Friday, 30 March 2007

The SADC (or Why Africa's a Toilet)

Despite Robert Mugabe's declining grasp of reality. Despite the beggary of the people of what was, until recently the bead-basket of southern Africa. Despite the use of bulldozers to clear "Slums" (actually areas where support for the MDC ran highest). Despite the homelessness of up to 700,000 people, Despite the vicious beating of an opposition leader. Despite the banning of dissenting voices, the harassment of journalists, the blatant intimidation of voters and subversion of the democratic process, What do African leaders do?

They suggest politely, that Mugabe might, if he's so minded, and if it's not too much bother, talk to the Movement for Democratic Change (through the South Africans if necessary). That's it! No condemning the brutal suppression of Zimbabwe's people. No mention of a totally out of control executive, the total suspension of the Rule of Law, the endemic corruption and violence of the security services, as Zanu Leaders jostle for position.*

The view of African leaders is simply that Mugabe is one of their own. An independence leader who has earned the right to rule. Until African leaders accept that, even amongst black leaders, there are acceptable norms, then Africa will remain benighted, poor and oppressed. This is why he presents his remaining in power as a snub to the "Colonial Power". He's stroking the egos of the independence and post-independence leaders who surround his country into thinking that they are part of the big struggle against whitey. But it is the black citizens of Africa who suffer the most from the depradations of their rulers.

Yesterday's statement from the Southern African Development Community was worse than a non-event. It was a green light to any and all of them to use whatever means necessary to stay in power, which will be condoned, if not actually supported by every other southern African leader.

This is why, no matter how much "aid" (taking from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries) we in the west piss into this welfare junkie of a continent, there will be no improvement in the living standards of ordinary Africans until African leadership improves. There is much good in Mugabe. He loves Cricket and he's a natty, tasteful dresser (actually I think I've exhausted his good points there), but he really must go and go now. To be a good national leader, you must surrender your position in the national good, when the time comes. That is the lesson that Africa must learn - and that will do more to drive African efforts against poverty than a thousand Lenny Henrys.

At the moment, Mugabe is facing a struggle within his party, which could cost him his job. That's the problem - the last thing Zimbabwe needs is continuity and a smooth handover once the dapper octogenarian departs his office, or shuffles off his mortal coil. If another Zanu PF heavy takes control, do you really think things will get better for the average Zimbabwean? (Probably - they can hardly get worse). So whether it's Security chief Emmerson Mnangagwa , Zimbabwe's richest politician or Armed forces chief, Solomon Mujuru (and husband of the Vice President) who takes the reins, diplomatic pressure needs to be brought to bear on not just Zimbabwe, but South Africa too.

Until South Africa demonstrates itself to be a responsible regional power, by condemning the actions of the Zimbabwean leadership and taking action to bring about sensible democratic reform, any hope for the African continent will continue to be in Whitey's hands. The West can bring pressure to bear, perhaps not on the Regime itself, but on its friends - South Africa in particular. Yesterdays SADC Communique was nothing less than an admission that African Governments can't be relied upon to police each other.

*Hat Tip to the Bearded Man, who comments on Zimbabwean Affairs for the video.



15 comments:

creamy said...

You make several offensive and stupid comments in that post.

And the end doesn't justify the means in this case. You can perfectly properly make your point without the parentheses in your title, and without the final sentence of your post.

Jackart said...

The Tragedy of Zimabwe is not that it has a horrid government, but that the reasonable and democratic government of South Africa can have influence (just as the Aparteid regime pulled the plug on Ian Smith) and yet sits by and watches Mugabe rape his country and blame it on the British.

Unless the AU, The SADC and others pull their finger out and do something (hell, even a strongly worded condemnation) then they are, in effect condenming Africa to endless poverty, with the moral get-out of colonialism.

Aid dependency is nothing less than a form of colonialism, because aid always comes with strings.

I stand by what I said.

Jackart said...

(But I'll tone down the last sentence)

Jackart said...

For the Record - lest I be accused of hiding what I wrote

It originally read "Africans cannot be relied upon to govern themselves" which sounded like a call for renewed colonialsm, which is not what I meant. "African Governments cannot be relied upon to police each other" is nearer the mark, as I am calling for more robust diplomatic engagement in African affairs.

If the world focussed on Zim like they focussed on the middle east, there would be less of a tradgedy.

Momentary Academic said...

Oh dear lord. I don't know very much about Africa or African politics, but for chrissakes, JA, you do really know how to pontificate on, don't you? 19th century colonial life would have been good for you.

You and your people are partly responsible for this mess.

Own up to it.

Anonymous said...

Momentary Academic,

Nothing like a nice Ad Hominem attack to make you feel better eh?

'You people', 'Colonial life', all very personal.
Then the admission that you don't really know much about Africa or African politics!

As I read it, Jackart's post was about the human impact of other African States in standing by and allowing the awful situation in Zimbabwe to continue.

A agree with most of what Jackart posted. My brother lived and worked in Africa for 25 years, he has given me examples of the waste and corruption which goes with handing out dollops of money to despots like Mugabe.

For Africans to truly be empowered by independance, self determination and all the other benefits those in the West enjoy, they first of all, collectively, need to deal with the likes of Mugabe.

To even hint of former colonial rulers STILL being responsible for the situation in a counrty independant for such a long time is frankly nonsense.
Another slant on the 'we must apologise for.......' mantra of the liberal do-gooders..

Andy.

Momentary Academic said...

Dear Andy,

Jackart and I have an understanding. He allows for my irrational responses to his vitriolic ways of articulating mostly (and I emphasize the word mostly) rational arguments.

I was bothered by his classist tone and angry response and by calling Africa a toilet, he's not perfect, is he?

Best,

MA

John East said...

About 18 months ago I posted on Samizdata that Zimbabwe was in danger of being dragged back into the Stone Age by Mugabwe. This, admittedly exaggerated observation, seemed harmless enough to me, but it caused uproar, and I was denounced as a racist on another blog. Even the mighty libertarians of Samizdata succumbed to the pressure and the thread was closed, so I guess the leftie loony throwing around the accusations got what he wanted – to close all debate.

It's puzzling how innocuous observations can cause so much grief when made to those who know, presumably from first principles and on ideological grounds alone, that when it comes to Africa:

Black = good
white = bad

Therefore, the logic goes, the relative prosperity under Ian Smith must have been all bad, and (as long as we avert our gaze and hold our nose) Robert Mugabwe's dictatorship can be tolerated.

Keith said...

What a great post! You are a good writer. I especially like your description of international aid, "taking from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries". Wow, that's good.

Wolfie said...

Nothing wrong with the occasional bellicose rant I say.

My colleague at the next desk is African, he regularly fantasises about putting together a mercenary force to take his homeland off the thugs who run it now.

He's a sensitive fellow on the subject of race but even he can't blame Africa's problems on the colonial past, its an argument without basis in logic. Such whinging only gives people ammunition to continue to do absolutely nothing - still every week I offer to buy my colleague a rifle and chide him over hiding his cowardly arse in the UK rather than getting stuck in back home.

If the many educated Africans of the west really gave a damn they'd go home to help like the many Spanish ex-patriots did during the Civil War. So why should we care if they can't?

Savonarola said...

Good post. Only Africans can save Africa. Until the majority of the 'educated class' acknowledge that independence has been a complete disaster bacause of the direct corrupt and barbaric acts of so called black leaders, no progress will be made. Sadly the majority of the educated classes leave Africa. Those that remain are mostly 'snout in the trough' types. But there are hundreds of millions of good people and it is v sad that they have been let down by their own kind.

Robb WJ Ellis (aka Mandebvhu) said...

I agree with Keith that the statement "taking from poor people in rich countries and giving it to rich people in poor countries" is simple yet strong... I take daily abuse on my blog for the statements I make, but they are way outweighed by the abuse that Mugabe and his government hand out to their own people on a daily basis. Thank you for raising the Zimbabwe crisis on your blog.

Take care.

'debvhu

Anonymous said...

this is an idiotic post i say. i don't understand how the author got to the conclusion that the demolished squatter settlements comprised mostly of MDC supporters. I just don't understand how most of the Zanu pf supporters are rich and leaving in good neighborhoods whilst most MDC supporters are slum dwellers. The demolished slums in my opinion mostly consisted of the people who invaded these lands under the auspice of the war veterans by extension Zanu (PF) during the elections. almost all of them had ZANU (PF) flags on their invaded lands and they were used to beat up innocent la abiding citizens during the elections. If you ask me they got what they deserved. The Zimbabwean government has always been demolishing squatter settlement since the 80s before MDC and thankfully they will continue to do so. God forbid a slum like Kibera in Zimbabwe. Not only in zimbabwe but in many other african countries slums are routinely demolished. All in all your post is embarrassing and exposes your ignorance on many issues.

Jackart said...

And you, anonymous are clearly a ZANU PF supporter which is indefensible.

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