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Political Analyst Says Zimbabweans Are Cautiously Optimistic About Their Future - 2003-05-08

Zimbabwean political analyst Brian Raftapolous says most Zimbabweans are cautiously optimistic about the outcome of current regional efforts to resolve the country’s political and economic crisis.

Professor Raftapolous, who teaches development studies at the University of Zimbabwe, says the three leaders spearheading the effort have baggage of their own. He says President Robert Mugabe is keenly aware of this and won’t miss a beat in exploiting it to advance his advantage.

On the other hand, Professor Raftapolous says the current efforts represent an African initiative, lending them more weight on the continent than if they were initiated by Americans or Europeans. He says there is a differentiated African view of the situation in Zimbabwe, just as Africans and Westerners comprehend the reality differently.

The analyst says what matters most are the views held by Zimbabweans, which he maintains are largely critical of President Mugabe and his policies. Professor Raftapolous says if the current efforts result in his stepping down, it’s not yet known who might succeed him. But the analyst says in the event a free and open election is organized, opposition leader Morgan Tsivangerai may end up succeeding Robert Mugabe.

Professor Raftapolous says any new government will likely carry out a thorough audit of past land policies and try to reengage the international community on the basis of a more transparent program for the future.

Professor Raftapolous spoke from Harare with English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje. Click the above links to download or listen to Ashenafi's interview.