ZANU PF U.K is the progressive chapter of ZANU PF headquartered in Zimbabwe. We are creating a forum for democratic participation by those in the UK, is visible, responsive and accessible, informed and proactive; an arena for democratic dialogue in which all Zimbabweans work towards a common agenda. This blog is for all Zimbabweans who want their voices to be heard.
Inundated with preconception, the task of defending Robert
Mugabe is no easy one. Faced by a genuine disbelief and deep bemusement meshed
with a swelling eagerness to find out just how I can shield a man who has
become a legend in my eyes, but a monster and gorgon in those whose worlds he
has toppled. I will explain how this larger-than life personality comes down to
an incredibly astute statesman.
An honest and comprehensive response goes some significant
way in constructing some small face to this multifaceted, most round, very rich
character that has been at the helm of Zimbabwe since 1980, at the helm of
Zimbabwean politics since 1960. But also a figure commanding curiosity, a
figure whose real pith remains elusive to many writers of whatever motive.
Mugabe gazing has become the single largest preoccupation in
opposition politics and diplomacy. So too is Mugabe-bashing, all of it founded
on ill-clad malice so brazen, so obvious to pass for bona fide mischaracterization
by those searching for a difficult truth.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was in prison when he was elected to
head the Zimbabwe African National Union; ZANU. He lost 11 precious years of
his life in the jail of a colonialist whose freedom and well-being he assured
from the first day of Zimbabwe’s Independence.
The people of Zimbabwe were angry and at the very end of
their patience with a leadership class ready to compromise and out-sell the
struggle to any bidder and cut a deal. But with him free now, the war was
prosecuted with renewed vigour and greater effectiveness. He went on to steer
the independence negotiations, dominating the Lancaster House talks that saw
Rhodesia become Zimbabwe.
If hyperinflation was yesterday ravaging Zimbabwe and it is
finally economically prostrate, importing rather than exporting maize, this is
no more indicative of Mugabe’s poor economic management than it is of the
resolve of the international financial system to cut down an irritating,
independent-minded non-conformist; and teach him and all potential imitators a
Imperialism always deals creative challengers a crushing
shut-out of its system with devastating effectiveness. And when, as in the case
of Zimbabwe, this is compounded by a long and devastating drought and several
years of unremitting Western sanctions, sanctions that are unilateral and not
consistent with international norms and values, the world ought to know who to
The current Zimbabwean backdrop has its origin in the
unequal ownership of land. At the time of independence in 1980, the Europeans,
1 percent of the population, owned 87 percent of the land, and the Africans, 99
percent of the population, lived on 13 percent of the land. If this divergence
would not change after Lancaster House, the entire liberation struggle would
have been moot, and now that a new nation had been born, the rules must
change-and they did. Mugabe sought to correct the socio-economic injustices
that had relegated Africans to second class citizens.
In an effort to reassure the Europeans and the world 20
parliamentary seats were reserved for whites and a ten-year moratorium on
constitutional amendment and land redistribution was imposed. A fast track land
reform, “willing buyers, willing sellers” programme intended to correct
inequitable land distribution and which Britain agreed to fund, was put in
place. And then Britain reneged. Mugabe struggled to make Britain fulfil its
obligation, but it adamantly refused. In 2000 the Parliament of Zimbabwe pushed
through the amendment that allowed the occupation of European farms without
compensation. And few days later and with this legal backing in place,
independence war veterans, led the people in a symbolic invasion of European
farms. Still, Britain wouldn’t budge.
The West condemned what they called violent land seizures,
missing the irony involved; Mugabe had not been left with a viable alternative.
Even though this excess could be legally justified, it could never be morally
defended. Mugabe should not be blamed as the cause of the problem, but as an
unfortunate leader who found himself in a situation to settle the problem he
did not create.
While other political parties have tried to rubbish the land
issue as an election agenda, the fact is lots of people have benefited from a
deliberate decision by the party to improve the wellbeing of Zimbabweans who
for long have been marginalised by successive repressive laws of the colonial
system. Yes, the programme might have some pitfalls, but in terms of broad
based empowerment agenda, the policy cuts across all social and economic facets
of the country. It has indeed addressed one of the main reasons for waging the
bitter liberation struggle and ensures that Zimbabweans have a hold on the
means of production.
Mugabe has been in power for three decades. But if he has
aged, it is not on account of worry about the support of the Zimbabwean people
which he still enjoys; nor on account of anxiety for failure to deliver on the
promises of ZANU-PF, which he already has.
Those who accuse Mugabe of overstaying forget that the
question of term limit has neither meaning nor application in parliamentary
democracy. The first British prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole was on the seat
for 21 years, and his successor, Lord North was there for 12 years, while his
own successor, William Pitt, the Younger, was there for 19 years. Lee Kuan Yew,
who is today being hailed by the West, perhaps deservedly, as one of the
world’s greatest statesmen, ruled Singapore as prime minister consecutively for
31 years. So, why can’t Mugabe?
To criticise Mugabe is to neglect the tripod of principles
that his policy rested upon, education, rural infrastructure and the economy.
And he has delivered. On coming to power, Mugabe wasted no time declaring
Education for All by 2000, building schools, universities and launching adult
education schemes such that within less than a generation he had produced
Africa’s most literate society.
Trained by Jesuits, tutored by Marxists, moulded by the fire
of liberation struggle and permanently defined by the tenor of Zimbabwe’s
anti-settler-colonialist revolution, the reality is that Mugabe is the forward
looking visionary captain of a country that will rise again.
President Mugabe belongs to a generation of leaders who were
favoured by the gods of the land to defend the heritage of Africa. The message
that the President is putting across is that “the people must own the means of
production in their own land”, hence the land acquisition and the
indigenisation programmes. He is instilling in his people a culture that
promotes total independence and self-reliance.
This brave bush warrior
epitomizes in every sense of the word, the full flowering of that authentic,
unconquered and unconquerable spirit of African manliness, an icon who is, to
imperial arrogance, utterly defiant.