Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Mugabe's Mess

On Monday afternoon yet one more (this makes 18) member of MDC opposition party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's advisors was abducted. Gandhi Mudzingwa was forced into a car by nine gunmen and has disappeared. Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe has been negotiating with the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) over power-sharing negotiations for over three months now (MDC would recognize Mugabe as president and Tsvangirai would become prime minister). No fool, Tsvangirai hasn't returned to Zimbabwe since he left last month for a South African summit.

Because it's not enough that Mugabe has driven a once prosperous nation into poverty and hell, the nation is suffering a cholera epidemic. Calls for Mugabe's ouster now are being resisted by the strongman who says they are using the epidemic as an excuse to overthrow his government (which, just to be clear, is standing on a very flimsy and broad-based fraudulent election). But all should soon be well because as the VOA tells us, "U.S. President George Bush has joined other world leaders calling for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down." Wow, talk about being on the cutting edge of an issue George! Don't you just sense an end to the Zimbabwe national tragedy just around the corner now?


Anonymous Mark said...

Mugabe says there isn't anymore cholera in Zimbabwe, so there's no excuse for anyone to send troops or help. What a guy.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The outbreak of Cholera in Zimbabwe is one of the major stories dominating the news media in the Western countries. Without question, what is taking place in Zimbabwe is a sobering human tragedy that should give all of us pause and make us reflect on how that country came to its present condition.

One should not expect to find a credible explanation in the Western press of why this current round of suffering has been visited upon the people of Zimbabwe. For all of its sympathetic hand wringing, the media in countries like the United States and Britain have ignored the part Western nations have played in this mess and placed the blame solely on the shoulders of President Robert Mugabe and his demand for land reform.

Piqued by the omission in the news reporting of several very significant facts leading up to the current crisis in Zimbabwe, I began to write a brief summary of the history of the country beginning in 1888 when Cecil Rhodes claimed to have obtained a concession for mining rights from King Lobengula of the Ndebele peoples. But when I began to search for historical references I learned that the history of Zimbabwe has been told many times, and those accounts can easily be found on numerous internet sites as well as in books.

After finding so many accounts of how the invasion of Zimbabwe by Western nations has resulted in disastrous consequences for the Africans of that land, some very obvious questions come to mind:

* Given all of the sources of information about the military invasion of Zimbabwe by Britain and the forced displacement of the Ndebele and Shona people, among others; how can the descendants of those invaders and occupiers imagine that their claims to the land would be considered valid by the descendants of those who were shoved aside? And why would the descendants of those settlers expect the outside world to consider their claims as valid?
* Also, given that the history of the Lancaster House Agreement is no secret, why would the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States think that they would not be held responsible for the break down in the peaceful land reform process? The United States and the United Kingdom promised to buy back the land held by the white settlers in order to return it to the African majority. Do those governments think that Zimbabweans and the rest of the entire world forget about those promises? It was believed that these promises were made in good faith. And they were accepted by Robert Mugabe and the rest of the people of Zimbabwe as an honest attempt to head off a civil war that threatened the wholesale annihilation of those white settlers determined to hold on to the land.

It might be argued that because the wording of the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement was heavily influenced by the U.K. and the U.S. it lacked the force of specificity needed to provide for the land reform anticipated by the people of Zimbabwe. But the expectations of those people were clear. The Lancaster House Agreement addressed the land reform issue with the follow words:

“V. Freedom from Deprivation of Property

1. Every person will be protected from having his property compulsorily acquired except when the acquisition is in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning, the development or utilisation of that or other property in such a manner as to promote the public benefit or, in the case of under- utilised land, settlement of land for agricultural purposes. When property is wanted for one of these purposes, its acquisition will be lawful only on condition that the law provides for the prompt payment of adequate compensation and, where the acquisition is contested, that a court order is obtained. A person whose property is so acquired will be guaranteed the right of access to the High Court to determine the amount of compensation.”

Realizing that the words in the Lancaster House Agreement were not sufficient to bring about the change needed in Zimbabwe, with the signing of a new agreement between the now ZANU-PF and The two opposition MDC formations on September 15th 2009, new language regarding land reform was brought forward that clearly stated the expectations of the people of Zimbabwe.


“5. Land Question

5.1 Recognising that colonial racist land ownership patterns established during the colonial conquest of Zimbabwe and largely maintained in the post independence period were not only unsustainable, but against the national interest, equity and justice.

5.2 Noting that in addition to the primary objective of the liberation struggle to win one man one vote democracy and justice, the land question, namely the need for the re-distribution of land to the majority indigenous people of Zimbabwe was at the core of the liberation struggle.

5.3 Accepting the inevitability and desirability of a comprehensive land reform programme in Zimbabwe that redresses the issues of historical imbalances and injustices in order to address the issues of equity, productivity, and justice.

5.4 While differing on the methodology of acquisition and redistribution the parties acknowledge that compulsory acquisition and redistribution of land has taken place under a land reform programme undertaken since 2000.

5.5 Accepting the irreversibility of the said land acquisitions and redistribution.

5.6 Noting that in the current Constitution of Zimbabwe and further in the Draft Constitution agreed to by the parties the primary obligation of compensating former land owners for land acquired rests on the former colonial power.”

The issues in this matter are clear and simple:

1. Africans were robbed of their land at gunpoint by the British over a hundred years ago.
2. The descendants and heirs of those robbed Africans now want that land back.
3. Thirty years ago, the United States and the United Kingdom led the Africans of Zimbabwe to believe that they would provide the funding necessary to buy the land from the descendants of the initial British occupiers of the land.
4. The United States and the United Kingdom failed to provide the funding as they had promised.
5. After the United States and the United Kingdom reneged on their promise, the government of Zimbabwe was forced to implement a method of land reform that did not rely upon funding from the United States and the United Kingdom.
6. Many Western powers now seek to punish Zimbabwe for what is claimed to be unfair treatment towards the white settlers who are holding their ill-gotten land.

For the most part, the white settlers have opposed land reform in Zimbabwe, and those efforts have been supported by the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as many other Western nations. It also appears to many that Robert Mugabe’s call for continued land reform have precipitated a strategy of regime change directed at Zimbabwe by those same Western nations, particularly the U.S. and the U.K. It is alleged by these countries that this regime change will be in the best interest of the people of Zimbabwe.

The histories of both the U.S. and the U.K. do not support any reasonable belief that either country holds Zimbabwe or its people in their affection – to the contrary, there is little evidence that these countries accord Zimbabwe the respect which many people believe it deserves. Also, the recent, and more distant, histories of the U.S. and the U.K. do not support a reasonable belief that those nations have much concern for democracy or the rights of individuals outside of their own borders.

Resistance by the African Union to the repeated calls by the U.S. and the U.K. to join in the Western led efforts for regime change in Zimbabwe gives some indication of the level of suspicion that many Africans hold towards the motives of the Western powers in this matter. And because the African Union refuses to join the efforts to oust President Mugabe, the West accuses charge African leaders with lacking proper moral character.

Efforts at regime change in Zimbabwe have led many of the Western nations to institute sanctions against Zimbabwe, and these sanctions have resulted in the tragic consequences that the world witnesses today.

There are many leaders on the world stage who should share the blame for what is taking place in Zimbabwe today – and this includes President Robert Mugabe. But Robert Mugabe should not be the sole object of the blame, or the shame, for this situation.

The people of the world should recognize that the sanctions imposed by Western powers against Zimbabwe are the major source of the suffering in that nation today. It is also critically important that the African Diaspora living in the United States and in the United Kingdom recognize this as well. It is important to both the U.S. and the U.K. that their actions against Zimbabwe not be seen through the lens of race. These countries do not wish to be seen as being motivated by racism; and the ratification of their actions by people of color provides the U.S. and the U.K. with “cover” against such charges.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently Mugabe has decided that the UK has caused the cholera outbreak, a "genocidal onslaught on the people of Zimbabwe by the British" as part of some attack.

Q&A time - is Mugabe just crazy as bat shit? Or is he just trying whatever he can to throw the spotlight onto someone else?

5:24 PM  

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