Zimbabwe will need help getting rid of all the evil

For 28 years, the central African nation of Zimbabwe has been ruled by one of the most corrupt, vicious leaders in the continent. As a result, a country that was once a breadbasket for the underdeveloped world is on economic life support.

With an inflation rate of 100,000 percent or more, Zimbabweans are dying of starvation or disease. Health care is virtually nonexistent.

But hope springs eternal today. President Robert Mugabe, 84, is on his way out — unless he does what other African leaders have tended to do when rejected by the voters and holds on to power by military force.

In last Saturday’s election, Mugabe’s party lost its majority in parliament, and the president himself is in a runoff that he has little chance of winning.

Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is expected to emerge victorious, but that are fears that a second round of voting could turn bloody.

For that reason, the United Nations and the African Union should not only lend their support for a free and clean runoff election, but should make it clear to Mugabe that he will not be allowed to override the will of the people.

Almost 2.4 million votes were cast Saturday, 49 percent of which went to Tsvangirai.

Zimbabwe finally has the chance to rid itself of the evil that has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to neighboring countries.

Rule by terror

Mugabe ruled by terror. His supporters, who were rewarded with once lucrative farms that were confiscated from their white owners, were given permission to destroy homes and businesses of the president’s opponents.

For more than 20 years, death and destruction have been the way of life in the African nation — while the world community provided little more than lip service about human rights. Even when there were calls for the forcible removal of Mugabe, the United States and other democracies tried to appeal to the president’s humanity. They assumed, wrongly, that he had a conscience.

The extent of his evil-doing will become known once a new president is in office and a new government gets a close-up look at what has transpired over the past two decades.

In fact, the prospect of all the dirty little secrets of a bloody ruler becoming public may well prompt Mugabe to hold on to power.

There should be no hesitation on the part of the United Nations to intervene should there be any attempt to block a thorough investigation of Mugabe’s tenure.

Indeed, his age should not be a factor in any consideration of the president being charged with crimes against humanity.

Far too many dictators in Africa have received a pass after they’ve given up the reins of powers. Not only have they not answered for the crimes committed against their own people, but they’ve been permitted to keep the hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from the public treasuries.

The people of Zimbabwe risked their lives to go the polls and vote against a ruthless leader. The world community owes them its support and assistance for a peaceful transition of power.

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