Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, Editorial Cartoonist, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday June 26, 2008
Mugabe believes he’s `appointed by God’
As African and Western countries struggle to find a plan to remove Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe – before he declares himself winner of an uncontested election Friday – the aging strongman is turning on his people with renewed ferocity.
Observers are calling it the last thrash of a regime that has beaten, starved and murdered Zimbabweans for years. And observers say the violence may continue even if he is ousted.
Mugabe, 84 and reportedly in poor health, considers himself “appointed by God,” and says he will never give up power. But he is under increasing pressure from his neighbours to step down.
Before a meeting of the United Nations Security Council yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Mugabe to abandon the runoff election, after opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew his name and took shelter in the Netherlands embassy in Harare, saying he wanted to avoid deadly reprisals against his supporters.
“There has been too much violence and too much intimidation,” Ban told reporters. “A vote held in these conditions would lack all legitimacy.”
A draft statement tabled by Britain asked the council to give “full support” to Tsvangirai, in the absence of a legitimate runoff. In the first round of voting in March, his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won a parliamentary victory, but the electoral commission said he had too few votes to win the presidency outright. (Source: Toronto Star)
Commentary by Graeme MacKay, June 27, 2008
Summer is the time for international cartoons, among other subjects I’ve written about on this blog. Here and here and here, too. Throughout the year I tend to draw on local and national events before I’ll consider drawing on other stuff going on in the world. There are regions of the world where I deliberately stay away from commenting on because the complexity of certain situations simply baffles me. The situation around Israel is a prime example. Perhaps when I was newer at cartooning I’d attempt to do something on the whatever peace process was being negotiated upon between Israel and the Palestinians. Now, however, I’ve joined others who may be fatigued by it all and wondering why such a tiny piece of the planet gets so much attention.
By comparison, the political situation in Zimbabwe is so uncomplex it makes it so easy to comment on. Having a despot control any country in the 21st century makes for an easy target for editorial cartoonists. The degree to which they cling to power makes it even easier.
In Mugabe’s case, it’s not just how he clings to power that is so outrageous, it’s the fact that he clings to the one noble ideal that energized him to rally the black majority of Rhodesia … 40 years ago, when Zimbabwe was controlled by a white minority of British colonialists (before reforms brought in by Ian Smith). He courageously fought against minority rule, and spent time in jail for his outspokeness, much like Nelson Mandela in South Africa. Consequently, he became a hero and rose to become leader of a new nation in the horn of Africa in 1980.
It sounds like the foundation of what could have been the rise of a great African hero, doesn’t it? But from the start to the conclusion of the 2008 election of Mugabe’s reign over Zimbabwe tactics of violent intimidation have been so blatantly used to keep him in power. The expropriation of white owned farms, disasterious economic policies leading to unbelieveable inflation, food shortages, oil shortages, internal displacement and starvation are all part of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. The best he can do to deal with these problems is to harken back to the one ideal he started with 40 years ago — that it’s the colonists fault and now the west is only fueling the problems.
That’s Mugabe’s 28 year reign in a nutshell. Pretty straightforward stuff.
But even now the blaming of Zimbabwe’s problems on colonials, the west, and generally the “white man”, Mugabe has gone to new lengths of legitimizing his power as a God given right. A modern day absolute monarch – the exact same people who sent colonials around to settle far off lands and oppress the people in the name of a king ruling by divine right. Another easy international cartoon, and yet so outrageous it’s actually going on before our eyes.