Zimbabwe’s Parliament heckled and jeered President Robert Mugabe as he ceremonially opened the legislative session. The lower house of Parliament, with an opposition majority for the first time since 1980, elected a speaker from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change on Monday. Mugabe and MDC leaders have held inconclusive talks after fraud-tainted elections. (The New York Times)
What the commentators said
It was not “Zimbabwe’s Ceaucescu moment,” said The Times of London in an editorial, and Mugabe probably won’t be forced from office and shot the way Romania's dictator was. But being heckled by a hostile Parliament, and “thwarted” by parliamentarians who evaded arrest to show up, was a first for Mugabe. The “angry look” on his face, broadcast live, was “an exhilarating message of hope” for “a cowed country.”
Mugabe’s allies say that the MDC’s “uncouth behavior” was uncalled for, said Brian Hungwe in BBC News, but the newly empowered opposition “clearly wanted to make its mark.” And it did. Mugabe was shaken during his speech, knocking over the microphone at one point, and by the time he left, “his body language told a story of a leader who no longer quite has his grip on power.”
Despite the booing and “peace talks,” said Jonathan Clayton, also in The Times of London, Mugabe “still controls all the main levers of state power,” with no real sign that his grip is slipping. The new “political deadlock” could even make things worse, bringing new state violence and no resumption of power-sharing talks.
Deadlock is almost assured, since Mugabe’s party still controls the upper house of Parliament, said Violet Gonda in SW Radio Africa. And Mugabe’s regime is locking up opposition legislators, with four arrested so far. But there is still hope that “these are the last kicks of a dying horse.” Only time will tell.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- 10 things you need to know today: November 23, 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- How to rescue the American family and fix the broken school system in one fell swoop
- Why insects are the future of food
Subscribe to the Week