Brother Valentino, the Mighty Duke, Bob Marley, (if they were alive) and others who sang their hearts out in support of
Why has the fulfilment of their dreams been deferred? Is it merely that we are dealing with a mad or a power crazy man in
There were much posturing and shouting about African unity and African socialism, but behind the rhetoric, there was a great deal of political fakery and fraud. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who Amnesty International and other international human rights’ bodies, have listed among the 10 most unsavoury political characters of our time, is one of the most recent of them. How did Mugabe happen to be? How do well meaningful leaders become evil dictators?
The Zimbabwean problem has a sordid history and a demographic reality, which one needs to know a little about in order to make balance judgements about what is happening in today’s history.
Rivalries between the Zimbabwe African Peoples Party (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union, (ZANU) were destabilising the new state of
It was in this context that Mugabe, a Shona, established coalitional links with the Ndebeles led by Joshua Nkomo, his rival for the leadership.
Mugabe, a former prisoner like Nelson Mandela of South-Africa and a university graduate who projected himself as a militant radical Marxist, also sought to appease the settlers’ communities by adopting a gradualist approach to the economy, much of which were left virtually intact.
The critical land issue was also put on ice. These policies did not, however, defuse the demographic and political crises that continued to simmer. Mugabe saw seditious ghosts on every samba. He accused the settlers of conspiring to engineer his overthrow by encouraging elements in the army, which is still led by a white officer, who had planned to assassinate him. He also accused ZAPU of instigating guerrillas’ activities, and of waging a clandestine low intensity civil war in the countryside.
The post independence entente collapsed dramatically in 1983 and thousands citizens fled their villages. Many also died and were secretly buried in mass graves. Fearing for his own life, Nkomo fled to the
The rivalry between Mugabe and Nkomo, was at a bottom struggle between two ethnic groups struggling for political dominance and cultural hegemony and the struggle continues on each day. The current coalition party with Mugabe, the Movement for Democratic Change, is a successor to ZAPU. Its leader, Morgan Tsvangirai is Ndebele. Thus, when Mugabe and his supporters in his then ruling party and the army stubbornly refused to give up power, they did so because of which would have involved handing over power to a traditional rival.
Western analysts judge political systems as being democratic or not in terms of whether elections were free and fair and whether there is turnover when the results of the last election were declared. “Turnover is the litmus test of Western liberal democracy”. In
The land issue is also critical to an understanding of the dynamics of political succession in
According to one narrative, Mugabe provoked the current economic crisis when he openly supported the seizure of lands without the payment of compensation. This served to precipitate a major food and currency crisis in
The seizures of land also served to internationalise the issue, in that it brought the IMF, World Bank,
Economic collapses were the by-products of Mugabe’s economic adventurism, but so were the harsh fiscal measures that were taken by the American and British governments and the international agencies which they have controlled.
Mugabe destroyed his own credibility, by presiding over a Shona land-grab, notwithstanding much talk about “one man-one farm” and the land being the “birthright of the sons and daughters of
There was no transparency and most of the land ended up in the hands of the so called “war veterans”, most of whom have never saw or involved in any “battle”, except of stirring up domestic violence in favour of Robert Mugabe and his so-called democratic political party.
Like former President Mbeki of South-Africa, many African leaders are embarrassed by Mugabe’s unacceptable political behaviours, but they also know that they too have cheated “elected-orally” and done much more to stay in power.
They also know that many dispossessed and landless native Africans, are still chanting “Stand-up and Stay-up”
*Surujlall Motilall lives in