Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Democracy again fails to gain a foothold in a part of Africa

It doesn't look too good for democracy right now in Zimbabwe, where the left-wing dictator Robert Mugabe desperately clings to power:

"Outraged at the turmoil in Zimbabwe, the U.N. Security Council declared that a fair presidential vote is impossible because of a "campaign of violence" waged by President Robert Mugabe's government. The 15-nation council Monday unanimously said it "condemns the campaign of violence against the political opposition ahead of the second round of presidential elections," which has resulted in the killing of scores of opposition activists and other Zimbabweans. The move came after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the vote _ reportedly fearing for his safety _ and police raided his Harare headquarters, hustling away dozens of his supporters."

Unfortunately, this shouldn't surprise us.
Many liberal intellectuals argued in the past that what held Africa back was western imperialism.
Well, that's been gone for over 40 years. Africans have largely ruled themselves. Yet there's a great deal of poverty and political corruption dominating the continent. Even Africans themselves admit democracy has a long way to go there.
But perhaps western pressure on Robert Mugabe can somehow break his stranglehold on that country, and give democracy a fresh start. Maybe. But don't hold your breath.

UPDATE: This won't help matters much, either--the South African government is strongly resisting any outside intervention in this crisis:

"...South Africa, the region’s powerhouse, is widely considered to play the pivotal role in bringing about change in neighboring Zimbabwe. And while the A.N.C. came out with an unusually strong condemnation of the Zimbabwean government on Tuesday, saying it was “riding roughshod over the hard-won democratic rights” of its people, the party also evoked Zimbabwe’s colonial history and insisted that outsiders had no role to play in ending its current anguish. “It has always been and continues to be the view of our movement that the challenges facing Zimbabwe can only be solved by the Zimbabweans themselves,” the statement said. “Nothing has happened in the recent months has persuaded us to revise that view.”

Sigh. It would indeed be wonderful if South Africans could solve this crisis themselves. Problem: Robert Mugabe and his thugs have the guns there, and they're willing to use them on their fellow Zimbabweans. That makes it rather hard for them to "solve" much of anything, doesn't it?