As Robert Mugabe’s bloody and stubborn hands, slip inch by inch from power, his, will be a life marked with utter defiance of Western powers and an utter disregard of his detractors. A so-called proud nationalist and patriot, Mugabe was once the darling of the West, but his moves against the white farmers, permanently put paid to that.
There are not too many Zimbabweans who would openly condone the President’s actions, but I have spoken to some who (off the record) will tell you how much they admire the man’s anti-western stance. They recount legendary stories of his time in jail under the government of Ian Smith, of how he was a proud and obstinate inmate, who was insubordinate to the end. They strain under his leadership, but view some of his actions as a continuum in his complete disregard of colonial powers.
Personally, I do not see the difference between Mugabe and many of the dictators we have had in Nigeria. They all oversee economic mismanagement and the subsequent improvishment of their people, whilst they acquire staggering undeserved wealth. The difference I guess is the amount of white lives Mugabe has either destroyed or taken. He has broken the last taboo and forgotten the unwritten rule; one white life equates fifty black ones, at least. I suppose that explains why Nigerian leaders rarely come in for Western criticism; until the ongoing Niger Delta crisis, very few white lives have been threatened or for that matter taken in our 'troubled and politically instable' land.
The issue of double standards never stops rearing its ugly head though. I remember the vitriolic British media’s criticism, directed towards Jacques Chirac, when he was pictured shaking hands with Mugabe, at an international conference in France a few years ago. Where were these people, when Mrs Thatcher did more or less the same, when she invited PW Botha to the UK, in the face of international condemnation?
Botha had been personally responsible for the displacement, torture and deaths of so many blacks in his country, yet the recrimination was painfully silent. Although, we were told that she had invited him, to discuss reform and the potential release of Mandela, I wonder if they had time to discuss Dennis’ business concerns in South Africa.
Yes, African leaders are the poor masses' worst nightmare and we can not wholly place reponsibility for our condition on the West, although it would help if Western banks and governments refuse unaccountable wads of cash, ending up in their unquenchably thirsty coffers. I point this out because it does sound a bit rich (excuse the pun), to partake in a nefarious process and then puff out your chest in vitriolic condemnation when your partners have been exposed.
The truth is this; there are rules to the game of systematically raping and looting an African country's wealth. You need to embrace what is called 'Western Love'. Mugabe should have understood that game. To get ‘Western Love’, he should have romanced the white farmers and continue to eliminate the mainly black opposition. At least that way, he would have preserved his access to foreign accounts from Zurich to London.
And the Western condemnation – I predict, painfully silent.