Obama’s not the only one

A democrat may have won the American election, but the election itself seemed to represent the Republican symbol: a garish red, white and blue elephant, trumpeting it’s self-importance and stealing the limelight more with its size than its substance. Obama is now a world famous name. Yet during the rigmarole of Romney’s millions, Hillary’s trouser suits, Obama’s socialism, McCain’s outbursts and Palin’s… well… everything, the names of Nasheed, Mbeki and Tsvangirai were drowned out.

Mohammed Nasheed secured the presidency of the Maldives last month, overthrowing the country’s despot ruler of 30 years with a peaceful, democratic election. Nasheed, who was educated at Liverpool University, has been arrested over ten times during his political career and walks with a limp after being tortured by the Maldives’ former ruling party. He faces far harder challenges than Obama; the Maldives is being consumed by the sea, is dependent on tourism during a period of economic downturn and has half its population living below the poverty line. As President Nasheed’s career ascends, ex-president of South Africa Thabo Mbeki’s career appears to be in free fall.

Mbeki was removed from the position of President of South Africa after he was accused of unfairly influencing a court trail brought against his political rival Jacob Zuma.

Aid’s workers rejoiced; Mbeki had denied the link between Aids and HIV, and one leading activist has accused him of causing the deaths of 300,000 through his Aids policies. Mbeki’s legacy outside of South Africa – the peace deal in Zimbabwe – is also looking to be on shaky ground. For while Nasheed is moving in, and Mbeki is moving out, Morgan Tsvangirai is still unsure about his future position of Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.

Despite being intimidated, arrested and beaten by Mugabe’s lackeys, Tsvangirai has continued to negotiate with Zimbabwe’s ruler of 28 years, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. On the 15th September Tsvangirai shook hands with Mugabe and signed a historic power sharing deal; since then Tsvangirai has threatened to pull out of the deal unless Mugabe restructures Zimbabwe’s cabinet in a fairer manner. Mbeki has visited the country to support the deal, but Tsvangirai has stuck by his convictions; “We respect Mbeki but quiet diplomacy has its limits if it leads to quiet approval of wrong things”, Tsvangirai has stated.

It seems quite democracy goes unheard when there is a loud election being broadcast.


  1. 26 Nov ’08 at 6:01 am

    Michael O'Shea

    Great article, Richard. Democracy is an argumentative beast, but it creates, in the long run, societies far more powerful, progressive and influential than any dictatorship.
    Mugabe, like all dictators, is better described as a gangster. Zimbabwe is not a nation anymore, it is a gangster’s lair.


  2. This is really good.