I have a “Mugabe” site about the meltdown of the economy in Zimbabwe and the civil rights issues there.
One reason Mugabe can get away with it is because South Africa’s president Mbeki is keeping him in power (via money and political support). The local churches and trade unions have tried to pressure Mbeki to intervene, but he prefers “Quiet Diplomacy”…leading one paper to publish this cartoon: 

However, the world cup is being held in South Africa in 2010, and thousands of sports fans will go there to see the games and to visit that beautiful country. LINK2

This is a wonderful idea, since South Africans of all colours are rabid football fans (soccar to Americans) , and it will attract tourists to see the real Africa, with it’s vibrant cities, multiple cultures, and of course wildlife parks. And many hope it will be a boost to the local economies.
But since South Africa doesn’t have enough facilities for the games, fans and teams will be using facilities in nearby countries for preliminary games, and that includes Zimbabwe.

And Zimbabwe is busy spending millions of dollars to build/upgrade facilities and hotels so they can host the preparatory matches for the World Cup, with the aim of revitalizing their tourist industry.
Usually I would say it was a good investment in the future, but Zimbabwe right now has a 7000percent inflation rate and often misses payment to nearby countries for electricity, lacks food and medicine, and the economic collapse has resulted in thousands fleeing to South Africa and elsewhere in order to live.

And that’s the problem.

Will tourists stay in hotels, or will they venture to see the reality of the country? And how will that country be able to host the games with the economy tanking and impending collapse might lead to troubles? Yet things don’t seem looking well for Zimbabwe, especially if Mugabe wins reelection and remains president as most expect him to do (which seems likely given that rural voters don’t dare vote against him and urban voters who voted against him in the past found their houses destroyed in “Operation CleanUp”).

Mbeki has the power to pressure Mugabe into resigning or at least not to re run for election, but refuses to do so. Revolutionary leaders must stick together, even if one has slowly descended to a paranoid tyrant.
Maybe sports fans could help.
Rev. Hove has a petition up on his blog to have sports fans pressure South Africa, saying that they oppose South Africa from holding the games as long as they support Mugabe’s incompetent and repressive regieme.

Or you could go here and sign the petition.

Similar threats of boycotts to the Olympics in China have contributed to the Chinese pressuring the Sudan to make peace with Dafur, so come on, sports fans, sign a petition.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs about human rights in Zimbabwe at MakaipaBlog. Her home and hearth blog is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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