Is anyone enjoying the Olympic torch protests more than Robert Mugabe? The first week after he lost the Zimbabwe general elections, Mugabe's thuggery and attempts at rigging the contest were international news. Then the Olympic relay hit Paris, and the Zimbabwe story slowed, and that modestly-sized hole the media has for human rights abuses got filled. Meanwhile, as Jamie Kirchick shows, Mugabe has been mounting up to wreck his country and his enemies.
"I say don't wait for dead bodies on the streets of Harare. Intervene now. There's a constitutional and legal crisis in Zimbabwe," MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti pleaded at a Monday news conference, drawing allusions to the Rwandan genocide. Though the likelihood of such a massive slaughter is slim, Biti has reason to be scared. The regime has already detained scores of opposition activists and arrested seven members of the country's electoral commission, accusing the latter of undercounting votes for Mugabe. Last Friday, 400 "war veterans" marched through the streets of Harare in silence, a demonstration of force meant to signal that the state-sanctioned terror of 2000 could easily be repeated should Mugabe give the order. The way Mugabe sees it, bloodshed is in his best interest: Inciting violence would give him the pretext to declare a state of emergency and postpone a runoff presidential election indefinitely. Mugabe has reportedly drawn up plans to dispatch 200 senior military commanders throughout the country to execute a campaign of intimidation and violence in preparation for a potential run-off.
The BBC's reporting on this has seemed overly optimistic, probably because it's hard to allow for the high-level lying of Zanu-PF sources. The coming regional meeting of powers doesn't look like it'll solve anything. Meanwhile, Mugabe's regime is getting away with this:
Zanu PF militants have invaded the farm of Commercial Farmers' Union president Trevor Gifford, saying he is never to return home.
Mr Gifford, who has spent a frantic week in Harare trying to assist at least 60 fellow farmers cope with their own invasions around the country was not at home near Chipinge, about 220 miles south east of Harare, when the mob of about 30 wearing Zanu-PF T-shirts arrived at his security gate.
"They have left messages with staff for me that they are taking over the farm and will manage the livestock with some of my workers," Mr Gifford said.
I'd hoped an 84-year old, unable to even muster fraudulent support for his government, would see the writing on the wall.