Who is interested in Zimbabwe?
The recent UK media coverage of outbreaks of cholera,
and political unrest in Zimbabwe has been breathless and relentless.
But Zimbabwe's failing health should not come as a surprise. 6 years of
UK & US economic sanctions weren't supposed to make it easy for the
sanctioned population. They were designed to make life intolerable. Sanctions
don't care about human rights, like access to food or clean water. Under
sanctions 19% of Iraqi kids became malnourished. We rode to the rescue.
Within four years of our occupation, 28% of kids had become malnourished.
So is it a failure of our imagination that we don't equate sanctions with
the slow strangulation of an economy? Let's harbour no illusions. Sanctions
are a license to kill.
Aha you say. Robert Mugabe deserves it. He is uniquely abhorrent. He is
a liar and a murdering thief. Wasn't it he who rigged elections and authorised
human rights abuses? Didn't his administration stop people from voting
by wiping them off the electoral role? Didn't his media cronies miscall
an election? Didn't his administration fly people abroad to be tortured?
Didn't his administration get a 1200 page Act voted through unread by
frightened members of congress? Didn't his army invade and terrorise a
nation forcing millions to flee in terror? Didn't his administration hynotise
70% of the population into thinking Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. Hang
on - have I got my Presidents mixed up here?
No, Mugabe is uniquely abhorrent. Of that we can be certain. We know this
because President Bush told us Zimbabwe is one of the six "outposts
But have we forgotten what it was he did that provoked our sanctions?
Was it human rights abuses?
Let's rewind and find out...
Should we rewind to 1893 when British troops invaded, grabbed 10,000 square
miles of fertile land and confiscated the cattle from the native inhabitants
of this part of the world?
Should we rewind to 1905 by which time forced labour was assured and half
the local population had been herded onto reservations?
Should we rewind to 1930 when the white settlers passed the Land Apportionment
Act forbidding blacks from owning land outside these arid reservations?
Should we hark back to Ian Smith who imposed apartheid and racial discrimination
No. None of these human rights abuses provoked sanctions.
The thing that provoked sanctions was a far more ghastly sight - that
of Mugabe fast tracking land redistribution to dispossessed blacks. 134,000
black farmers (including opposition MDC members) received allocations
of good quality land between 2000-2.
4500 white farm owners still controlled 70% of the productive land, but
this accelerated land redistribution was the trigger. Absentee landlords,
some of whom were sitting on the benches of the houses of parliament,
demanded action. The response was predictable - sanctions resulting in
the near collapse of Zimbabwe.
So, before we point our accusatory finger rigid, consider this...
It took a black liberation movement with Mugabe at the front to stand
down Ian Smith and his white supremists and bring about independence in
It took Mugabe to start addressing the gross inequality between blacks
and whites in Zimbabwe.
It took Mugabe starting to honor a manifesto pledge in earnest to expose
the persistent interests of Empire in Africa.
These interests aren't to do with the welfare of black people. They are
to do with control of Africa's breadbasket.
Our interest is the past, present and future exploitation of that breadbasket.
Ends | 5 Dec 2008 | The Leg
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Africa: British claimed 'ex-'colonial territories marked in red