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Armchair revolutionaries aplenty


We mustn’t lie or exaggerate about President Robert Mugabe even though there is a lot to criticise of him.


We mustn’t see shadows everywhere even though there are many.

Mugabe was a good wartime leader, but his peacetime record has been mixed, to say the least.

Hospitals are falling apart, roads are non-existent, municipal services are appalling as are the levels of corruption and mismanagement of taxpayers’ money and no promised houses or jobs.

The buck stops with the President.

Neither should people entrusted with the written word make complete fabrications about the late former South African President Nelson Mandela, the liberation icon who had an uneasy relationship with Mugabe despite the denials from some quarters that this was not so.

The two had vastly different personalities which could collide and turn their uneasy friendship into – at the worst — bitter enmity.

The treatment of news of Mandela’s death, memorial service, burial and legacy in some sections of the media served to prove this discomfort with and disdain of Mandela.

Some of this arose from jealousy and resentment that Mandela’s funeral brought the greatest number of world leaders outside the annual United Nations General Assembly and before that, he immediately overshadowed all the African leaders after his release from 27 years’ jail in 1990 and continued to do so even in retirement.

Some people began to have a Mandela complex.

One columnist tore into Mandela as “white capital’s mascot and its guardian angel”.

The writer omitted to mention that Mandela was close to both Fidel Castro and Muammar Gaddafi, arch-enemies of the West.

Another one missed the irony when he wrote: “Blacks in South Africa have nothing to show for all the hyped claim that South Africa got independent in 1994” that this also — or even more — applies in Zimbabwe.

How many Zimbabweans are living and working in South Africa?

The biggest number of Zimbabwean professionals outside the country is in South Africa; they could even be more than those remaining here.

Here, only last week the government’s Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency gave the unemployment rate as 11%, but the story on the streets and in households is vastly different.

If only 11% of the working population is unemployed, why is there no tax revenue to talk about flowing into Treasury? Why are all the economic indicators skewed if Zimbabwe is such a paradise in comparison to South Africa? These political platitudes serve no purpose other than propaganda.

Greece is in a debt crisis caused, among other things, by a corrupt system. Spain and Portugal, for example, are in economic turmoil despite being members of the European Union economic powerhouse while Germany is thriving.

In Iceland, the Prime Minister was charged with economic mismanagement.

There is crime, unemployment and lack of opportunities in Europe, making corruption and mismanagement not “peculiarly African phenomena”, as one local columnist accuses the West of doing. Why politicise the reality of corruption and mismanagement? Government officials the world over get jailed for corruption. Economic missteps are made everywhere.

It’s basically about economic housekeeping, not some mythical monster called “white capital”. You don’t let your cronies have a field day with the Chiadzwa diamonds, now the alluvial diamonds are on the verge of running out with nothing to show for them.

The government has to take the economic right turn before it talks of “the real robbers” in the West “who won’t share natural resources such as land, mines, banks and industry”.

Look at the rot in indigenous banks — are those in charge not the “real robbers”?

And those who have been aiding the crooked Sheikh Ali Baba in stripping the country of national resources since independence, as revealed by Mugabe at the Zanu PF conference last week? Why has this gone on for 33 years? Who has been sheltering him and/or conniving with him?

Doesn’t this illustrate corruption on a grand and embedded scale? By the way, the Sheikh is from the Middle East, not of much-hated white extraction.

And for those pouring scorn on Mandela as having his spirit broken by his jailers, there are other examples besides him of real revolutionary fighters who have become voices of peace willing to offer the hand of friendship to those they have fought against for most of their lives.

Persuading enemies that there are alternative ways to resolve long-standing differences takes patience and a willingness to engage in dialogue, but most important, it requires leadership – and Mandela had lots of that.

Mandela’s fellow Robben Island prison inmate Ahmed Kathrada describes critics of this approach as “peacetime heroes who were not there when others were in the trenches” and that what Mandela achieved “was not a victory, but a negotiated settlement of give-and-take”.

This is the simple, but strong point missed by armchair revolutionaries — whether in newsrooms or anywhere — who lack a historical perspective and would run as fast as they can at the slightest sound of a gun.

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