The western developed world has no idea what is happening with Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe. Their expectation that this African country is actually going to play according to European and American values, political principles and rules is so far off the mark, it’s not on the same page, in fact not even in the same book. One could almost say that the arrogance with which the west actually wishes to dictate how Africa – by which I mean sub-Sahara Africa – thinks, is very damaging. But the western arrogance is not the point of this post.
It has been entertaining to see the way western politicians seemed to think that because Zimbabwe was in total economic ruin, ordinary Zimbabweans were often persecuted and the opposition party leadership beaten up, that Zimbabweans and Africans would actually push Mugabe off his perch. It goes to show that the western countries have absolutely no clue as to how Africa actually thinks, or what the general opinion on Mugabe is. Do they think that South African president Mbeki supports the view that Mugabe has to leave or that he can and wants to put pressure on Mugabe to step down?
Zimbabweans and Africans think that the reasons for the economic melt down of Zimbabwe is the fault of Europe and America, or more specifically white people. Economic problems in other African countries are also the fault of whites. Any major diseases such as HIV/AIDS may be attributed to the doings of whites. Africans think that whites imported HIV/AIDS into Africa. Now these points may be generalisations in that not every black African thinks this of course, but at grassroots levels they do. These beliefs have been seeded by the leadership in African countries and are nurtured to allow politicians to get away with mismanagement, corruption, brutal dictatorships and any number of other evils that proliferate in Africa. It’s the same principle that propped up communism in Russia where the evil West was blamed for anything that wasn’t working in Russia.
Why is the black president of South Africa not able to do anything about this situation? After all here is a fairly solid democracy with an adherence to western economic principles – remember they had a balanced budget this year – and an exemplary constitution. The reason is plain and simple, an African leader and country cannot be seen to support the western world. For western world read whites. This does not mean that Africa is not ever so willing to grab at aid that the western world will give them, or to look to western world for military assistance if it suits them. As an aside, I myself agree that many of the problems in Africa may be contributed to the greed with which Europe parceled up Africa and grabbed at the juiciest bits to enrich themselves. But that ended 50 years ago in many cases, and if one sees what Germany has managed in 50 years after getting fairly annihilated during the second world war, then Africa could be doing better. But that’s another subject altogether.
It is fairly realistic to say that whatever Europe or America would like to happen in Africa is not going to be heeded in Africa. Africa will muddle through this on their own and will not listen to anything the whites will want to tell them and expect them to do. And Robert Mugabe will have another four or so years as president of Zimbabwe. Nothing the west will say, will make any difference to that. Besides this, Robert Mugabe is a freedom fighter which gives him a legitimacy that overrides anything he might actually do to harm his people and country.