The current situation in Zimbabwe is deplorable.
Zanu-PF, the ruling party, with all but 3 seats in parliament, including about 30 guaranteed to them, has seen the spectre of MDC, the Movement for Democratic Change, an opposition party rise up in less than a year to become a credible contender for elections scheduled for next month.
Zanu-PF, and its leader and president Robert Mugabe especially, have been unable to respond in any credible fashion, choosing instead to use intimidation, violence and assassination to fight back.
Zimbabwe gained independence 20 years ago today, after a guerilla forces led by Mugabe ousted the pariah white government of Ian Smith.
The issue then, as it is today, is land. Much of the prime farmland then, and today, is owned by prosperous large farmers, who grow tobacco and coffee.
Mugabe, with assistance from the former colonial power, Britain, started the transfer of some farms to black ownership many years ago.
However, Britain pulled out of the deal complaining that the land that was being repossessed was being given as favours to cronies of Mugabe instead of be equitably redistributed.
Britain has recently offered to resurrect this process, under condition that the process is conducted in a transparent manner.
A national referendum was held in February of this year, with a number of issues, central among which was confiscation of more land without compensation to the owners. However, other baggage in the referendum consolidated Mugabe’s already wide-ranging powers in Zimbabwe’s affairs.
A broad coalition of opposition, church, and business combined to deliver Mugabe a stinging rebuke, denying him his referendum vote he thought was a foregone conclusion.
Since then, the country has slid into anarchy, all with the complicity of the head of state. The “War Veterans”, the ones who were promised land so many years ago, were resurrected as a vigilante group. However, their veteran status is much in dispute, as many of the members of these groups are too young to be in the war.
With the explicit approval of Mugabe, and the explicit, reaffirmed, disapproval of the courts, Zanu-PF vigilante mobs have occupied farms, often with violence and threats of violence.
These groups now occupy several hundred farms, their leader claims to have no control over them, the police say they risk civil war trying to remove them, Mugabe says they are registering a legitimate protest and have valid grievances.
Many of these farms have changed hands since independence. Many farms that have previously been repossessed stand idle, neither earning hard foreign currency for the country nor providing employment for rural Zimbabwe farm workers.
Mugabe must go, it is as simple as that.
He fears, and top army officials fear, investigations into corruption and ethnic cleansing of minority tribes that have occurred during his presidency.
He is using whites as a convenient scapegoat, hoping to offer prime farmland as a bribe to his supporters in the coming election. Hoever, this promise rings very hollow for most Zimbabweans, as this is trotted out, and reneged upon, at all crucial junctures of his grip on power.
He will take the country, a prosperous, successful country, South Africa’s largest trading partner in Africa, down with him rather than relinquish power.
Fortunately, the world’s media sees it the same way.
The weary West, facing a famine in the Horn of Africa entirely of man’s making, and numerous other wars in Africa fuelled by diamonds, oil, and naked greed, now has to step in to a country that by all measures is able to take care of itself, except for the presence of a head of state who condones defiance of the law of the land.
is a URL that will give you breaking news of the current situation, on the 20th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s independence.