An analyst says the latest crackdown on the opposition in Zimbabwe may indicate a power struggle within the ruling ZANU-PF Party. Olmo von Meijenfeldt is project coordinator for the political governance program of IDASA, a South African organization that promotes democracy and good governance. From Pretoria, he gave his views to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua on the latest developments in Zimbabwe
“I would say it’s a lot of political maneuvering within ZANU-PF itself. I would be surprised if it was the state security apparatus that protects (President) Mugabe that is actually behind the arrests or even the beatings of the opposition members two weeks ago. I would think it’s probably parts of the state security apparatus in Zimbabwe that are responsible for the arrests… in order to put Mugabe further under pressure. Because as a consequence of these arrests Mugabe’s obviously losing face quite considerably in the region it self, the SADC (Southern African development Community) region and internationally,” he says.
Asked whether he thought Wednesday’s crackdown was planned for when President Mugabe was out of the country, von Meijenfeldt says, “I’m quite sure that it was. And I’m quite sure that it was orchestrated in such a way that Mugabe would again lose face regionally…lose face in the eyes of his fellow president brothers here in the region. Lose face of the presidents that are now…at the SADC meeting.”
He says that in the past, the Zimbabwean leader has been supported by quiet diplomacy in the region and thus has been able to keep his hold on power. He says, however, that some African presidents may be giving him a “tongue-lashing” in private at the SADC meeting in Dar es Salaam.
Von Meijenfeldt describes what’s needed in his view to bring peace in Zimbabwe. “The peaceful solution for the political crisis in Zimbabwe is first and foremost the responsibility of Zimbabweans. And by that I mean democratic forces within Zimbabwe, whether it is the opposition, whether its civil society organizations or whether there are new voices within ZANU-PF, dissenting voices, pro-democracy voices within ZANU-PF. It is their responsibility to develop a roadmap for the future of Zimbabwe.”
After that’s done, he says then neighboring states can help and also provide a framework for mediation of a peaceful settlement.