Robert Mugabe lectures the Copenhagen delegates on carbon emissions. I think that makes sense. What Mugabe has done in Zimbabwe is probably the only workable scheme for getting carbon levels down where the greens want them.
Mugabe is making backup plans, in case he is forced from office:
ZIMBABWE’S President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace have secretly bought a £4m bolt-hole in the Far East while his country struggles with hyper-inflation, mass unemployment and a cholera epidemic.
The Mugabes’ house, in an exclusive residential complex in Hong Kong, was purchased on their behalf by a middleman through a shadowy company whose registered office is in a run-down tenement block. When a reporter and a photographer called at the house last week, they were attacked by the Zimbabwean occupants. The assailants were questioned by the police.
The property came to light during a Sunday Times investigation into the Mugabes’ financial interests in Asia, where a web of associates has helped them to spend lavishly on luxuries and stash away millions in bank accounts. In Zimbabwe, meanwhile, inflation has reached 231m%, unemployment stands at 94% and 3,467 people have died in recent months from cholera.
Zimbabwe’s army is getting restless, as it is no longer getting paid any more than the general public.
I wish I could believe this London Times report:
THE president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has been warned by Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, that he faces prosecution for the crimes he has committed during his 28 years in office unless he signs a deal to give up all effective power.
Mbeki, who has done all he can to shield and support Mugabe for the past eight years, has come under overwhelming western pressure and has had to tell Mugabe that he could no longer protect him and his key cronies from being charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The power-sharing talks between Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are shrouded in secrecy. But The Sunday Times has learnt that Mugabe, who has vowed that Tsvangirai will never be in government and that “only God can remove me from power”, faces humiliation over the terms of the deal that he will be forced to sign next month.
He will remain as president in name only and all real power will be held by a 20-member cabinet under Tsvangirai as prime minister. The opposition MDC will have 11 cabinet posts to nine for Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.
All Mugabe’s senior officials in the army, police and intelligence services, who have unleashed a campaign of terror since the MDC won a disputed victory in the elections held in March, will be dismissed.
(Via Hot Air.)
Two weeks ago, I noted that Mugabe had been cut off by the German firm that supplied him the paper on which to print his hyper-inflating currency. At the time, the Zimbabwean Minister of Worthless Currency (or whatever they call it) bravely predicted that it would not be a problem.
Now Mugabe’s printing operation is being cut by two-thirds, and it will be entirely out-of-paper in another two weeks. Since the money is used to pay Mugabe’s police, army, and thugs, this could be a major problem for his regime.
(Via the Corner.)
A new problem (subscription required) for Mugabe:
Robert Mugabe has kept his embattled regime in Zimbabwe afloat on a sea of paper money. Now, he’ll have to try to do it without the paper.
The Munich-based company that has supplied Zimbabwe with the special blank sheets to print its increasingly worthless dollar caved in to pressure on Tuesday from the German government for it to stop doing business with the African ruler.
Mr. Mugabe’s regime relies on a steady supply of the paper — fortified with watermarks and other antiforgery features — to print the bank notes that allow it to pay the soldiers and other loyalists who enable him to stay in power. With an annual inflation rate estimated at well over 1 million percent, new notes with ever more zeros need to be printed every few weeks because the older ones lose their worth so quickly.
Giesecke & Devrient — a secretive, family-owned Bavarian company that once made its money churning out worthless cash for the doomed Weimar Republic in the 1920s — has been airlifting tons of blank notes to the Zimbabwean capital Harare. The company, which has been doing business with the African nation since before Mr. Mugabe took power in 1980, is one of the few sources in the world for the specialized paper that is so important in an age when computers and laser printers have made forgery easy.
I can’t help wondering how Mugabe was paying them.
(For those without a WSJ subscription, MSNBC has a story too.)
But, to give credit where credit is due, Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister of Kenya, did speak out against Mugabe:
The African Union should not accept or entertain Mr Mugabe. He should be suspended until he allows the African Union to facilitate free and fair elections between him and his opponents.
The people of Zimbabwe having not yet suffered enough, Mugabe has decided to empty the store shelves:
In a bid to cement voters’ loyalty, Mr Mugabe has ordered price cuts of up to 90 per cent in some areas. Truckloads of scarce goods are being sent from Harare to so-called People’s Shops, which were inaugurated by Mr Mugabe during his campaign. These will be forced to sell bottles of cooking oil at Z$1 billion, or about 6p, according to the official Herald daily. Normally, a bottle costs Z$16 billion (£1).
Paul Wolfowitz has a plan:
Words of condemnation help to deny Mugabe’s claims of legitimacy, but words alone are not enough. Specific sanctions against some of the leaders of the violence may also be useful, but their impact will be limited. Broad economic sanctions will only increase the suffering of Zimbabwe’s people, whose misery has already been increased by Mugabe’s refusal to accept emergency food assistance from the U.N.
There is also talk about U.N. peacekeeping forces or other forms of military intervention, but this does not seem to be what the people of Zimbabwe want. What the people of Zimbabwe clearly do want is to maintain the pressure on Mugabe and his cronies for peaceful, democratic change.
The international community should commit – as publicly and urgently as possible – to provide substantial support if Mugabe relinquishes power. Even if Mr. Tsvangirai were to become president tomorrow he would still face a daunting set of problems: restoring an economy in which hyperinflation has effectively destroyed the currency and unemployment is a staggering 70%; getting emergency food aid to millions who are at risk of starvation and disease; promoting reconciliation after the terrible violence; and undoing Mugabe’s damaging policies, without engendering a violent backlash.
The international community should also say it will move rapidly to remove the burden of debts accumulated by the Mugabe regime and not force a new government to spend many months and precious human resources on the issue.
Reported today: Zimbabwean authorities stole food aid from children and Mugabe’s goons burned a woman alive.
Fox News reports.
Robert “Get behind the fist” Mugabe’s latest atrocity in his reign of terror hits a new low:
Scores of children and babies have been locked up in filthy prison cells in Harare as Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, sinks to new depths in his campaign to force the opposition into exile before an expected run-off in presidential elections.
Twenty-four babies and 40 children under the age of six were among the 250 people rounded up in a raid on Friday, according to Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Yesterday they were crammed into cells in Southerton police station in central Harare. . .
The families were rounded up from MDC headquarters, where they had sought refuge from violence in the countryside.
The abduction of children is just one element in a systematic campaign of murder and intimidation:
Thought to be directed by top military officers, Operation Where Did You Put Your Cross? has prompted thousands to flee. They are trying to escape the so-called war veterans, who are attacking people and burning down hundreds of houses for voting “incorrectly” in last month’s elections. . .
The regime’s strategy is to ensure that by the time of the run-off, Mugabe would have a clean sweep in rural areas, where 70% of Zimbabweans live. A police officer admitted yesterday that he had been instructed not to interfere with war veterans as they carry out their campaign of terror.
(Via the Corner.)
A large shipment of weapons from China to Robert “get behind the fist” Mugabe (I won’t call him “President” any more) has been unable to reach him, as African ports have refused to unload the cargo. (Via Instapundit.) I’ve resisted getting too pleased by this, figuring China would find somewhere else to unload their guns, but this story has the first indication that they might give up:
China has defended the shipment as “perfectly normal trade” but Beijing has hinted it may recall the ship as it was unable to offload its cargo.
Having insufficiently rigged the first round of voting, Mugabe is determined not to make the same mistake again:
Zimbabwe was bracing itself yesterday for the possibility that President Robert Mugabe, forced into an expected election runoff against his opposition challenger Morgan Tsvangirai, could mobilise an army of thugs to beat, intimidate and terrify voters, while taking emergency powers to vary the electoral regulations so as to make ballot-stuffing easier.
Both Britain and the United States are exercising strong diplomatic pressure on Mugabe not to follow this route. But some diplomatic observers believe that it may be the ageing despot’s only way of keeping his vow to die in State House.
Mugabe’s deputy information minister, Bright Matonga, who claimed last week that the president’s Zanu-PF party had let him down in the first round of voting, predicted a resounding victory in the second, saying: “We only applied 25% of our energy in the first round. That [the runoff] is when we are going to unleash the other 75%.”
Oh dear, the first round was only 25% rigged?
Also, an explanation of why the official results matter; not because of the tally, but because the runoff can’t be scheduled until they’re released:
The official tally has yet to be declared and when MDC lawyers went to the High Court yesterday in an attempt to force an announcement, their way into the building was blocked by police from Mugabe’s office over the road. One of the lawyers, Alec Muchadehama, said the police had threatened to shoot them. The case was eventually postponed until today.
The longer the delay in announcing the presidential election result, opposition activists say, the more time Mugabe will have to mobilise his forces.
Reports yesterday suggested that attempts to intimidate the opposition could already be under way. According to one African news agency, Zimbabwean soldiers beat supporters of the MDC in some parts of the country to punish them for “premature” election victory celebrations. At least 17 people were said to have been beaten so badly that they had to be taken to hospital.
Mugabe makes clear he has no intention of leaving power:
Zimbabwe’s government staged separate police raids on Thursday against the main opposition party, foreign journalists and at least one democracy advocate, raising the specter of a broad crackdown aimed at keeping the country’s imperiled leaders in power.
With the government facing election results that threaten its 28-year reign, security officers raided the Miekles Hotel in central Harare on Thursday afternoon, searching rooms that the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, had rented for election operations. . .
About the same time, a second group of riot officers sealed off the York Lodge, a small hotel in suburban Harare that is frequented by foreign journalists. A lodge worker . . . said six people were detained, including Barry Bearak, a correspondent for The New York Times who was later located in a Harare jail.
Raids on the opposition party, arrests of foreign journalists, and no official election results yet. Yep, I’m sure this runoff is going to be fair.
Earlier today the talk was of a runoff election between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. This would give Mugabe another shot at rigging the election, which apparently he didn’t do well enough the first time.
Now that talk seems to have fallen by the wayside. Official sources are now saying that Mugabe is prepared to step down, and the sticking point is getting agreement from the army chief of staff. Gateway Pundit has a roundup. (Via Instapundit.)
I’m still skeptical about this. I find it hard to believe that Mugabe would ever leave office voluntarily, but I hope I’m wrong.
Will South Africa be the next Zimbabwe?
Julius Malema, the 30-year old leader of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has attracted growing headlines since 2010 for his calls to nationalize South Africa’s mines, and to emulate Zimbabwe’s land redistribution program in order to rectify a wide wealth imbalance between the white minority, which accounted for 9% of the 50 million person nation according to a 2010 census. Malema proclaimed “The only option is to take the land without compensation, if you refuse to give us an alternative.”
Last month, he was convicted of hate speech for singing an inflammatory anti-apartheid song which translates into “Shoot the Boer” (Dubhula iBhunu) at a ANCYL rally. Are these the harmless ravings of an innocuous radical activist, or an ominous harbinger for South Africa’s future? Current President Jacob Zuma has previously referred to Malema as a future president.
Next year, the ANC will hold leadership elections, in which the next president of South Africa will likely emerge. . . Robert Mugabe turned the breadbasket of Africa into a dysfunctional, violent kleptocracy. If ANC moderates fail to stop Malema’s ascent, South Africa may never regain the optimism of 1995 and slip down the dangerous path Zimbabwe forged in 1987.
Jonathan Reynolds writes:
A while back, I asked if Zimbabwe had “won” the unfortunate honor of having the world’s largest banknote. One of our sharp readers, Timothy Abbot, pointed out that this distinction went to Yugoslavia with a 500 Billion note.
Well, according to this International Herald Tribune story , Zimbabwe has blown the top off the record with a 100 TRILLION Zim dollar note. . . The Mugabe regime now qualify as the most incompetent economic managers in modern history. Congrats, guys — it’s a hard won title, but well deserved.
Iowahawk has some advice for Hollywood environmentalists. Many are good only for wealthy, preachy celebrities, but a few, like this one, are for everyone:
Crush a Third World Economic Development Movement. One of the most pressing threats facing our environment is rising income in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. A generation ago these proud little dark people were happily frolicking in the rain forest, foraging for organic foods amid the wonders of nature. Today, corrupted by wealth, they are demanding environmentally hazardous consumer goods like cars and air conditioning and malaria medicine. You can do your part to stop this dangerous consumerism trend by supporting environmentally progressive leaders like Hugo Chavez and Robert Mugabe, and their programs for sustainable low-impact ecolabor camps.
Mark Steyn adds:
This is an amazing race. The incumbent president has approval ratings somewhere between Robert Mugabe and the ebola virus. The economy is supposedly on the brink of global Armageddon. McCain has only $80 million to spend, while Obama’s burning through $600 mil as fast as he can, and he doesn’t really need to spend a dime given the wall-to-wall media adoration. And tonight Chris Matthews’ doctors announced that his leg tingle has metastasized leaving his entire body like a vibrating cellphone whose ringtone is locked on “I’m In Love, I’m In Love, I’m In Love, I’m In Love, I’m In Love With A Wonderful Guy.”
And yet an old cranky broke loser is within two or three points of the King of the World. Strange.
The Washington Post reports. We’ll have to see how this works out, but I’m skeptical that Mugabe will cede Tsvangirai any real power.
The Economist reports:
IT WAS a humiliating week for Robert Mugabe. As the new parliament elected in March was convened for the first time, the chairman of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Lovemore Moyo, won the vote to become speaker, beating Mr Mugabe’s candidate. Then the veteran leader was booed and heckled during his speech, for the first time in his 28 years in power. Negotiations between the ruling ZANU-PF and the MDC are still suspended, after the two sides failed to agree on who should hold executive power. Mr Mugabe, not one to take humiliation well, looks set to harden his stance: prospects for an early deal look slim. But it was a rare and telling victory for the opposition.
The Zimbabwean leader had violated ground rules, agreed on before the negotiations began, stipulating that the new parliament should not be convened, nor a new cabinet appointed, while negotiations were under way. Several MDC MPs have already been arrested, some as they were entering Parliament to be sworn in. Ahead of a regional meeting earlier this month, Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, and his party’s secretary-general and chief negotiator were both detained at the airport and their passports confiscated en route to the meeting; they were allowed to continue on their way after South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki, mandated by the region’s leaders to mediate in the talks, apparently intervened.
A film smuggled out of the country shows Zimbabwean vote-rigging in process. In the film, a Mugabe crony watches carefully as people prepare their postal ballot.
There’s a lesson for us here as well. The secret ballot is the fundamental instrument of democracy, and the moves to vote-by-mail in several states endanger it. Absentee ballots are already the tool of choice for election fraud in the United States.
With mounting violence in Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai has announced that he is pulling out of the presidential runoff. With the likelihood that voting for Tsvangirai would cost voters their lives, and Mugabe vowing to stay in power whatever the results, he decided it would irresponsible to carry through with the charade.
I’ve long expected that Mugabe will leave office only at the end of a noose.
(Here’s a retrospective on Mugabe’s post-election atrocities.)
This is what passes for good news in Zimbabwe these days:
Earlier on Thursday, a Chinese ship carrying armaments made by a Chinese state-owned company and bound for Zimbabwe headed back to China without unloading its cargo of bullets and mortar bombs, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry confirmed at a briefing Thursday.
“The Chinese company has already decided to send the military goods back to China in the same vessel, the An Yue Jiang,” the spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said. . .
China’s decision to turn the ship around was welcomed by the dock workers, trade unionists, religious leaders, Western diplomats and human rights workers who have been campaigning since last week to block delivery of the weapons to Zimbabwe.
They had said the weaponry could be used to carry out an even more violent crackdown on Zimbabwe’s political opposition, which is allied with the country’s unionized workers.
“This is a great victory for the trade union movement in particular and civil society in general in putting its foot down and saying we will not allow weapons that could be used to kill and maim our fellow workers and Zimbabweans to be transported across South Africa,” said Patrick Craven, spokesman for the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which represents 1.9 million South African workers. China’s strategic retreat in delivering the weapons also allows it to avoid Zimbabwe-related protests over its human rights record before it hosts the Olympic Games this summer.
Also, the State Department has decided to acknowledge what everyone knows:
Turning up the pressure on President Robert Mugabe, the top United States envoy to Africa declared Zimbabwe’s opposition leader the “clear victor” in the nation’s disputed presidential election. . .
“This is a government rejecting the will of the people,” she said, referring to the government’s refusal to announce who won the presidential election last month, despite independent projections that placed the opposition ahead. “If they had voted for Mugabe the results would already have been announced. Everyone knows what time it is.”
The London Times reports:
Zimbabwe’s opposition revealed 10 of its supporters have now been killed with 400 arrested and 500 injured in President Mugabe’s post-election clampdown.
As a further delay was announced in the recounting of votes cast over three weeks ago fears grew that an attempt is being made to overturn the results of the parliamentary election, which showed ZANU-PF losing its majority to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) for the first time.
This makes sense for Mugabe, I suppose. As long as he’s going to thwart the Presidential election and stay in office, there’s no reason to abide by the Parliamentary vote.
But don’t despair, the African Union is on the case:
An AU statement said: “The African Union wishes to express its concern over the delay observed in the announcement of Zimbabwe’s election results, which creates an atmosphere of tension.
“The African Union therefore urges competent authorities of the Republic of Zimbabwe to announce the results without any further delay, in transparency, thus contributing, inter alia, to reducing the prevailing tension.”
Okay, that ought to do it.
Robert Mugabe is complaining of voting irregularities.
UPDATE: NPR has the audio up now. Seek to 1:20.
It’s hard to keep up with the pace of events in Zimbabwe, but it seems to fluctuate between three states:
State three always seemed far-fetched, but there was enough talk of it from supposedly informed sources that I began to hope. Now things appear to have settled into state two. This isn’t good news; Mugabe now knows how many votes he’s going to have to steal to win. Expect to see him “win” the runoff by a narrow margin.
I have to blog this right away, since it won’t last long. Sky News reports that the opposition is claiming victory based on unofficial results. Then the rub:
The electoral body said it would start announcing early partial returns at some point today.
The official returns will probably be a bit different. (Is Jimmy Carter there to give Mugabe cover?)
UPDATE: The NYT reminds us of the last Zimbabwean vote:
In 2002, reported results had challenger Morgan Tsvangirai piling up a big lead. Then, suddenly, the announcements stopped. When they resumed, hours later, Mr. Mugabe was well ahead.
UPDATE and BUMP: The Telegraph reports: Robert Mugabe’s defeat cannot be covered up. Here’s hoping.
The Guardian’s report is less promising:
Robert Mugabe was desperately trying to cling to power last night, despite his clear defeat in Zimbabwe’s presidential election, by blocking the electoral commission from releasing official results and threatening to treat an opposition claim of victory as a coup. . .
Tsvangirai [the apparent winner] made no public appearances, apparently out of concern for his safety. Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, warned Tsvangirai not to declare himself president because that “is called a coup d’etat and we all know how coups are handled”.
Yes, I suppose we do.
Polls show that Zimbabwe is poised overwhelmingly to reject Mugabe, if given the chance, which seems unlikely to me. Personally, I suspect he’ll be leaving office the way Nicolae Ceausescu did, and no sooner.
UPDATE: No surprise here; things look bad.