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The right thing

In the end, against expectations, South African president Thabo Mbeki did the right thing. It’s conceivable that the Commonwealth could have suspended Zimbabwe on the two votes of Australian prime minister John Howard and Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo. But it really needed Mbeki’s assent to make the point.

How much difference will it make? Even from London, the Commonwealth’s sway sometimes seems pretty feeble. But Mugabe’s isolation from the leaders that really count in Africa will, eventually, tell. It’s sad, but we can expect that things will get worse for the people in Zimbabwe before they get better. The first step in improvement, however, came with the decisive rejection by the global community — Africa included — of the election result.

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