In light of the recent debacle at WHO with the promotion of Robert Mugabe as a “goodwill ambassador”, I thought I should post this. (Bear in mind–This was originally written in May 1999.)
Dear fellow Africanists and other so-called liberals,
I just have to get this off my chest because I am starting to really get pissed off with the rumblings from the ‘Dark Continent’. In particular, it is regarding the recent “land grab crisis” and ‘corruption of power’ in Zimbabwe. It shouldn’t have mattered to me, but since I have travelled and spent a considerable amount of time in Zimbabwe during the 1980s—it finally got to me.
For the most part, I have been kept abreast of developments in southern Africa through CNN, CBC, newspaper clipping and emails sent to me by a fellow teacher, Bob Neeves, at Ras al Khaimah (RAKMen’s) College. He is a full time teacher and I just a part-timer. Bob was British, white and a fellow bleeding heart, he has just recently bought a small house and accompanying land at Livingstone (in Zambia) which is just across the river from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
In the past, he taught in Zambia for about 14 years (Lesotho too), became fluent in the local language and has many friends in both countries. He is well aware of the recent problems of land redistribution and land repayment issues in Zimbabwe.
Initially, Bob and I were elated with the news that Zimbabweans had finally showed their gumption and voted against Mugabe in the earlier ‘constitution question’. We both hoped that that ‘bastard’ Mugabe might finally be toppled in a “fair, democratic election”.
We could envision the final gasps from Mugabe’s “one party democracy state” that he and his former president—Canaan Banana (indicted for sodomy and other nasty things last year) had instituted back in the 1980’s.
However, we were hasty in our judgement and prediction for the fate of Zimbabwe.
Our first clue should have been when Mugabe bestowed upon himself “supernatural powers” much like Joseph Mobutu Sese Seko did a few years back in former Zaire.
Moreover, who could have predicted the travesties and horror that would be unleashed by the so-called ‘war veterans’ under the aegis of Mugabe? It has to be said here that some of those bogus “war veterans” weren’t even old enough to have participated in the “Rhodesian Bush War” that took place prior to Zimbabwe independence in 1980, but that didn’t put these young thugs off seizing back what they called “their farms” .
At this point, it’s difficult to know who is more sinister or corrupt between the dictator for life—Mugabe or his new hitman—’Hitler’ Hunzvi. They are both managing to plunder Zimbabwe and sink it to new depths.
I’m sorry, but the old moniker of “it’s because of the colonialism” just won’t fit or stick in this case. Comrade Mugabe and his cronies have brought this dismal state all by themselves, thank you very little. They have had ample opportunity and time to dismantle the last remnants of colonialism that was inherited from Smitty and the Rhodies, but Mugabe and his ZANU-PF cronies didn’t even try.
Godfather Mugabe and his Shona mafia have succumbed to the fate that has plagued the rest of Africa—cronyism and short-term gains at the expense of the majority of poor Zimbabweans who still go without.
Can you really blame the ‘war veterans’ and others for invading the ‘white farms’ in the first place? The poor bastards [the real veterans that is] gave up arms and legs for their struggle for independence, but that is just about all that they have gotten. The rest are hollow lies that Mugabe and ZANU-PF have swept under the ever-widening carpet of his presidential powers.
Furthermore, Mugabe and his own ZANU-PF cronies have lined their own velvet pockets with donor cash and the best land that was to have been originally re-distributed to the ‘poor underclass’. This misuse of power and ‘donor cash’ is primarily the reason behind recent UK and US intransigence in coughing up more monies from their own coffers for repayment of land transferals.
Originally, UK and US had offered to buy land for Zimbabwe’s impoverished ‘war veterans’ at the expense of the ‘white farmers’, who would then be compensated in exchange. Mysteriously, both the monies and land disappeared into the private coffers of Mugabe’s cronies.
It is quite outrageous that Mugabe should proclaim— “The whites are the enemies of the state”. What state? His grandiose one-party state of Mugabeleland?
What an ego, and what a grand misuse of power that has soured the sweetness that was the vision of a new Zimbabwe. More to the point—What the hell has happened to Mugabe’s Marxist approach to running a government, and more importantly, implementing real land reform laws amongst fellow comrades?
Of course, the ‘whites’ shouldn’t have the best land and they shouldn’t have the largest share, but, what’s the solution—land grab by the ‘war veterans’ and to what end? Is it only so that some meagre and eager ‘war veteran’ can turn a profit-making farm into some experimental, subsistence farming adventure.
I think not.
I don’t think it is neither in Mugabe’s best interest, nor in the interest of a stifled Zimbabwe economy to allow such a desecration of still arable land.
This same predicament happened in Uganda when Idi Amin Dada decided to turf all the Indian landowners and take over their land. Such a grand scheme by Amin turned once profitable coffee and tea producing estates into shared subsistence farming plots.
Moreover, toss competent and skilled workers off the land and you get rid of the very people who know how to turn a profit and keep an agrarian economy manageable. In recent years, some sanity has returned to that part of Central Africa with the rise of Yoweri Museveni in Uganda.
He has the intelligence to ‘invite’ the Asians back to their former coffee and tea farms and hopefully, try to jump start Uganda’s dismal economy that lay in ruins thanks to Idi Amin and Dr. Milton Abote’s short sightedness.
On the other hand, Mugabe is doing his best to copy Idi Amin’s plan. To what end would it benefit an already hobbled Zimbabwe economy by dismantling a thriving tea/coffee and tobacco industry for subsistence economy?
Can there not be some kind of compromise worked out between the ‘war veterans’ and the ‘Rhodies’?
Mugabe has, in a way, given some power back to the masses, but violence and intimidation are not going to foster neither a stable country nor a stable economy. This kind of brute force and ignorance leads nowhere except to scare off potential investors and panic those who are not armed (both black and white Zimbabweans).
Perhaps, this is too simple, but the reality is that with everyday comes the promise that Zimbabwe is drawing closer to the brink of a civil war and more atrocities. The news is disheartening to those of us who felt and believed that Smitty was wrong and apartheid was insufferable. It must be even harder for those ‘whites’ who decided to stick it out after Zimbabwe’s independence.
Those farmers must feel like they have just been caretakers of the land. Surely, their time and energy spent on the land must be worth something or is it? Maybe some kind of ‘farm coops’ should have been formed and a fair redistribution of land should have implemented, but this forced takeover is nothing short of piracy or landjacking.
Whatever way you want to call it—it’s not right!
There will be nothing gained from it except for some meagre ‘war veteran’ to be able to grow a few heads of maize and for Mugabe to sit in his office drinking chebuku and becoming as big as the late Joshua Nkomo of rival ZAPU.
Furthermore, I was further shocked and disappointed at the news that came out of the Victoria Falls summit, in which comrades Mbeki, Chissano, (the ghost of Kamuzu Banda), and the other neighbouring countries (formerly the Frontline States) have somehow been hoodwinked or strong-armed into following Mugabe’s party line.
They hailed Mugabe as a “great freedom fighter and blamed Britain for the near anarchy into which Zimbabwe has descended”. It’s all bullshit!
Excuse me, but was it not pressure from Britain and Lord Carrington at Lancaster House that finally pulled the plug on Smitty and his merry white men and sent them packing back to the bundu. How could Mbeki and Chissano possibly support the despot Mugabe?
Was it not Mugabe and his Shona realpolitik that crippled the highly industrialized town of Bulawayo and forced most of its business south of the border to neighbouring Francistown?
Was it not Mugabe and his Shona cronies who bled Britain, US and other countries of their money that had been originally intended as compensation for land transfer?
Was it not Mugabe who changed Zimbabwe into a likeness of his own being— “a one party democratic state”?
Was it not Mugabe who decreed that for the good of Zimbabwe, there should be no more importation of foreign goods into Zimbabwe? His reasoning being that if Zimbabwe couldn’t produce the goods locally then the populace didn’t need them anyways. The result was a rampant underground economy based on the importation (smuggling) of “contraband” goods from the then racist regime of RSA.
More to the point, South Africa’s economy is being hit hard by what is happening north of the Limpopo. The first thing I want to say about Mbeki’s statement at the Victoria Falls Summit is—‘solidarity my ass’. There has been no love lost between South Africa and Zimbabwe in recent years. In the past, whenever Mandela got a call concerning Mugabe he must have cringed and was heard to mutter— “Oh, it’s Robert again”. In other words, now what the hell is the problem with Comrade Mugabe?
At present time, foreign investors are being scarred off and the trickle down theory that has been set in motion in Zimbabwe is creeping into South Africa. It is unfortunate that Canada was also hoodwinked by this master of deception—Robert Gabriel Mugabe (former choirboy).
A week ago, another farm was taken over by ‘Hitler’ Hunzvi’s war veterans. This time it was the farm that belonged to the former Rhodesian PM Ian Smith. Apparently Smitty, as he is affectionately called, had an ‘open door’ policy regarding any complaints by the workers.
Regarding the recent plight of fellow white farmers at the hands of ‘Hitler’s war veterans’, Smitty was quoted as saying—
“I am not afraid of the Africans. I have more African friends than Mugabe ever will.”
Question is—What is to become of the ‘whites’ or Rhodies who have stayed behind to suffer the outrageous slings and arrows of the Mugabe realpolitik? Do they just get cast aside, pick up British citizenship and become ‘instant pommies’ or move to South Africa and become ‘when we’s’?
I think not.
These “white” folk are second and third generation Africans, albeit ‘white Africans’, but they are Africans. I think a good many of them will stick it out in the hopes that Mugabe will be turfed at the next election. Problem is—there may not be enough voters (black and white) nor an opposition party left to run against Mugabe and ZANU-PF.
Finally, it’s a cruel or yet ironic fate that former President Canaan Banana should be arrested for sodomy when it is Mugabe who should be arrested for buggering Zimbabwe into such a desperate state.
Ok I’ll get off my OMO soapbox now.