MUHAMMAD: Lesson From Zimbabwe — ‘Blame Your Own Leaders’

A nifty bit of statecraft has been pulled off by Western powers in southern Africa. Robert Mugabe, the 93-year-old president of Zimbabwe, has been forced into “retirement” to avoid impeachment.

Mugabe had ruled, often contrary to American and European conventions, for the past 37 years since Zimbabwe’s independence. The end came when he was placed under house arrest in an apparent military coup.

In Parliament, cheers erupted after the speaker of the national assembly read from a resignation letter written by Mugabe. Many of those cheering had not even been born when the nation won its independence.

The country’s military installed Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former vice president and longtime political ally, as interim president.

Diminished in his physical capacities recently, the former president overplayed his hand politically, trying to install his 50-something-year-old wife Grace Mugabe into a position to succeed him. He suffered from greed, lust for power, or maybe he was just beguiled by his mistress, hardly realizing that all of the country’s problems were being piled at his feet, the feet of the only leader they had known since independence.

Mugabe had always fought the good fight. In the bush, he led a bloody, eventually successful, revolution against white minority settlers who declared Rhodesia to be independent of British colonial rule, as a way to preserve white minority domination.

And then the betrayals began.

The Americans and the Brits have strategized a winning game plan. They make countries struggling to rise from colonialism and poverty blame their own leaders for any lack of economic progress in their countries. They’ve practiced sanctions and embargoes against Cuba since 1960. They don’t want other neighboring countries see success in those role-model places which would not knuckle under to Western pressure.

The supporters of white minority interests in Africa (parenthetically today like “Big Game Hunter” Donald Trump Jr.), in the U.K. and the U.S. made promises to Mugabe to end the black rebellion against the 14-year white separatist government of Rhodesian Ian Smith. British Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, chaired the meetings at London’s Lancaster House and on Dec. 21, 1979, the parties agreed to set Zimbabwe free.

The Brits and the Yanks promised The Moon. They said they would pay the cost of purchasing back the African land which the settlers stole. But Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, and conservative Margaret Thatcher took over in London, and they shredded the Lancaster House Agreement, and gave not one dime to do what they promised they would do to correct the effect of white colonialism.

White people, quite simply, have always wanted Zimbabwe’s pro-black, anti-colonial militancy to fail, just like they want Cuba’s anti-colonial militancy to fail in the Caribbean and Latin America. Zimbabwe is the “Cuba of Africa.”

Immediately after independence, Zimbabwe went along, avoiding the inevitable reckoning between the landless, impoverished blacks who had been promised (in Zimbabwean terms) the equivalent of “40 acres and a mule” after fighting and dying for independence.

The country stumbled then went forward with halting steps, making economic progress. The people are among the most literate in Africa, with a healthier lifestyle and longer life expectancy than their neighbors — just like Cuba in the West — but sadly most of the people, born now since independence, don’t know what the oppression was like, in either country.

“Blame your own leaders,” the U.S. message succeeds everywhere but in the Jim Crow Southern United States.

In 1997 I attended the Leon Sullivan African-African American Summit in Harare, Zimbabwe. Former Federal Reserve Board member Andrew Brimmer was also an attendee. He told me that Zimbabwe had the strongest economy in Central-Southern Africa, and was a promising model for other African countries. That was before Mugabe decided to make good on the government’s long-postponed promise to give farmland formerly owned by minority White settlers, back to Black peasants who fought for independence.

Since that decision, Zimbabwe has been in the U.S. doghouse. Soon, with sanctions (and every other type of lever of manipulation used by U.S. authorities who hate Mugabe for enacting the land policy), drought and some other bad turns of events, Zimbabwe faced famine and was on the brink of economic collapse.

American officials wring their hands and tell the African, Arab, Asian and Latin American people: “Blame your own leaders” for your suffering.

And so it is, silly Robert Mugabe tarnished his own revolutionary image by trying to rig the constitutional system to benefit his young wife and made himself an even easier target for the forces which would keep him, and keep all other Zimbabweans, all Africans, all African-Americans, all non-white world citizens, in a state of perpetual subjugation to white supremacy and wealth.

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About Askia Muhammad 80 Articles

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.