Night Shift Logic: Oh it’s fine, he’ll die soon.

Posted on August 4, 2013


So, Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party win another election. Was it ever in doubt? The man who has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since 1980 comes through for his seventh term, the opposition cries fraud and despite immediate ripples in international media, by the time next week comes around this will be old hat. It shouldn’t be, especially for us British, but Zimbabwe is old hat. Oh, you’re still talking about Mugabe? Come on man, we stopped caring about that in 2003. It’ll never change. Anyway, he’s old, he’ll die soon surely.

It didn’t have to be like this though. When the Zimbabweans won their independence in 1980, Mugabe took over a country that was the second richest in Sub-Saharan Africa, a country that was described as the jewel of Africa. It had the best farmland on the continent, a settled education system, decent life expectancy, and a currency that was equal to the American dollar. Now it is an international pariah state, known for fear and hyperinflation, with an estimated 1.2million people living with AIDS, a currency so dead that the American dollar has replaced it and a life expectancy that dropped as low as 44.7 in 2006. What went wrong? Well, everything, obviously. Where to start?

Mugabe came to power in 1980 on a wave of optimism. He went to great lengths to calm the fears of the white farmers of the country who owned much of the land, and as such was propped up by western governments for a long time. As much as the focus in Zimbabwe has been put on race, the first victims of Mugabean violence were the Ndebele people in the west who formed much of the support for the group Mugabe was forced to share power with to begin with. Much luck this provided them though, as Mugabe and his North Korean trained army proceeded to massacre big chunks of them, in what was known as the Gukurahundi. This translates as ‘the early rain which washes away the chaff’.

The 1990s saw economic decline, much of which is attributed to the rampant corruption that was inevitably going on in the one party state. This led to riots caused by the war veterans in 1997 over unpaid pensions. It was these same veterans who pushed Mugabe into power, and he obviously realised how influential they could be. He gave in, and agreed to pay them substantially and for the rest of the days. In effect, the entire population was sacrificed in order to make the war veterans happy, because this completely devastated an already struggling economy. The situation would continue to deteriorate, until the land seizures in 2000 that would finally wake up the rest of the world. For a bit.

The land seizures would prove to be the end of the beginning of the end. Agriculture made up around 40% of the exports of the country at the time, and the farms employed half a million people. Now, Zimbabwe’s farming is dead and the country is practically reliant on food aid. It was all done under the name of ‘land reform’, but what essentially happened was that the farms were seized, then stripped, then abandoned. The farms were not moved from white farmers to black farmers, instead they were moved from white farmers to Zanu PF party loyalists. It was yet another desperate grab for power by a man becoming rapidly more desperate, with the birth of a genuine opposition movement in the country. This movement was the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change), led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

The land seizures would continue, and by 2008 the economy was deader than a dead thing. Mugabe and his party had spent 20 years fighting the colonialists, and had now spent almost 30 years royally raping the country. It all came to a head in 2008, when the MDC won the parliamentary elections. Finally, change could arrive. However, Zimbabwean election law stated that a presidential candidate needed 50% plus 1 to win, which Tsvangirai didn’t have (he did have more votes than Mugabe of course), so a presidential run off would follow. This was quickly followed by a brutal campaign of violence by the army against any MDC supporters, so Tsvangirai had no choice but to drop out. Mugabe wins again. Not entirely though, as a Unity Government was forced through eventually, with Tsvangirai as Prime Minister to Mugabe’s President. This is all a bit of a sham though, as Mugabe and Zanu-PF still control the police, the army and the judicial system. Of course, the majority of the international community has all but given up on the country, as the general feeling is that Mugabe can’t live much longer. Surely?

Oh, and there’s also diamonds from the country now. Which has never caused any political problems anywhere in the continent. Nope, nowhere.

Which leads us to the elections this past week, where an 89 year old man won an election in a country that has he taken from a land of hope and promise into the very definition of failed state, where racism is as rife as it has ever been and where a third of the children are living with AIDs. And all this without mentioning the horrific wildlife crisis that has come from it, as hunger and illegal hunting has led to 40% decrease in the number of big game animals since 2005. Why wouldn’t you vote for Mugabe! He will most likely win your local council elections, the 2013/14 PFA Young Player of the Year award and The Booker Prize for Literature as well, because that’s what he does.

Oh it’s fine, he’ll die soon,