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Zimbabwe

Written By: - Date published: 11:37 am, November 20th, 2017 - 24 comments
Categories: colonialism, International, Media, Politics - Tags: , , ,

Five days ago, military spokesperson Maj Gen SB Moyo said the following in a speech broadcast on Zimbabwean state TV

Firstly we wish to assure our nation, His Excellency, the president of the republic of Zimbabwe and commander in chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, comrade R G Mugabe and his family, are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed. We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice

The full statement can be read here.

Today western media outlets are reporting that Mugabe has given a speech in which he failed to resign. I’m not quite sure who it is that has been holding that expectation – or why they would necessarily have that expectation in light of the address given by the military spokesperson last Wednesday. And I’m a little bit foggy on what legitimacy his reported removal as leader of the Zanu-PF has – ie, who made the call, what authority do they have to make the call, and then, even if his removal is legitimate, what effect that has on him retaining the position of President?

At the end of Gen SB Moyo’s address last Wednesday, he said

And to the media, we urge you to report fairly and responsibly.

Now see, I’m not so sure that’s happening. The impression I’m getting is that European and South African media are reporting off the back of decades worth of bias towards Zimbabwe and the rule of Mugabe. In other words, I’m suggesting the current picture (like the political history of the country) is far more nuanced and complex than what “our” media reports. And sure, maybe most of us are happy enough to understand what we’re led to understand.

But if a broader picture of Zimbabwe than that offered by “our” media is your aim, then I’d suggest this piece that I stumbled across maybe a year ago “Harare: Is it Really the Worst Place on Earth?” by Andre Vitchek as a gentle enough place to start. Or, if you want some political commentary from inside Zimbabwe, then maybe this is a place worth visiting.

And any further links to informative  news sources that anyone wants to provide in the the comments section will be appreciated.

24 comments on “Zimbabwe”

  1. Cinny 1

    Thanks for the info and the post Bill. I’ve been following this story via Al Jazeera, will share some links below.

    Analyst: Robert Mugabe’s political support was a ‘facade’

    Here’s another article just released in the last few minutes… via AJ

    “The army insists it is not launching a coup, but on November 15, as well as placing Mugabe under house arrest, the military seized the state broadcaster and blocked access to government sites.

    The takeover unfolded after Mugabe sacked Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 6 for showing “traits of disloyalty”.

    The ex-vice president is an ally of army chief General Constantino Chiwenga and a veteran of the country’s struggle for independence.

    Many believe Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa to make way for his wife Grace to become vice president and eventually rule the country.

    Army commander Chiwenga had warned that the military would act if purges against former war liberation fighters did not cease.”

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/zimbabwe-171118122845387.html

  2. Michael 2

    Right, so we’re all expected to believe that Mugabe remains the legitimate President of Zimbabwe, while all reports to the contrary are wicked, Western propaganda? I don’t know much about Zimbabwe either but it seems clear to me that Mugabe’s time is up.

    • Bill 2.1

      No Michael.

      The post is simply suggesting that we might want to base our understandings on something more a than the simple understanding that we’re led to understand.

      It’s not for everyone.

      • Michael 2.1.1

        So we should all immerse ourselves in a thorough study of every aspect of Zimbabwe’s history, culture and politics before we are fit to express our views of its, apparently popular, efforts to displace the tyrant who oppressed his people, looted the country’s wealth, and ran its economy into the ground? Sorry, but relativism doesn’t extend that far in my world. There is a difference between right and wrong in most situations and Mugabe falls well outside any grey zone.

  3. OnceWasTim 4

    What’s interesting to me ( in terms of human behaviour and all that kaka), is how and why those that were oppressed (and sometimes pampered) by their colonial masters, and who fight for freedom from it, often go on to emulate them – sometimes becoming even bigger arsholes.
    The pomp and ceremony of Zimbawe/Rhodesia’s colonial masters was bad enough. Then you have a freedom-fighter-turn despot dressing up in some of the most ridiculous costumes you’ve ever seen. They learned well apparently – too well – 40 years too well.
    A lot of it, you have to put down to male ego, insecurity of self and machismo. But then along comes a female gold-digger looking for the main chance.
    I’m not female, so I can’t explain his wife’s motivations other than a lust for Gucci and diamonds, and a preparedness to hook-up with such a pathetic old duffer (He’s almost like the Zimbabwe equivalent of Wayne – hooked on an idea or ideology, or even a religion).
    Same shit, different stink Idi Amin, or the Congo(s) – or even the Arab world where the only diff is the clothing styles, and worse still, with an especially pungent stink – those leaders of ‘The Free Whurl’.

    • Bill 4.1

      When European colonies were gaining independence, it’s fairly accepted that the USSR served as a “touch-stone” for some of those seeking independence. It’s portrayed as one of the good things that resulted from the Boshevik’s ascendancy to power.

      But my take is that that meant movements for independence became dominated by more authoritarian factions who had better funding and support etc because of their access to Moscow.

      So was the resultant statism ,that often provided good measures of health-care and schooling (eg – Syria, Libya etc), a better fate than a vacuum being filled by unrestrained capitalism (as happened to Russia after the collapse of the USSR)?

      Well. I’d say that it was.

      But then I look at the promise held by non-authoritarian left movements (1930s Spain or today”s Rojava) and I can’t help but wonder at the lack of evidence for deeply democratic forms of organisation in the post colonial period. Is that down to suppression by those who set themselves up as the principle liberators – the better funded, armed and logistically supported “vanguard” who took it upon themselves to co-ordinate and organise the resistance to the colonisers?

      I suspect that to be the case.

      And that means the post colonial world was perhaps a vast, but lost opportunity.

  4. OnceWasTim 5

    “But my take is that that meant movements for independence became dominated by more authoritarian factions…..”
    Not a bad ‘take’, I’d say. And there’s are corollaries elsewhere in the Whurl – even like that worry that Indira was getting too close to the Soviets way back when.
    Not in a position to comment further atm @Bill – in need of a nanna nap and various other domestics, but I’ll be interested to see the flow on this thread a little later.

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 6

    A Zimbabwean perspective from Senator David Coltart:

    …all the military have done this week is clean up their own mess.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1

        From Wikipedia:

        Coltart played an instrumental role in the first detailed investigation into the genocide committed by the Mugabe regime in Matabeleland between 1982 and 1987… The publication of the report led to Coltart being publicly criticised on national television by Robert Mugabe in February 1999, who stated that:

        “The likes of Clive Wilson and Clive Murphy, complemented by the Aurets and Coltarts of our society, are bent on ruining the national unity and loyalty of our people and their institutions. But we will ensure that they do not ever succeed in their evil machinations…. Let them be warned therefore that unless their insidious acts of sabotage immediately cease, my Government will be compelled to take very stern measures against them and those who have elected to be their puppets.”

        …Coltart was elected to the House of Assembly in the 2000 election as a member of the Movement for Democratic Change, unseating the ZANU-PF incumbent and becoming the MP for Bulawayo South.

        …During the June 2000 election one of Coltart’s polling agents, Patrick Nabanyama, was abducted in front of his family and has not been seen since. Six war veterans were arrested but later pardoned.

        …In March 2003, Coltart, with his two youngest children (then aged 9 and 6 months), drove out of the family home and were followed at speed by three armed men around their neighbourhood until the pursuers were intercepted by Coltart’s security team and Coltart and his children were secured in a safe house.

        An eventful life.

  6. Sparky 7

    I have friends from “ZIm” as they call it. Have not seen them in years as they settled in Sydney. They described the place as “dangerous and a disaster”.From all I have read and seen I think that sums things up pretty well.

  7. CLEANGREEN 8

    I used to live there for a year when in 1970 it was the second best place behind my country NZ was then and there was never any “apartied” as I worked as many did with the Africans to.

    All Africans had homes as I was invited to several, and never saw beggars or un-employment there among both races when Ian Smith run the country under UDI.

    Since then it all went down hill to this.

  8. spikeyboy 9

    For some background on events leading up to the coup.
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/11/21/what-is-behind-the-military-coup-in-zimbabwe/
    It appears that much of the talk of Grace Mugabe wanting to take over was a western media beatup to justify the coup and taking over of the reins by Mnangagwa. It also may be that much of the international interest focuses on changes that Mnangagwa will make to the land reforms that broke up the large land holdings of the colonial era. It is worth noting that Mugabe had popular support in rural areas but not so much the cities.

  9. spikeyboy 10

    A bit of history on colonial Zimbabwe and the constraints put on land reform in independence negotiations. Also the land reforms including as they were accellerated once the constraints were eased and US and UK promises to help purchase land evaporated.
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2005/05/07/zimbabwe-s-fight-for-justice/

    Then the following article again by the same author looking at studies that show the huge local benefits from the land redistribution.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/challenging-western-distortions-about-zimbabwe-s-land-reform/23311
    All this may now be in jeopardy but I guess time will tell

  10. spikeyboy 11

    Some interesting facts about David Coltart from an article in the Guardian some years back

    David Coltart, an MDC MP for Bulawayo South, was a prominent member of the Rhodesian police and he and his bodyguard Simon Spooner – recently charged with the murder of Cain Nkala, leader of the war veterans in Matabeleland – were attached to the Selous Scouts.

    And…

    It was the Selous Scouts who killed refugees, men, women and children, at Nyadzonia, Chimoio, Tembue, Mkushi, Luangwa, and Solwezi, where they still lie buried in mass graves.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/jan/24/zimbabwe.comment

    • SW 11.1

      Spikeyboy – Have you been to ZIM? Visited a “redistributed” farm? Any friends or family live there?

      I suggest to you that, whatever distortions existing in Western media, the picture painted by Gregory Elich is complete and utter fantasy land stuff. There is a reason we are seeing historic scenes of jubilation in ZIM right now – it is not because of the “huge local benefits from land redistribution”.

      The corrupt, inept and brutal regime of Mugabe destroyed an economy and ruthlessly suppressed all and any democratic opposition or dissent to it. I’m sorry, but it is simply untenable to blame all of ZIM’s economic woes on the West.

      • spikeyboy 11.1.1

        I dont think I was blaming the west for everything. The nature of the thread is simply asking if we have an unbiased telling of the story or is it a little more complex. Its always possible to find scenes of jubilation to reinforce whatever narrative you are pushing. Mnangagwa has as much blood on his hands as Mugabe and Coltart who has become the wests go to spokesman who even was interviewed on morning report on RNZ today may have a lot too. I can quite accept that not many white people would have much good to say but it seems a lot of the black folk forced into the arid communal areas under white rule may find their lot much better. The primary aim with land distribution is the alleviation of extreme poverty caused by being forced off their ancestral lands. Capitalist views of economics are secondary. The same can be said for Venezuela where similar support for poverty stricken indigenous communities has raised many communities to a place that is much better even though the middle classes may have had a bit of a set back.

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