Robert Mugabe in 1979 outside the Zimbabwe African National Union-PF headquarters in Mozambique. Mugabe has led the his nation since independence in 1980.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Courtesy of the Daily Trust
FOR seven years now, the British government has sustained a campaign against President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
It describes his country as corrupt and non-democratic. It considers him a brutal dictator who must be voted out of power. In its estimation, he is too old; Zimbabweans deserve a democratic government, human rights, regular meals and a stable currency.
This is also the mindset of the British media on the matter. You cannot surpass the BBC or the Economist in this propaganda.
These foot soldiers of neo-imperial Britain have trekked miles to sell their campaign of calumny against (Cde) Mugabe. For example, the Economist of March 15, 2007 raised this alarm for the umpteenth time: "Once the bread-basket of southern Africa and one of the continent’s wealthiest countries, Zimbabwe is now a basket-case and suffers a severe shortage of food.
"It is also the world’s fastest-shrinking peacetime economy, with unemployment now standing at 80 percent. Its inflation rate is the world’s highest: currently 1 730 percent, although the IMF thinks that figure could rise to over 4 000 percent by year’s end.
"From infant mortality to life below the poverty line, the country’s unhappiest trendlines run remorselessly upwards. To stifle dissent and quash opposition, Zimbabwe has been turned into a police state where elections are routinely rigged."
Two weeks later, on the 29 March, the tireless Economist said: "Zimbabwe’s despotic leader, a man of puzzlingly different identities, is a past master at holding on." Certainly, when it comes to their interest, even the "civilised" will abandon etiquettes and embrace insults.
In its war against (Cde) Mugabe, Britain has succeeded in conscripting other European states.
Jose Barroso, the European Commission President, was reported by the BBC as telling representatives of over 80 EU and African countries that "Africa and Europe should be able to discuss human rights and governance in a true spirit of partnership... Frankly, we hope that those who fought for independence and freedom in their countries now can also accept this freedom for their own citizens."
Birds of the same feather, you will say. The occasion was a joint meeting to reinvent African dependence on Europe, now that China is stealing the show.
Yes. Let us speak frankly, Mr Barroso. What good has Europe in its suitcase that it did not offer for over 200 years now? Africans know the answer very well: nothing, but further exploitation.
And this is the crux of the matter when it comes to Zimbabwe. It is not Zimbabwe. It is not (Cde) Mugabe either. It is a long standing phenomenon of exploitation. Simple.
(Cde) Mugabe has understood this long ago. With seven degrees, he is not unlettered even by British standards.
He has read the history of his country since when Cecil Rhodes stepped his foot on his land.
Even the BBC could not hide telling us the fraud and pittance at which the British miner acquired the land from its ruler, Lobengula.
In a recent report, it said Cecil "obtained exclusive mining rights from the Ndebele king, Lobengula, in return for £100 a month, 1 000 rifles, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, and a riverboat."
Rhodes later claimed, in a typical colonial manner, that the deal included land. More settlers poured in the 1890s.
The Crown could not be left behind. It joined the loot by appropriating the entire land of Southern Rhodesia in 1918.
So (Cde) Mugabe was right when he demanded that land compensation due to white farmers should be paid by the British government. It caused the problem in the first instance, he rightly insists. It granted the settlers self government in 1923.
This was followed by a wild grab following the Land Apportionment Act of 1930, with Africans forcefully ejected out of the land they lived on for centuries. It is this robbery that is the basis of the crisis in Zimbabwe, not democracy or human rights.
The result of that grab is described in Wikepedia:
"Zimbabwean whites, although making up less than 1 percent of the population, owned more than 70 percent of the arable land, including most of the best land.
However, in many cases this land was more fertile because it was titled, resulting in incentives for commercial farmers to create reservoirs, irrigate, and otherwise tend the soil.
Communal lands, with no property rights, were characterised by slash and burn agriculture, resulting in a tragedy of the commons."
This is the epitome of greed that is characteristic of British colonial practice. Yet, in spite of the robbery, it has the temerity to call Zimbabwe corrupt. Robbery is the worst form of corruption.
Therefore, Zimbabwe is not the problem as Germany’s Markel put it. It is Britain.
The sins it committed in Africa will continue to haunt it. The problem in Zimbabwe is not (Cde) Mugabe. It is the injustice in land distribution which the British government is fighting hard to perpetuate in the manner poverty is perpetuated among South African black majority.
(Cde) Mugabe has refused to allow Zimbabwe to be like today’s South Africa.
The British government reneged on its promise under the Lancaster Agreement of 1979. Out of the pledge of £630 million, Britain actually paid only £17 million, using cronyism as an excuse.
Lancaster, hinged on "willing seller, willing buyer principle" was one of those cleverly contrived colonial agreements which were impregnated with failure in the interest of the masters. So what Britain gave with right hand, it took away with the left.
Knowing that Zimbabwe would not have the funds to settle white farmers, it abandoned the agreement in middle of the river. Twelve years after Lancaster, less than half of the 160 000 families were settled. "Mr. Robert," it told (Cde) Mugabe, "you are on your own." The line was drawn, said the old Mr. Robert.
And (Cde) Mugabe proved a true son of Africa. I am proud of him. Ten years after Lancaster, he passed a new legislation, the Land Acquisition Act of 1992, in which he removed the "willing seller willing buyer" clause of fraud and gave government the power to acquire land compulsorily. Mu je zuwa.
The white farmers cried foul.
Wait, you will cry tears, (Cde) Mugabe silently replied. Five years later he published 1,471 farmlands that were penciled down for compulsory "purchase." The following year, (Cde) Mugabe published "the Land Reform and Resettlement Programme Phase II, which envisaged the compulsory purchase over five years of 50 000 km’ from the 112 000 km’ owned by commercial farmers (both black and white), public corporations, churches, non-governmental organisations and multi-national companies."
As usual donors made pledges at a conference on the programme in Harare, which, as usual, they did not redeem.
Now (Cde) Mugabe went for his last option: compulsory acquisition of land without compensation. However, a gang, composed of academics, unionists, white farmers and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), defeated a constitutional reform in the parliament that would have given him that mandate in 2000. I like the drama that followed.
The review in Wikipedia continued:"A few days later, the pro-Mugabe War Veterans Association organised like-minded people to march on white-owned farmlands, initially with drums, song and dance . . . A total of 110 000 km’ of land was seized."
The British government should endure its own pill. As the white settlers gladly acquired the fertile land of Zimbabwe yesterday, the blacks have gladly retrieved it today. This is not a racial war, I must quickly add. It is simply balancing the equation of justice. (Cde) Mugabe cannot spend ten years in prison and fight another decade of guerilla war for nothing. He fought it to recapture the lands of Zimbabwe from the whites. He refused to be an indolent puppet.
Understandably, we should not blame Britain either for its support to white farmers. Blood, they say, is thicker than water. It is protecting the interest of its race and Crown — something it is good at.
The propaganda will therefore continue. In addition, some Africans, claiming to be the opposition, have been recruited as mercenaries. Britain is giving them all the support it can afford to defeat (Cde) Mugabe such that democracy will return and Zimbabwean economy will boom once more in the hands of its white farmers and multinationals. What a dream!
But Africa is never short of betrayers. They were there during the slave trade.
They are here today, as Abubakar Ladan said: "A cikinmu akwai wasu ‘yan iska/ Burinsu a karkasa Africa/ Su sayar da kasa eka-eka/ Su barmu a rabe cikin bukka/ Abadan ba a haka Afrika.(Among us there are rascals, whose interest is to divide Africa, to sell its land acre by acre, leaving us hiding in huts/ it will never be done (again) in Africa)."
(Cde) Mugabe will not budge either. He understands that there is an organic link between him and the African soil.
"Nothing frightens me," he told the Economist, "I make a stand and stand on principle here where I was born, here where I grew up, here where I fought and here where I shall die."
Africa understands the Zimbabwean game very well. That is why it sees (Cde) Mugabe as a hero. When the European Union barred (Cde) Mugabe from attending the "Lisbon café", other African leaders said to hell with the talks.
The Europeans acquiesced, though British Prime Minister failed to turn up. Oho dai.
At the 10th anniversary of South African independence in 2004, (Cde) Mugabe received "a deafening applause," according to the Economist. Britain and its allies could not hide their surprise that, despite the elaborate propaganda, the guy is the most popular leader in Africa.
The magazine reported Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign minister as saying: "I cannot figure out why he is being applauded when he has destroyed his country."
It is a matter of choice, Mr. Gareth. Possession is better than skill, as Abubakar Ladan said: Ai samu ya fi iyawa, shi/ Kwado bai mallaki do dukushi/A ruwa aka sanshi makomarshi/ Nan ne zai samu abincin shi/Yayi wasanni da nishadinshi.
It seems I have dwelled so much on the history and politics of modern Rhodesia. We are undoubtedly unhappy that fellow Africans are living in hardship there, as a result of British machinations.
Showing solidarity with (Cde) Mugabe is good, but Africa must do better. Zimbabweans deserve more. Our policy must not be restricted to politics. It must include economics too.
Africa can greatly help the situation by coming to the aid of Zimbabwe. (Cde) Mugabe has fought gallantly all his life. Despite the poor economy, he insists on educating his people. The literacy level in Zimbabwe is the highest in Africa: 85%! It is time we come to his aid and we have the resources to do so. If we must pay any compensation, it must not be more than the cost of the "1 000 rifles, 10 000 rounds of ammunition, and a riverboat" with which Mr. Rhodes bought the land of Zimbabwe in the 1880s. In fact, we must not pay any compensation. The lease has expired. Or we can argue that Lebengula agreed to the transaction under duress. Shi ke nan.
Instead, let us focus on equipping Zimbabweans with the resources they need to till its lands mechanically as Britain helped its white farmers. How much does it take? If we had resolved to do so since 1979, the problem would have been over by now.
A country like Nigeria was spending a million dollars in Liberia everyday for many years, just because it pleased the Americans.
It recently built a billion dollar stadium, squandered over $7 billion on roads, $8 billion on failed electricity, etc. A country that can afford these and has presently over $50billion in reserve can also be prompted by the African spirit of solidarity to spend a million dollars a day in Zimbabwe. Certainly. Certainly. Yar’adua, please listen. Just what sense does it make when Nigeria says Africa is the cornerstone of our Foreign policy when Zimbabweans are left to suffer in despair?
More so, Nigeria is not the only country that can do that without feeling the slightest pinch. Libya is there, wanting to become the leader of Africa.
To achieve his dream, Gaddafi must listen to al-Mutanabbi: the loyalty of free people is earned by generosity. Both Nigeria and Libya helped (Cde) Mugabe when he was a guerilla fighter. They should help him as a President. The war is not over. Let our leaders rise to the occasion. The wolf — Britain — that once lurch our backyard has eaten our ancestors and devoured our land. We cannot leave it to devour our Shona and Ndebele brothers.
It wants to install its puppet as it did in other parts of Africa. Giving the white farmers of Zimbabwe lands in Nigeria as their agent, Obasanjo, did is a slap on the face of Africa.
Nigerians should send them packing too. They cannot be bad for Zimbabwe and good for us.
The crown, if it has any sympathy for the white farmers, should recall them to England and distribute the royal property it usurped from peasants during the feudal past.
I am convinced that (Cde) Mugabe has fought gallantly. His defeat in the hands of imperialists, may God forbid, will be our defeat. We must come to his aid. Just as we successfully waded off British propaganda against (Cde) Mugabe, we must generously help Zimbabwe financially out of its present state of despair.
Daily Trust (Abuja, Nigeria)