Sunday, August 05, 2007

Investor's Business Daily

[I'd take this with a small pinch of salt based on their comments about Cuba, but Investors Business Daily tells us why they think Mugabe is still in power in Zimbabwe.]

Tyranny: As Robert Mugabe's nightmare rule pulls Zimbabwe down a vortex, it's tempting to think his end is near. Maybe not. Foreign leaders are buttressing his rule. It's a weapon that must be turned against him.

On the surface, many wonder how much longer the 84-year-old dictator can rule the once-vibrant country he has turned into a smoking ruin.
The country's productive farms, confiscated since 2000, now lie fallow. His recent program to confiscate the country's remaining businesses has triggered huge food shortages and panic. The country's last 500 mines are creaking to a halt.

The country's economy has blown out, with Zimbabwe's currency in ruins. A new 200,000 currency note fresh off the press purchases just $1 worth of goods on the black market amid capital controls. The IMF forecasts 100,000% inflation by the end of the year.
The U.N.'s World Food Program forecasts about 4 million Zimbabweans likely to be in critical need of food aid by 2008. Electricity and water are flickering or gone for half of the 11 million population.
Hospitals cannot even hydrate patients, let alone put bandages on them. The army is restless. Businessmen who refuse to cut prices in half are being arrested.
National Geographic reported 90% of all ranched animals slaughtered, and 60% of all rare wildlife gone. Each month, thousands of Zimbabweans flee to neighboring South Africa.
It's tempting to think this can't go on. Yet it does, just as Fidel Castro's regime does. A tight little party elite keeps itself fed, clothed and loyal to the Mugabe regime, wallowing in luxury. Their only imperative: Stay in power. Three forces help them do that.
One, Mugabe's control of his country's strategic resources.
As hellish as operating conditions are in Zimbabwe, Mugabe has gotten his hands on the only resources of critical value to global industries that always have willing buyers.
Just as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez seized control of Venezuela's oil to secure his power by 2003, so Mugabe is taking over Zimbabwe's platinum mines as a means of securing his rule. These mines generate income of about $700 million a year. Mugabe is calculating that foreigners will buy no matter what he does to his country.
He can go on a long time with this setup, without worrying about what he's doing to his people. That's why, as of now, he doesn't.
The second global force is the poor country's weapon — the threat to send waves of refugees into neighboring countries.
Using the misery of his own countrymen as a weapon, Mugabe's fearful neighbors prop him up at regional conferences and flatter him in the international arena — with U.N. committeeships, for instance.
They're only offering the tyrant tribute in an effort to keep him from playing the refugee card.
Mugabe also is confident nobody is going to come looking for him for his crimes against humanity because he has seen full-fledged genocide two times in the last 15 years on the African continent — in Rwanda in 1994, and now in Darfur — with very little response from Africa or the West.
Third, the Mugabe regime has cultivated the goodwill of other rogue states, like Iran, Venezuela, China and Libya. Petro-tyrannies like Iran and Libya reportedly provide oil in exchange for Zimbabwe's mine output, which no longer attracts legitimate investment. This props up his regime financially, when the free market won't.
Mugabe has mocked those who question his expropriations of investments. He gleefully states that he has plenty of potential for investment, just by dealing with rogue states.
All of this shows a regime that is hardly stupid, even as it runs its economy in the ground. In fact, it's more evil than crazy. Cutting off Zimbabwe's access to global forces is critical to shutting him down.

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