I have followed the developments in Zimbabwe for many years and have led human rights missions to the country and region in the past. I love the people in Zim, they are warm, kind and deserve a break from the trauma of the recent past.
On Saturday, March 29, 2008, hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean’s voted in parliamentary and presidential elections. Reports from civil society, media and the opposition all indicate that President Robert Mugabe lost his reelection bid and that Morgan Tsvangirai won enough votes to become the next leader of Zimbabwe.
Unfortunately, the ruling Mugabe administration has suppressed the release of the final polling results by the electoral commission. Mugabe is now resorting to force and the threat of further violence via the levers of state security, to intimidate the opposition.
Zimbabweans have spoken decisively in these elections and have unequivocally cast a vote to break from the violence and instability fostered by the Mugabe regime in recent years. It is vital that the U.S. and the international community act to ensure that the results of these elections stand.
The U.S. government must engage the international community and our friends and allies in the region to ensure that power is transferred from Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu – PF) to Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It may be necessary for the U.N. Security Council to deploy a small peacekeeping group to assist with this transition. Zimbabwe will also require significant human and economic resources in the weeks, months and years ahead and the U.S. should be supportive of a transparent rebuilding initiative.
It is in the U.S. national interest to ensure that the citizens of states ruled by authoritarian regimes respond by embracing democracy instead of violence. If Zimbabwe can transition from the Mugabe government to that of Mr. Tsvangirai, via the ballot box, it will provide an example to be followed throughout Africa. Furthermore, it is clearly in the U.S. interest to ensure that Zimbabwe does not continue the slide towards failed state status. Currently, Zimbabwe ranks fourth on the Fund for Peace/Foreign Policy Failed State Index. And as the 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy correctly notes: “America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones.”