By Delight Magora
WHAT is the difference between Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Ian Douglas Smith? To me both decided to pronounce a unilateral declaration of independence. One did it officia
lly and the other unofficially. Smith declared independence from his mother country, Britain, and Mugabe declared independence from the best interests of his motherland, Zimbabwe.
Reasons? Well the reasons are similar as well. Smith did it to protect the interests of a few of his compatriots in government at the time and the white community in general. And Mugabe did it to benefit a few of his chums in government and the Zanu PF community in general. My apologies to Zanu PF supporters.
What is the difference between the white community and the Zanu PF community? Smith’s government claimed to be bringing civilisation to a darkened country. Mugabe’s regime on the other hand claims to be protecting sovereignty but both have had just about the same effect on the Zimbabwean populace. Under both regimes the average man has been oppressed mercilessly. Smith made it law that no black man can enter a private school or a country club and used the police force to enforce the rule. Today the black man is still denied entry into private schools and country clubs and Mugabe achieves this not through police force but through monetary policy. A passport to plush living used to be skin pigmentation but now it is political affiliation.
By placing Zanu PF and Mugabe in the shoes of the colonial government and Ian Smith respectively we have travelled two and a half decades back in time. The next question to the curious becomes where is the MDC in this picture? Well curiosity did kill the cat, didn’t it? The answer to that is the MDC becomes Zanu PF two and a half decades ago. My apologies to MDC supporters.
I am sure in many a mind there rings simultaneously Smith’s not in a thousand years and Mugabe’s never, never, never. These two gentlemen have indisputably similar capabilities in being headstrong. That is why the international community decided to place both their regimes under sanctions. The interesting thing is that while Smith was under sanctions he had a currency stronger than the American dollar while Mugabe’s currency under sanctions is weaker than the Zambian kwacha.
The difference emanates from the fact that Smith had friends in all the right places where it concerned the economic wellbeing of his regime. On the other hand Mugabe has friends in all the wrong places. Add of course the fact that Smithy had the protection of his mother country even though he was acting like a spoilt child and Britain had to appear to be publicly slapping him on the wrist.
Mugabe has no such benefactor and should realise this. Muammar Gaddafi and Fidel Castro are really not the sort of international connections that help one out in times of economic turmoil. They are good for role models but a Zimbabwean cannot emulate them. These guys have oil and we have tobacco. And remember smoking kills.
One gentleman lamented to me recently that the suffering he is undergoing could only be matched by what he went through in the 1978-80 era. At the height of the second Chimurenga people in Rhodesia went through extraordinary suffering just like the people are suffering at the height of the third Chimurenga. What makes suffering under the third Chimurenga especially acute is that the enemy is no longer as apparent as in the second Chimurenga. Who really do we blame? Is it still Britain and America? Bush and his “wagging” tail Blair? Or is the problem closer to home?
The second Chimurenga was won solely because of strategic support from foreign “friends” like China, Zambia etc, but not forgetting Britain. I am sure most of you will remember the favourate ZBC clip with Josiah Tongogara saying the war was being supported by countries like Britain and pointing to his shoes as testimony to the fact. Tongogara actually goes as far as saying the war could not be won without the support of countries like Britain. Britain – friend or foe? One wonders.
We in the third Chimurenga are still under the same paradoxical problem. Britain is the traditional enemy and the farmers who do not want to relinquish land for equitable distribution to political-party card- holding citizens are supposed to be the evidence. And these people enjoy a benefactor in their mother country. So Britain would remain the direct problem. And it is the same Britain joined by the bullying cowboy of America that is maliciously seeking various sanctions to be imposed on Zimbabwe including suspension from the Commonwealth.
What is worse is that Britain seems to be doing all of this at the instigation of the MDC or rather instigating the MDC to do certain acts to achieve this goal of ruining Zimbabwe with the “if we can’t have it we will kill it attitude”. So if the MDC is going to Britain does it mean it is entertaining Zanu PF tendencies of the 1970s? I believe the only way that the second war could have been won would have been enlisting help from foreign sources and that is the same way that the third war can be won.
When Morgan Tsvangirai is on video talking about the capabilities “and not solicitations from him” of South Africa to cut off Zimbabwe’s fuel and electricity, he knows the undeniable fact that suffering will drive people into action. But is this pardonable in order to achieve Plato’s “greater good” or is it more like Machiavellian politics that has no place in modern society?
Bombing petrol stations and blowing up bridges is not very different to asking for fuel and electricity links to be cut off. It all boils down to making the average guy get so angry that he is ready to face bullets as he marches his way to State House. It is a capitalisation on human suffering which is ordinary politics in the new world order.
I believe that we have suffered too much to allow further accommodation to war in our society. We have already suffered too much from political deaths for us to even contemplate advancing ourselves through the route of bloodshed. Killing of citizens under any guise is inexcusable yet one way or another the Zimbabwean man is going to be driven to action. Inflation will jab him enough in the groin until he can no longer sit still and suffer silently.
What will you do when it is time to be in the street because you cannot afford to maintain your home?
* Delight Magora is a Harare-based writer.