When Zimbabwe came into existence it's prospects were good, it had a strong agricultural industry, a stable bureaucracy with a good Army. It also had both internal and external peace and the goodwill of Britain, the Commonwealth, Europe, the United States, the Communist Bloc and Black Africa. Sanctions had been dropped and Zimbabwe was in a good position to make things better. Sadly of course we all know that didn't happen and today it seems to lurch from one disaster to another. Why?
In 1979 Ian Smith stepped down as Prime Minister of Rhodesia and Bishop Murorewa became Prime Minister of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia from June to December. Even though black Africans could vote and there was now a black Prime Minister international recognition was withheld and the war continued. Later in the year a new agreement the Lancaster House agreement was signed. In the new elections in February 1980, Robert Mugabe won and he became the new Prime Minister of Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe was born poor but he was a smart kid and was educated in a Catholic Boarding school. He went on to become a teacher and then became interested in politics. But being a black Rhodesian it was illegal for him to be involved in politics and he was imprisoned. After he was released he went into exile and in 1975 became the leader of ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union). ZANU was both a political party and an Army and it was the main guerrilla force that infiltrated into Rhodesia.
After becoming Prime Minister, Mugabe, who is the most important person in the history of Zimbabwe, tried a policy of reconciliation between whites and blacks and between ZANU and other black political parties. He kept many white leaders in Government, he even had regular meetings with Ian Smith!
But his policy failed and it failed for a very basic reason, to him reconciliation meant they took his side. So when blacks complained about his Government he said they were traitors and when they rebelled he was quite ruthless in crushing them. As many as 20,000 people died in three years, roughly the same number as died during the Bush war which lasted 15 years. By 1984 he was also fed up with the whites, they were supposed to be loyal to him and then ZANU, but instead they had their own interests and they kept pushing them. Mugabe decided that he had been too generous and started to change his attitude.
In 1987 he ended the Constitutional arrangements that had been agreed to at Lancaster House. He became President and the 20% of seats in Parliament that had been reserved for whites were abolished. Effectively from this time Zimbabwe ceased to be a Democracy and instead became a one party state with Mugabe as Dictator. Now many will say Mugabe was a Communist, of course he did that, he was always going to do that. But Communism was only one of the influences, the others being Traditional African leadership and the Catholic Church. Now all of those have many differences, but they share the idea that hierarchy is important and that the leader is to lead and that group decisions (Democracy) are a sign that the Leader isn't leading. ZANU as an organisation believes much more in the Leader, in the strong man, than in Communism.
Mugabe has since 1987 used divide and rule to insure that he can remain in power. He takes from one group that he considers disloyal to him and gives to another group that he believes are loyal to him. The destruction of the Zimbabwe economy is part and parcel of that. It isn't important to him if a part of the economy runs or doesn't run, what matter is that that piece of the economy is loyal to him. For average Zimbabweans his rule has been disastrous, but he always makes sure he has a smaller group who are loyal to him because they know he gave them everything they have and if he loses power so might they.
The destruction of the whites of Zimbabwe, wasn't so much about race as about their lack of devotion to Mugabe. It was completely against the traditions that they knew and it was only a matter of time until it came crashing down. It has not only destroyed whites futures within Zimbabwe, but it has also destroyed many black Zimbabweans futures as well. The lack of technical ability, the destruction of education and learning, the lose of financial capital and contacts and the death of Zimbabwes highly profitable agricultural sector are all the result of forcing whites to flee and they have done nothing to aid black Zimbabweans.
His Government's contempt for the economic future of his country is staggering, but he gets away with it because Liberal Governments and African Governments are reluctant to criticize him, both because of his history of fighting against "Colonialism" and because it would be embarrassing for them to admit how wrong they have been. So instead they send aid to Zimbabwe, food aid, medical aid and money. All of which prop up a very corrupt and dysfunctional Government. Until Mugabe dies I do not see any possibility of things getting any better
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