The way forward in Zimbabwe.

Author:Duodu, Cameron
Position:Under the Neem Tree
 
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Certainly, Zimbabweans have a right to ask: "So, what has the US to teach us about fair elections? But Mugabe should have the grace to bring Tsvangirai in from the cold, and allow him to admit that he too was a "fool" to have left Zanu-PF.

Anyone who saw Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, the leader who returned Nigeria to civilian rule after Gen Sani Abacha had driven the country outside the pail, pronounce the Commonwealth observer team's verdict on the Zimbabwe election, would have rightly concluded that President Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party had gone too far this time.

Of course, you don't fight a guerrilla war -- very costly in lives -- against Ian Smith and his "Cowboy Cabinet", and 22 years later, tamely turn power over to people you consider their surrogates in black skins.

Nevertheless, what has become known as "the CNN factor" -- the ubiquitous eye of the outside world as represented by the TV camera -- is as real a factor in modern international politics as guns and bombs. And it was naive for Mugabe and his government to pretend that it did not matter.

Even some of their most sympathetic supporters -- among whom I count myself -- were dismayed to find so many Zimbabweans unable to vote after queuing for hours. If Zanu-PF, which has a strong hold on the electronic media in Zimbabwe, is nevertheless scared of the urban vote, then what are we to make of its claims to be the authentic voice of Zimbabwe? Have Zanu propagandists been sleeping on the job or have they become too complacent to bother countering the MDC's message?

I hope that Zanu-PF will now recognise that by its own failures -- especially failure to use the past 22 years to achieve effective land reform, and failure to carry the urban voters with it -- it has driven the Zimbabwe ship of state very close to the rocks.

There is no doubt that it will be able, in the long run, to steer the ship back on to calmer waters. But the task will be easier if it were to listen more closely to the advice emanating from South Africa and Nigeria in how to restore international confidence in the country.

For make no mistake about it -- post-Cold War international political economy is about public relations as well as economic reality. Indeed, even with good public relations, a strong economy, such as that of South Africa, can be buffeted. Add bad public relations and you have a recipe for disaster.

South Africa

The proposal from South Africa and Nigeria is that Zanu-PF should find a way of...

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