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Robert Mugabe versus Richard Branson

Analysis: Classic clash between African dictator and British billionaire.

Branson’s appeal to help Zimbabwe was excoriated as an attempt at “backdoor entry by vultures disguised as angels,” wrote Tendai Midzi, whose father is Zanu-PF chairman, in the state-owned Herald newspaper.

Branson’s effort was dismissed by Midzi as merely an attempt to counter “the power of China. Zimbabwe does not need investments disguised as philanthropic work now. The international community has now realized that this jewel we call Zimbabwe, having discovered large deposits of diamonds, is now able to lift itself out of the poverty that the West helped create in the first place.”

Take that, Sir Richard.

Branson’s plea for support for Zimbabwe also came at a moment when Mugabe and Zanu-PF are taking off their gloves and battering Zimbabwe’s democracy.

Mugabe’s supporters attacked citizens attending a public hearing for a new constitution, using iron bars and bricks. One of Tsvangirai’s supporters died from the injuries, it was reported Wednesday.

As a result of the violence, the process of creating a new constitution has been suspended. This calls into question the entire effort to return Zimbabwe to democracy through a new constitution and then free and fair elections.

A stronger democracy is exactly what Robert Mugabe does not want.