Morris Szeftel writes about the best way forward in Zimbabwe:

Given the role of the security forces in the violence against ordinary citizens, and given the privileges they enjoy under the present setup (not to mention their seeming veto over the results of the first round of voting), a coup hardly seems the way to change direction. More likely, it would increase repression.

In fact, should Mugabe 'wobble' a coup might very well occur - but to make things worse rather than better, as with the Burma model (which Collier also reduces to a one-man problem). It is possible that a coup of the (much) lower ranks might successfully remove the ruling elite but the history of such coups is not encouraging (as Liberians and Sierra Leoneans could testify).

The real responsibility for resolving this crisis lies with the UN and the provisions for intervention under its Charter. But no one would bet their pension on the UN Security Council fulfilling its obligations. The one slim, poor, weak hope, it seems to me, is that the SADC countries will intensify their criticisms, shame Mbeki into supporting them, isolate the regime economically and so pressure Zanu into a negotiated compromise. That would leave the criminals in government largely unpunished and still in control of their loot but it might yet stop or moderate the violence. If not, the countries of the region are going to fill up with Zimbabwean refugees and the same ethnic-cleansing pressures that are part of the xenophobia in South Africa might well become more widespread.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to