Monday, June 23, 2008

Mugabe has won

So, it's over - and Mugabe has won. Zimbabwe's dream of a peaceful democratic revolution has been crushed by torture and murder. For a while there was some hope that Mugabe's brutal dictatorship could be overthrown at the ballot box, but with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrawing from Friday's run-off to prevent further bloodshed, that hope is dead.

It is unclear whether the withdrawal will have any legal effect (it wouldn't in New Zealand - you can only withdraw before nomination day - but Zimbabwe's electoral law may be different), whether Mugabe will be declared the winner by default, or if the elections will go ahead anyway. But if they do, they will not confer legitimacy - there is none to be gained from an "election" with only one candidate.

As for Zimbabwe, it's clear now that their only hope of freedom is to wait for Mugabe to die. Given that he's 84, that could happen quite soon (OTOH, look at how long Castro has held on for). But even then, the transition might not be smooth.