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There isn't much transition
to be seen these days in Zimbabwe's transitional government. Despite the
agreement he signed in February to share power with opposition leaders in the
Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, President Robert Mugabe is keeping a
tight grip on the levers of authority which he has held for so long. The
stalemate has become so bad that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and other MDC
ministers are boycotting cabinet meetings.
One of the festering issues behind the protest is the jailing of the designated deputy Agriculture Minister Roy Bennett. But harassment of Bennett is not an isolated incident. Mugabe and his supporters in the ZANU-PF party have used their control of the criminal justice system repeatedly to persecute and prosecute rivals. Credible evidence is often lacking in these cases, but for Mugabe determining the truth isn't the point. Political harassment and maintaining power is.
As envisioned by the Global Political Agreement, or GPA, old rivals were to join together and put their differences behind them and work together for the greater good of their troubled nation. A new constitution was to be adopted and Zimbabwe returned to the rule of law. The Bennett case, and others, shows that goal is as distant as it was before the GPA's signing.
It remains to be seen what impact Prime Minister Tsvangirai's boycott will have. It is clear, however, that both inside and outside of Zimbabwe pressure must be maintained on Mugabe to live up to the GPA and to respect human rights and the rule of law.