Some electoral landslides defy all attempts to rig. Robert Mugabe appears to have reached that conclusion, according to sources for AFP. They report that the Zimbabwean dictator has decided to leave power after almost 28 years. The defeat from this weekend convinced him that his time had run out:
Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe is ready to step down after he accepted he failed to win the country’s presidential election, a senior source in his ruling party and diplomats told AFP Tuesday.
An official in Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party said the long-ruling president was prepared to step down but was still trying to win agreement from the army’s chief of staff Constantine Chiwenga.
“He is prepared to step down because he doesn’t want to embarrass himself by going to a run-off,” the source said on condition of anonymity.
Right now, the only hurdle is the army chief of staff, who may be wondering what happens to Mugabe’s collaborators when the MDC takes charge of Zimbabwe. The people surrounding Mugabe now rigged the last election, and probably most of the elections since Mugabe took power in 1980, first as Prime Minister and then as President. In the aftermath of Mugabe’s departure, Zimbabwe will want an accounting of the men who kept their disaster in motion for almost three decades.
And what a disaster Mugabe has been. He took the former nation of Rhodesia and reduced it to pauper status. Zimbabwe had a booming agriculture industry and the beginnings of industrialization when he took charge. Thanks to a mix of statism, post-colonial petulance, and sheer stupidity, Zimbabwe cannot feed itself after being a net exporter, and all of the capital that promised to bring modernization to the country has fled to avoid confiscation.
The MDC has a daunting task in picking up the pieces. At least they could do no worse than Mugabe.