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Zimbabwe Needs Good Neighbors

Zimbabwe needs help. Its economy is in shambles, with an unemployment rate of eighty per cent, and an inflation rate of one-hundred-sixty-five-thousand percent. Food, fuel and other essentials are scarce. Millions of Zimbabweans have left the country, and many more are trying to. Politically-motivated violence against those perceived as supporting the opposition is rampant.

The problems are dire and need immediate attention.

The disputed presidential election in March has left the country in political limbo. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirei claimed victory with just over fifty per cent of the vote, while the Zimbabwe Election Commission, controlled by the government of President Robert Mugabe, released results that give neither candidate a majority of votes. A second round of elections, set for June 27, has been announced by the Election Commission. In the meantime, supporters of the majority party ZANU-PF have unleashed a reign of intimidation and violence against opposition activists and supporters. A number of political opponents of the current regime have been arrested. Many fear that the violence will intensify as the June election draws closer.

The United States and other Western countries have repeatedly expressed support for African organizations and individual African states, stepping up and pressing for an end to the country’s political crisis. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that regional organizations, such as the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, need to take the lead:

"It’s time for Africa to step up. Where is the concern from the African Union, and from Zimbabwe’s neighbors, about what’s going on in Zimbabwe?"

Zimbabwe’s neighbors should strengthen efforts to insist that the Government of Zimbabwe stop all attacks against opposition supporters. They should help end the political impasse by closely monitoring the upcoming election, and then by insisting that the will of the people of Zimbabwe, as reflected by their vote, be implemented with all due haste. Only then can Zimbabwe, and its neighbors, move on.