After all the intense international media focus on Zimbabwe last week, once again we must ask: why? Why the frantic effort to isolate President Robert Mugabe, all out of proportion to any wrongs he and his government might have done --- in essence, using artillery fire to blast a mosquito? What is going on?
As I asked in April, why is it that the ZANY-PF government, with the same tyrant called Mugabe as president, the same corruption, and same mismanagement kept inflation down to single digit figures, but after 2000, the same leader, government, and fiscal policies suddenly become so hopelessly incompetent that inflation is at the latest reported to be over 500,000 percent?
Zimbabwe --- as viewed through western media --- is the story of a country that was once Africa’s breadbasket and one of the most prosperous nations but which under the tyrannical rule of Robert Mugabe has now sunk into a basket case and human rights abuses, economic collapse, and corruption have eclipsed all previous world records.
How is it that we so easily believe distortion and lies? The Movement for Democratic Change, the main opposition party in Zimbabwe, announced in March that according to its own count, it won 50.3 percent of the vote in that first round.
If the MDC is right, we have to ask: for all the corruption, abuse of power by Mugabe and his henchmen, the total collapse of the economy, world record inflation, violence by police, and disgust by the population --- perfect conditions in which any opposition party should surely flourish --- is that all the MDC could manage, a mere 50.3 percent? Why didn’t the very popular MDC win the election in the range of 75 percent if Mugabe’s rule has totally ruined the Zimbabwe?
Meanwhile, as we are fed daily reports of the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy, few of us hear of the performance of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange: “The stock market doubled to fresh records yesterday in the aftermath of Friday’s Presidential election run-off, stretching gains started several months ago.” (The Herald, July 1, 2008)
Since the Herald is government-owned and so might seek to paint a rosy picture, let us turn to a U.S financial website, Daily Reckoning, in 2007 to corroborate this strange performance by the stock market in Harare:
“Zimbabwe is in the middle of an economic disintegration…Yet the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (the ZSE) is the best performing stock exchange in the world, with the key Zimbabwe Industrials Index up some 595% since the beginning of the year and 12,000% over twelve months. This jump in share prices is far in excess of increases in consumer prices.” (Daily Reckoning, April 12, 2007)
As for that widespread belief that Mugabe’s government is a cabal of thieves that freely loots the national treasury, here is a press release from the African Development bank on May 12, 2008: “[The] Zimbabwean government last month paid part of its arrears to the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group. On April 14, 2008, the country paid US$ 500,000 to the African Development Bank and US$150,000 to the African Development Fund. Zimbabwe has, in all, paid US$ 650,000 to the Bank Group despite numerous economic challenges currently facing the country, both globally and locally.”
Would a government that re-pays its international loans, despite the current economic crisis, be the same to so irresponsibly let inflation soar to unheard of levels?
Most observers and the general public believe Zimbabwe’s economic crisis was brought about by Mugabe’s decision to seize white-owned commercial farms in 2000. That might well be true. But how about another, much more sinister element in this food shortage: sabotage?
Has anybody thought about this possibility that Britain and the United States, the two countries most vocal against Mugabe, might be engaged in secret sabotage of the Zimbabwean economy?
A former undercover operative John Perkins recalled events that are strikingly familiar to what we see in Zimbabwe today: “[In] 1951…Iran rebelled against a British oil company that was exploiting Iranian natural resources and its people…An outraged England sought the help of her…ally, the United States…Washington dispatched CIA agent Kermit Roosevelt…to organize a series of …violent demonstrations, which created the impression that [Iranian Prime Minister] Mossadegh was both unpopular and inept. (Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man, Ebury Press, 2005, page 18)
Clearly, Mugabe’s capital crime was to displace White privilege in Zimbabwe and personally stand up to the White establishment in London and Washington.
By Timothy Kalyegira
Mr. Kalyegira is a columnist with the Daily Monitor paper of Uganda.
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