Introduction — July 10, 2016
For a while Zimbabwe was one of the most promising and potentially bountiful countries in Africa and its people were for more amenable than South Africans to the south.
There was a joke when I left then Rhodesia that the Zimbabwe ruins would be all that was left if Robert Mugabe ever assumed power. Well it came to pass and Mugabe has brought an agriculturally abundant, prosperous and formerly stable country to the brink of ruin.
It’s a far cry from the “liberation” that was promised when Mugabe assumed power in 1980.
However, there is a lesson here and that is that we shouldn’t trust those who promise to rid us of “oppressors” or “inequality”. In reality our “liberators” may bring something far worse.
We’ve seen this in Syria.
Western backed militants brought Syria to its knees with a campaign that was aimed at ridding the country of its supposedly dictatorial president. As it turned out those forces that sought regime change were far worse than President Assad. Fortunately for him, Russian and Iranian intervention appears to have turned the tide against the militants.
Likewise, life under Mugabe turned out to be far worse than under the much-maligned white Rhodesians. In retrospect the old colonials seem almost benign in comparison. Yet the world spared no effort in ousting them: the West applied boycotts and economic sanctions while the Soviets and their allies supplied arms, training and military advice to Robert Mugabe’s fighters.
Now though, although he is criticised and ostracised, Mugabe is tolerated by the international community. In much the same way as Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi once were.
Like the Western elite both men had a ruthless appetite for power and when it suited the West, such as during the Iran-Iraq War, they were were assisted and treated as lesser members of the illuminati.
They had their uses, one of which was to illustrate by contrast how enlightened the Western leaders supposedly are, and now having served his purpose the elite will leave Mugabe to meet his fate too.
A military coup looks increasingly likely, although whether that will improve life for ordinary Zimbabweans is another question. Nor would I rule out civil war as various factions compete for power. Ed.
The end is coming for Robert Mugabe: Zimbabwe looks to be on the brink of revolution
Richard Hartley-Parkinson — Metro July 10, 2016
No longer scared to speak out against Robert Mugabe’s decades-long oppressive rule, people have been taking to the streets.
The battered economy means banks have run short of cash, government salaries have not been paid and basic imports have been banned.
Added to that there is a severe drought at the moment leaving millions hungry and the 92-year-old president’s health is increasingly uncertain.
‘People are beginning to ask who the source of their problems is. The anger is mounting,’ Rushweat Mukundu, a political analyst with the Harare-based Zimbabwe Democracy Institute think-tank said.
‘The spontaneous acts we are witnessing now may escalate into mass uprisings.’
A national ‘shutdown’ strike closed many businesses, shops and schools last week, with public transport and some government departments and courts also ceasing to function.
The strike followed days of sporadic protests triggered by a sudden outbreak of demonstrations on the outskirts of Harare over police road blocks accused of extorting cash from motorists.
That unrest, in which at least 113 people were arrested, started on a small scale among public minibus drivers but soon spread, with rocks thrown at police and tyres burnt in roads as unemployed young men joined in.
The riots revealed the long-bubbling frustration normally kept under strict control by Mugabe’s ruthless security forces in a country where 90 percent of the population are not in formal jobs.
A few days earlier, around 70 people were arrested in the town of Beitbridge at the border with South Africa during protests over a ban on imports of commodities such as canned vegetables, powdered milk and cooking oil.
‘Civil servants who were loyal to the government because they were getting salaries or using state infrastructure to engage in petty corruption are now among the discontented,’ said Mukundu.
Even the police and army – essential to Mugabe maintaining power – have been affected, with both forces paid about 12 days late last month.
‘As things stand, there is no capacity to address the crisis,’ Ibbo Mandaza, head of the regional think-tank Southern Africa Political and Economic Series, told AFP.
‘Nothing short of political and economic reforms will stop the crisis. It will continue like this until the end comes.’
But Mugabe has proved a tough survivor since coming to power when the country won independence in 1980, and he is expected to fight to retain his grip on the country.
His rule has been defined by antagonism towards the West, and authorities have accused unnamed ‘Western embassies’ of sponsoring groups organising the protests.
One target of that jibe is thought to be the #ThisFlag internet movement, which has grown rapidly as Zimbabweans have embraced social media as a relatively safe and open way to express their opposition to Mugabe.
ThisFlag founder Evan Mawarire, a Baptist pastor, shot to instant fame after he posted a video of himself on Facebook venting against state corruption and the government’s failure to provide basic services.
Now the hashtag has become a unifying symbol for the various strands of protest, and Mawarire has suggested another national shutdown next week.
The government is desperately seeking an IMF loan, but international donors are wary of support that could prolong the regime rather than encourage reform.
Zimbabwe, which abandoned its own currency in favour of US dollars in 2009 to end hyperinflation, spends more than 80 percent of its revenue on state workers’ wages and is rated among the most corrupt nations worldwide.
‘Security forces have reacted heavy-handedly (to protests), including beatings and arbitrary detentions of activists,’ Robert Besseling, head of EXX Africa risk intelligence, said in a note.
‘A military coup or other form of political intervention is increasingly likely.’