Zimbabwe’s ruling party has stepped up its campaign of intimidation and violence following the disputed election that threatens to end its twenty-eight year hold on power. As the situation there becomes ever more desperate for Zimbabwe’s people, the United States joins with other nations in calling for an end to the brutality now.
After a lengthy and secretive tally of the March 29 presidential voting, the government-controlled Zimbabwe Election Commission announced that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai edged President Robert Mugabe, but failed to reach the needed majority to win election. No date has been set for a constitutionally required run-off, but Mr. Mugabe already appears to be campaigning for one any way. His supporters, meanwhile, have gone on a brutal and bloody rampage in an apparent effort to dissuade voters from opposing him when the vote is finally held.
Opposition activists, independent observers and U.S. officials have collected evidence of the destruction of homes, beatings, intimidation and even murder. Freedom of expression also has fallen victim in the crackdown on dissent. Authorities arrested the editor of a Harare newspaper after it printed an article by a leader of the opposition movement. A Reuters news agency photographer was detained for using a satellite telephone to send pictures of the violence. And a lawyer seeking to defend a client arrested in the crackdown was himself arrested for allegedly insulting the president. Democracy rarely has looked so dangerous.
Fair and free elections are impossible under such conditions. No free people should be so denied their rights. The government of Zimbabwe and its political supporters must stop the violence now.