Monday, April 14, 2008

Comrade Mugabe

I must confess I am conflicted about President Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Don't take this to mean that I am not clear on how I feel about him. What I mean is this: his cartoonish attempts to hold on to power are just that, but they are also tragic, to be honest. I remember Zimbabwe's struggle for independence, being of a certain age, and I remember it was Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo and Abel Muzorewa who were the prime characters of that struggle, with a wonderful triumph of good over evil in the end. Bob Marley, the I-Three and the Melody Makers performed at Zimbabwe's independence celebrations.

And now, here we are. Mugabe allowed his despotic characteristics to come to the fore and not content to simply hold Zimbabwe in his vise-like grip, he has proceeded to ruin it.

But here's where I become conflicted on Mugabe...

The righting of ancient wrongs, i.e., the transfer of land from whites to blacks is, at first blush, completely unjust, defying the law of property and all that lot. However, the truth is that he was really righting ancient wrongs and I support it in concept, though not in execution...some white man did push off black people from the best land and take it for themselves, albeit a few centuries ago, and Mugabe is the only African leader to have addressed frontally one of the root causes of persistent African poverty, which is the acquisition of its resources by the Europeans centuries ago, and the consequential failure of Africa's wealth to serve as the engine of growth of its society. We in the Caribbean have much the same issue, except the Europeans came first, dragging us later across the Atlantic to work on their plantations, so we don't have the same case as the Africans. But the issues are the same...export of wealth gets a country nowhere over time.

But so hamfisted and corrupt have Comrade Mugabe's efforts been that it will be a brave man to get up and say he is right to re-distribute land. I mean, the concept of land re-distribution is something with which many leaders have grappled...including those in Jamaica, most notably NW Manley and Michael. However, had they tried Comrade Mugabe's stunts, we too would have had 100,000% inflation, as if the 5 flights per day weren't bad enough!

So, the tragedy is that Mugabe has destroyed his legacy by running a stable prosperous country into the ground with a justifiable policy that was ruinously carried out, with his neighbours looking on and cheering him on.

But I say cheers to Zambia for having the nerve to do something about the elections crisis by calling for the meetings, and brickbats to that blasted idiot President Thabo Mbeki, a disgrace to his father and to the legacy of Mandela, for continuing to suck up to Mugabe and maintaining that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe. Perhaps he has another explanation as to why so many Zimbabweans are crossing the crocodile-infested Limpopo River, dodging barbed wire fences and armed border guards to get into South Africa. Blasted idiot.

But then, HIV does not cause AIDS either, in Mbeki's twisted world.

May he and Mugabe both retire to some estate for the bewildered in short order. Africa is better off without them both.

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