Many people are asking why African leaders have not taken stronger action against Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe after he claimed to win last July's rigged election.
Those people don't understand that the African way with a stubborn person is to give them enough rope to hang themselves.
In fact, the southern African rulers, grouped in SADC (the Southern African Development Community) had told Mugabe's rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, that there was no hope for a free and fair election because none of the conditions they laid down when the 2009 Government of National Unity was formed had been met. He ignored that advice, so he must live with the consequences.
They had given the same message to Mugabe; he too must live with the consequences. He invited them to celebrate his inauguration for his 6^th term as president (he was executive Prime Minister for seven years before that); Obiang Nguema, the dictator of Equatorial Guinea, who had given $93 million to Mugabe's campaign fund, came. Joyce Banda, President of Malawi, sent a representative. I can't think of another who admitted to noticing the event, though there probably were one or two.
The message is clear: Mugabe can call himself President of Zimbabwe, chairman of the SADC organ for security (next year, if he lives that long), or friend of the Pope (the Vatican is almost the only state in Europe that doesn't ban him from visiting) but he is still an outcast.
He took a month to choose his cabinet, and the new one contained no new faces. He can't find a competent Minister of Finance or Reserve Bank governor. He crows with pleasure because some of the EU's personal sanctions against him have been lifted, but the economy remains ruined because nobody will do business with people who don't honour their debts or their promises.
All that the outside world can do is watch while Zimbabwe collapses even further. Things might change when he dies, but we don't let this week's rumours that he collapsed in Singapore on his annual holiday raise our hopes too high.