Sunday, April 06, 2008

Zimbabwe: a state the West loves to hate

It has become highly fashionable in the Western media to draw far fetched parallels between the architect of the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler, and Zimbabwe's current incumbent, Robert Mugabe. Of course, such comparisons are complete fantasise which says far more about those who use such terminology to describe Mugabe, than it does about the current situation on the ground in Zimbabwe.

In the rush to demonise Mugabe, many have forgotten that it was in fact the white supremacist and former Rhodesian leader Ian Smith who first coined the phrase 'Black Hitler' to describe Mugabe and his national liberation movement - and many in the West have also ignored how the Great Western powers, their governments and fiscal institutions have played the most important role in bringing the Zimbabwean economy to its knees. Indeed, it has been the outside interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe that have twisted and distorted the countries economy.

It is difficult to imagine how back in 2001, The New York Times gave Zimbabwe the title of the 'worst government on earth' - yeah, right, as if - what, worse than China? Such statements actually betray the narrow and highly selective nature of criticism directed against Zimbabwe by its opponents in the West. Some Western observers (former colonials) seem to lose all sense of proportion when talking about Zimbabwe, for one writer of the The Times (London), what appears to be unfolding in Zimbabwe is nothing less than a 'silent genocide'. Even the organisation Genocide Watch rightfully argue that such claims can appear 'ridiculous' given the fact that there have been relatively few deaths due to conflict in Zimbabwe.

Much of what I see and read about Zimbabwe is no more than unsubstantiated junk propaganda. As the astute political journalist Brendan O'Neill kindly reminds us, there are a few honourable exceptions, like the US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who had the temerity to question received Western wisdom on Zimbabwe. McKinney rightfully argued that Zimbabwe is 'Africa's second-longest stable democracy', it is a country that has 'multi-party' elections, the opposition has 'over 50 seats in the parliament. It has an opposition press which vigorously criticises the government and governing party. It has an independent judiciary which issues decisions contrary to the wishes of the governing party'. That's more than can be said about Egypt, Rwanda, or the Congo. Yet all three of these countries are allies of the West who receive serious amounts of funding from the United States.

Zimbabwe, viewed from the perspective of Western colonial, 'Eton-educated' bi-focals appears more like a horrific symbol of African arrogance and cockiness. It is a point of view that cannot comprehend how 'our last white man in Rhodesia' Ian Smith was humiliated and forcefully jettisoned out of office, by a ‘Black Hitler’ to boot.

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14 Comments:

At 11:39 PM, Blogger SorenK said...

"It has an opposition press which vigorously criticises the government and governing party."
No it doesn't. At least, not one actually based in the country. Where did you get this information from? Please tell me title of newspaper you refer to.

 
At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Courtney Hamilton said...

Sorenk,

To be fair, that comment was taken from a speech made by US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney back in 2001. In 2008, due to Western imposed economic sanctions, it has become near impossible for editors to afford publishing newspapers - and of course, due rampant inflation, it has almost become impossible for most people to buy newspapers.

The speech made by McKinney is available here.

 
At 12:33 PM, Anonymous The New Centrist said...

Found out about your blog from a comment you left at "Bob from Brockley."

The reason there are no opposition newspapers is due to sanctions? I suppose that's the reason there are no opposition newspapers in Cuba either. Please, be real. The reason in both cases is because the government will not allow it.

Cynthia McKinney is a nutter, btw.

 
At 5:14 PM, Blogger bob said...

Agree with NC and Sorenk. Zimbabwe has no free press. And it bans journalists from other countries. It is not a stable democracy, as recent events have shown.

Far from honourable, Cynthia McK is indeed a nutter, and I am not suprised to hear her uttering this sort of thing: it fits in with her bigoted anti-Western/Second Campist worldview.

But from you (and from your pal Brendan O'N), this seems to me to be nothing more than contrarianism for the sake of contrarianism.

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Your analysis is interesting. The Zimbabwean bloggers, many who hate Mugabe, are less than happy how the world media is portraying the election.

Unfortunately Zimbabweans have a choice between a dictator and being captive to neoliberalism.

What is needed is revolutionary leadership.

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger Daniel of "Daniels Counter" said...

I think you would do well and read a proper book on Mugabe. I muself and my wife also fell into the trap of his speeches. Many Africa and Black politics loving people do. Bit it is time to read behind the words. You will find on my blog older postings on your line here http://danielscounter.blogspot.com/2005/06/zimbabwe-is-uk-slightly-obsessed-with.html
(Zimbabwe is Britain slightly obsessed with it)

and an update and realignment of what I understand from there there here
http://danielscounter.blogspot.com/2008/03/zimbabwe-for-change.html


I do think you are right in the older analysis of Zimbabwe by British governments which certainly came from a old colonial attitude (even as late as the 1990s) but I am 100 percent no percent less, convinced that Mugabe is today a brutal, self-centered, exploitative, and tyrant, mass-murderer and "African dicator" of Mobuto dimensions.

 
At 4:47 AM, Blogger Semaj Mahgih said...

Africa's second-longest stable democracy

South Africa being the first?

 
At 10:07 AM, Blogger Phil A said...

Sorry - I tend to agree with many of your posts, but this one? No way!

Mugabe clothes himself in rhetoric that you seem to accept at face value, but what he is has now drifted far away from it.

The press there are so free most western reporters are banned. The judiciary, if they still have any real independence, do so despite Mugabe, his party and his "veterans".

You listen to some of his speeches and pronouncements and the man comes across more like a racist than Smith ever did. Holding some fantasy UK colonial ambition up as a flail to opposition.

"Stable democracy"? A country that has "multi-party" elections? Let’s hope elections in the UK never get quite so “stable”.

I fear that much of the good stuff that Zimbabwe has left is simply what Mugabe has, as yet, failed to subvert to his own use.

 
At 4:40 AM, Blogger Incognito said...

First of all, Cynthia MckInney is an idiot.. and Zimbabwe is a democracy? Uh.. kindly explain in what way it's a democracy. dictator/democracy.. don't jibe.

and if it's a democarcy, what has been going on in Zimbabwe at the moment?

You left an interesting comment on Bob's blog, which i thought I would post here, in case you don't see it..
"For far too long the West have appeared unable to keep their interfering noses out of Africa's political business."

So we should allow the genocide in Darfur to contine.. which we shamefully have?
That kind of "let's not meddle" mentality has been the cause of much death.

It's like allowing a neighbour to beat the shit out of his wife and kids, without calling the authorities, because it's their business, not yours. well, frankly, i wouldn't want that on my conscience.

 
At 8:37 AM, Anonymous Courtney Hamilton said...

incognito,

Thanks for your reply, however, your comment on African internal political affairs, especially Darfur, is rather depressingly familiar.

The 'genocide' in Darfur? Says who? Gen Colin Powell? The US state department? You say 'genocide', but I say an all too familiar African 'civil war'.

In terms of international relations, Darfur is not our 'neighbour', nor is Zimbabwe, Rwanda or Iraq.

"That kind of "let's not meddle" mentality has been the cause of much death." Erm, what like Iraq? Or Afghanistan? I could argue that it has been 'lets poke our bloody Western nose in other peoples business' that has been cause of much death and suffering in the Mid East and Africa.

 
At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing that Mugabe has been in power in some form or another for about twenty something years, and as you said for most of it he was 'admired' in the press - but soon as he turned and decided to strangle the remnants of it's colonial past he all of a sudden became the new adolf...

I mean the propaganda about Zimbabwe is not even slick it's lazy in your face stupidity - of course the economy is bad the West had piled tons of sanctions on it, of course there are riots and violence that's what happens during revolutions - Look at France or even the U.S during their revolts and changes of system and rulers.

Personally I believe Mugabe will be validated by history if he succeeds he is what Africa needs more of 'leaders' who are not afraid to stand up to their former bullies and say 'NO' no more.

Unlike these other puppets in Africa who continue to take in foreign loans which are the cause of Africa's crippling poverty.

Mugabe also is in the process of doing something that no African nation has done so far - building an arms industry which will give them something to stand on at the negociation table.

If I lived in Zimbabwe I would vote Zanu-PF not that other puppet party MDC - we all know that's a puppet party.

 
At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If u live in Zim you will know that Finincial Gazette, The Standard, The Zimbabwean are all examples of Zimbabwean newspapers that are really anti Government. They are sold everyday on Zimbabwean Streets and they are free to say what ever they want even lies yet the same will not happen in USA.

 
At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There can be little doubt that Mugabe is a despotic violent thug and Zimbabwe would be better off without him. But that is for Zimbabweans to resolve, they do not need western interference disguised as altruism. I do think the western media, especially the UK press, are obsessed with Mugabe and his regime. I suspect this has much more to do with empire, history and race than they would care to admit.

 
At 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Zimbabwean and I am amazed by the comments by these crazy uninformed idiots who say Zimbabwe has no free press or is not a democracy.
Only fools who have never been to Zimbabwe and feed on reports from CNN or BBC can make such claims.
Here is the truth: Zimbabwe has at least 6 newspapers that I read that are brazenly anti-Mugabe. they include the FinGaz, DailyNews, etc.
Over its 30 year history Zimabbwe has had more than 7 major opposition parties and at least 5 pres1dential elections. In all the elections the opposition clearly lost. It is only in the last 2 elections were controversy has shrouded the results.Mugabe may or maynot have cheated but what is known is that the MDC is a western backed political party that received billions of dollars to ensure Mugabe loses power and stop the land reform. Again, like in Iraq and Afgan, it is only when the western states began to interfere in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe that things seriously went the way of the devil.

 

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