Mugabe: no longer the Hitler of Africa?

by Tim Black | spiked

In 2008, Mugabe was the West’s No1 bogeyman. In 2013, no one cares.

At the weekend, 89-year-old Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe was re-elected as president of Zimbabwe. He has now been in power since Zimbabwe was founded over 30 years ago – this after he helped lead the liberation struggle during the 1970s against Ian Smith in what was the former British colony of (Southern) Rhodesia.

But what is remarkable about this election victory is not the further evidence it supplied of Mugabe’s indefatigability – although it’s worth remembering his peers in the African liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s have long since departed the scene. No, what is remarkable about it is just how muted the international response has been. There have been a few mournful editorials in Western newspapers, a few politicians decrying the result, but there has been no venting of righteous spleen, no wall-to-wall outpourings of anger and pity.

Five years ago, things were very different. In April 2008, it emerged that Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (or at least one faction of it, MDC-T), had beaten Mugabe in the presidential elections. Unfortunately for Tsvangirai and the MDC, following a recount, they had seemingly not won enough seats (allegations of vote-rigging were rife) for an overall victory. So, with another election planned for the summer, Mugabe’s forces launched a campaign of violence and intimidation against the MDC and Tsvangirai (who was arrested in June 2008), in a bid to avoid a repeat of the first election.

The international response to Mugabe’s crackdown and electoral chicanery in 2008 was pronounced in volume and ire. Western commentators issued condemnations, reports sought to tug on the heartstrings, and politicians threatened further sanctions. This was hardly a surprise, of course. Although the News of the World had first dubbed Mugabe the ‘black Hitler’ in 1978, he had been seen as something of a liberationist hero during the 1980s. During the course of the 2000s, however, he was thoroughly transformed into the whipping boy of Africa, a one-man conduit for all that was seemingly rotten about this uppity, post-colonial continent. So when he appeared to be on the ropes, lashing out at his own people in a desperate attempt to cling to power, the opportunity was too good to miss for posture-hungry politicians looking for a stage on which to invent and demonstrate their moral authority and, in the process, take Zimbabwe’s affairs out of the hands of Zimbabweans.

The prime movers in the demonisation of Mugabe were the predictable figures of US president George W Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair, later to be followed by the lumbering fist of his successor Gordon Brown. From the early 2000s onwards, criticism of Mugabe as ‘corrupt’ and ‘criminal’ was accompanied by a harsh regime of economic sanctions which plunged Zimbabwe into an economic abyss. By 2008, GDP was negative, unemployment was running at 80 per cent, and inflation at 100,586 per cent. Yes, Mugabe’s determination to strip Zimbabwe’s remaining white farm owners of their land throughout the 2000s didn’t help agricultural productivity; but the root of Zimbabwe’s economic problems could be traced to the external sanctions regime, not internal land redistribution.

via Mugabe: no longer the Hitler of Africa? | Tim Black | spiked.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 19
  • comment-avatar

    The writer of this article is living in a fantasyland. For him to alledge that travel and shopping limits on Mugabe and his cronies have wrecked the Zimbabwean economy is simply coo-coo. There are simply no sanctions on the country of Zimbabwe other then weapons bans, and only travel and shopping limits on individuals and a handful of companies. Most international financial organizations, such as the World Bank, stopped lending money to Mugabe not because of US or EU dissapproval but because he never paid back what he had earlier borrowed. For Zanu-PF to cry about “illegal sanctions,” because they are no longer creditworthy is particularly galling because it attempts to sanitize their 33 years of looting of the country’s assets.

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      my brother/sister which ever apply, the sanctions imposers themselves confirmed the desired impact thus Crocker put it;we want the economy to scream. If by now you believe ZIDERA is about travel restrictions, then God forbid.

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        ZIDERA puts travel and financial limits on Mugabe and his closest henchmen, but says nothing about the country itself. Zim companies can and do transact business with US companies to this day. Ordinary Zimbos are free to travel to Europe and the US, and to take their money wherever they wish, unlike Mugabe – and that’s why he’s so petulant about the situation.

        ZIDERA also instructs the US representatives for international financial institutions to simply vote NO to extending additional credit to Zimbabwe until the human rights situation improves and Mugabe has free and FAIR elections the reflect the will of the people. It should also be pointed out that the US is only one of many countries with voting rights at those institutions. Meaning that even if the US votes NO, the other countries can vote YES anyway.

        Many ZANU-PF sympathizers point to the part about the US voting NO for further credit and claim that this is proof that sanctions have wrecked the economy, except that apparently the US has never had to vote NO because Zimbabwe has never gotten that far along in the approval process. The country’s credit has been so damaged by Mugabe and his looters that there’s no consideration of any further lending until Zimbabwe starts acting responsibly by paying off it’s existing debts.

        Crocker may have said something resembling what you allege, but as history has now proven, ZIDERA did not create that result. All of the credit (pun) goes directly to Robert Mugabe and his gang of thieves.

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    His comments are too moronic to even warrant addressing

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    They are at it again the Zanu cretins using pseudonyms to sanitise the current situation.Hanzi tikatora zita rechirungu we will hoodwink vanhu kuti vafunge arikunyora muvheti-we can see through all these machinations try again louts.

  • comment-avatar
    super mondo 7 years ago

    i concur

  • comment-avatar

    Tim Black is an idiot. It is people like him and the idiotic sentiments they spew that contribute to the increased suffering of the Zimbabwean people. it was not the sanction that ruined zimbabwe’s economy. It is the greed and incompetence of the mugabe regime that destroyed a once vibrant economy.
    Ask mugabe who is really benefiting from the diamonds from marange and bikita. The answer is CHINA not the zimbabwean people. The revenue from the diamond mines could pay off Zimbabwe’s debts and resusitate the economy.

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      You are not honest with reality. Who is benefiting from our gold, platinum and other mineral resources? Your mind has been conditioned to parrot the regime change song albeit seeing a bigger picture of the economic war being waged against your own country. Shame on you.

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    samuel nyemba 7 years ago

    I like your article, I also feel like saying dream on,
    – my cousin told me this zimbabweans in the townships are not going to secondary schools,
    – in the townships the girls are getting pregnant from their neighbours,
    – in the townships the boys are aspiring to be hwindis that shout loudest for the next combi to fill up,
    – even my “educated” friends digress and show great loath against these “homosexuals”,
    – I tried to talk down “lobola” to my friends, old girl friends and even try to put it into practise in our family and folks think I have something against them being married coz married is means lobola to them,
    – instead of us continuing to produce children why can’t we adopt the unwanted/suffering out there that’s taboo in Zimbabwe?
    – Welcome to dreamland and let’s continue dreaming for 2018. Maybe then donkeys will grow horns.
    Seriously the time is now! Buy your ticket now and work towards using it in 2018n don’t cancel it, you/we have only ourselves to the rescue.

  • comment-avatar
    John Steele 7 years ago

    Obviously the author of this article has not lived in Zimbabwe for the last 12 years!!!

  • comment-avatar

    I second Super Mondo. Indeed, the clue to this ZANU propaganda lies in the writer’s surname.

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    reason 7 years ago

    Well most of the Zimbabwean story told by outsiders is fake. The major reason being that if the true success story is told positively, it will spread to SA where the blacks are in abject poverty, and lack proper education. Europe knows it , America knows it, but it is too late now, very soon the majority population in Zimbabwe will be amongst the wealthiest in Africa and probably the globe, because they will be truly enjoying their vast Natural wealth. Thanks to Mugabe’s resilience. SA its a time bomb.

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    Brother Shabazz 7 years ago

    Uhm…and what do you expect this ‘west’ (worst) to do about it?

  • comment-avatar

    whatever! we won the elections and we will RULE for the next 5 years. take your plight and mourning to britain. ZIMBABWE WILL NEVER BE A COLONY AGAIN!

    • comment-avatar

      Bands, you’re mistaken. It’s too late, Zimbabwe is already a colony again – of China!

    • comment-avatar

      Just prisioners in their own land>

  • comment-avatar
    Mark Talbot 7 years ago

    Zimbabwe is for Zanu-PF. Zimbabweans are still waiting for their sovereignty.

  • comment-avatar
    Mark Talbot 7 years ago

    The world has indeed moved on from Zimbabwe, especially after the global financial crisis. If the AU and SADC don’t care about the people of Zimbabwe, why should western nations?

    Mugabe has certainly earned his Hitler mustache. Anyone that has caused as many babies to die as Zanu-PF should be vilified around the world. Mugabe’s christian posturings would be amusing if his ability to cause poverty and death were not so profound. Let’s face it, it is about shopping in Rome and leveraging the fools that go to the wrong churches.

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    You guys,you seem not to acknowledge the warning shots that were obtained by freedom house and Mrs Booysen of South Africa.Their surveys clearly showed the outcome of the game.Also be reminded that politics is a game of numbers,one with the greatest number of votes takes the stage.