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April 16, 2008
General Strike in Zimbabwe Peters Out
Hopelessness is so endemic in Zimbabwe that a call by the opposition for a general strike failed to generate much enthusiasm.
That and the fact that people simply can't afford to take a day off - not with inflation running at 100,000% or more a year:
The call by Zimbabwe’s political opposition for people nationwide to stay away from work on Tuesday to protest a 17-day delay in releasing the results of the presidential election largely failed to interrupt the normal flow of life in the cities. Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe is plotting a "comeback" for himself and his party:
The relative ineffectiveness of the one-day protest says much about the long odds the opposition faces in ousting the nation’s long-entrenched autocratic president, Robert Mugabe, despite reports from independent monitors that he badly trailed the opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, in the March 29 election.
People lucky enough to have jobs in a country with 80 percent unemployment explained that they could not afford to lose a precious day’s pay by participating in the work stoppage.
Official results of last month’s voting showed that Mr. Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF, had lost control of the lower house of Parliament for the first time in 28 years. But election officials have refused to release the results of the presidential vote. Unless there is intervention on the part of Zimbabwe's neighbors, it appears that Mugabe will engineer an election victory simply by stealing the requisite number of votes. And the agony of the people will continue until the state of Zimbabawe simply collapses into chaos.
And on Saturday the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission said it planned to start a recount of the presidential and parliamentary votes in 23 districts, potentially enough for ZANU-PF to reclaim its parliamentary majority. A judge on Tuesday postponed the opposition’s challenge of the recount.