"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)



Robert Mugabe is just a piece of work. In the last year or so, Our Man in Harare stole not only an election, but also, apparently, the Ark of the Covenant (or at least some relic a scholar in London believes to be the Ark of the Covenant). He also threw himself a very special birthday party despite the fact that most of his population is starving to death.

But it's also been a rough few months for Bobby M., what with having to come to a power-sharing agreement with the opposition party and being accused of offing the prime minister's wife in an horrific car accident.

Seems Mugabe's not the only one suffering; his closest lieutenants and most loyal supporters appear to also be concerned about their safety and well-being. So much so that they've found a surefire way to avoid prosecution by opposition members who are now in power: "abducting, detaining and torturing opposition officials and activists." This is - no joke - their idea of a good way to win amnesty for their past crimes.

It's hard to see how they could lose with strategery like that.

As this NYT article points out, there are some parallels with other countries that entered transitions out of authoritarian rule. The most obvious seems to be South Africa, where in the last days before the end of apartheid, National Party hard-liners did whatever they could to avoid the inevitable. (To be fair, the struggle for power wasn't just limited to white supremacists. The Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party almost caused everything to fall apart.)

My guess is that Mugabe's boys know the jig is up. If I were in their fancy Italian leather shoes, I'd start looking for friendly places to live in exile. I hear Khartoum's a dencent hangout for rouge war criminals these days...


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