REGRETTABLY, Zimbabwe is returning to the headlines. Thabo Mbeki, now no longer president of South Africa, has returned to Harare to see whether he can put together the shreds of the power-sharing agreement which he brokered just over a month ago but which Robert Mugabe has since torn into little pieces. It is sad to have to say this, but Mbeki is wasting his time. If as president of Africa's most important country he could not persuade Mugabe to keep his word, what chance has he of doing so as a private citizen?

Although the Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai cannot afford to quit the talks with Mugabe about the implementation of the power-sharing agreement he, too, must know that he is wasting his time. Mugabe has gone against the letter and spirit of the agreement and taken all the key ministerial posts for his own Zanu party members. There was widespread international scepticism about the agreement which Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mbeki signed and it has been justified. What appeared to be the last chance for an African solution to an African problem has proved to be a cruel sham whose main victims are the Zimbabwean people who must now fear that their lot will not improve even when Mugabe dies because his close associates will take over.

Soon the international community will have to consider for how much longer it can stand aside from the Zimbabean tragedy.


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