Zimbabwe’s Independence Day is tomorrow, and instead of election results, it’s empty rhetoric that flows out of the country and surrounding region. Thabo Mbeki, the arbiter of the electoral dispute, continues to defend statements he made previously, in which he claimed that there was no crisis in Zimbabwe. At the UN in New York on Wednesday, Mbeki observed,
The solution to the problem of Zimbabwe lies in the hands of the people of Zimbabwe.
Right. The people of Zimbabwe who are being held hostage by the government of Robert Mugabe should just take this matter into their own hands. Well many of them did, and now those same hands are burned and bloody from attacks by ZANU PF militia and supporters. This is not to say that the people of Zimbabwe have no power over their situation. They clearly do. Just read This Is Zimbabwe, and you get a sense of the resistance efforts that are happening every day. It just seems like some high expectations to suggest that people simply overthrow a long-standing police state that has relied on every type of human rights violation to keep them down.
So what now? I have to say that I agree with Morgan Tsvangirai, when he says that Mbeki needs to step aside. Anyone who is adamant that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe should not be handling the fallout from the elections. What is needed is some decisive action from Zimbabwe’s Southern African neighbors. Why wait until ZEC begins a recount and then releases results that put ZANU PF back in parliamentary majority? It’s like watching a slow motion train wreck and knowing that there is time to avert total disaster.