Gugulethu Moyo: The poll was 'an African solution to an African problem'

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People speak of an African solution to an African problem. For Zimbabwe's crisis, there has already been an African solution. The people of Zimbabwe, who are of course African, voted over three weeks ago. They had hopes that participating in an election would save them. Most likely, they voted for a change of government, but regardless they, the sovereign people of the republic, expressed their will.

But hopes for a rapid change have dimmed with every day that the results of the election remain unannounced. Robert Mugabe and his party, Zanu-PF, are now refusing to accept the will of the people and are, instead, clinging on to power by force.

Their crude efforts to reverse their losses at the poll by ordering a recount of the votes, combined with a naked campaign of violent retribution against those thought to have voted for the opposition in the past few days are factors confirming the illegitimacy of Mugabe's regime that even the greatest apologists for the regime in Harare have not been able to ignore.

It is mildly encouraging that after years of efforts to maintain the appearance of having a firm grip over the management of the process of resolving the Zimbabwean crisis despite their obvious failure to influence Mugabe, leaders of Africa, and Zimbabwe's neighbours in particular, are at last dropping these pretences. They don't have Mugabe's ear and they are plainly embarrassed by his and his regime's recalcitrance as the crisis in the country deepens. This week, Africa's leadership – the African Union, the South African government and the ruling African National Congress – at least thought it necessary to again press Mugabe publicly to announce the results of the election and to respect the result. Zambia and Mozambique's leadership were bolder still. They distanced themselves from Zanu-PF's further attempts to suppress the popular will through force.

The truth is that the gap between the African leaders and those of the wider international community is narrow. But Mugabe survives on the sliver of an illusion that there is some division. It is time for African leaders to make the final leap and admit that the manifest challenge of ending the crisis created by Mugabe's regime requires a united international effort. World leaders, African and beyond, should openly work together towards a solution to the crisis. Their responsibility to the people of Zimbabwe, to whom they promised a free and fair election, demands nothing less.

Gugulethu Moyo is a Zimbabwean lawyer. She is editor of the book The Day After Mugabe

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