Friday, 5 October 2007


By Gershom Ndhlovu

It is good for a poor Third World country standing up to the European Union and telling its leaders to stuff it, but to do so by closing ranks with the tyrannical Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe is surely something else. By doing so, Southern African Development Community SADC) leaders, and their chairman Dr Levy Mwanawasa in the forefront, are helping strangle that country’s millions of citizens who have to scrape a living.
The octogenarian leader of Zimbabwe is not any different from the Burmese ruler who is brutalising the people who are protesting against the military rulers. It is painful to see TV footage of Zimbabweans swimming across the crocodile-infested Limpopo, jumping electric fences into South Africa and facing police and civilian vigilantes who chase them like dogs across fields as they escape from the hunger and oppression unleashed by Mugabe’s regime.
Stories abound of how the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe buys foreign exchange on the parallel markets at very high rates which is then sold to Mugabe’s lackeys at the so-called official rate to enable them go shopping and send their children to school abroad and, basically, globe-trot when the people can’t even afford a plate of sadza on a daily basis.
Once a proud people, Zimbabweans have to daily trek across the border post between their country and Botswana at Ramokwebana and at Victoria Falls into Zambia, for menial jobs for a pittance, if only they can go back with a loaf of bread or a “Pamela” for their families.
In the face of all this, Mugabe’s top lieutenants can afford to charter whole Zimbabwe Airways planes to ferry guests to weddings and similar jaunts and when they do so, the fly the planes themselves.
What is going on in Zimbabwe is not any different from what is happening in Darfur in Sudan except that there it is the case of the Muslim Arab ruling class trying to annihilate the Christian and other non-Muslim Blacks and yet the African leaders acknowledge the existence of a problem there and are willing to send peace-keepers to that part of the continent.
Mugabe can stand on the UN lectern and accuse US president George Bush of having blood on his hands, but what about the blood of Zimbabweans oozing out of his own hands? What about the blood of the Zimbabweans whose bodies are encased in concrete and dumped in Lake Kariba by his notorious Central Intelligence Organisation for mere political dissension?
It is not that SADC leaders in particular and African leaders in general, and more so South African President Mbeki who prefers the so-called quiet diplomacy, are not aware about what is truly going on in the land of the Monomatapa.
Is this what Mbuya Nehanda fought for, is this what Herbert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara, Parirenyatwa and all the bombing victims of the rebel Rhodesian regime died for at Chikumbi, Kavalamanja and elsewhere?
I don’t think so. If anything, I think all these people must be turning in their graves to think about what is going on in that country.
For a long time, African leaders through their club, the Organisation of African Unity tolerated coups and counter-coups; today the African Union tolerates tyrants like Mugabe and murderers like Sudan’s President Bashir and want to show us they are brave by challenging British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has threatened to boycott the forthcoming EU/AU summit.
When things get worse in Zimbabwe, as they are bound to, the same leaders will turn round to accuse the West of letting the situation get out of hand like what happened during the Rwandan genocide over a decade ago and on Darfur now.
Going by Mugabe’s recalcitrance at the UN just over a week ago, no amount of dialogue will work with the old rag. He just needs to be strangled by economic sanctions that finished off his predecessor Ian Smith, until he wizens further.

1 comment:

MrK said...


You said let's get real, so here are a few points for consideration.

- What will the alternative to ZANU-PF be?

The MDC are going to do two things: privatise the state's assets, and turn back land reform. The problem with privatisation is that it will leave Zimbabwe without and wealth of it's own, the way Zambia is now without any benefit from it's mines. This is their only economic policy, which highlights their actual objective, which is getting into power no matter what. There are very clear similarities to the MMD in 1991.

Turning back land reform from the 250,000 people who have benefited from it, to favour 4,500 white farmers, is going to cause a civil war that is going to make the present austerity look like a walk in the park.

The only positive thing the MDC can do, is have sanctions lifted. (Oh but according to them, there are no sanctions, so I guess all they have going for them is to turn Zimbabwe in another neoliberal economic utopia.)

Anyway, their 'policies' are spelled out on their website, at

This is how they spell out the turning back of land reform - notice the patronizing and highhanded tone:

" An MDC government will have to deal with the emotive issue of land and there is simply no easy way to deal with this if we are to see any sort of recovery in this key sector of the economy. "

By calling the issue of land reform 'emotive', they are dismissing everyone who wants to see a fair distribution of land in Zimbabwe. Also, inherent in their assertion that 'if we are going to see any sort of recovery in this sector of the economy' implies that only white people can farm. Basically, they are the white farmer's henchmen and opportunists. Can they really not envision an agricultural sector that is run by the 99% of the population that isn't white?

To redress the injustice done to existing land owners under the reform process and to start the recovery process in the agricultural industry,

Notice that they are very concerned about 'injustice' done to white farmers, and yet, they are perfectly ok with all the people who are living in poverty, because they have no access to land. Obviously, that is not a concern of theirs.

The MDC will respect all legal land title deeds and ensure that the financial and legal rights of such landowners are fully respected and enforced.

In other words, they will use the army and the police to evict hundreds of thousands of people from their land. Are we really supposed to expect that they will go quietly? This is setting the stage for a civil war.

Special Courts will be set up in all major centers to assess compensation claims for losses incurred during the “fast track” land reform operation and the State will be responsible for such claims. These Courts will also deal with disputes over land rights.

How about compensation claims for the people whose land was stolen under colonialism and UDI, because the stealing of land in Rhodesia continued into the 1970s. Again, this is not a concern to the MDC.

On the economy and privatisation:

Macro Economic Policies.

The basic policies for sound management of a developing economy such as that found in Zimbabwe are well known and developed. Such a policy framework is applied in all progressive and developing economies including many of Zimbabwe’s neighbors.

The MDC remains committed to adopting and implementing such policies when it takes power in Zimbabwe. This would include market based managed exchange rate, lifting exchange control as soon as markets stabilized, interest rates that protected and encouraged savings and stringent controls on the fiscal regime.

So this is what the people of Zimbabwe have to look forward to:

- high taxation
- low inflation (but like Zambia, high borrowing rates)
- less government expenditure on education and healthcare
- foreign owned land and economy (so what is new?
- the same state machinery (including 29 ministries) and laws
- destruction of domestic manufacturers and food producers

Local monopolies would be required to face import competition if they are unwilling to allow greater competition in local markets.

In other words, throwing open the borders to cheap imported goods.

This is outright neoliberalism.

As this so obviously to bring prosperity to ordinary people in Zambia, why would it do anything else in Zimbabwe?

So let's get real - if the MDC are not serious about their agenda, then nothing much will change except that sanctions will be lifted. But if they are serious, then we're going to see a civil war and more austerity than exists today.