Thursday, January 22, 2004

Thabo Mbeki has announced that Robert Mugabe is prepared to enter into formal talks with the MDC about ending Zimbabwe's crisis. Good news? Perhaps. But what puzzles me is why the solution to Zimbabwe's problems is always seen, at least in Southern Africa, as a process of negotiation culminating in some sort of government of national unity, or power-sharing, between Zanu-PF and the MDC. Surely what's really needed is a free and fair election, as soon as possible, that would put a legitimate leader in place. If Zanu-PF lose out, and are relegated to the opposition, then so be it. That's democracy. Zanu-PF has no inherent right to be in government. Could it be that many, not least the ANC, are reluctant to accept the idea that the party that liberated Zimbabwe from white rule might one day lose power -- completely? That would, of course, not be a good omen for the ANC. At times, that seems, at least to me, to be the sub-text.

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