As Zimbabwe continues forming a unity government, most recently through the parliament’s passage of a constitutional amendment, the leaders of the world must carefully consider their response. While the opportunity to accept the African Union and South Africa’s invitation to applaud Zimbabwe’s leaders for a seemingly giant leap forward is tempting, there are too many lives at stake and too long a history of Mugabe’s broken promises for self-congratulation. One report from Thursday cites optimism among members of the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, about “the beginning of the end of Mr. Mugabe’s 29-year rule.” However, others note that overcoming Mugabe’s destructive stronghold on all aspects of governance (security forces, banks, the press, etc.) is only the first obstacle to achieving a truly inclusive and effective government. We encourage the State Department and the European Union to keep their word and maintain targeted sanctions until clear evidence of a change in Harare is established.
When I asked (Ian) Smith whether he would stop leaving his front door open now that starving Zimbabweans are prowling the city, he replied, "I’m not going to change now."
Once aligned as deadly enemies, Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe have a great deal in common, and leopards are not quick to change their spots.