African Democracy

July 6, 2008

Zimbabwe in perspective

Filed under: Zimbabwe — africandemocrat @ 9:17 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Zimbabwe is in crisis.  The economy is in freefall, the people face slow starvation, and as Bishop Desmond Tutu said recently, there is a tragic failure of leadership in Zimbabwe.

From my perspective, the issues are:

  • The March 29 elections were surprisingly free and fair, but the results were not what Mr Mugabe and his ZANU(PF) colleagues expected, so they fudged the results to make time for implementing a strategy to retain power.
  • Mugabe insists that opposition MDC recognise him as duly elected president.
  • MDC claims to have won the March 29 elections outright and refuses to recognise the June 27 runoff election at all and refuses to recognise Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s elected president.
  • The AU, SADC and Pan-African Parliament all declared the March 29 election to be substantively free and fair, but all three have declared that the June 27 presidential runoff was not free or fair.
  • The Western World has roundly condemned Mugabe and the June 27 process.
  • South Africa’s President Mbeki is not acceptable to MDC as a negotiator as he is seen to be biased towards ZANU(PF) and is a longtime friend of Mugabe.
  • ZANU-PF and MDC seem to be more concerned about political power than the greater good of Zimbabwe.
  • MDC has good reason to fear being swallowed up by ZANU(PF) based on what happened to ZAPU in the early 1980s.  Hence they have good reason to resist a Government of National Unity where ZANU-PF dominates.
  • While Mugabe’s claims about “the British” and his rantings about Bush and Brown sound rather like Marxist/Leninist/Maoist invective, there is a certain amount of truth in what he is saying about the intentions of those parties and their links to the MDC.
  • Big Business in the guise of Lonrho, Anglo American, Barclays and Standard Chartered, amongst others, has always been able to do business with Mugabe and ZANU(PF).
  • While Mugabe’s government was co-operating with the World Bank and the IMF, his record in respect of human rights and his attitude toward democracy were largely ignored by the Western Powers.  Now that he has slipped the leash, they are gunning for him.
  • Morgan Tsvangirai has publically stated that he will welcome the World Bank and IMF if he is elected president.
  • The IMF and World Bank are directly and indirectly responsible for impoverishing most of Africa.
  • IMF and World Bank “structural adjustment” programmes are a euphemism for milking poor countries for every dollar that can be extracted, always at the expense of the poorest citizens.
  • Although there have been promises of massive foreign aid for Zimbabwe should MDC take over, one must remember that such promises are rarely kept and those that are always have onerous strings attached. 
  • Land ownership in Zimbabwe is an issue of colonialism.  The land was forcibly taken from the native population of Shona and Matabele tribes in the 1890s and from then until this century, has mostly been owned by white people.
  • The British brokered a deal at Lancaster House that protected the property rights in Zimbabwe of a number of members of the House of Lords.
  • The British did not keep their side of the deal and did not provide the funds that they had promised for purchasing land from white owners for distribution to black Zimbabweans.
  • At the turn of the century, Mugabe and top ZANU(PF) officials had already acquired ownership of prime land for themselves.
  • While some black Zimbabweans do want land, most would prefer regular employment to the grinding poverty of subsistence farming.
  • The land grab after Mugabe lost the referendum in 2000 was more about neutralising part of his political opposition than it was about restoring the land rights of black Zimbabweans.  White farmers had openly supported the MDC during the campaign in 2000, and in order to win the 2002 elections, Mugabe and ZANU(PF) saw fit to drive out the white farmers and their workers who had also largely supported MDC.
  • Although the Zimbabwe State has taken posession of the vast majority of white-owned farms, the landless peasant has not been the beneficiary.  Farms have been given to ZANU(PF) cronies and to so-called “War Veterans”, many of whom weren’t even born at the time of the 1970s bush war that ousted Ian Smith’s regime and led to black rule in Zimbabewe.
  • Although in principle the restoration of land to the indigenous people is fair and just, the results have been highly detrimental to the country and to the region.  Millions of displaced farmworkers and other Zimbabweans have left the country either legally or illegally to  seek a better life elsewhere.  Those with better education and skills have taken jobs overseas.  Those that cannot get legal entry to foreign countries have mostly fled to South Africa.
  • As was the situation in the 1970s, where Ian Smith’s white regime only continued to exist as long as South Africa tolerated it, Mugabe’s regime only exists as long as it has the support of South Africa.

So, now what?  Who will blink first, and will the current stalemate continue until a new South African government takes control after April 2009?

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