Thursday, June 19, 2008

Zim blues again and again

Robert Mugabe seems ruthlessly determined to go down in history as one of the worst tyrants on the continent. Its hard to read any news about Zimbabwe these days without feeling desperately powerless and mind-soaked with anger. Young Bob started out so well, only to turn into this...

There seem to be only three solutions to end the plight of Zimbabwe under this paranoid maniac. 1) He dies or is killed. However, he seems gifted by longevity and has a mighty security apparatus around him so neither is likely any time soon. 2) The SADC countries/African Union ramp up the pressure. Mbeki, determined to go down as the biggest wuss on the continent, will put paid to that happening. 3) There is some kind of international intervention force. This being off the map from a global strategic perspective (nothing to be extracted of value in Zim), and given the sorry state of the UN these days, this is not going to happen either.

The reign of terror Mugabe wreaks on his own people looks like it will continue, up to and beyond the fake election run-off a few days away. I'm sure that in a few years time when the tyrant is at last six foot under, we'll look back with shame that we witnessed the fall of Zimbabwe and collectively, nothing was done to stop it sinking so far, so terribly.


anonymaus,  5:22 am  

Nice analysis Jeremy

The problem with Africa these days, for now; is that people are tired of running here and there, up and down the continent sorting out the mess the locals have managed to make of their countries.

Right now no one gives a s**t or a f**k. As long as they can do a deal the the local strong man(men) to extract whatever resources they want. The local people can either:
a) starve
b) kill each other in a civil war/ (ethnic cleansing or whatever)
c) succumb to disease

To finish them off. No one cares!

The outside world will just look and shrug and move on. Nigeria in this respect has tried to help Sierra Leone and Liberia, but Nigeria has realised it's capabilities and has recongnised that it's not "all that" so it can sort out everyone else's problems, and leave it's own festering (ie Niger Delta, who will save Nigeria?).

The bottom line is that if the people of Zimbabwe expect the outside world to help them, they will be disappointed, it boils down to them and only them to bring about effective change.

On a positive note, every nation goes through trying times and unfortunately for them now it's their turn. They will rise from this in due course.

Anonymous,  3:48 pm  

Well, I'm not sure what the real situation is in Zim..... there is so much Western sponsored propoganda floating around that frankly is quite disgusting!

What is the Wests interest in Zim?

Surely they are not concerned about the people..... methinks not!

The zimbabwe situation has become a test of will between Mugabe and the West. When two elephants fight the grass suffers!

The west is as much to blame for what is happening in Zim.

Anonymous,  5:17 pm  

Mugabe is a monster - the whole situation is so ridiculous and everyone is just watching.
The worst thing about this situation is the feeling of helplessness. And why are the African leaders just keeping silent on the issue? I dont hear of any public denouncements of Mugabe by anyone. By being silent they are all complicit in his actions. And Thabo Mbeki is the biggest joke of all! Meanwhile Biya is quietly getting away with the smae atrocities in Cameroon!!!

Anonymous,  6:33 pm  

Robert Mugabe, atyrant?

I can't believe that you've fallen for this demonization. Why is Mugabe on the map? Simple - because he touched the whites in Africa.

When Nigeria carried out slum clearances? Who cared? Oil supplies were not affected.

The problem you, the BBC and a lot of people fail to realize is that the status quo in Zimbabwe - 4000 WHITE farmers controlling 80% of the economy could not stay that way.

Mugabe quickly realized that blood will have to be spilled to achieve anything worthwhile e.g. having a baby. The situation in Zimbabwe has become so bad because his nation has been starved of capital - if a puppet like Chani (Tsvangarai) gets to become the big boss, it will set back Zimbabwean independence 50 years because his solution will be to give the land back to the whites.

I am bored of people who keep pointing to South Africa as Zimbabwe's model neighbor - a country where over 75% of the economy is in the hands of 4 companies (Nigerians moan about income distribution - you go to South Africa). A nation where the issue of redistribution of land has been put on the back burner because the chief coconut-head of the whites (Madiba) agreed that this would be the case.

No wonder whites like Mandela - South Africa became 'free', they out a few Black Diamonds in positions as figure heads and left the vanilla center of the country intact, with the poor chocolate majority still living in unbelievable poverty. That's part of the reason the poor blacks got so frustrated, they started attacking their African counterparts a few weeks ago - the sweet product of the touch-no-vanilla-land-or-company status quo.

The thing with SA, of course, is that white flight has already started anyway, and the country has already started going to the dogs. What Migabe is doing is no different from what several other African dictators have done and are doing. Why is he alone in the news?

Anonymous,  6:48 pm  

anonymous 5:17 - ever wondered why Cameroon is not all over the news? Or even Gabon, for example?

When you leave the vanilla alone and only touch the chocolate, all is well.

@ the anon who called this a battle between elephants: no African country is an elephant. Not that I have heard of anyway.

ayo 9:54 pm  

Unbelievable comments! 28 years and still killing his own people for daring to say enough! and we are still saying maybe he has a point?

Patrick Cook 12:02 am  

I suppose Mugabe could be unilaterally deposed by another African country, like Idi Amin. However, most African leaders who are worth anything have their eyes turned to the Sudan and Somalia. I doubt any of them are as strong willed as Julius Nyerere anyway.

Controversial Anon,  9:39 am  

@ Ayo

You've no clue about Zimbabwe so maybe you should not contribute.

Every now and again, Jeremy posts something silly about Zim, 'foreign intervention force' my arse, Let's see that happen then. Like it or not, South Africa will go down this route too, it could take 30 years but it will happen, and that will be the real test of western 'love for Africa'.

You have the guts to call for western military intervention in Zimbabwe, because Mugabe is worse than Apartheid South Africa, with which you silly little soon to be insignificant country traded for decades. How many people inervened in Northen Ireland, when SAS troops were killing their own pple?

You have an ex leader who should be tried for war crimes, and a current leader who is 'unelected', not even a party leadership contest took place, your countries economy is tanking, an upper house full of inherited seats, a head of state who is born into the job, frankly you have a lot of problems in your homeland about which you can and should blog. And if you must blog about Zimbabwe, then take off your Caucasian tinted glasses so you can see clearly before you begin!

Anonymous,  8:28 pm  

@ an0n 6.48

Elephant is a metaphor! The Elephants don't need to be the sanme size do they?
Zim = small elephant
West = huge bull elephant
grass= Zim economy/people


Anonymous,  11:00 pm  

Jeremy I would mince my words if I were you. you wouldn't want to be quoted as suggesting that he be killed..pls careful what you say am sure you recognise how words are taking out of context....

Anonymous,  11:03 pm  

@ controversial anon (9:39 a.m.), you summed it up best with this statement:

"And if you must blog about Zimbabwe, then take off your Caucasian tinted glasses so you can see clearly before you begin!"

If people want to comment or blog about Zimbabwe, they must never, EVER forget that the status quo in Zimbabwe (before the land seizures began) was unacceptable. When 4000 white farmers hold the majority to ransom! And they expect the country to sit back and accept it?

If Jeremy or any of these other bloggers would get off their high horses and actually see things from a different perspective, they would perhaps understand that Mugabe's determination that his country no longer be enslaved is a genuine one.

The questions we should be asking are simple: when will Nigeria do the same with its oil multinationals, SA with its land issue, Kenya the same with the white landowners and business owners? When will Africa really be free?

When Mugabe says that Tsvangarai will bever rule Zimbabwe, what he is effectively saying is that 'We are not giving back the land to the whites'

O pari.

Jeremy 7:58 am  

There is a central failure of thought in those who are critical of my views of Mugabe on this thread of comments. The assumption they make is that somehow I, and perhaps other white Euros like me, have a blindspot about white ownership of assets in Africa. They think that we do not see that there is international media interest in part because there is an historical (or ongoing) racialised economic dynamic at work.
What they fail to see is that one can take this point about western media interest on board, acknowledge it, engage with it, and still be fully justified in calling Mugabe a brutal tyrant and all the rest. The reasons that draw people to a story are different from the interest of the story itself.
Sadly, those taking this position of everything reducing to white ownership end up creating an even bigger blindspot of their own: they end up being unwitting apologists for Mugabe.
Of course, Mugabe exploits this reflex to the hilt: playing on the anti-colonial/de-colonial card endlessly like a broken record. My interlocutors on this blog fall right into his trap. Instead of recognising his wickedness and mendacity for what it is, they shift the blame onto whitey, as part of a grand occidental conspiracy.
White ownership of land or business in Zim, in SA, in East Africa, is a problem historically right up to the present. True that. The only way forwards is land reform. The point is that one should be able to acknowledge this necessity for justice and equity (after all, the land owned by whites was expropriated fro someone else) at the same time as being able to recognise cruel forms of leadership and brutality. More to the point, the kind of land reform practised by Mugabe has hardly been fair or equitable, as anyone with a passing familiarity with who has gained and who has lost out will know.
Failure to make these kinds of distinctions means you end up become pawns in a larger game. It’s quite sad that after all this time, venomous brutality can be so easily dressed-up as righteous anti-colonial struggle and the pill swallowed whole by so many Africans.

Anonymous,  11:48 am  

It is about a hero that has become corrupted by power. Mugabe is using land reform as a ‘mask’ to sustain his lust for power. The problems in Zimbabwe go beyond race and we need to acknowledge this. A few facts about land reform:
Many were ‘given’ to veterans who did not have agricultural training which has added to Zimbabwe’s food crisis.
There were/are strategic land allocations. For example, veterans that were loyal to Mugabe, security forces (judges, military men etc) and other allies that would ensure that he stayed in power
Land reform has started gaining pace again to ‘bribe’ more officials as his position is looking precarious.
Some veterans are even by evicted by top ZANU PF party officials that Mugabe needs to keep onside!
Land reform needs to happen but not as a tool for maintaining a despot’s rule. Mugabe is in a catch 22 situation – he has committed atrocities against his people (mass murder – political, food crisis etc) and knows that once he leaves political office he will be tried in The Hague. His only of ensuring that he does happen – stay in power by any means necessary. By the way, he should be tried in The Hague!
Mugabe - He started so well and what will he remembered for? A nationalist who fought and ruined his country?

See below :

Anonymous,  1:21 pm  

Jeremy, the only 'central failure' is on your part.

Why are you not constantly gnashing your teeth at the Biya regime in Cameroon? Or fuming at the brutality of the Ethiopian regime that continues to fight wars abroad even as its people die of starvation?

Why are you not blogging about Bongo's long-lasting regime in Gabon, a place where the black-on-black brutality has arguably been more brutal, far more, than the activities of Mugabe and his boys in Zimbabwe? A place where the opposition does not even exist, something even Zimbabwe today (with all its flaws) still has!

Why are you not constantly opening topics about the brutality of countless other black-led, black-oppressed countries in Africa?

The answer is simple: you have been fed a boring tune by a british press that's obssessed with protecting the assets of its people in Zimbabwe, and you're regurgitating this crap on the blog.

Problem is, people don't buy that rubbish anymore. When you start taking up the issues that don't affect your people (i.e. Europeans in Africa), then perhaps people can really start taking you seriously as a fighter for justice or 'equality' or whatever you want to call it. Until then, how do we explain the disproportionate attention the Western press and Western-penned blogs (like yours) give to the Zimbabwe issue, when just as much brutality continues in at least a dozen countries around the world, with little coverage from said press?

You speak of Mbeki being a wuss? Why should he intervene in the problems of another country? That's the style of your people - the British! Why would an independent state intervene in the affairs of another?

Last I checked (I may well be wrong), you have never wished for the death of another African leader - even coconut-headed ones like Yahya Jammeh or Togo's president, or Biya or Bongo.

Last I checked, you had never (until now) called for a UN intervention force in any other African country, even when (like in Ethiopia) the leaders have demonstrated their capacity for brutality that's far worse than anything Zimbabwe has seen under Mugabe.

You say you are 'mind-soaked' in anger? Well, when was the last time such a response came for the suffering of poor black Africans in a nation you have no interest in (so remove SA, Zimbabwe, Angola, Nigeria, DR Congo, etc)?

The problem with a lot of people is their failure to recognize that they are hypocrites. Everyday, I am flooded by 'Save Darfur' appeals. When I point out to the often ignorant (and often caucasian) people peddling these petitions that the worst humanitarian crises in Africa are in DR Congo, Somalia, etc, they often go silent. Hardly any of them have stopped to even think about the reasons Darfur remains in the news.

You and your chums would have us believe it is because the world cares about brutality against these poor folks.


Trying to pull the wool over one's eyes. In 2008? Tufiakwa. The only 'central failure' is on your part. Ewu!

Anonymous,  1:30 pm  

@ anonymous 11:48

Beneficiaries of the Mugabe land distribution were determined by Robert Mugabe in typical scratch-my-back/I-scratch-yours fashion. Nothing new there, really - it's the way politics is done in most countries around the world, even if Mugabe took things to an extreme with the nepotism/corruption.

Nothing new here.

And as for your claims that Mugabe has anyting to do with the food crisis, surely you are aware that there was also a drought in Zimbabwe, and that land redistribution, particularly when done so suddenly, is bound to lead to such problems?

The puppet opposition has pulled out of the elections. Thank Goodness. What Tsvangarai wanted was a return to the apartheid days, when he and his fellow slaves could sit under a tree and sing 'Koooooombaya' at their oyinbo masters who owned all the land, all the businesses and all of the economy.


Jeremy 1:33 pm  

Last anonymous: there you go again. Just as I can make a distinction between recognising the historical inequity of white appropriation of assets in Africa and their ongoing devastating impact on the present and at the same time calling Mugabe a tyrant - something you simply cannot do, so too can I can join others in criticizing Mugabe without that excluding any possible criticism of injustices elsewhere in Africa.

You are right that it is not fair that the Western media shines spotlights in places of strategic interest in Africa, to the exclusion of other places. You continually lump everyone together on these points - my blog with the western media etc.

Your inability to make distinctions turns everyone who you disagree with into the enemy - those complicit with the Western media. You seem to think all non-Africans can only have a malign influence on African politics and decision making.

Such insularities in our interdependent world will not lead to progress...

Anonymous,  1:51 pm  

Jeremy, it is perfectly fair to lump your blog with the rest of the Western press because I cannot name any of your actions that are not in line with the activities of the Western press.

You said:

"(I) can I can join others in criticizing Mugabe without that excluding any possible criticism of injustices elsewhere in Africa."

Yes you can. However, you haven't (not to my knowledge, anyway), and given the brutality of some of the leaders we have had recently, that's astonishing, and in many ways justification for my lumping you with the rest of the Western press.

Anengiyefa 3:58 pm  

"...What Tsvangarai wanted was a return to the apartheid days, when he and his fellow slaves could sit under a tree and sing 'Koooooombaya' at their oyinbo masters who owned all the land, all the businesses and all of the economy.."

Anon 1:30PM, I am yet to hear more absolute rubbish than this. Obviously you have not educated yourself about the MDC and what the party stands for. So how is this for starters...

"MDC supports a systematic land reform that benefits the black people of Zimbabwe not the ruling elite and their cronies and one that is sensitive to the economic and societal needs providing food and jobs."

"An MDC government will conduct a land audit of the chaotic land grab to ascertain who owns which part of land."

"An MDC government will form an independent Land Commission that will design a land tenure system that will redress and rationalize the corrupt and self-serving land reform done by the ruling party."

"An MDC government will ensure Zimbabwe regains its breadbasket status through increased training and infrastructure development in the agricultural sector."

"An MDC government will rehabilitate input supply systems, ensure security of tenure and transform agriculture institutions, offer marketing and support services and restoring efficient and well-managed extension of lines of credit."

"An MDC government will restore the agricultural sector to is full capacity as the key and starting point for economic recovery as it kick starts the supply side of the economy and we will pay great attention to this sector."

Isn't it about time we Africans started trusting our own genius and employing it to our own advantage and for our own benefit, rather than wallowing in self pity, playing the perpetual victim of colonial domination and blaming the white man for all our troubles?

ayo 7:06 pm  

@ controversial anon

The blog owner has allowed comments so yes I should and will contribute. You claim I know nothing, but there is nothing in your comment to enlighten me any further. Perhaps you should try being more objective as there are some of us who want some answers.

"I have no clue about anything" I leave that to you analysts. But I see people who look exactly like me suffering in their own country and it worries me. I also know a few Zimbabweans and they are not happy either. RM has done enough and he should go. As our elders would say, "Oba to je ti ilu toro...." (A king is only as good as his reign(tenure))

Anonymous,  7:58 pm  

"...An MDC government will restore the agricultural sector to is full capacity as the key and starting point for economic recovery as it kick starts the supply side of the economy and we will pay great attention to this sector..."

The koko of the matter. Keyword is 'restore'.

They will restore things, they say. Reset things. Take it back to the pre-1999 days.

Thank God they pulled out of the elections. Good riddance.

Anengiyefa 8:41 pm  

Anon 7:58 PM, in pre 1999 days, Zimbabweans were exporting food, not eating grass as they are doing now. The hospitals were well equipped. People were employed.

The point is that in principle, the MDC is not opposed to land reform. Nobody in their right mind would be. It is the mindless stupidity of the Mugabe government in executing their so-called land reform that is the issue. ZANU PF's land grab has benefited no one, not even ZANU PF itself. Mugabe is the glue holding that party together, and I fear to think of what will happen when he dies, which whether we like it or not, will be sooner rather than later. The party will simply self-destruct, and who then will be the winner? The world, including Zimbabweans themselves, have over politicised the situation in Zimbabwe, and they have gambled with the future of their country. The African Union owes it as a duty to future generations of Zimbabweans, to call for immediate international intervention in that country, if even only to ensure a free and fair election. There simply is no way back to prosperity for a Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, or any of his would-be ZANU PF successors, and most Zimbabweans I know personally, agree with me.

Anonymous,  10:17 am  

The problem in the anonymous posters argument (starting at 6.33) can be found in a single word.
He says Mugabe "quickly" realised that land had to be taken from the whites and given to blacks.
This is utterly untrue.
Mugabe has always been unpopular in the urban areas of Zimbabwe, but it wasn't until he began to lose popularity in the rural areas that he started to saction the land seizures. Not until almost 20 years of being in power. I think you'd have to streatch the menaing of "quickly" quite far before you could say 20 years was "quick".
The reason he changed tack from supporting, even courting white and multinational-owned interests?
When he came in to power one of the first actions he did was to sell off Zimbabwe's two-year grain store to malawi, at the time in need of food. This meant when there was a drought that began in 1995 and poor harvests lasted for several years after that, Zimabawe was no longer the " breadbasket" it used to be.
So mugabe promised action on something he had previously deferred.
Unfortunately he also gave the land not to farmers but mostly to cronies. And even the land he did give to farmers has been unproductive because of a lack of fertilizer and other inputs as well as finance needed (There have been several good reports on this that i have seen on Aljazeera)
Every other mistake mugabe has made has been in order to cover up this original one, and he honestly believes that he can beat everyone into agreeing with it.
My question is not the same as jeremy's.
I ask: Why could zimbabweans themselves fight a war against an injustice perpetrated by whites, but they cannot fight an injustice perpetrated by a black leader?

Anonymous,  12:03 pm  

Culled from a bbc news article

read the full news article
Bad neighbourliness

Writing in the online newspaper Zimbabwemetro Laila Macharia is distinctly under whelmed by the response of other African countries to Zimbabwe's plight.

"One would think that for Africans, many having suffered repressive regimes, the Zimbabwe tragedy would be easy to rally around," she muses.

"But Africa seems eerily silent," she says.

"South Africa, which bears the brunt of refugees, hems and haws. The African Union shrugs. Even Kenya, no stranger to post-election violence, appears willing to let Zimbabwe languish."

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