Basildon Peta: It should be the tipping point for the tyrant – but this is Zimbabwe

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The Independent Online

Until it happened, the sight of Robert Mugabe's loyal soldiers rampaging against his regime was unthinkable. So surely their unprecedented actions ought to be the tipping point for the 84-year-old tyrant. But in the weird world that cynics call Mugabeland, things are never straight forward.

Despite the widespread disenchantment in the lower ranks, Mr Mugabe still commands the support of a higher clique. And its strength is never to be underestimated. The loyal ones who have a stake in Mugabe's continued stay in power, regardless of the suffering he creates, will maintain their unimpeded access to whatever privileges – and weapons – remain. They will be his guard dogs.

The junior – and unarmed – soldiers are unlikely to get support from a battered civilian population. With cholera rife and not enough food, the people have little energy. And what they do have is spent on daily survival.

Talks to form a unity government remain stalled. Morgan Tsvangirai remains adamant that he won't join a unity government until he is given control of the police. The President is unlikely to concede, fearing that relaxing his grip would be tantamount to cutting his own throat. The actions of the angry soldiers will only harden that stance. It was the military police, after all, that moved in and crushed the military protests.

So a unity government remains elusive. Perhaps the only real hope is the call by Botswana for regional bodies to oust Mugabe by closing their borders. But again, that will never happen.