Amidst all the chaos happening in South Africa with the xenophobia attacks, one person who maybe glad this is happening is Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe. With the upcoming presidential election runoff taking place in Zimbabwe on June 27, a lot of attention in the region has been taken away from Zimbabwe as all eyes now focus on the xenophobia attacks gripping South Africa.
Before the attacks took place, the focus was on how the runoff vote in Zimbabwe would pan out amidst the current violence that was taking place in Zimbabwe. The violence in Zimbabwe was getting worse in the build up to the runoff vote with the ruling party being accused of causing the violence so that they strike fear in the country and get people to vote for Mugabe in the runoff vote. There had been calls from the opposition MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, for there to be international monitors for the vote and for there to be UN troops in the country to ease the violence. The SADC region where all looking very closely at Zimbabwe to see what the outcome of the runoff vote will be but now they have to cast an eye on South Africa and Zimbabwe. Mugabe would feel much more comfortable with only one eye on him instead of having both eyes on him. With only one eye on him he may increase the violent attacks on opposition members and maybe find a way to rig the election result.
Mugabe now also has the luxury of turning to the South Africa government and telling them to keep quiet about commenting and trying to interfere with Zimbabwe, until they can sort of the mess in their own country being caused by the xenophobia attacks.
On the down side though for Mugabe, the xenophobia attacks in South Africa are driving large scores of Zimbabweans back home from South Africa and these people going back home are most likely to vote against Mugabe. I came across an interesting article in a local newspaper last week which Tsvangirai called upon all those Zimbabweans being affected by xenophobia to ‘come back home with him and help kick out Mugabe’.
The month of June could be really testing for the Southern Africa region. Who knows how these xenophobia attacks are going to end and how the Zimbabwe election runoff is going to pan out.