Glued to his position, denoted as a heretic by the international media, snubbed by western politicians, slapped with economic sanctions… President Mugabe strides on undeterred and is standing yet again in his country’s next elections as the torch bearer for his party. He stands a good chance of winning whether or not the majority of the Zimbabwean electorate thinks otherwise. If calculations are correct, this ancient figure seeking a personal colonialisation of his own country has spent about 28 years in power since his ascendance to the highest political office in Zimbabwe.
To hold power this long, one must possess phenomenal intelligence. But his usual manipulative tactic on accusing all opposition as being allies of British imperialism might be threadbare and implausible this year as Zimbabweans may just have had their fair share of hard cheese under an anti-imperialist dictatorship. Rhetoric. They may be learning from the Kenyan unrest… But is this what the West wants to believe? The West has been instrumental in sanctions and economic dislocations after Mugabe’s 2002 presidential win and may have taught Zimbabweans a lesson for making wrong choices (though they -the population – had very little to do with that triumph)… and boy, have they learnt!
Mugabe has been accused of blackmail, massacres and even branded as a “tyrant” who has “ruined” Zimbabwe by the almighty President Bush of the hegemonic US in an interview with the Times of London a couple of years ago. Zimbabwe, once a bread basket of its sub-region, has today become an economic basket case, with inflation that has flown past 100,000 per cent ! The guiness book of records may just have to wait a while before inserting this figure as the rate changes for the worse… and is it not life threatening to run around town with a couple of ten million dollar bills in a wallet? Without much surprise, it has become an everyday event for Zimbabweans who are not getting any richer. Au contraire.
Why this economic bummer?
The question of land! In a nutshell, the media would have us believe that Mugabe, the racist, seized humble and prosperous white owned farms and doled them out to imcompetent black africans. Before the seizures, about 4,500 white farmers were in total control of about 70% of Zimbabwe’s arable land; Whites who, by the way, made up less than 2% of the Zimbabwean population.
Indeed, we can not just raise eyebrows without questioning how? Rhodesia as it was called before its independence was named after a certain Cecil Rhodes, who appropriated land without right from the Matabele and Mashona people with the use of force, backed by British soldiers who were rewarded with 9 square miles of land each.
In a past post election report on the control of the nation’s economy by Baffour Ankomah, which appeared in an edition of the New African, the analyst argued that white farmers controlled 30% of the Zimabwean economy while 66% was dominated by British transnational corporations, leaving black Zimbabweans with a meagre 4%.
His report was reminiscent of 19th century US plantations. Zimbabwean farm hands, the report said, toiled on white farms doing gruelling 13hour day shifts and taking home a paltry sum of $5 U.S per month! In another report by George Monbiot, which appeared in the Guardian, 70% of the maize production came from black owned farms. Maize being the principal staple of the Zimbabwean population. So what exactly were the 70% white owned farms growing?
Dr. Onyeani, in a 2002 article that appeared in the black commentator, notes that the Zimbabwean government had rightly contended the responsibility of compensating the farmers as lying with the British government, since the former British Prime Minister Magaret Thatcher had agreed to provide the funds for the compensation as a condition of Mr. Mugabe signing the Lancaster House agreement, which ended the biracial rule and finalised Zimbabwe’s independence.
A further quote from another analyst, Shamuyarira, states: “that agreement was abruptly abandoned when the Blair goverment came to power…” That agreement had made it clear that Zimbabwe was under no obligation whatsoever to compensate the white farmers whilst resettling the landless Africans.
So why this hue and cry?
Interests! First is the 66% British controlled corporations followed by the other 30%. And the European Union recently commissioned a study that sought to expose why the Mugabe regime must end. “Time for Mugabe to go?” was the theme of Richard Dowden’s (of the economist) meeting at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, following the seizure of ‘white owned lands’. Some of the titles at the meeting included; military coup, buying the opposition, insurrection and subverting Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. The US state department wasted little time with a follow up strategy to handle the “crises”.
Could any of these strategies be really called respect for the sovereignty of another country’s rule of law? Unless of course hegemonies and old colonial masters have the right to instigate violence, as espoused by the above-mentioned study, in the name of democratic solutions. Britain has come a long way since Feudalism, the Magna Carta, Slave Trade, Colonialism, and now as development will have it, Democracy. The US has come a long way too, from the claiming of and settlement on lands that belonged to europeans by right of discovery, white supremacy, segregation, civil rights and again as development will have it, Democracy as we know it.
Your freedom ends at my threshold
Encouraging other sovereign entities towards the endless benefits of democracy is one proper thing, but instigating violence or social unrest among populations who have only just aquired the freedom to consider freedom, is another. The meer thought of manipulating populations who may not have clearly understood the meaning of the political philosophy of “one’s freedom ends where someone else’s ‘nose’ begins”… a philosophy that could well serve a great purpose, is rather graceless.
The beaten track…
It is understood that Mugabe is doing what he knows best, i.e; basking in sheer supremacy, a lesson learnt from one of the best schools of supremacist regimes in Africa. Life is a vicious cycle. One thing is certain; Mugabe is not the only one to blame for the grotesque state in which the one time bread-basket finds itself today. It is time to look at things objectively as Zimbabweans hit the polls on March 29.