By Dee McLachlan
It was in the 80s when I traveled up from South Africa to Zimbabwe to make a wildlife film. We shot in the bush for about two weeks with tame lions, managed by a movie animal wrangler. As we were about to leave, he looked down at the tires of our vehicle and said, “Can I buy the tires off your van. We can’t buy tires here.” We swapped tires, and we drove back with his very well-worn tires.
Then my cousin married a Zimbabwe tobacco farmer and moved up there. I think they forfeited part of their farm in the early days, so were largely left alone in the compulsory white farmland acquisitions. They are still there, part of a small group of farmers that remained.
This week-end she wrote me an email saying, “…we need Mug to stand down graciously and —off. Everyone is sick to death of his crap.” She attended the protest march on the week-end. There were about 100,000 people and no incidents.
There is something very special about how the African people solve problems. They are very tolerant, and tolerant to hardship. Too tolerant. And as a result many people have been taken advantage of. In Zimbabwe, 70 percent are classified as poor (really poor — not Australia-poor).
The people don’t usually rise up against dictators. It’s usually foreign nations, possibly wanting resources, that initiate bombings, coups, killings, slaughter, war and mayhem. There are also privately funded movements that initiate revolts. So Zimbabwe’s example right now, I think, should be a lesson for other nations.
The military went and put Mugabe under house arrest — and are desperately trying to resolve it in the most dignified way as possible. I think the country had little option. The alternative would have allowed Grace Mugabe — still young and totally corrupted — to lead a Mugabe dynasty well into the future. The country would have faced a dismal future.
So the military was hoping he’d resign. He didn’t.
The ruling party ZANU-PF was expecting him to announce his resignation on Sunday, when he appeared before the cameras. But he didn’t stick to the script.
The party tweeted:
“We gave Robert Gabriel Mugabe every chance to have a dignified exit. But he is mad,” it said, adding: “Actually, all the old man needed to do was to stick to the script. Now we must remove him.” Another tweet pointed out: “We have been kind.”
I quote The Australian:
“Earlier, party leaders said impeachment proceedings would go ahead as planned. The 93-year-old has been given until noon on Monday local time (9pm Monday AEDT) to stand down or he would be impeached.
“The once-formidable Mr Mugabe is now a virtually powerless, isolated figure, making his continued incumbency all the more unusual and extending Zimbabwe’s political limbo. He is largely confined to his private home by the military, the ruling party has fired him from his leadership post and huge crowds poured into the streets of Harare, the capital, on Saturday to demand that he leave office.”
There is one essential difference between Africa and the West.
In Africa, corruption is open, blatant, flaunted. Corrupt leaders build palaces and seem quite comfortable showing their gains.
When I visited South Africa in 2016, President Jacob Zuma was facing a possible criminal trial, with South Africa’s High Court declaring that he “should” be charged with 783 counts of alleged corruption, fraud and racketeering. Surrounded by “his people” Zuma runs his government operation like a mafia don. The scale of corruption is extraordinary — and it is out in the open.
In the West, it is hidden, often in consulting deals, take overs, public-private partnerships etc., with deception and trickery also on a massive scale. I guess the Intelligence agents would have some understanding of the processes, even possibly acting as helpers. And if leaders don’t oblige — they are assassinated.
In Africa, the leaders sense that power equals corruption (or almost does), so become part of it.
In the West, the prime minister and presidents are put there by the “power brokers” or by the shadow governments, and are obliged to do their bidding. The corruption is hidden. Is the corruption is on a much grander scale? Maybe I
wouldn’t really call it corruption. What would you call the Federal Reserve? A ponzi scheme and a deception of mammoth proportions.
Maybe we should take a leaf out of the book of the Zimbabwe military — and put Canberra and ASIO under house arrest, until a delegation representing the people are able to understand what is happening behind closed doors — closed, possibly, even to the prime minister.