Mugabe will step down if no prosecution

Robert Mugabe's rule of Zimbabwe has been marked by corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, and criminality on a scale few nations - even in Africa - have had to endure.

But despite his probable loss in last weekend's presidential contest, the dictator is hanging grimly on to power, even threatening to invoke emergency rule if he can't get a deal to step down from office and not be prosecuted for his numerous crimes:

The opposition said the MDC leadership is in direct talks with the highest levels of the army but it is treating the approach with caution because they are distrustful of the individuals involved and calling for direct contact with the president, fearing delaying tactics.

Those fears were reinforced last night when at one point Zimbabwe's election commission abruptly halted the release of official results from the Saturday's election for "logistical reasons" and the police raided opposition offices. The MDC's presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, has already claimed victory on the basis of his party's tally of the count at polling stations.

The police arrested at least two foreign journalists, one from Britain and a New York Times correspondent, who are banned from Zimbabwe under draconian media laws.

A senior MDC source said "the ball is rolling" in persuading Mugabe to recognise defeat in the presidential election after negotiations with the security establishment and contacts with high levels of Zanu-PF.

The source said the party was approached by senior Zanu-PF officials who said they were speaking for Mugabe and that he is prepared to resign if there are guarantees that he and senior aides would not be prosecuted.
The only "logistical reasons" for the delay in releasing the vote is that Mugabe would have to steal so many votes to win that it would be too obvious a fraud.

Raiding opposition headquarters and arresting journalists (probably to keep Britain and America on the sidelines in the crisis) does not bespeak someone ready to make a deal. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) must be very careful in dealing with the still loyal military who depend on Mugabe for their survival. In fact, I smell a doublecross by Mugabe unless the MDC can turn the military and get them to help in the removal of Mugabe.

Only when the dictator is convinced he doesn't have a leg to stand on will he exit. But the opposition better get to that point quickly. Mugabe has thousands of these "paramilitaries" who like nothing better than to go on rampages against the president's political opponents.

The next few days will prove crucial to the future of Zimbabwe. But it's an old story played out throughout the world; one side has the support of the people, the other side has the guns. The outcome is usually determined by how willing the people are to face the guns in order to rid themselves of a tyrant.

In this case, there is hope that the people can gain enough allies to throw Mugabe out.
Robert Mugabe's rule of Zimbabwe has been marked by corruption, mismanagement, incompetence, and criminality on a scale few nations - even in Africa - have had to endure.

But despite his probable loss in last weekend's presidential contest, the dictator is hanging grimly on to power, even threatening to invoke emergency rule if he can't get a deal to step down from office and not be prosecuted for his numerous crimes:

The opposition said the MDC leadership is in direct talks with the highest levels of the army but it is treating the approach with caution because they are distrustful of the individuals involved and calling for direct contact with the president, fearing delaying tactics.

Those fears were reinforced last night when at one point Zimbabwe's election commission abruptly halted the release of official results from the Saturday's election for "logistical reasons" and the police raided opposition offices. The MDC's presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, has already claimed victory on the basis of his party's tally of the count at polling stations.

The police arrested at least two foreign journalists, one from Britain and a New York Times correspondent, who are banned from Zimbabwe under draconian media laws.

A senior MDC source said "the ball is rolling" in persuading Mugabe to recognise defeat in the presidential election after negotiations with the security establishment and contacts with high levels of Zanu-PF.

The source said the party was approached by senior Zanu-PF officials who said they were speaking for Mugabe and that he is prepared to resign if there are guarantees that he and senior aides would not be prosecuted.
The only "logistical reasons" for the delay in releasing the vote is that Mugabe would have to steal so many votes to win that it would be too obvious a fraud.

Raiding opposition headquarters and arresting journalists (probably to keep Britain and America on the sidelines in the crisis) does not bespeak someone ready to make a deal. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) must be very careful in dealing with the still loyal military who depend on Mugabe for their survival. In fact, I smell a doublecross by Mugabe unless the MDC can turn the military and get them to help in the removal of Mugabe.

Only when the dictator is convinced he doesn't have a leg to stand on will he exit. But the opposition better get to that point quickly. Mugabe has thousands of these "paramilitaries" who like nothing better than to go on rampages against the president's political opponents.

The next few days will prove crucial to the future of Zimbabwe. But it's an old story played out throughout the world; one side has the support of the people, the other side has the guns. The outcome is usually determined by how willing the people are to face the guns in order to rid themselves of a tyrant.

In this case, there is hope that the people can gain enough allies to throw Mugabe out.