Home » Governance » Mugabe Must Stop Lying [opinion]

THE most dangerous enemy for Africa today is not the British, the Americans or the Europeans. These we fought and from them we grabbed our countries back.

In any case, they cannot force themselves on Africa any more as long as we do not want them to return. Instances where they came back were after we had opened the doors for them.

This leaves one person – the corrupt, lying, thieving, greedy, insensitive and power-hungry African leader as the worst and most dangerous enemy of progress in Africa.

So when the new African Union chairperson, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, talks about guarding against foreigners who exploit the continent’s mineral wealth, he is lying.

For years now, this has been Mugabe’s lie premised on revenge and hatred. It has been meant to make the whole of Africa feel threatened and stand by him.

It does not matter that the AU, useless as it is, has chosen Mugabe to be its chairperson. That does not change the situation in Zimbabwe and the way Mugabe runs his Zanu-PF party as a personal property. And how he deems Zimbabweans and Zimbabwe as his personal property.

Strangely enough, in some quarters, Mugabe is hailed as a hero for standing up to the British and the Americans and for returning wealth to his people.

Stranger still, nobody seems interested in asking why the country this champion of black empowerment rules is in the doldrums. Of course, he has told the world that sanctions imposed by the British and the Americans are to blame for his dead economy.

Of course, the British, the Americans and Europeans have transgressed against Africa but blaming them for what we could not do is carrying the blame game too far.

Strangest though, Mugabe appears to have convinced those who bother listening that the imperialists caused so much suffering to his people through sanctions. And can do the same to the entire Africa.

Mugabe killed his economy from 1980 without the help of the British and American sanctions. Eight years after independence, some ministers caused the country’s biggest scandal ever – the looting of the Mazda assembly plant.

By 1994, it was so bad that the IMF and World Bank prescribed the economic structural adjustment programme for Zimbabwe, which required reducing government expenditure.

Mugabe initially accepted this prescription, but backtracked when he could not ask his comrades to stay home. Or cut down his own unbridled spending.

In 1996, war veterans drove Mugabe and demanded huge payouts threatening violence. They had been ignored for years. Scared, Mugabe paid them out. The money was not budgeted for. And Zimbabwe’s economy crumbled within days. The local currency that traded at 1:3 against the US dollar spiralled to 1:50 within days.

By 1998, the people had had enough. Food riots rocked the country. Realising that he had lost control of the people, Mugabe unleashed the police force.

All this happened before there were any sanctions no opposition parties, but corruption and resource mismanagement. There was no talk of empowerment and land to the poor. Mugabe was still the West’s darling.

In 2000, Mugabe lost the referendum on a new constitution. Then trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai, emboldened by the food riots and the rejection of the new constitution formed the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party.

Mugabe, considered weak by the war veterans, once again found himself in a corner. The war veterans wanted land. Mugabe still stood by the Lancaster House agreement.

The referendum brought out whites in huge numbers to vote against the new constitution. They also showed open support for Tsvangirai.

Mugabe was never fond of the war veterans even as their patron, but he saw them as a last political card. White-owned farms became targets. When the first farms fell, Mugabe was abroad and he ordered the police to drive out the invaders. But the war veterans stood their ground. And Mugabe played along with them. Because of the chaotic farm seizures, the West moved in with sanctions in 2000 long after the economy was dead.

Mugabe’s tone changed. New slogans were created. Black empowerment took centre stage. But how stupid are Mugabe’s people to run away from being empowered? Free land. Plenty jobs. Owners of mines. Just to sell brooms in neighbouring countries. Or to humiliate themselves by cleaning old people’s bums miles away from home.

Why are so many of his poor people still without land in a country being hailed for giving it back to the rightful owners? And why is Zimbabwe importing GMO food today if Mugabe empowered black farmers? And why does Mugabe accept Western donor aid if nothing good can come of his former colonisers?

There were sanctions, of course, but Zimbabwe has the whole of Africa to trade with. She has China, one of the world’s richest countries, to trade with. Still the question is why has the Zimbabwean economy slid to the bottom?

If we say the West, Europe and Britain are the only countries that buy our minerals, this would mean that Zimbabwe’s diamonds and gold must be heaped somewhere ready for the resumption of trading. If so, where are they?

The truth is that the poor have no land in Zimbabwe because the rich and Mugabe’s close associates take everything. Just in December last year, his wife Grace evicted 200 families from a farm where she wants to rear wild animals. She has several other farms.

What empowerment is there when Mugabe’s government buys Mercedes-Benz luxury cars from Germany and Ford Ranger all-weather double cabs from the US and when he flies out of the country for medical treatment? His wife recently returned home after almost three months in the East recuperating from an “appendix operation”.

The Germans and Americans do not have to be on African soil to exploit us, our leaders including Mugabe himself are doing it for them. When they do not support local industries, they siphon off our wealth elsewhere outside the continent. When they buy suits in Asia or Europe, they are externalising our African wealth. They are propping up foreign economies.

The real African enemy is the greedy, corrupt, selfish, thieving, lying and insensitive African leader who thinks that once he is in power, he owns the people and the country.

– Wonder Guchu is the news editor at The Namibian

Source : The Namibian