The Zimbabwean government insists on casting the fundamental root causes of the country’s problems as being that of its relations with Britain.
All the issues of shortages of basic goods, violence against the opposition, declining agricultural productivity, hyperinflation and so forth are explained as somehow being merely manifestations of the fact that the British don’t like Mugabe for dispossessing white farmers of land. And those mass farm takeovers are also Britain’s “fault” because it did not honor its commitments to fund an a gradual land reform process over the years.
The details and veracity or otherwise of these points is almost immaterial here because they are mainly made for propaganda purposes, not so much in the hope that they will lead to any particular action on the part of Britain or anybody else.
The only effect of this propaganda “victory” on the part of Mugabe’s government has been to somewhat side-track onlookers, particularly those who respond more favourably to his anti-colonialist rhetoric than they do negatively to the mess he has made of the country he rules. For them the emotional satisfaction of the rhetoric is enough. They do not feel compelled to go on and say, “having made us feel so good with your rhetoric on what you tell us are the evils of the West, why don’t you then set an example of a successful effort to build an African country that is the antithesis of all those evils?”
The mess that Zimbabwe has become under Mugabe has little or no connection to what Britain does or doesn’t do. And in any case, it is silly to expect that Britain might virtually capitulate to Mugabe in the diplomatic stand-off with Zimbabwe and say, “we accept you were right all along Mr. Mugabe, we will now do whatever you demand.”
If Britain were to now accept to compensate the former white farmers as part of its colonial responsibility, what difference would that make to Zimbabweans now? A big part of the original idea of such British compensation was in order to have a minimally economically disruptive process of land reform. Now that that is water under the bridge and the disruption has taken place, any compensation now would understandably be welcomed by the white farmers, but have none of the national benefit that was envisioned for a “smooth” land reform process.
So even if Britain made the major concession of paying the ex-farmers, Zimbabwe’s current problems would in no way be ameliorated by such a gesture.
If the British really surrendered to Mugabe, they would also agree to give Zimbabwe significant aid, however both parties found it convenient to explain it: goodwill gesture and formal end to hostilities, development aid or whatever. The likelihood of this happening under Mugabe’s government is pretty much zero, but even if it did, this would not resolve the Zimbabwean political stalemate, nor the economic stagnation over non-productivity in agriculture and the many associated effects of that.
So the focus on the centrality of Zimbabwe’s relations with Britain is a sign of a colonial mentality that anti-colonialist rhetoretician Mugabe should be called on. If his “Zimbabwe will never be a colony” mantra is to mean anything, it must include not looking to Britain for any special relationship or favours.
But then again, the whole “this whole spat is merely a bilateral spat between us and Britain” slogan is not meant to be logical or consistent. It is merely another front in the propaganda war from a tired regime that simply does not have realistic solutions to the issues at hand.