It appears as of this writing that the election in Zimbabwe has produced the worst possible result. With the state-run newspaper, The Herald, reporting that no candidate has secured a majority, it looks like the country is headed for a run-off vote that could easily spark Kenyan-type violence as Mugabe’s supporters try to squash the opposition one more time.
While it’s possible that forcing a run-off is simply Robert Mugabe’s way to buy more time to negotiate with Morgan Tsvangirai to arrange a graceful exit, such a move would not be in character for a man who views every challenge to his power as a personal humiliation.
Then there are Mugabe’s supporters in ZANU-PF. They have little or no incentive to see him replaced and, while there have been reports that the party is showing signs of disunity, the odds of “the old man” getting tossed out by his own people are not positive. Why would they, when to denounce him would be to endanger their own prosperity? It was Mugabe, after all, who awarded them ownership of the white-owned corporate farms that were supposedly confiscated for the people of the country. It was Mugabe who made sure they received the cars, homes, tractors, and even food that the rest of the country could only dream of.
Just weeks before the election, Mugabe’s government ruled that all business enterprises in the country must be majority owned by native Zimbabweans, thus threatening to do the same thing to the nation’s mining and manufacturing industry as it did to agriculture. The likely new owners? His supporters, of course.
We should also keep in mind that the head of a snake is but a small part of the whole. Even if Robert Mugabe is replaced, a great deal of the body will still be writhing on the ground.