Monday, January 14, 2008

Mugabe faces challenge to leadership

The BBC is reporting about a possible challenge to the rule of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe.

Simba Makoni, once finance minister and a member of Mugabe’s own Zanu-PF party, is said to be planning a challenge to Mugabe in national elections in March. Under Mugabe all other political parties have effectively been eliminated within Zimbabwe, so the ZANU-PF is the only game in town. Makoni is described as a moderate and a reformer.

This is the best news to come out of Zimbabwe in a long time. Mugabe has basically destroyed what was once one of Africa’s success stories with his iron-fisted rule designed only to keep himself in power. Mugabe began Zimbabwe’s problems a few years ago by seizing white-owned farms under what he called “land reform.” These farms, once some of the most productive in southern Africa, wound up in the hands of political cronies and soon fell into ruin. Zimbabwe quickly went from a net exporter of agricultural products to a nation dependent on international food aid shipments. Their economy collapsed, sparking the highest rate of inflation in the world – nearly 8,000% last year alone. Mugabe, meanwhile, has used the military to crush any popular uprisings.

Makoni has an uphill fight to defeat Mugabe. But until Mugabe is gone, Zimbabwe’s future is bleak.
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