March 29, 2002 | Page 5
ZIMBABWE'S ROBERT Mugabe cracked down on student protesters and other activists last week after stealing the presidential election.
Mugabe rejected efforts by Nigerian and South African leaders to promote a unity government between his ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), a party with origins in the unions, but which is now also supported by wealthy white farmers and businesspeople, as well as Britain and the U.S.
Instead, Mugabe proceeded with a treason case against MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who would have won the election two weeks ago if not for a campaign of fraud and violence by the authorities and ZANU-PF thugs.
When last week's general strike, called by the Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Unions, fizzled because of poor preparation and police intimidation, the authorities stepped up their attacks.
Among those arrested were six members of the International Socialist Organization-Zimbabwe (ISO-Z) in Bulwayo, who were viciously beaten by police, kept in a filthy cell and denied food other than what visitors brought them.
MDC leaders like Tsvangirai look to sanctions from Washington and London to put pressure on Mugabe to hold new elections or step down. But a minority, including some union leaders, student groups and political organizations like the ISO-Z, argue for stepping up the struggle by linking the fight for democracy to workers' economic demands.