February 21, 2007

Mugabe Not The Retiring Type

Robert Mugabe, who has managed to plunge Zimbabwe into ruin and famine during his 27-year dictatorship, promises his people that he will continue to afflict them for the foreseeable future. Mugabe warned those who eye his spot that they resort to "nonsense" when they muse on his replacement:

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has repeated in a televised interview to mark his 83rd birthday that he has no intention of stepping down.

Mr Mugabe criticised colleagues who have been debating when he will retire and who should replace him.

Mr Mugabe, who retains an iron grip after nearly 27 years in power, said they were resorting to nonsense.

The state-run Herald newspaper devoted 16 pages of pictures and messages to Mr Mugabe in their Wednesday edition. The same newspaper also announced that police have imposed a three-month ban on political rallies and protests in townships to try to calm tensions, following violence at the weekend.

Dictators have to rely on bans for political speech. Tensions would not require calming if Mugabe didn't take steps like banning rallies and nationalizing agriculture, or like burning down the houses of the poor in the capital. If his people weren't starving for both food and freedom, Mugabe would have nothing to fear from them.

Instead of allowing people to gather to determine their own governance, Mugabe has decided to throw himself a birthday party. He'll allow Zimbabweans to gather together for that. In fact, Mugabe is so generous with his celebration that he wants Zimbabweans to pay for the celebration in Gweru. His agents have begun collection "donations" for the party already.

Like most dictators, Mugabe either lies about the state of his country or has no connection to reality about it. He told his interviewer that he disagrees that the economy is "sinking", even though inflation in Zimbabwe has reached 1,600% annually. He admitted a decline in the standard of living, which the BBC noted would give slight comfort to those whose poverty has reached famine status.

Mugabe noted that the men looking to succeed him at the moment were "high-ranking, ambitious people who were looking at themselves". Perhaps the Birthday Boy Of Gweru wants to assure his citizens of a smooth transition of power.


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