12 June 2007

Mugabe & Co.

"The conventional wisdom is that Zimbabwe is at the point of imminent economic and social collapse, and that this will trigger widespread unrest and deep-seated political change. Such wishful thinking does not intersect with rational analysis."

The head of the Brenthurst Foundation, which seeks to strengthen Africa's economic performance, suggests that President Robert Mugabe is still popular among his followers because political patronage has opened up opportunities for instant wealth for a small number of Zimbabweans. He argues that "the worst sanctions currently aimed at Zimbabwe are not the ones leveled by America and Europe against Mugabe and his leadership or the voluntary cutbacks on donor assistance" and only when the internal economy has been so destroyed that the depreciating local currency gives in to dollarisation will arbitrage opportunities disappear and there be any real prospect of change in Zimbabwe.

If he is right that progress in mediating a peaceful resolution to the crisis depends on the appetite of Zimbabwe's elite for change and the extent of their desperation, then it is all the more crucial that current sanctions also be applied to family members and business associates of those already being targeted, as called for in our petition.