The African Union Summit going on in Egypt has so far not pronounced itself on the run-off presidential elections in Zimbabwe, which took place on June 27 and saw Robert Mugabe claiming a ‘landslide victory’.
Morgan Tsivangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, a party which beat Mugabe’s ZANU PF in the first round election had opted out a few days to the poll.
They cited what was being witnessed by the whole world – unbearable violence against opposition members by government security operatives and war veterans.
MDC did the sensible thing because it was increasingly becoming evident that the incumbent was hell-bent on defeating his opponent no matter what it took. He allegedly had to rely on intimidation, arrests, abductions, assault and outright killings.
At the end of it all he managed to turn around the loss his party had suffered during the initial contest into a resounding 85 percent victory.
How can the African leaders fail to see through this sham election? Or if they have, how bad did the situation have to look in order for them to find it an obligation to stand up to Mugabe, for Zimbabweans?
It has been argued in some circles that a summit hosted in a country, itself led by a Hosni Mubarak who has been in power for 27 years, attended by a Muammar Gadaffi in power since 1969, and an Omar Bongo at the helm of Gabon for the last 41 years, and a host others who have been there for over a decade, was never going to say much against Mugabe.
This observation may hold some water, but it completely misses a key point; the main issue in Zimbabwe is not that Mugabe has been in power for too long. It is that for the last ten years or so, he has subjected the people of Zimbabwe to all sorts of otherwise avoidable political and economic hardships, for the sole reason that he has to continue being in power.
Let the African leaders not be held hostage by an insignificant fact in these circumstances that Mugabe has company on the continent of leaders who have been around for even longer. They should focus on the hell into which he has led his nation and primarily judge him on that, as they propose ways of steering Zimbabwe back on the course of peace.