When it comes to discussing Africa in general, and Southern Africa in particular, I speak and write from the authority of having lived in South Africa for eighteen years, having visited Zimbabwe several times, and continue to view, with a fairly-jaundiced eye, the murderous activities which pass for politics in that turmoil-ridden region.
We all read of the so-called ‘soft coup’ which ‘replaced’ the aged megalomaniac Mugabe, along with his kleptocratic wife Grace. We now face the old tradition of Black African politics, which is Zanu PF, the Party which controlled Zimbabwe for four decades wishes to continue its hold on power, through bullets, gratuitous violence, imprisoning or ‘disappearing’ its opponents: and the opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); which states that ‘now is the time for change’, and claims that both the Parliamentary AND the Presidential elections were rigged, the huge groundswell of opinion favouring the MDC which WAS known; disappeared within the election rigging at the polling stations, and they want to challenge everything in court. We read of the ‘new’ newly-elected President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was, for many years the man just to the right-hand side of Mugabe, now stating that all would be different, and there would be no more corruption, and no more farms would be seized, and the white farmers would be welcomed back. Oh, and just as an afterthought, now the “free-and-fair” election is over, will the World Bank, along with the IMF and Great Britain, and all the other dupes, please send us lots of cash, preferably dollars, so we
can steal ever more re-start the economy and make this country a paradise once again?
Readers who know or indeed care little about Black African politics, other than that, within the various Nations which have come into being some five-odd decades after the colonial era; they have witnessed the mad men, the murderous dictators, the outright thieves, the laughingly-entitled ‘saviours’, the kleptomaniacs, the savage and totally-obsessed rulers of large swathes of humanity; all have played their part in the ruination of a Continent, alongside the swathe of Muslim-dominated sewage-dumps and cess-pits on the northern fringe of Africa: and we now see just the latest ‘saviour’ to float to the top of the Zimbabwean sewage system. I have a deep and abiding sympathy for the struggling and many-times starving hordes who continue to be grotesquely deprived of everything which we take for granted in the civilised North, of a Europe and of a North America; which is why the thousands upon thousands of Black Africans attempt the perilous journey to the ‘Promised lands’ of Europe: because they know that their countries will continue to be plundered, raped and savaged by the latest ‘National Saviour’ who promises everything, as long as they deliver their ‘votes’ in yet another of those “Free and Fair elections”.
One of the very few honest books about Black Africa ever written was a novel entitled ‘The Dogs of War’. It was authored by Frederick Forsyth, and the plot was based upon a coup: a plan to overthrow the mad dictator of an impoverished coastal State, so that the untapped mineral wealth of that State could be taken, or rather stolen, by the European backers of the coup. It ended rather badly for the dictator, but also for the coup backers, whose plans had been discovered by the mercenaries employed to carry out the coup. The factual happenings behind the book was the attempt by the IBO, a Nigerian tribe well-known for being both industrious and intelligent; to secede from the tribal mish-mash which Colonial Britain had patched together as Nigeria. Their leader was General Ojukwu, and if he had been given the backing of Britain, the IBO in Biafra would have succeeded in forming a just society, but British Prime Minister Harold Wilson listened instead to the Foreign Office, and their friends in Shell Oil, who preferred to back the Nigerian Government, because of Shell’s need for the oil to keep flowing towards British harbours: so Wilson sold the guns, the Alvis armoured cars and the best British artillery to the Nigerians: and as a result, half-a-million IBOs died, a million IBO children starved to death, and Ojukwu went into exile. Not a pretty picture, but then money, along with politics, never had a conscience.
But enough of Colonial history, back to the car-crash which is Zimbabwe. The Zim Army, the Fifth Brigade of which was ordered by Mnangagwa on behalf of Mugabe to repress the opponents of the Party, some twenty years ago slaughtered some 50,000 opponents of the Zanu PF Party in Matabeleland. This slaughter was widely known about, but Mugabe, along with his cohort Mnangagwa knew exactly how far he could go without the wider world kicking up a stink. So, fast forward to today, and we see the MDC in total disarray, their officers either arrested or killed, the MDC party being hunted down by the Army, and Mnangagwa consolidating his grip on power. The ordinary Zimbabweans, majority black but also white, watch resentfully and silently as their Country, once able to carry the label of the ‘Breadbasket of Africa’; but now consigned to be known as the ‘Basket-case of Africa’, starve quietly in the towns, fields and sparse farms, knowing that once again, their chance at freedom has been stolen by another member of the ‘WaBenzi’ tribe: so called not because of their tribal heritage, but because the favourite method of transport is the luxurious Mercedes-Benz limousines!
When Ian Smith declared an Independent Rhodesia, he was blackguarded and despised in all the world’s newspapers and corridors of power. Yes, he ran a white man’s government, but it was an honest government, and a fair one at that. Forty years on, with the betrayals of Lancaster House, with the ‘One man; One vote’ era with a Mugabe in power, a Mugabe who soon showed what he thought of our ideas of democracy; one must ask if the Black man has benefited at all from that magic Vote? When Mnangagwa ventures forth onto the world’s stage, and asks for the IMF, the World Bank and of course Great Britain’s largess, the cash which his country needs so desperately, he’ll probably get what he wants, but the ordinary Zimbabweans will not see one penny, one cent, because the pigs of Zanu-PF will need to be fed with folding currency, to ensure their loyalty; along with the rifles and bayonets of the Army.
The famous novel ‘Cry, the Beloved Country’ was written about South Africa, but the same sentiments apply to Zimbabwe; a Nation which will be forgotten, and fade from the headlines, swiftly and surely: because we do not wish to be reminded of absolute failure!