Briefing from ROAPE Volume 34 Number 113
Desperate Days in Zimbabwe

Desperate Days in Zimbabwe
Vol.34 No.113 (Sept 2007), pp573-580
Go hang (Robert Mugabe, March 2007)&break; No matter how tough it gets ... we have an agreement, even if we are murdered we have an agreement (to continue the struggle) (Morgan Tsvangirai, March 2007)&break; The current SADC mandated mediation on Zimbabwe, led by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, opens a narrow window of opportunity to avoid further deterioration in Zimbabwe's political and economic fortunes. Brought about by a combination of growing regional embarrassment over Mugabe's authoritarian violence and international pressure, the initiative is faced with enormous obstacles in the form of the persistent recalcitrance of decisive elements of the Mugabe regime. Nonetheless the mediation may present an opportunity to pry open new political spaces in the country. Recent events have provided further evidence of the ruling ZANU-PF's reliance on violence as a form of rule. The public beating of opposition and civic leaders, rank and file Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members and high profile lawyers signalled an escalation of repression against the political and civic opposition in the country. Faced with deepening economic crisis, a bitter battle over succession within the ruling party, the persistent presence of opposition forces and continued international pressure, ZANU-PF has responded with a characteristic mixture of ruthlessness and contempt.