The African Union (AU) is reportedly getting ready to counter threats by Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe ahead of this month’s presidential election run-off. Some Zimbabweans are reportedly skeptical about the prospects of an AU intervention, calling it too little too late. This comes after African dignitaries including former heads of state signed a petition calling on the Harare government to end escalated violence ahead of the run-off. But some political analysts believe the AU does not have the capacity to put pressure on the Mugabe-led government to ensure a free and fair vote. John Makumbe is a political science professor at the University of Zimbabwe. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Harare that President Mugabe is a disgrace to the African Union.
“I think I would say that it’s about time the African Union made a stand against Robert Mugabe. It’s really an embarrassment to the African Union. And his utterances are very much an embarrassment to the African union because they really say he is the ultimate power in Zimbabwe, and even in Africa he is masquerading as someone who is invincible. No one can stop him from doing whatever he wants, and I think that is very embarrassing to the African Union,” Makumbe pointed out.
He said there are many options the African Union can employ to pressure incumbent President Mugabe into ensuring an end to the escalating violence and a free and fair vote later this month.
“For starters, the African Union can flood Zimbabwe with observers for this run-off election, and they can make sure that the people they send into Zimbabwe go to the rural areas as well as to the urban areas. That is the second thing they could do, and the third thing they could do is to give Mugabe the ultimatum to stop the violence that he is perpetrating in Zimbabwe or else they might do the forth thing. They might have to put together a standing army, which can be flown into Zimbabwe to do peacekeeping work during the elections and after the elections. They can do any of those things, and they can do them reasonably quickly,” he said.
Makumbe said the inability of the African Union to help end the violence and ensure a free vote in the upcoming run-off would be seen as a failure.
“It will impact very negatively on the African Union, it will clearly send a message that the African Union is a toothless bulldog. It has a really loud bark, but its bite is completely impotent. And it will also send a message to the people of Zimbabwe, which will say even though the election will be neither free nor fair it can still be won. Robert Mugabe can still lose this election in spite of and sometimes because of his utterances and the action that he has taken against the people of Zimbabwe. People normally don’t vote for the contestant who will have beaten them up, burnt tier house down, raped them and kill them,” Makumbe noted.
He said although the opposition faces have an uphill task of unseating incumbent President Mugabe in the run-off, the MDC could still win the election.
“I think I expect the MDC to win with a huge margin. I expect the people of Zimbabwe to be courageous enough to say yes we have been beaten, we have been harassed, we have been tortured, but we know how to vote and we will vote for change. And to vote for change is to vote for the MDC, it is to vote for Morgan Tsvangirai and it is to vote against Robert Mugabe because he has proved over and above all else that he is not fit to govern this country,” he said.
Meanwhile, incumbent President Robert Mugabe reportedly said yesterday (Sunday) that he is prepared to hand over power to a member of the ruling ZANU-PF party when he is sure the country was safe from what he described as sellouts and from colonialist British interference.