The great statesman Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.” I am reminded of this sentiment when I consider the events that continue to unfold in Zimbabwe. Yesterday, MDC opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the presidential runoff that was scheduled for this Sunday. He cited escalating state-sponsored violence, and an inability to protect his supporters from attacks, as the reason for his withdrawal. 

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s long-serving dictator has threatened war if any move is made to depose him. What could be worse than the war that’s already being perpetrated by the state of Zimbabwe against its own people? Journalists and non-governmental organizations have been documenting human rights abuses around the country since before the election. There are a wealth of reports, statements, and photographs that prove human rights violations on the part of the police, state officials, and Mugabe’s ZANU-PF cronies. Despite overwhelming evidence of Mr. Mugabe’s disregard for the welfare of his people, individuals and bodies from the UN to African Heads of State are avoiding or treading lightly on this issue. 

When I read that Mr. Tsvangirai had withdrawn from the runoff, I felt totally deflated. I have no faith in Thabo Mbeki or anyone else to step up instead of “do nothing.” The only person I’ve been impressed with is Zambia’s president, Levy Mwanawasa, and I don’t think he can pull off an intervention alone.

I’ve never thought that it was the right or just thing to interfere in the sovernty of other nations, unless a crime like genocide was occurring. But last night, I found my mind wandering to thoughts of rouge assassination plots and umbrellas with poison darts embedded in the tip. It sounds crazy but everything about Mugabe’s hold on power is crazy, and so is a world that allows that kind of destructive regime to continue.