Well, now we have it. The man is barking mad.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says “only God” can remove him from office, as the opposition MDC considers pulling out of next week’s run-off election amid escalating violence.
“The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country – never ever,” Mr Mugabe told local business people in Bulawayo – Zimbabwe’s second largest city – referring to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
“Only God who appointed me will remove me, not the MDC, not the British.” — ABC News.
I can’t help but reflect on the sad history of good ideas gone wrong.
Mugabe is locked in to a postcolonial agenda of land reform, and given the history of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe one can see where he has come from. There was an injustice to correct. In just two decent life spans this part of the world has had amazing transformations and has lurched from one unsustainable position — white dominance — to another. The great tragedy is that the majority of Zimbabweans, whatever their ethnicity, are — if they are still in their unfortunate country — worse off in the main than they were, because Mugabe is: 1) utterly impractical; 2) corrupt, given to favouring his own house and his cronies; 3) ruthless in the very worst sense of not caring what suffering must come to achieve his “utopia”; 4) dominated by a military clique; 5) utterly mad — as I said. He is indeed, and his country is, as the Kenyan leader said recently, an eyesore in Africa.
- See Fallen hero, Jane Fraser’s review of Dinner with Mugabe by Heidi Holland in today’s Weekend Australian:
…Although she stops short of condemning the man completely, possibly because she lives in southern Africa and would have justified fears for her safety, the only conclusion one can come to is that he is a monster. The question that remains is whether he was born evil or was turned evil by some of the tragedies of his life…
Holland’s first meeting with Mugabe improved her chances of getting a personal interview. He had not spoken to the press for three years when she was told to travel from Johannesburg to Harare in case he would see her. He did and the final chapter is both riveting and without hope.
How do you reconcile his description of the way he governed and his belief that he was misunderstood. “I don’t know whether one is misunderstood. I think the people around me understand me very well,” he told her. “But it’s the world outside that doesn’t seem to understand. They don’t appreciate what our real calling was as leaders: they think we’re in politics to enhance our status. They don’t realise that for us it was a real calling. We saw people suffer. We could not accept that our country was in the hands of a colonial power. That sense of sacrifice had to be there: you had to sacrifice yourself.”
The more you read, the more obvious it is that Mugabe has little concept of reality. He lives in a personal bubble of a world, in which he is a selfless and successful leader. He dismisses the 11 years he spent in Rhodesian prisons. “You realise that people like Mandela were there for 27 years and you only did 11. You see, it’s 11 years and then you have the reward, independence. Your people are free, your country is calm. Then the 11 years don’t come as a burden to remember. They become the price you had to pay for the reward you got.”
So many good ideas go bad, don’t they? Look at the good idea of a safe haven for Jews where they might live their lives and practise their religion in peace. When that became an increasingly exclusive idea and forgot that it was all proceeding at someone else’s expense, see what consequences there have been! Good will may have overcome those issues, and, heaven knows, may well yet; we can only hope so for the sake of all concerned, and for the profound effects this (on the face of it) rather insignificant territory in the eastern Mediterranean has had on billions of others on our fragile planet. I am not, I stress, a believer in world Zionist conspiracies, nor, like some in the Muslim world and in Europe, do I accept for one nanosecond revisionist readings of the Holocaust or the filth that is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, nor do I accept the paranoid fantasies of either the Islamists or the ultra-fundamentalist Christian Right. But you would have to be totally obtuse not to see that the old principle “those to whom evil is done do evil in return” has often played out in the Middle East, and Africa, and elsewhere.
But there we are. Welcome to our world.