President Robert Mugabe's government raided the offices of the main opposition movement and rounded up foreign journalists Thursday in an ominous indication that he may use intimidation and violence to keep his grip on power.
Hands up, everyone who is surprised. It may be an ominous indication, but I personally am surprised that Mugabe has shown this much restraint. It's totally out of character. Power will slip out of his hands when they are cold and dead, and not a minute earlier. His use of intimidation and violence is well-documented and goes way back.
It's rather uncomfortable for journalists to document that though. Mugabe was a former media darling. It is difficult to admit mistakes, especially ones that never should have been made. To this day journalists seem incapable of summoning the moral outrage they applied (rightly, in that case) to apartheid and turning it against Mugabe. This despite the fact that he has turned his formerly prosperous country into a hellhole that most of his people would cheerfully leave for South Africa - present or past - or for old-time Rhodesia.
It is the African tragedy writ large all over again: a "liberator" who is really only interested in his own power. And a politically correct world that should be howling in outrage but doesn't. And journalists who express polite amazement at the inevitable.
I think I shall go be ill.
Technorati tags: Mugabe, Journalism, Zimbabwe