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Mugabe Shares Pain, Not Power

The hopelessness of the current political situation in Zimbabwe should be clear to all by now. Three months after signing a power sharing agreement with Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of the Movement for Democratic Change, Robert Mugabe shows no sign of cooperating in the process or negotiating in good faith, and his proclamations otherwise are exposed for what they are: a charade.

There is no real hope for power sharing with Mugabe, who was recently quoted saying that Zimbabwe belongs to him. The people of Zimbabwe deserve better, and it is time for him to go.

The United States supported the agreement when it was reached in September, hopeful that it would provide the positive engagement needed to bring a peaceful political settlement to the long-troubled Southern African nation. Mr. Mugabe would continue as president with Mr. Tsvangirai serving as prime minister.

Based on the outcome of the March national elections, the MDC and another opposition party would hold 16 of 31 cabinet ministries. U.S. officials pledged that if a deal were struck, they would consider lifting economic sanctions imposed on Mr. Mugabe’s regime and help Zimbabwe put its troubled economic house in order.

That proved to be wishful thinking, however. Mr. Mugabe has failed to negotiate in good faith, insisting on control of key ministries in a way that would make Mr. Tsvangirai prime minister in name only. While the president shifted and stalled at the bargaining table, government supporters continued to harass, arrest, and even forceably abduct opposition and human rights activists. Zimbabwe’s devastated economy collapsed further and a cholera outbreak overwhelmed what was left of the country’s health care system, to date killing more than 1,100 people.

Nor do the Zimbabwean people suffer their president’s depredations alone. Refugees fleeing their nation’s plight have swarmed into neighboring nations, straining local resources. Cholera has crossed the borders and caused health emergencies in all the neighboring countries. It is no wonder that the leaders of Botswana and Kenya are among Mr. Mugabe’s most vocal critics. Others in the international community, and in particular the nations of Africa, need to join in the international chorus calling for Mr. Mugabe to release Zimbabwe from the misery he has caused.