Thursday, May 01, 2008


Extraordinary piece in the LRB by R.W. Johnson about the unfolding catastrophe in Zimbabwe.

Perhaps the most important thing about the election was that, because Mbeki and Mugabe had miscalculated so spectacularly, Zanu-PF was caught off-guard and for several days there was complete uncertainty. That period provided an aperture through which Zimbabweans could glimpse an alternative future – and many did. It was clear that, with a new democratic government, there would be immediate British and American help, quickly followed by the EU, the World Bank and IMF, with the emphasis on food aid and the restabilisation of the currency. One consequence would be that Zimbabwe would cease to be a client state of South Africa and instead become more generally dependent on developed country donors and investors. Doubtless, Mbeki and Mugabe would see this as a victory for neocolonialism, though one is bound to say that even if the prospect was described in those terms, ordinary Zimbabweans would happily vote for it.

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