via Africa’s greatest living Englishman reduced to idiot status | Columnists | BDlive BY SIMON LINCOLN READER
THAT Robert Mugabe is hopping mad is not surprising. His Ghanaian first wife’s family kept his (then) siphoned loot in that country when she died; his second wife behaves like a cross between Imelda Marcos and Linda Lovelace.
The media accuses him of being much older than he actually is; he despises black peasants — in a black country largely reduced to peasantry; and travel bans keep him from his beloved London tailors and the landed gentry (whom he considers his peers). Wouldn’t you be spitting spinal fluid?
When they are not indignantly describing their own president as “Showerhead” on web forums, there are white South Africans who recklessly perpetuate the myth that Mugabe is entirely responsible for the vote riggings, rapes, farm invasions and theft of mineral rights in Zimbabwe. Of course he’s the face of a dictatorship, but the real perpetrator of terror is the Joint Operations Command, the pre-independence brutality machine that still survives. It commissions shadowy Israelis to lobby against sanctions in Washington. It uses food parcels and prepaid phone vouchers to incentivise disaffected youths to rape opposition MPs. It tells blatant whoppers that indigenisation will advance the lives of Zimbabwe’s poor. Africa’s greatest living Englishman has been reduced to a useful idiot.
It is also these South Africans who, when they’re not preventing vineyard-wrecking baboons from being shot (in the name of progress), suggest that South Africa should invade Zimbabwe and effect regime change. Even if this were a remote possibility — with what? Weapons we don’t know how to discharge or Gripen jets we don’t know how to fly? Imagine the headlines: “SA invades Zim, drops broken submarine on leafy suburb of Borrowdale, Swiss fail to intervene.”
Still, regime change isn’t entirely impossible. Two emerging developments can be used to construct hypotheses.
To get a glimpse of the true Zimbabwean economy, one only needs assess its oil consumption — a paltry 15,000 barrels a day, significantly less than pre-2000 levels. It’s precarious: 70% of this oil arrives from South Africa and the remainder, wretchedly, via Mozambique. Now, as reluctant as the African National Congress (ANC) is to intervene, this could change were the Zanu PF to recognise the Economic Freedom Fighters as its policy equal (and thus its spiritual equal too).
Such recognition would establish unprecedented antagonism between liberation movements. The most logical ANC response would be to avoid overt aggression and simply thwart the oil supply. Zanu PF is not particularly good at averting disasters, many of which it thrusts upon itself — food, genocide and health, to name a few. Oil, however, is primary to the Joint Operations Command’s survival, and without it the security and military apparatus would be weakened. It is unlikely that big Western oil would come to Mugabe’s aid as BP did during Ian Smith’s sanctions-ridden premiership, and even the Chinese wouldn’t be able to expand supply through Mozambique in time to save Zanu PF.
The second hypothesis is less subtle but no less consequential. Last week, reporters of the UK Times newspaper dived for cover after exposing a deal Zimbabwe had allegedly signed with Iran to export high-grade uranium. Iran’s claim of using nuclear energy exclusively for power generation has been discredited. It wants to bomb Israel.
What makes this scenario intriguing is the presence of Israelis in Zimbabwe: it’s no secret they are up to their necks in the diamond fields of Mutare. It is even alleged that an Israeli security firm called Nikuv International Projects recently applied a type of technology to the electoral roll that turned one voter into 100,000. The Israeli government and its supporters would take considerable exception to a mischievous arrangement with Iran. If the remaining few Zimbabwean nuclear scientists started dropping mysteriously, South Africa, with all its mothballed jets and crashed submarines, would be well advised not to play hero.
This is all speculation, of course. Besides, there is no guarantee that regime change would meet overexcited expectations, especially after the revelation that Morgan Tsvangirai allegedly accepted $100m from Zanu PF in 2009 and snapped up a house in Perth, overlooking the yacht club, that is now valued at R70m. Meanwhile, the leader of the smaller opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction, Arthur Mutambara, has a lack of gravitas that has seen him dressed in a suit accompanied by a cap worn back to front.
Unless South African power utility Eskom allows Zimbabwe to reopen its account and scraps its current pre-paid electricity sales arrangement, I can’t see the value in being angry about Zimbabwe, despite its pervasive tragedies. Robert Mugabe is angry enough for all of us.