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Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe is Still the Better "Devil"
By Peter Okema Otika
April 26, 2002
Posted: October 19, 2004
The question of Zimbabwe is not about lack of Western form of democracy or human rights. Rather, it is about whether Zimbabweans and Africans at large should correct injustices done to them by their former European colonizers.
The world should not judge President Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe as a nation from the bias and fabricated reports of British and American media. We should not forget that Mugabe liberated Zimbabwe from colonialism. Do not also forget that he is an elected president and is ruling on the mandate and the trust of the very Zimbabwean people the media claim he is suppressing.
As former US ambassador to the United Nations and first black mayor of Atlanta city Andrew Young said in an interview with the Zimbabwean Herald on June 6, 2001, demonizing Mugabe is betraying Africa's cause. Whoever is trying to accuse Mugabe should first look at Mugabe's political and economic records. Mugabe is an international statesman, true Pan-Africanist and a dedicated anti-imperialist who stood tough against forces of Western imperialism in Africa. The truth is, this is why Britain and US hate Mugabe. Mugabe is still a darling and remains the only most outstanding continental African liberation fighter. This is why very few African leaders are willing to raise a finger against Mugabe and can also explain the reason why sensible ones have kept mum.
Britain has no moral credibility to denounce Mugabe. It should be remembered that Britain has been the world's trouble causer using colonialism as the major tool. The blood and sweat of people from other nations citizens around the world has for centuries serviced the economy of Britain as Britain colonized, enslaved and siphoned resources from them. Britain heavily benefited from the slave trade and other unscrupulous business activities like dealing in animal and mineral resources in Africa.
To add pain to injuries, Britain went a head and grabbed lands in Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, United States and the Caribbean islands. Now Britain shamelessly wants to deceive the whole world that she is morally better off than Mugabe who is fighting back so that his fellow African people can reclaim the land that had been forcefully taken away from them. What a stupid shame!
I am a great advocate for democracy and human rights in Africa. If Britain wants to talk about human rights, she should first start by apologizing and compensating all peoples and nations she has exploited. Britain should know that the time for such hypocrisy has run out and it is now time to face reality and truth. Stop meddling in the affairs of other nations. Leave Zimbabwe alone. Leave Northern Ireland alone because you are fueling chaos instead of solving the conflicts.
In Zimbabwe 70% of the land is owned by white people who comprise less than 1% of the total population. Mugabe is not grabbing land for his own greed. It is his people who want their land back. I wonder why some people want to turn things that are clear and portray it in colors as a form of injustice. Is recovering someone's property from a thief a form of injustice to the owner of the property or rather justice served to the plaintiff? The native Zimbabweans don't eat ballot boxes and they cannot comfortably vote without having a roof to live under. Give them back their land and let them decide who should be their leaders.
It is time we Africans stand strong and decide our destinies. We should divert from the imperialistic mentality of letting America or Britain decide who heads our countries or who gets kicked out of power. We should put our priorities first and for this case, the land first and elections later. You remember recently when Tony Blair, because of the mad cow disease, put off election in Britain in order to solve the mad cow tragedy? This is what Zimbabwe should do. Get the landless natives resettled and mobilize them to vote their leaders. If Mugabe is voted back to power for his land redistribution policy, that's good for him. This will not be because he will have rigged the election but rather because his manifesto has appealed to the electorate. For the need for getting back their ancestral land, many native Zimbabweans will no doubt vote Mugabe to remain in power as long as he wants. Monies from foreign backed opposition may entice locals but it will also not be a surprise to see that they eat the monies and instead vote the devil they know well. In Uganda they say, eat the money but vote the candidate of your choice.
Opposition parties in Zimbabwe like the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) could be very good at using Western media to propagate their propaganda against Mugabe. But what the local native Zimbabweans will vote for is whether they want 1% of the population control 70% of their land or whether they want to take back the lands that were grabbed away from them years ago. Some members of the opposition are working to put food in their individual stomachs or serve the interest of their white sponsors. But Mugabe is putting a roof on every homeless and a meal on the tables of all deprived Zimbabweans. This is what a good leader does and this is why US President George Bush recently gave back each American a tax return because he believes that would help them pick up with life and improve the economy.
Today Britain, European Union and the Bush administration are busy persecuting Mugabe's supporters around the world by freezing their financial accounts or locating where their children are going to school so that they can terminate their sources of finances. They believe that freezing their accounts and frustrating their supporters will bring down Mugabe. If this is what they are employing against Mugabe, then what is wrong in Mugabe taking back the lands from whites that have become powerful in Zimbabwe after grabbing lands from natives who owned the land?
Many critics have argued that taking white settlers land is racism. But this is missing the crux of the matter. Getting back the land is not racism and those who are confusing it should know they are the ones who are racist. It is purely justice being served in an attempt to correct the atrocities white colonialists perpetuated on Africans. Whether the settlers were whites, blacks, Chinese or any other race, the natives still would have wanted their lands back. No one including myself should in his or her normal senses condone lawlessness, tyranny and human rights abuse. But when a double standard is being openly played in disguise of a quest for cosmetic Western democracy, people should be careful. Mugabe was not a "dictator" in the eyes of Britain and USA before he started implementing his land redistribution program. But now he is a dictator because he is taking away land from the white people? Wasn't the same Britain the one that praised Mugabe all through the 1980s? Tell me if I am wrong. If this is what Western democracy is all about then I think Zimbabweans should rather do without it.
During his last years' visit to Africa, first African American US Secretary of State General Colin Powell intentionally skipped Zimbabwe, citing Zimbabwe, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo as "trouble spots" in southern Africa. Ironically Powell visited Uganda and Kenya among others, which he described as "vibrant democracies." This is the worse form of hypocrisy I have ever seen. How could Powell call Uganda a vibrant democracy when election had just been rigged and it was even US embassy in Kampala that had just helped Uganda opposition leader Kiiza Besigye escape from Yoweri Museveni's persecution and come to the US? Museveni has been the worse aggressor Africa has ever seen. He has fought all his neighbors except Tanzania. He has muzzled opposition in the country, abused human rights especially in the north and east of the country where an estimated 500,000 have been killed or disappeared. Today, Museveni has holed up over 500,000 ethnic Acholi people in concentration camps in northern Uganda with very deplorable human conditions. Unlike Mugabe who has let his party compete with other parties, Museveni has constitutionally outlawed all other political parties and is ruling Uganda using his militarized one party dictatorship. If this is democracy in the face of Colin Powell and Americans, then I think America's democracy is as good as the dictatorship in Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The same Powell shamelessly went to Kenya and also called Kenya a "vibrant" democracy. Powell knows very well that just like Mugabe, president Arap Moi of Kenya has been in power since the 1980s and has remained in power by liquidating his opponents. Is this because Moi is not repossessing native African lands from white British settlers? Powell, think about the 40 acres and a mule that white America promised your ancestors centuries ago before you castigate Mugabe. At least if the white people cannot compensate Africans for slavery, Africans should remain owners of their lands. What else do Africans have to own anyways? What else shall Africans control other than their own lands? No doubt then that Kenyan demonstrators in Nairobi called him " a house slave" meaning Powel is serving the interest of his master.
The situation in Zimbabwe was a time bomb that was temporally defused when Mugabe ascended to power in 1980. But this bomb has been rekindled to full proportion. Similar situation is eminent in Kenya for lands along the Kenya highlands and also in Namibia where also a very little population of white people control over 90% of fertile lands. Now President Sam Njoma of Namibia is still referred to by the West as a true democratic leader. Wait when he starts to redistribute land to poor land-less black whether he will still be a friend to the West. Regardless, Kenyans and Namibians will soon or later ask for their lands too and they should be given back what was taken away from them. They say what goes up must come down.
So just like America and Britain have strongly supported the 1999 Pakistani military coup leader and dictator General Pervez Musharraf during the American war against terror in Afghanistan, Africans should stand strong and defend their interests. Britain is fighting for her interest in Zimbabwe and native Zimbabweans should also fight for what is good for them. You may like it or hate it. But this is the new reality that Britain and the US should come to terms with. As for now my friends, Mugabe is still by far a better devil for Zimbabweans.
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