the future holds for Zimbabwe and what can be done to help the country out of the conflict.

DW: Has Robert Mugabe won?

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe gestures at a press conference

Morgan Tsvangirai has withdrawn from the fight

Peter Molt: Yes. He has once again proved to be a brilliant strategist. The elections in March were controversial. Tsvangirai might have won the majority of votes, but Mugabe shrugged off accusations of election fraud and used violence and terror to intimidate the opposition out of the running, leaving him the sole effective candidate for president.

The international community has expressed concern about the situation in Zimbabwe -- but isn't it reacting a bit late?

South African President Thabo Mbeki is the key Zimbabwe mediator, but his position is weakened by the fact that he cannot seek a third term as president of the country in 2009. He is pushing for compromise, which would be a grand coalition between the opposition and Mugabe. Mugabe might have made him certain promises but it seems likely that when the chips are down, he will probably break them or name a successor close to him and thereby ensure that Tsvangirai loses the election.

The situation in Zimbabwe was discussed by the UN Security Council this week. What results had you expected?

Not many. The Security Council most probably won't be able to reach any definite conclusion and has few options available to it. No one is going to suggest invading the country and toppling the regime with violence.

Australia has suggested sanctions, French President Nicholas Sarkozy fresh elections. Aren't these options?

Members of the ruling party Zanu-PF's militia beat unidentified people at the venue of the proposed Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party rally

The Zanu-PF militia have terrorized the country

We've seen what elections lead to. Stringent international election monitoring would be necessary and I doubt that would be possible. As for further sanctions -- sanctions against the country exist, and any more would be disastrous for the general public.

Unfortunately, there is little the international community can do. The answer lies with South Africa and Mbeki, and the South African Development Community. The question is how long not only South Africa but also Angola, Namibia and Botswana will allow the situation to continue. That is where the pressure will have to come from.

DW recommends