Monday, April 04, 2005

To Protest or not to Protest

I am not sure if we’ll ever know whether Morgan Tsvangirai’s decision not to call for protests over election results that were neither free nor fair is a wise decision or not. In the most recent elections in Zimbabwe, the ruling party has been accused of voter intimidation, stuffing the ballot boxes, and going so far as to deny food aid to opposition supporters. Many think Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, is missing the perfect opportunity to bring attention to the election results in Zimbabwe, especially since the international community seems to be more supportive than ever of non-violent protests over election results. But he has legitimate concerns. Based on comments made by Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, the ruling party seems ready to squash any protest with violence. And in case anybody has forgotten, Zimbabwe is in Africa, and the international community does not have a good track record of protecting innocent civilians from violence in that part of the world.

The leaders of the opposition party in Zimbabwe have been accused of being elitist and afraid to fight and suffer for their cause. But Tsvangirai claims he just wants to prevent violence and try to garner more support from the rural areas for the future. This seems responsible except that even if his party gains more support, Mugabe will continue to fix the elections until he dies. The opposition party will have to protest one of these times, and there isn’t likely to be a better opportunity. It is a tough decision when the lives of so many are in your hands, but good leaders can make tough decisions, and are willing to suffer and die for their causes along with their followers.