SA: Bob’s rambling, witty political theatre

via SA: Bob’s rambling, witty political theatre – New Zimbabwe 08/04/2015

The Zimbabwean president was charming and defiant on a state visit to South Africa, accusing the former PM of reneging on promises to fund redistribution.

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has launched a withering attack on Tony Blair over his handling of the country’s land reform programme, declaring: “Blair, Blair, who was he? Just the prime minister of Britain. I’m president of Zimbabwe.”

The 91-year-old, who is on a rare state visit to South Africa, spoke off the cuff in a 35-minute monologue that varied from pointed to rambling to witty.

His speech appeared to charm a room full of ministers and journalists, at times provoking outbursts of laughter.

Mugabe has long accused Blair’s Labour government of reneging on promises of funding land redistribution in Zimbabwe made under the 1979 Lancaster House agreement.

Critics, however, say it is an attempt to shift blame from his supporters’ violent seizures of white-owned farms that crippled the southern African nation’s economy.

“We want peace, and peace does not mean you must have a lion’s share and others have a baboon’s share,” he told a press conference in the South African capital of Pretoria on Wednesday.

“No, you are all together and let’s be equal. Inequality can breed other problems in the future.

“We did not send away whites. We took away land in accordance with what the British and ourselves had agreed upon, Margaret Thatcher’s government.

“That commercial land reform programme, land shall be taken from the farmers and be given to the Zimbabweans. So, it was all constitutional.

“If Blair’s England was no longer willing to pay for the land, should we have just folded our hands and said, ‘Oh, Lord almighty, I pray in the name of the father, the son and the holy ghost’?

“Goodness me, no! Blair, Blair, who was he? Just the prime minister of Britain. I’m president of Zimbabwe. So that’s why we say ‘OK, it’s your money, keep it. It’s our land, we will take it.’ Balance.”

One of Zimbabwe’s major farming exports is now tobacco, the president noted. “We don’t smoke much of it.

“The Chinese smoke most of it. My health minister advises against smoking, but he doesn’t advise against growing.”

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe, since independence 35 years ago, has been condemned by human rights groups for orchestrating political violence and rigging elections, and remains under EU and US sanctions.

Within Africa, however, his rehabilitation seemed complete as South Africa rolled out the red carpet for Mugabe and his wife Grace, greeting them with a brass band and 21-gun salute at the colonial-era Union Buildings.

The South African president, Jacob Zuma, introduced him as a “dear brother”.

The host was then reduced to a mere bit part as Mugabe put on a piece of political theatre reminiscent of a generation of post-independence African leaders who, irrespective of their personal moral standing, could deploy an easy charisma and informal manner seldom seen in today’s scripted, stage-managed era. He even parodied his notoriety as an autocrat.

“Thank you for the publicity you have given me, those of you who have focused on me as a real dictator,” the former guerrilla fighter said wryly, eliciting mirth.

“A dictator who never cut the throat of Ian Smith [the former prime minister of Rhodesia] the first time he came. But I said no, let us turn our swords into ploughshares and forget about history.

“We worked together with Ian Smith. We allowed him even to have his farm and his father’s farm. The lord almighty called him, the doctors couldn’t help him, he died a natural death.

“We had vowed that those who were guilty of apartheid and guilty of bombing our people, killing our people callously and throwing bodies into disused mines, would not get away with it. The moment we get home and we have power, we will cut off their heads. That is the anger you have when you are waging the struggle.”

But when freedom came, Mugabe added, he had taken a similar approach to Nelson Mandela and preached racial reconciliation.

Winding up his ruminations, Mugabe told the gathering: “Thank you for your listening to me. I can go on and on. That’s the gift of politicians, never to stop speaking until the people say ‘yah, we are tired’. And you are now tired, I see.”

This prompted more laughter and applause. The world’s oldest leader left the stage, one hand clasping Zuma’s, the other raised in a fist. “Amandla [power]!” he cried, playing to the gallery to the last.


  • comment-avatar
    kIRIKI Munde 7 years ago

    Utori gudo Mugabe! You have a baboon’s share of brain1

  • comment-avatar

    How can you tell when The Bhobho is lying? Watch his lips very, very carefully – if they are moving, he’s lying!!!!

    I suppose that the fool thinks no one knows that the money the UK gave was not even all used? And they stopped when they realised that much of what they had given had been stolen by the Mafia goons.

    LOL – The Bhobho is the only president whose election campaign – was against a foreign prime minister. Truly, an idiot!

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    Mandevu 7 years ago

    The trouble is that so many Zimbabweans still believe him – after 35 years of lying, murder and other gentle pastimes. His best option is to die before a global tribunal gets him

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    mugabe 7 years ago

    Mugabe is an idiot when he was in S.A his people were being chased away from S.A and what does mugabe do he continued with his visit and never talked abt the incident, do u know why? Becoz mugabe and zanu pf do not care abt his people. To those who go arround beating up Mdc-T suppoters for mugabe, why don’t u sit down and look back ever since 35 years ago what hve u achived as zanu pf suppoter from mugabe and his wife grace’s party. U hve got nothing u idiots.

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    makanyara 7 years ago

    Not many believe him….we all know what a mess he has created. We feel powerless and helpless in the face of his acceptance by the big and mighty SA together with SADC and AU dispite the obvious terror…