Zimbabwe At The Crossroads: Transition Or Conflict?
Despite broad international condemnation and a tremendous thirst among the people of Zimbabwe for change, the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) government succeeded in systematically manipulating the March 2002 election process to ensure another sixyear term for President Robert Mugabe. The strategic use of state violence and extra-legal electoral tinkering authorised by President Mugabe effectively thwarted the will of the people from being heard. If Zimbabwe’s long slide toward chaos and increasing violence is to be reversed, a concerted regional and wider international effort will be needed. At this point, the best way forward is to create a clear division of labour between regional diplomatic efforts aimed at brokering a transitional power-sharing arrangement and an intensification of pressure by other members of the international community aimed at isolating the regime, highlighting its illegitimacy and demanding fresh elections. The hard-line position of the wider international community should reinforce the leverage of the region’s diplomacy. If the latter fails, the international community, hopefully joined by the region at that point, can then further escalate pressures on the regime. At the end of the day, President Mugabe’s electoral manipulations may have been so brazen and his defiance of diplomatic efforts so thorough that he will force the hand of the region and the broader international community to act decisively against an escalation of violence and entrenchment of illegitimacy.