Pan-Africans: Sam Nujoma, Kenneth Kaunda, Samora Machel, Julius Nyerere, Robert Mugabe, Dos Santos.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s rule was brought to an end by Zimbabwe’s armed forces on November 15, 2017. He had been in power since 1980.
What Mugabe and ZANU-PF achieved can’t be undone — after defeating Ian Smith’s apartheid regime (together with Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU) –returning land to the descendants of people from whom the land was stolen during British colonial rule.
Even The New York Times, the establishment neo-orthodox economics “paper of record” conceded that the doom and gloom predicted when the commercial farms were returned to Africans did not materialize and many Africans were as productive or even more productive than the White farmers’ before them. Imagine if they had access to adequate capital. Zimbabweans are some of the most resilient, enterprising and educated people in Africa.
The economic sanctions spear-headed by the maniacal Tony Blair, who is today the highly-paid apologist for Paul Kagame, and embraced by the United States, undermined everything. That was punishment for returning the land. It was also meant to send a message to South Africa’s and Namibia’s leadership — don’t you dare touch the land issue or we’ll do to you what we’ve done to Mugabe.
Even Kenya, 54 years after independence, has not returned the land.
No other economy, African, Western, Caribbean, Asian, South American, could have survived the diabolical sanctions imposed against Zimbabwe.
Contrast the sanctions against Zimbabwe to the license and blank check from the West to Uganda’s Gen. Yoweri Museveni who, through his army, has been directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of at least 1 million Ugandans, 800,000 Rwandans, at least 6 million Congolese and 200,000 South Sudanese (that conflict continues).
Where are the sanctions in Museveni’s case? Not that there should be sanctions against Uganda; but at the bare minimum you’d think there’d be one against Gen. Museveni himself for his war crimes.
Instead, Museveni is invited to the White House and 10 Downing Street. The U.S., up to day, still supports Museveni’s regime with $750 million annually and trains and equips his army, which has never defended Uganda against a single foreign invasion in the 31 years of Museveni’s tyranny.
Instead the so-called “security services” create insecurity by gunning down Red Bandanna-wearing Ugandans resisting Museveni’s own life-presidency project.
Museveni is also displacing Ugandans from their ancestral lands and inviting foreign agribusinesses to take over–so he’s rewarded.
In Zimbabwe, it’s a wonder that Mugabe wasn’t deposed long ago, given the socio-economic and political pressures arising from the sanctions. No one will ever know the sanctions’ impact on the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans including its role in the deaths of young Zimbabweans. The sanctions impacted the entire fabric of Zimbabwean society. The masses suffered most; the elite always enrich themselves.
But you won’t see any major reports on the impact of the sanctions on Zimbabwe; just like you won’t see any major study that evaluates NATO’s destruction of Libya’s infrastructure or how many people were killed in 2011 during the six-months 24 x 7 bombing campaign.
Mugabe’s monumental shortcoming was not creating a succession mechanism and now Zimbabweans pay the price.
Julius Nyerere, hero of Tanzanian, Zimbabwean and African liberation, stepped down as president and nurtured transition in Tanzania in his lifetime. You can also never imagine Nyerere having ever entertained the thought of his wife as a successor.
Tanzania avoided a moment such as the one Zimbabwe faces because Nyerere eased out of State House and shared his great wisdom and respectability –for the benefit of his beloved Tanzania and for Africa –from the background in the remaining years of his life.
Zimbabwe can shine mightily again, so long as there are no major ruptures and civil conflict. It’s blessed with abundant natural and mineral resources and no shortage of brainpower, in the form of highly-skilled professionals currently scattered allover the world.
If Zimbabwe can marshall its politics and create an environment that accommodates all –not winner take all– it can become a Middle Income country within 15 years, possibly less.
Similarly, countries like Uganda can thrive once monopoly of political power (in its case autocracy) ends.
There are many stormy days ahead; many.
Wisdom and maturity are needed in the weeks and months ahead for Zimbabwe.
Viva Zimbabwe! Viva Africa!