by Hannes Wessels
After 37 years of brutally destructive rule it looks like the curtain may finally be coming down on the Mugabe regime. Military coups are seldom welcome but few of Zimbabwe’s beleaguered citizenry are unhappy with this dramatic turn of events. After decades of misery, the prospect of life under ‘Gucci Grace’, the ghastly First Lady, provided a frightening future scenario that propelled the military into a direct and decisive confrontation. Almost universally, this man is now reviled and few will lament his political demise but it was not always like that and be mindful; he did not get to where he did without international help and he could not have ruled for 37 years without the enthusiastic assistance of a liberal-socialist political and media machine that revered him no matter what he did.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson spoke emotionally about ‘this beautiful country’ that has suffered a ‘brutal litany of events’ under the despotic rule of a man who has rigged elections and stands responsible for the ‘murder and torture of his opponents’. He said ‘all Britain has ever wanted for Zimbabwe, ‘.. is for Zimbabweans to be able to decide their own future in free and fair elections.’ Prime Minister Theresa May expressed sincere concern for the safety of ‘British nationals’ in the benighted country. These pronouncements resonate with the mood but invite some scrutiny.
Interesting to note that Her Majesty’s leader of the government is now concerned about Britons in the wake of a coup but through the course of almost 15 years of civil war, when Rhodesia fought to stave off the odious challenge posed by Mugabe and his forces and thousands of ‘British nationals’ faced the gravest of threats, the British government of the day resolutely backed the other side. And Boris Johnson’s recollection of history and Britain’s long-term commitment to ‘free and fair elections’ is also rubbish. The fact is the Mugabe accession to power was carefully choreographed through the 70’s by the wily mandarins of the Foreign Office, culminating in the Lancaster House Conference.
Ironically, the only genuinely free election ever held in the country took place under European rule in April 1979 when a black majority government took power under the leadership of Bishop Abel Muzorewa only for Mrs. Thatcher to renege on her promise to recognise it. ‘The lady who was not for turning’ did a double-summersault when confronted with the wrath of the African despots who insisted on Mugabe as the leader of the new Zimbabwe and swiftly moved the goal-posts to Lancaster House. Within those hallowed halls, her Machiavellian Foreign Secretary, Lord Peter Carrington, stitched up an agreement that (then former prime minister) Ian Smith rejected but he was quickly drummed out of the negotiations so as not to blow the great con. John Giles, the Rhodesian legal expert at the conference also warned against accepting the terms and he was soon after found dead under highly suspicious circumstances. Ian Smith was unequivocal in insisting he was murdered. But Carrington and Thatcher got their way; Britain took back control of the country under the boozy governorship of Lord Christopher Soames and a farcical election was held during which Mugabe’s forces ran a violent intimidation campaign that decisively influenced the result in their favour. When then Rhodesian Military Supremo, General Peter Walls, cried foul, called for a re-run and demanded access to Mrs Thatcher as previously promised, the door of No. 10 was slammed shut in his face.
A beaming Prince Charles, resplendent in his naval commander’s uniform, soon arrived to deliver Rhodesia on a silver platter to a richly undeserving Robert Mugabe who thus came to power with the blood of thousands of his countrymen on his hands. Virtually the entire world, led by the liberal praise-singers of the mainstream media, with the BBC jubilant at the fore, cheered the dawn of ‘freedom’ and the demise of ‘racist, settler rule’.
From then on Mugabe, hard as he tried could do no wrong. He quickly set about destroying ‘the jewel of Africa’ by dragging the country into an encounter with a command economy where he and his cronies would attempt to control all the levers in the public and private sector, while following a vaguely Marxist blueprint.
Tax levels were hiked to being some of the highest in the world, the best civil service in Africa was smashed, and his stated commitment to a non-racial meritocracy was a lie from the start. In all sectors, black political hacks, regardless of their experience or qualifications were ushered into positions way beyond their ability. Anti-white racism was institutionalised throughout the public sector. Detention without trial was the order of the day and during his tenure there has never been anything remotely like a ‘free and fair election’.
When the threat of political opposition appeared early in the 80’s in Matabeleland, Mugabe reacted with a ferocity and brutality that would have cheered Stalin and Mao. A systematic, state-sponsored genocide ensued and scores of thousands were killed – more were maimed and tortured. The world looked the other way. Oxfam refused to speak out. Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives defended the genocide, insisting that the Zimbabwean killers were merely addressing ‘legitimate security concerns.’ As Minister for Overseas Development, Baroness Chalker remained a loyal friend and was well disposed to having her photograph taken holding hands with the man while romping up the steps of State House.
British aid continued to flow freely and Mugabe was frequently entertained by the Queen. The Conservatives under John Major paid him a parting tribute by rewarding his atrocious behaviour with a knighthood. He returned from the investiture to Zimbabwe to explain that gays and lesbians should be evicted before referring to like-minded people as “… worse than dogs and pigs … beasts … guilty of sub-human behaviour,” and called for them to be removed from society. The Labour government of Tony Blair ensured that Zimbabwe’s Police and Intelligence services were well supplied with British-made equipment so the terror machine was kept in good order.
In the late 90’s the Americans, despite Mugabe’s policies, were still cheering him on. Bill Clinton’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Tom MacDonald, was gushing in his praise of him and rather astonishingly concluded that the country, thanks to the man’s tender ministrations, was an ‘An African success story.’
The sad irony is it was the same whites who had powered the Rhodesian economy through 15 years of war and sanctions before independence that were the dynamic that kept the new regime buoyant despite the official hostility. Vital players were the farmers. Through their efforts, exports of agricultural product in the post independence era increased and the national coffers were kept reasonably full. The people Mugabe loathed most made the monster look good and played a significant role in feeding him until he decided to devour them. Four thousand white farmers, (.03% of the total population) their families and dependents were ‘ethnically cleansed’ starting in 2000 and the economy collapsed triggering the worst hyper-inflation in history. This resulted in soft sanctions and a travel-ban on the president and some of his cohorts. Zimbabwe joined a legion of ravaged African countries with populations reduced to a life of fear and famine.
The fact is, this catastrophe was allowed to happen largely because the Western world not only allowed it to, but enthusiastically aided it. Consumed by an obsession with political correctness which forbids criticism of tyrants when they are black, no one had the gumption to stand up and call the man to account; instead they helped him on his horrible way. If the liberals who ruled and their media associates had stood by the same principles that they screamed about when it was time to ride the anti-colonial bandwagon and impress all with their contempt for all things white and allegedly racist, the history of Zimbabwe would have been a happier one.
Unsurprisingly Mugabe was relieved to find that no matter how badly he behaved he could traverse the world and enjoy the unanimous, virtually unqualified acclaim of a misguided liberal establishment that believed he was doing a wonderful job. He took this as a signal to continue as before so when the tanks arrived outside his house on Monday night and the generals told him and his wife the game was up I empathise a little with poor Robert; he thought he was doing a hell of a good job.