Friday, November 12, 2010

Mugabe's English Retirement Idyll

Writing in the New Statesman, Sholto Barnes has offered an English retirement for President Robert Mugabe as one way of getting him out of Zimbabwe's current political stalemate. This is not as far-fetched an idea as it seems. Economists always use the term "opportunity Cost" to refer to opportunities or incomes foregone when pursuing other activities. So the opportunity cost of not having President Mugabe in an English retirement would be another five years of his rule in Zimbabwe. That would mean another 5 years of political strife and economic stagnation. A frightening prospect indeed.

Setting up a recalcitrant leader in luxurious retirement overseas is not without precedent. When Senegalese President, Abdou Diouf, lost the 2000 Presidential elections to Abdoulaye Wade, the French were quick to nip any potential trouble in the bud. Ex-President Diouf was given a luxury apt in one of Paris' swankiest arrondissements (among other things). Once out of the way, there was no way he could forment any trouble that would harm French interests.

A similar deal to get President Robert Mugabe to retire to England just might be as worthy. And it would do wonders for Zimbabwe's political scene and economy. Mugabe -- ever the anglophile -- just might take up this offer. I can almost see him nibbling at roasted pheasant in some high-end restaurant in London, while his shopaholic wife, Grace, is out breaking the bank at Harrods. Weekends could be spent in the Cottswalds, or at one of those comfy estates in Oxfordshire. When back in London, there'd always be some Test Cricket to take in at Lords. Ever the Anglophile, Mugabe would most certainly get himself invited to tea-and-crumpet with some minor British Royal. So there it is. I've painted an idyllic scenario for an outcome that would be beneficial to all. Why not give it a try.

James Chikonamombe

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