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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Zimbabwe and Fan Umpires

Have you ever watched a baseball game when an umpire totally blew the call? You have thousands of screaming fans acting as umpires. Invariably, you will have an announcer proclaim that there is only one opinion that counts, the real umpire. That's what I thought of when I read this piece.

South Africa — The Zimbabwean opposition leader won his nation's disputed presidential election, the top U.S. envoy to Africa told reporters Thursday.

The opposition has claimed its leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe outright March 29. Independent Zimbabwean observers also say Tsvangirai won, though not by enough to avoid a runoff. Meanwhile, Zimbabweans still await the results, with the opposition accusing Mugabe of withholding them while he plots how to keep power. The octogenarian Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

If you have been following the aftermath of the Zimbabwean elections, it should come as no surprise that the opposition leader did in fact get more votes, if votes were counted fairly. Of course, he did. If Mughabe had won, the results would have been announced immediately. On the other hand, he didn't win and thus more than three weeks later results are still not in. Thus, we have the top U.S. envoy saying something close followers already know. Yet, just like with the bad call in baseball, there is only one opinion that counts and that opinion hasn't been rendered.

The U.S. envoy can state the obvious but in the meantime Mughabe refuses to release the official results. He is doing this likely because there will be a runoff and there are three weeks between the official results being released and the runoff. In the meantime, he is intimidating and killing so that the run off elections have a different result than what the U.S. envoy sees from the initial elections.

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