Freedom and democracy were endangered for years. But a wave of terror, intimidation, rape, and murder have officially shut-down the opposition party, and have made Robert Mugabe stronger than ever. And Mugabe has essentially vowed not to relinquish power until he dies. Claiming that the MDC, the opposing party, is not patriotic and panders to British interests, the 84 year-old Mugabe said this:
Only God, who appointed me, will remove me. Not the MDC, not the British. We will never allow an event like an election [to] reverse our independence....
Mugabe's challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the MDC won more votes by narrow margin in parliamentary elections in March, but fell short of earning 50% of the popular vote required to avoid a runoff. The runoff was scheduled for June 27th. But today Tsvangirai and the MDC stood down amidst intimidation, beatings, and killings by pro-Mugabe gangs. As is frequently the case in dictatorships, Mugabe explained that the months of escalated violence has been committed by the MDC, not by his party or supporters.
Time for a disclaimer as well. I don't think there are any liberal bloggers who defend Mugabe. I say this because I know that Mugabe was once a victim of a white apartheid government when his country was known as Southern Rhodesia. Surely a man who survived white imprisonment and helped lead his nation to independence could be admired 30 years ago. He is also a vocal adversary of the UK and the US - two governments we liberals are always happy to criticize. But by no means does that make him someone to admire.
Since 1980, Mugabe has become quite a monster. And yes, some right-wing blogs, such as Instaputz, have frequently attacked Mugabe. But in this case, the enemy of our enemy is still our enemy.
Same applies to Hugo Chavez. On one hand, he is proving that second-world, resource-rich countries, can compete with the USA in the same hemisphere (like Brazil). Venezuela is a viable, alternative economic partner to African and Asian countries that don't like the USA's prices. But on the other hand, Chavez is still a power-hungry, irrational, democracy-smothering son of a bitch.
And Mugabe is becoming a murderous, dangerous, son of a bitch. His actions threaten not only his country, but to a lesser extent, he threatens the already-fragile prosperity and democracy in Africa as a whole.