There are few sadder tales of lost potential than that of Robert Mugabe….When he first became Prime Minister of a free Zimbabwe, he was the pre-Mandela and like Nelson Mandela had spent time in prison (ten years)….There was much promise in the independence of newly renamed Zimbabwe and Mugabe was the embodiment of this.
At first, Zimbabwe attracted Western investment and big multi-national companies who set up manufacturing facilities….That however all began to change by the mid to late 80’s.
There is no arguing the point that Robert Mugabe went from figure of reconciliation to insane tyrant.
I would however argue that the world’s view of Mugabe’s tyranny especially what precipitated the IMF withdrawing of funding and the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy is not really correct. Criticism of him is also out of proportion compared with other events happening in Africa.
To start off, after taking power, Robert Mugabe became an asset of the United States under Ronald Reagan during the Cold War. As long as he was busy destroying trade unions and murdering their members as well as killing anyone deemed a socialist, he was okay in the eyes of the West and in those big corporations who used Zimbabwean labor
Yes, Mugabe had been brutalizing and torturing his own people for decades but it wasn’ t until he started taking back the land from the white farmers (descendants of colonialist) that the West got angry which seems both too convenient and more than a tad racist.
Prior to this, 70% of the land used for farming in Zimbabwe was owned by 1% of the population which were the white and wealthy relatives of those who took that land by force. Reclaiming this land had been on the agenda for years but it wasn’t until 1997 when British Prime Minister Tony Blair ended the willing buyer, willing seller policy of the UK recompensing farmers who wished to sell their land that this reached a head.
Did Mugabe demagogue this issue to cling to power, did he act brutally and extrajudicially? Most likely but the colonial injustices of the past did need to be remedied.
The United Sates reaction to the white farmers being driven off was to put Zimbabwe on credit freeze which was really what destroyed their economy. This was surprising considering that US did nothing during the Rwandan genocide other than not allow any of its functionairies to use the word genocide at the time. The US ignores the horrible situation in the Congo but continues to twist the situation in Sudan for their own foreign policy machinations which I wrote about here. http://rgdinmalaysia.xanga.com/668728062/skepticism-about-darfur-more-neo-conservative-hi-jinks/
It took years also for the US to do anything serious about Apartheid and considered South Africa a Cold War ally. Anyone remember constructive engagement?
What I am trying to say is Mugabe is a tyrant but he has gotten worse because of the reaction of the world to him and the Western nations have done more to enflame the situation and hurt the citizens of the country than actually solve the problem of how to transition to a real democracy ( and get rid of Mugabe)
And I feel the whole thing is out of scale when you consider how the US reacts to other problems in Africa (these not involving white people). As paranoid and crazy as Mugabe is, he is right when he says race figures here.