You can take advantage of your people only so long. Eventually
they rise up in protest. That is what is happening now in Zimbabwe,
where the tide of discontent runs high.
The protesting Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions is saying
"enough is enough." It sponsors successful stay-aways from work.
Other urban dwellers have taken to the streets in militant protest.
Squatters are occupying white-owned farms. A fledgling opposition
party is forming. And mutiny is the much-feared talk of the Army.
President Robert Mugabe, in power for 18 years, must go. That's
the message of the streets in Zimbabwe, as well as of the diplomatic
corridors. It's time Mr. Mugabe heeded the call, and spared his
people more turmoil.
His strong-arm rule is the triggering complaint. He has governed
Zimbabwe coercively since independence in 1980, running roughshod
over intimidated opposition parties and his own Zimbabwe African
National Union (ZANU). Elected overwhelmingly and regularly, he
first foisted state-dominated socialism on Zimbabwe. More recently,
he has vacillated between opening up to market forces and
the core of centralized control.
State domination, widespread corruption, the failure to sell off
state controlled enterprises, and Mugabe' s own oft-voiced disdain
for the private sector, has resulted in GDP annual growth increases
that lag behind population increases, steadily falling standards of
living, inflation approaching 50 percent this year, and unemployment
approaching 50 percent.
Zimbabwe's dollar has fallen a third against the United States
dollar since November 1997.
Zimbabwe's workers might have understood why prices of imported
fuel had to increase 67 percent along with the costs of bread,
cooking oil, the staple maize meal, and bus fares - up 100 percent.
But not when they learned that Mugabe was building expensive
for his young second wife, that the mayor of Harare, the country' s
capital, was constructing a $1.5 million house when luxury houses in
the city cost a mere $130,000, that the city of Harare could not pay
for a $685,000 water pump and so the city suffered serious shortages
of water, and that the president had sent the Zimbabwean Army to
fight an expensive war in the distant Congo.
No one in Zimbabwe can understand why its troops have been sent to
defend President Laurent Kabila's continued dictatorship in the
at a time when Zimbabwe is desperately short of cash, and the Congo
has none to offer. …