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Africa expert discusses debate over Zimbabwe' -

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ELEANOR HALL: Australia's Foreign Minister says the Federal Government is considering bringing more
sanctions against Zimbabwe but should the international community now be doing more?

A short time ago I put that to Macquarie University's Dr Geoffrey Hawker who is the president of
the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific.

GEOFFREY HAWKER: It is a very serious situation. It is the violence and the intimidation that has
brought this withdrawal. Of course it is not the first time the MDC has been divided on its
tactics. Three years ago it actually split on this issue of contesting or not contesting elections
against Mugabe.

So it is the abstentionist faction if you like that has come back in against the recent violence.
It does heighten the pressure on the rest of the world particularly SADC to intervene.

ELEANOR HALL: It does appear that there is some momentum from African countries. We have heard from
Zambia, we've heard from the current head of the SADC calling for the run-off to be postponed. What
do you think these countries will be able to do?

GEOFFREY HAWKER: Well, they are still going to try to act principally through Thabo Mbeki, the
South African President who is leading the SADC group, trying to broker a deal.

I think Mbeki has made it pretty clear that he is going to have another go at putting together some
sort of government of national unity in Zimbabwe. Now that is not an easy thing to do. MDC has said
really, it doesn't want to do a deal with Mugabe which is very understandable, but I think that is
the route that they will be trying over the next couple of days in fact.

ELEANOR HALL: Do you think that is realistic, a government of national unity between someone like
Mugabe and the MDC when there has been so much violence?

GEOFFREY HAWKER: Well, not with Mugabe there I don't think and that is what makes it unlikely
because Mugabe of course is going to want to stay there. I would say there is just a prospect - it
is still not a very attractive prospect - that one of the Mugabe deputies and perhaps Simba Makoni,
the ex-Zanu-PF man that ran in the elections with some elements of the MDC, could possibly, just,
just possibly, form a basis for such a government of national unity. But I am not saying that is
wonderful prospect, I am just saying that is the least unlikely prospect.

ELEANOR HALL: But that presumes that someone is going to be able to move Robert Mugabe. That is a
difficult thing, isn't it?

GEOFFREY HAWKER: It is very much so but it wouldn't be beyond the power of Mbeki if he really goes
for that. Does some sort of broker deal for immunity with Mugabe and puts the pressure onto the
rest of the regime.

It would be within Mbeki's power to bring that about, but of course he has conspicuously failed to
do so, so far, so none of us will be holding our breaths on that one but it is possible.

ELEANOR HALL: We've just heard the MDC Treasurer say that pulling out of the election was the most
difficult decision his party has ever faced, but that he expects that new elections will happen
with the help of the African Union and Zimbabwe's neighbours - how likely do you think it is that
there will be new elections any time soon?

GEOFFREY HAWKER: I can't honestly see that. Once the campaign is called off, Tsvangirai steps back,
Mugabe is able to say oh well, I didn't have an opponent. I am now perfectly legitimately in the
position and he will hold off any redoing of elections, one would think, for some years and perhaps
Zanu-PF's successor will come forward.

So honestly, I think that is very wishful thinking on the part of MDC.

ELEANOR HALL: If Robert Mugabe were to do that though, I mean the French Foreign Minister for one
has responded to Mr Tsvangirai's announcement by calling Mugabe a crook and a murderer and saying
that France wouldn't accept the result of a vote in which Mugabe would to be the only contestant.

If there was an international response like that, how viable would his regime be?

GEOFFREY HAWKER: Well, if there is a co-ordinated international response but that in a sense is
just a qualitative change, I mean, I don't want to be gloomy about it but it is only a qualitative
shift from what we have got at the moment. I mean after all the EU has sanctions on the regime,
they have had for some time.

It's really not, really isn't going to change anything fundamentally inside the country to say
those sorts of things. It is just a little bit more than what has been said before.

Effectively, what can they do? Can they increase the sanctions? Well, yes to some extent. Can they
restrict the movement of Mugabe's officials externally? Well, yes to some extent. But those things
have been done already.

ELEANOR HALL: Now the United States says it will raise the issue at the UN Security Council meeting
later today. Do you hold any more optimism about that?

GEOFFREY HAWKER: Well, I am afraid it is impossible to really say much positive about that. China
is very quiet on this one. China is on the Security Council. If one was actually to talk about
intervention that is a long way down the track. It would have to go through the Security Council.
There is absolutely no signs that that is achievable.

We are still talking about diplomatic moves, trade sanctions, restricting movement of officials.
All of those things, yes, to go further than that we are seeing the signs with the SADC leaders, it
is true, Mugabe has embarrassed the whole continent.

And what he has done recently with the deaths, more than 70 now, it makes people ashamed and
worried and that is why you are seeing African leaders, not all of them but significant numbers of
them, criticising him. I still say that it is from the region and from South Africa that the action
has got to come.

ELEANOR HALL: And what optimism do you have that Thabo Mbeki and others will succeed?

GEOFFREY HAWKER: Cautious and guarded, it is a dark moment in many ways but I do feel Mbeki, who is
nearing the end of his own term early next year, has got his last chance now to broker some sort of
deal.

That is less good than a free and fair election but it is possible for him to do that and it is
probably the best outcome that we are looking for at the moment.

ELEANOR HALL: Dr Hawker thanks very much. That was Dr Geoffrey Hawker, the president of the African
Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific.