Thursday, November 27, 2008

Zimbabwe: The squandering of a country's freedom

I am from Zimbabwe and I have been meaning to put up a post about my beloved home country for quite some time. The problem is, I get too angry. I've drafted numerous posts where I set out with a clear intention to make a single point but became mired in a vicious cycle of blind, cold fury with just about everything. My frustration knows no bounds.

Before you read on, please be aware that my views are not "politically correct". I believe that (for want of a better term) political correctness lies at the heart of not only Zimbabwe's, but all of Africa's many problems.

Today, 50 people will die of cholera in Zimbabwe. Cholera is a deadly disease that essentially is spread from person to person through drinking water that contains shit. It is a dirty, filthy, disgusting disease that is wholly and very simply preventable. It is a disease that like no other is a clear indicator of the competence of a country's government; you have to be the lowest of the low for it to become a problem.

For years the world has watched Mugabe taking bites from the thin end of the wedge. The Third World apologists have even praised him for his "African" solutions to "colonial legacies". They have showered this man with praise as he dismantled the colonial legacy that he inherited. That legacy, aside from the privileges of a white minority, was law and order, jobs, economic growth, inventiveness, decent health care, clean hospitals, reliable water supplies in the cities, proper sewage management, a working transport infrastructure, education and a burgeoning productive sector.

When Mugabe exhibited any signs of his political stewardship falling below what is considered decent, the world and a huge proportion of his own countrymen turned a blind eye - the man committed a genocide - "The Gukurahundi" - against up to 40,000 Ndebele people and no one thought to prosecute him. Not the majority of Zimbabweans, not the leaders of the "civilised" world. You see, Mugabe's crimes against humnity are somehow less repellant to the world than those of Milosovich.

Even now, when the whole world is united against Mugabe NO ONE is prepared to snatch him and his cronies and whisk them off to the Hague. No one! Yet every day, 50 people - and rising - will die as a direct result of his actions. And that is just from cholera.

There is also a steady stream of disappearances of opposition supporters. There have been well publicised government-backed murders. There has been the disgusting "Operation Murambatsvina" where up to 2.4 million poor shanty town dwellers were rendered homeless, their posessions destroyed and their informal subsitance businesses looted and closed down. (Mugabe once had a programme called "Homes for all by the year 2000" which, as we can all see, failed). The world did nothing. Not a fucking thing.

Most idiotic of all, the world is under the illusion that diplomacy can bring results. With Mugabe? Since when? Its time to understand, Mr UN, EU and Co that diplomacy is wasted on Mugabe and is, to be honest, a bit baffling to most Africans - look at Thabo Mbeki's interpretation of it and see just how misunderstood it is. Africans can talk all day and all night. Long after others have given up talking and have gone onto the "enough talk, lets take action" phase, the Africans will still be talking - because as long as they can talk, they don't have to do the dirty work. Someone else eventually will.

What is worse though, is that most Zimbabweans have done almost NOTHING to stop this monster. Zimbabwe has a great deal to say about "Our Sovereignty" and "Our Freedom". A lot to say, but they do nothing to preserve those concepts and do you know why? Because they do not understand them. How can you understand a concept such as Freedom when to all intents and purposes, you are now much worse off than you were under the (often exaggerated) "oppresssion" of Ian Smith or the British?

You see, the majority of Zimbabweans did not have to fight in the liberation struggle. It was done for them by a few tens of thousands of (either brave or misguided) guerillas. Most Zimbabweans sat back and waited for their freedom to be given to them. They waited for the world's outrage to deliver them from the evil of Ian Smith. Not so bloody evil now, is he?

And then Zimbabweans waited for foregn aid to be delivered, which it duly was. They waited for jobs which they got and they allowed Mugabe to start taking bigger and bigger slices of the pie. His flagrant liberties were all, so it seems, forgivable. After all, "he gave us our freedom": He was delivering prosperity, growth, jobs and all Zimbabweans had to do was sit on their arses and occasionally sing the Party tune. But he was also lining his pockets and building a clique of super-powerful cronies who were seen to be above the law...

Then things started going down hill. Zimbabweans started muttering, agreeing yet again, with a few tens of thousands of people that Mugabe had to go. He was ruining their future. He was getting rich at their expense. Fortunately, Mr Tsvangirai put himself forward as the man to lead Zimbabwe out of the clutches of Mugabe. Fantastic! Now Zimbabweans had someone to do the job for them, they could once again sit on their arses and do nothing.

And this is how it has been. A lonely Tsvangirai surrounded by a few (brave or misguided?) people trying to take on Mugabe who has control of the army. And the police. And the CIO. But at least the people of Zimbabwe can carry on sitting on their now scrawny backsides while Tsvangirai tries despertely to stem the bleeding.

This cholera epidemic, this badge of hopelessness, is the inevitable result of a people whose idea of freedom is to chant the mindless, meaningless ZanuPF slogans at political rallies. Whose idea of freedom is to cower in the dust before their leader. Whose idea of freedom is to sit and wait for someone else to deliver them from evil. Again.

Zimbabweans - ALL zimbabweans need to grow some balls. Tsvangirai cannot overcome Mugabe on his own. He needs the peoples' committment to be the same level as his. That means, he needs people to put their lives on the line, just like he does. There are still more than enough Zimbabweans fit and able to create a tidal wave that will obliterate Mugabe and his henchmen. Save yourselves or drown - the rest of the world has proven it doesn't really care. If it did, Mugabe would be serving his 15th year in prison for genocide.

What a waste of freedom.

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