Zimbabwe Review

Reflections on Zimbabwe

On Britain’s condition for Zimbabwean economic aid

Posted by CM on July 7, 2008

I have made no secret of my deep cynicism about the reasons for the unusual interest of the British government and media in “the Zimbabwe crisis.”

Not only is that country’s history in Rhodesia and in Zimbabwe messy and dishonorable, the shrill racial (to sensitive readers, sorry, but it is impossible to discuss Britain and The Zimbabwe Crisis without race looming large) reaction of the English establishment to Zimbabwe in general and Mugabe in particular is not only not helping the situation, it is worsening it.  Zimbabwe is in even bigger long term trouble than it is under Robert Mugabe now if it is to be “saved” by Britain.

Eager British foreign minister David Miliband is in South Africa for some meeting or other. Over the weekend he went to a camp of the victims of SA’s recent violence against African migrants to shed crocodile tears over the plight of Zimbabweans and take some pot shots at Mugabe.

It was “imperative” that a solution be found to the worsening crisis in Zimbabwe, Miliband is reported to have said after visiting the camp, which housed people from many nations, but whose propaganda value for him was clearly Zimbabwe.

Miliband is said to have added that Britain would intensify its efforts to ensure Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s regime was not seen as “a legitimate representation of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.” He is said to have also called on the international community to support United States-proposed sanctions on Zimbabwe to be tabled at the United Nations Security Council in New York.

Largely harmless enough twiddling of the thumbs by Miliband.

But it is the last line of the June 7 article by SAPA, the South African Press Association, that made me sit up and take notice:

Britain does not want Mugabe to be part of any power-sharing deal, as a condition of economic aid.

Now SAPA does not explain if this has been explicitly stated by any British official, but it would not be surprising if this were the official position of the British government on conditions for releasing the one billion pounds they crudely dangled as aid during both the March 29 and June 27 elections if the right result was achieved. Clearly the Brown regime wants the Mugabe regime to go, and this is not at all surprising, quite apart from whether or not Mugabe has stolen another election. The British have many other reasons for hating Mugabe’s guts than the fact that he has been disastrous for Zimbabwe.

And I guess they are entitled to impose their own conditions for aid. But if the last sentence of the SAPA article is official UK policy, it helps to firm up my increasing opposition to Britain having any appreciable or special role in Zimbabwe, now or in the future.

Who are they to demand who will or not be part of a power-sharing deal? Mugabe may be a nasty fellow, but the over-riding concern of Zimbabweans is to find a resolution to their all-encompassing crisis. Mugabe is the person with the guns now and he is not willing to quietly go off into the sunset. As things stand now, therefore, it is simply not possible to totally rule out a role for him in some sort of power-sharing deal for the sake of moving the country forward.

What the British position suggests is that if the MDC looked at its options and decided to swallow its pride and unhappily accept a power-sharing deal that includes Mugabe (one that doesn’t seems unrealistic now, except perhaps in the minds of Brown and Miliband), Britain would with hold its toys and go off and sulk in anger at not having been able to completely ‘regime-change’ Mugabe. If this is the position, it is not only incredibly arrogant intervention in the nuts and bolts of how Zimbabweans choose to find a way out of their political impasse, it compromises the hapless, bungling MDC even more than before.

The MDC-led government that received British largesse under these conditions would do so with the deep suspicion and resentment of Zimbabweans like myself, who want Mugabe to go but who are disturbed at how the British establishment treats Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC party as their poodles, with not a squeak of protest from the poodles! Sure Mugabe must go, but what the hell would Tsvangirai be getting us into?

It is bizarre how Mugabe’s self-serving rhetoric about Zimbabwe never being a colony again rings true when the bungling British government and the MDC seem determined to make his pronouncements a self-fulfilling prophecy!

This is why people like me feel politically homeless. There is a sense of despair about the country’s prospects with every additional day under the ruinous Mugabe, and yet there is increasing worry about what a compromised Tsvangirai would do.

The British anti-Mugabe agenda is driven partly by racial “kith and kin” considerations occasioned by Mugabe’s unprecedented drive against the white farmers (the Western world is used to dismissing ‘natives’ mistreating or killing other natives, or white people killing natives, but all hell breaks loose when white people are also brutalised by natives, especially led by one as ‘uppity’ as Mugabe). Their all-consuming ‘no deal at all with any dispensation in which Mugabe is a part’ is churlish and would significantly reduce the options that Zimbabweans must keep open to resolving their problems.

In the most polite way, I suggest we say to the British “thanks but no thanks for your bribe of aid, but your conditions for it are unacceptable for the difficult task ahead of us.”

The bloody, arrogant cheek!

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