Longtime Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister Wednesday, said The Times of London in an editorial, but the country’s “illegitimate and murderous” president, Robert Mugabe, is still in charge. Mugabe still controls the army, and shares control of the police, so Tsvangirai’s MDC party can’t enforce the laws it writes. “This is not a government of unity, but of coercion and co-option.”
Despite the “pussyfooting and finessing in the West” over the power-sharing pact, said South Africa’s The Times in an editorial, this is a moment to celebrate: “the beginning of the end for Robert Mugabe’s destructive dictatorship.” With the MDC’s 13 cabinet posts, including the finance ministry, Mugabe has lost the power to carry on with “business as usual.”
The West is “justified in its distrust of this deal,” said The Christian Science Monitor in an editorial, but it should still try to help it succeed. That means passing much-needed food and medical aid through MDC-controlled ministries, and pulling the plug if, as in the past, Mugabe tries to divert it. If Tsvangirai “can deliver,” he might win over Mugabe’s supporters.
How can he have any supporters left? said Tom Hamilton in Britain’s Daily Record. Mugabe is planning an “obscene birthday party,” including 2,000 bottles of Champagne, 8,000 lobsters, 4,000 portions of caviar, and 8,000 boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Meanwhile, his citizens starve, suffer a 231 million percent inflation rate and “94 per cent unemployment, and a cholera epidemic predicted to kill 100,000.”
It’s the cholera that should push the West to “put Robert Mugabe under arrest and place him on trial,” said Christopher Hichens in the Chicago Sun-Times. Mugabe’s long list of crimes was “frightful enough” before he added “germ warfare”—thanks to his inaction, cholera-infected Zimbabweans are fleeing into neighboring countries—but now he’s an “international problem.”