Amidst the chaos in Egypt, the world is turning a blind eye to another case of repression and human rights abuses in Africa. While the outrage over Egypt's generals is justified, the free pass given to Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe is simply unacceptable.
World leaders have been quick to condemn the backsliding of democracy in Egypt, and the EU is reconsidering aid for the Egyptian military while President Obama is beginning to bow to pressure on the same matter.
The United States and its allies have promised to confront General Al-Sisi if he tries to establish a military dictatorship in Egypt. And they should.
But as the world has stood firm on Egypt, it has stood idly by as another African leader has destroyed his country.
Robert Mugabe is everything that the international community opposes in Egypt. Mugabe seized power in a tainted election, and then used violence, murder and repression to secure his hold on the country. For the past 33 years, Mugabe has turned Zimbabwe into his personal fiefdom.
Zimbabwe is now virtually insolvent and dependent on foreign aid for its survival. But while the people starve, the 89-year old Mugabe thrives. His wealth is reportedly measured in the billions, according to a WikiLeaks cable. In a country where literally half of the people are starving, Mugabe has siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars from business deals and foreign aid; according to one company, the price of doing business in the country was building a new residence for Mugabe and his wife. It's easy to see why he's willing to hold onto power at any cost.
For the first few decades of his rule, Mugabe used the traditional tools of violence and terror to keep his grip on power. Untold scores of political dissidents have simply disappeared over the last 33 years, and Mugabe frequently ran unopposed in national "elections."
But apparently Mugabe realized that brute force wasn't enough in an age where "democracy" has become such a buzzword. So he sought to convince his people and the world that he had a genuine mandate to govern. In 2008, he allowed the first real opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, to run against him in an election.
The results were disastrous. Tsvangirai won the vote, which forced Mugabe to rig the vote count and claim a "runoff" was necessary to choose the country's new leader. Mugabe then began torturing and killing Tsvangirai's supporters in an effort to force the opposition leader to drop out.
Sadly, this strategy worked. Unlike Mugabe, Tsvangirai valued the lives of his countrymen, and said that power was not worth the slaughter of innocent people.
In return, the African Union, with strong support from the U.S. and others, established a power sharing arrangement, where Tsvangirai would form a coalition government with Mugabe. But this arrangement was soon exposed for the farce that it was. Mugabe undercut Tsvangirai at every turn, forcing Tsvangirai to declare he had no real power and to call for new elections.