Neighbours denounce Mugabe, South Africa silent
Tanzania, Swaziland and Angola condemned Mugabe and denounced Zimbabwe's coming elections. The denunciation accompanies Amnesty International's discovery today of 12 dead bodies, all of them showing signs of torture.
Three of Zimbabwe's neighbours in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) turned decisively against Mugabe yesterday. "There is every sign that these elections will never be free nor fair," Tanzania's foreign minister, Bernard Membe, said. He was speaking on behalf of his country, Swaziland and Angola, who are leading a 380-strong SADC election observer mission.
Membe said some of the 211 observers already in the country had seen two people shot dead in front of them. "We have told the government of Zimbabwe to stop the violence," he said. He added that he and his fellow foreign ministers would ask their respective presidents to "do something urgently so that we can save Zimbabwe".
At a press conference with Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris, Gordon Brown called on Mugabe to allow more international observers as well as a UN human rights envoy. At the UN in New York, the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, said the elections could not be free and fair under current conditions.
It is the turning of the tide in Africa, however, that is likely to have the strongest effect within Zimbabwe. Inside SADC, the Zambian president, Levy Mwanawasa, has long been critical of the Mugabe regime. Yesterday, Kenya's foreign minister, Moses Wetang'ula, condemned the "roadblocks" hindering the MDC campaign and urged Mugabe to hold a fair election. "Anything less is an affront to the evolving democratic culture in Africa and unacceptable to all people in Africa," he said in a statement.
In South Africa, the head of the ruling African National Congress, Jacob Zuma, has expressed grave doubts over the fairness of the election. The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, however, has been the most conspicuous voice missing from the regional chorus. He has repeatedly sheltered Mugabe on the world stage, even questioning earlier this year whether there was a crisis in Zimbabwe.
Mbeki travelled to Zimbabwe on Wednesday and held talks with both Mugabe and the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. Mbeki has said nothing, but South Africa's Business Day newspaper reported he had tried to persuade both men to drop the second round vote and form a government of national unity. Tsvangirai has vowed not to join any government while Mugabe remains in power.