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Vol 41 No 22

Published 10th November 2000


Zimbabwe

Morgan versus Mugabe

Oppositionists take to the streets to chase the President from power but his own party may beat them to it

The more opponents urge President Robert Mugabe to quit, the more he wants to stay put. His backers insist that he will be running again in the 2002 presidential elections, although his own party and the electorate blame him for the country's political and economic chaos. The show of force by the police and the military to counter food protests last month - tear gas dropped from army helicopters and armoured cars in the townships - showed Mugabe's determination to counter his opponents. The scene may have looked like the dying days of apartheid South Africa but Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change is no African National Congress. It is a hastily built coalition with some odd allies ploughing into Mugabe's largely self-inflicted crisis. Now Morgan wants to slay the dragon. With enough courage, supporters on the streets, workers on strike and economic chaos, the MDC might just chase Mugabe from power - even before Christmas, as Morgan told journalists and ministers in Europe this week. Other forces are pushing in the same direction, albeit less overtly. Anti-Mugabe sentiment is rising among soldiers and the police, prompted more by bad pay than qualms about beating protesters; and many in the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front feel the same way but cannot agree what to do about it.

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