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Mugabe's one concern is socking it to the West

By unknown | Apr 18, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Last June the then US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, made a prediction that must have sent shivers down the spines of every Zanu-PF official.

Within six months, he predicted, Robert Mugabe's government would be toppled.

How so? No government in history ever survived with an inflation rate of more than 100000 percent.

Mugabe was almost thumped out of office by Morgan Tsvangirai last month. The jury is literally still out on the final verdict of the presidential election, but Mugabe will know he came within a whisker of being thoroughly humiliated by a man he loves to call names.

Mugabe's reaction to Dell's prediction was very political.

Many believe he could have reacted by addressing the inflation conundrum. He could have made an impassioned appeal to the Chinese to lend him enough yuans to pay off his arrears to the International Monetary Fund and have them restore his country's entitlement to balance of payment funds.

With that grand gesture of penance, he probably would have persuaded the US, European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Canada to resume normal trading relations with Zimbabwe.

But Mugabe has convinced colleagues they are still fighting the cold war and that imperialism is still the No 1 enemy. Nothing matters more than sacrificing even the lives of children and expectant mothers in this fight.

The immediate "solution" was to decree a price freeze on essential commodities, which immediately emptied the shop shelves and must have thrown thousands out of jobs and sent would-be investors running.

Unfortunately for Zimbabweans, Mugabe has very rarely considered their urgent need for health, shelter, education, food and transport in the same context as his mortal combatant with The Enemy.

Take the origin of the farm invasions. They were launched after he lost in a referendum over a new constitution. Again, he reacted politically to the humiliation.

There was no ready blueprint for a smooth takeover of the former commercial farms. The funds were just not there for such a massive undertaking. But he was ready to apply ad hoc measures to satisfy his and his friends' political egos.

What mattered most was the political objective - to sock it to the West.

Even if you go as far back as Gukurahundi, politics was the primary consideration. There was a perceived attempt to overthrow the politically dominant Zanu-PF element of the coalition government. That challenge had to be ended once and for all and if, in pursuit of that goal, 20 000 citizens were killed, didn't the end justify the means?

If the present impasse on the election results is not ended equitably, Zimbabwe is in for prolonged strife. Eventually, politics could destroy the country, if it hasn't done so already.

lBill Saidi is deputy editor of The Standard in Zimbabwe.


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