There seems, finally, to be a concerted effort going on to rid Zimbabwe of its appalling President, Robert Mugabe. The disgust felt by the entire civilised world at from the farce of the recent Zimbabwean election, won in the first round by the opposition but now about to be scrubbed out by pure force, was too much even for President Mbeki of South Africa to resist. Today Nelson Mandela made a short speech giving voice, finally, to his disgust at Mugabe’s behaviour. And now that Mandela has spoken, Britain has felt able to chip in by forbidding a Zimbawe cricket visit to Britain next year, and by stripping Mugabe of a knighthood of a particularly grand and vacuous variety that was conferred upon him some years ago. As the Tesco adverts say, every little helps.
But Mugabe will never go merely because of trivial indignities such as those. He has no better nature to be appealed to, no shame. It is being said that if South Africa pulls the plug in some way on the Mugabe regime, that will finish it. I hope that some time during the next few days or weeks, we will all get the chance to see if that’s true. When the lights don’t work inside Mugabe’s palaces, when the electric fences guarding him stop hurting anyone, when his bodyguards don’t know where their next meal is to come from, then that will indeed be the end of him, and this can’t come too soon for the wretched people of the country he has ruined. It’s all very Shakespearian.
I don’t know if Mr Brown will deserve any particular credit for such an outcome, if and when it finally materialises. I recall Mr Brown lining himself up some weeks ago with all this anti-Mugabe activity, speaking out against this grotesque man at the UN or some such place. But I suspect that this was only done then so noisily and so newsworthily because this was about the only uncontroversially respectable policy that Mr Brown still had on his desk at that time, which was, you will recall, a time of impending elections. I remember at around that same time speculating that Mugabe would outlast Brown. I hope that this turns out to be wrong, or, if right, that this is because Mr Brown succumbs to mysterious medical problems brought on by Labour Party fundraising difficulties, some time during the next few days.