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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Vision for Africa

This is Robert Mugabe's new house:

It cost around $26 million dollars and took five years to build, five years during which Zimbabwe's economy completely fell apart, inflation spiralled up to hundreds of thousands of per cent per year, and thousands of the poorest lost their shanty shack homes in slum clearances ordered by Mugabe.

But Robert sleeps well at night:

He dines well too. Even though 80% of the population are without work in Zimbabwe, Mugabe's kitchen and chefs ensure that he and his Zanu cronies are well fed:

And they can always relax later for cocktails by the pool, and discuss perhaps the pressing matters of the day.

Like the election they lost then stole back. Like the tens of thousands of citizens who've fled the country. Like the fact that they'll get away with it because the only people able to enforce change in Zimbabwe are other African leaders who are as corrupt as Mugabe and who in general owe him one.

Like Thabo Mbeki, for example.

Despots like Mugabe continue to pose as post-colonial heroes throughout the continent, even as their policies following independence from European Imperialism have caused unending poverty, disease and corruption:

But I have a vision for Africa. A way out for the billion or more who are denied a chance at life due to the horrific and disgusting corruption of pondlife like Mugabe.

It's time to redraw all the borders.

The colonial borders slice through tribes and lands willy-nilly, creating many of the internecine problems in Africa. End the conflicts, the fears, the mistrust, and you create the conditions to deal with all the other problems afflicting the continent.

Time to recolonise too.

It is self-evident from a quick read of any decent African political history such as 'The State of Africa', that corruption has been endemic in every single African state following independence and up to the present day in preposterous amounts.

Instead of aid, we need to send governmental ability. Yes, I am talking recolonisation. Temporary recolonisation, with African interests rather than European ones at the centre of the project.

I reckon that the UN needs to found an African border commission to ascertain what lands should go with what, according to the desires of those living there.

Then the current post-colonial states can be dissolved and reconstituted into forms which will not be so prone to the sort of tribal outrage we've seen recently in Kenya and in pretty much every sub-Saharan state at some point.

The UN could provide security during an interim period and initial elections. It might also be beneficial, while these new national entities are still bedding in, to beef up the African Union to the level of an EU, with oversight abilities, democratic representation and the ability to institute relevant continent-wide legislation and negotiate as a trade bloc.

Then a 'Peace Corps' type intervention would be necessary to assist the foundation of governments and state agencies, as well as ensuring the operation of critical services like hospitals during the transitional period.

A single currency would be strongly advisable, as well as an African central bank. Logic dictates that the Rand function as one or as the basis of one, and Joburg as the location of the other.

And all of this would be needed just to turn things around.

After that, the problems of HIV, malaria, education, life expectancy, development and famine would still remain to be addressed.

But in the sort of context that I envisage, at least the inter-tribal strife would be largely circumvented, which itself impacts on all the other problems.

And the foundation, in terms of a stronger African union, and smaller nation states, for consensus action, mutual dependency, group negotiation and single currency, would be in place for real development potential.

Aid doesn't work, trading with despots like Mugabe only funds elites like Zanu, and the level of military intervention the West has involved itself in thus far often only delays further conflict.

It's time to address the mistakes of the colonial and the post-colonial era. It will require a global effort, not just from former imperial powers but from other powers, such as the EU, US, Russia, China and Japan.

The alternative, of course, is to remain in our bubble of affluence in Europe, watching them starve and kill each other, while they try to gain illegal access to our affluence, for another sixty years.

13 comments:

Brightspark Dublin said...

I like your ideas.

pcollins said...

On the house; he's entitled to it. He spent eleven years in Ian Smith's jails.

On the slum clearances; they are commonplace throughout Africa or any developing country. The previous years programme for government ensured everyone was aware they were to take place. Whats less reported are the million homes that were being built simultaneously to house these people.

On the 80% unemployment; This is an exaggeration but times are tough undoubtedly. Three main reasons. (1)Land Reform - a massive restructuring of land ownership patterns has seen 3-4 million Zimbabweans move from the near agriculturally useless communal areas to the prime arable land regions once inhabited by the white commercial farmers. Many white Zimbabweans burned their crops on being forced to leave. (2)the worst drought in twenty years has affected the region - Zimbabwe being primarily an agricultural economy (3) Sanctions imposed by the US with the passing of Zidera in 2001 and further selective restrictions on trade imposed by the EU in 2002. (4)Withdrawal of balance of payments support by the IMF.

On the elections; the entire country is angry. The issues are matters of life and death. Zanu supporters believe with much justification that land reform will be reversed or delegitimised in the event of an MDC victory.

JC Skinner said...

The Birmingham six spent decades is British jails. When do they get to move into Buckingham Palace?
(And they were innocent of all wrongdoing, unlike Bob.)
Now, on the clearings, let's be clear - you reckon as long as the government TELLS you that they're going to knock down your house because your district opposes them, that's alright then?
Oh, and what million houses being built simultaneously? The slums are long since cleared. No houses were built. Except Bob's of course.
80% isn't an exaggeration. That's the actual level of unemployment. Of course people resort to cash-in-hand when they can. More often, they simply up sticks and head for Joburg.
What you call land reform, I call theft. Actual land reform would have ensured farms remained being farmed, as opposed to being doled out to Zanu loyalist thug soldiers who let them go to seed and ruin.
Sanctions from America don't affect either internal Zimbabwean markets or the export market within Africa, the obvious locations in which to sell crops.
And if Mugabe wants the IMF support for Zim, it's real easy to achieve. He simply has to respect the will of the people who voted him out of office.
Zanu supporters, who were given farms that were stolen at gunpoint, have every right to expect that proper land reform will reverse most of those donations.
And proper order too.
It's mad to see anyone outside of Mad Bob's payroll defending the syphilitic old maniac (he's not paying you, is he?) but then again, Hitler and Stalin had their apologists in the West too.

pcollins said...

B6 were lifted erroneously by British chauvinists and became necessarily politicised whilst incarcerated. Mugabe was already politicised as any sane person would be when a racist and bigoted regime of thieves deny your people a vote and basic human rights.
Clearing away slums as I said is commonplace in Africa (in Tanzania they daub shacks with white crosses to indicate their imminent destruction)especially when IMF austerity plans erase your public spending budget and its more cost-effective to bulldoze them - if they happen to be an MDC stronghold then thats an added bonus. The million houses were earmarked in the programme for government - they're held accountable to themselves,their colleagues and their supporters so I imagine some inroads were made - why don't you call them up and ask them how they go with it?

pcollins said...

I'm not going to get into an argument with you over percentages - official unemployment may be anywhere from 20-90% - depending on what criteria are used;it would seem sensible to include a guestimate for black market activity under the circumstances- however thats just navel gazing as nobody is saying the economy isn't in a shambles - which is why I'm happy to have seen sanity restored to the Security Council by the double veto.

Yes, technically the seizures were theft and would no doubt continued to be viewed so if the MDC were to form a transitional government which is why that will never happen - at best they'll get a GNU.
What about the poor white farmer? Fuck them, they dragged their heels for 18 yrs. If they had any idea of the mood of the country they would have pressed the British government to make good their commitments under Lancaster.

pcollins said...

''American sanctions don't effect ..'' You're kidding me right. When Bush signed Jessie's ZIDERA in Dec 01 he knew he was destroying the economy - that's what America does to indigenous leaders that don't play ball. The usual procedure then is to sponsor via NED, or some other NGO funded by congress, a pliant opposition who will allow an agreed proportion of their nations wealth to be siphoned off by their corporations. The Zimbabwean picture is more complicated than that though and deserves a fuller treatment than will ever be found here. Do you think the stipulations of ZIDERA only apply to American officials working in the IFIs? This was a typical neocon call to arms that was designed to evoke a response from the boardrooms. The Zimbabwean dollar first crashed in 97 when an unbudgeted outlay was required to placate the war veterans and the IMF withdraw balance of payments support. Look it up, it isn't a secret. This was an immediate five fold devaluation that was halted by the reentry of the IMF. In late 2002 the Zim dollar went into orbit when the effects of ZIDERA were coupled with EU 'targeted' sanctions. Zimbabwe sources foreign currency, vital for fuel imports and other agricultural inputs, from the export of cash crops, principally tobacco and cotton, and they had to renegotiate
contracts with new buyers in Libya, Egypt and Iran. The reason the currency remained in orbit is because the country has been under siege from the US and UK governments who have been flapping their G8 coat-tails and roping in anyone who will listen to them. I stopped listening to them a long time ago, maybe you should do the same.

JC Skinner said...

Except I don't get my Zimbabwean information from them. I get it from Zimbabweans, something I suggest you might try yourself, Mr Collins.
I'll repeat the question - how can US sanctions hurt the breadbasket of Africa when their main markets are the surrounding countries, especially South Africa, where Bob's pal Thabo is in the hot seat?
Answer: it didn't. Bob screwing up the country's agricultural output to give land to his private thug army who had no idea how to farm it is what screwed up the economy. No food to sell, no income. Simple as.
Now, the Chinese are looking for the tobacco, and the Middle East do, as they always did, buy the cotton. And both were smaller earners than the foodstuffs in any case.
Your Zanu line is a brave one, but it's ultimately indefensible.
Even had Mugabe been a peerless and faultless leader, the responsible thing to do in a hyperinflationary climate would be to foster exports rather than antagonise those who import from you.
Of course, Mugabe is anything but faultless, and has, by way of his syphilitic insanity, beggared the entire nation on his own hubris.
But you reckon he deserves a mansion. Hard to fathom, it really is.
You should ask some Zimbabweans whether they think he should remain in power (after being rejected at the ballot box) or live in a mansion while he destroys their housing.
You'll get a very different response.
Oh, and I'm still waiting for you to show me the million houses he built to replace the MDC slums he bulldozed because they had the temerity to oppose his rule.

pcollins said...

Just as I thought. A waste of time.

That is why violence exists my friend.

JC Skinner said...

Violence exists because you support Zanu-PF?
Then stop supporting them!
I am gratified to see that wiser counsels have finally prevailed upon the syphilitic loon to start handing over power to the people elected to run Zimbabwe.
Hopefully this process can be quickly achieved to start reversing the horrors Mugabe has inflicted upon his own people.

pcollins said...

Here's an account from Thomas Packenham's "The Scramble for Africa" on some of the horrors inflicted upon the people of Zimbabwe and sponsored by, to use your own colourful language, the syphilitic loons in Westminster;

" In October 1893 British troops and volunteers crossed into King Lobengula's core territory of Matabeleland. The entire region rapidly fell into their hands as they inflicted heavy casualties on the Ndebele. Under terms of the resulting Victoria Agreement, each volunteer was entitled to 6,000 acres of land. Rather than an organized division of land, there was instead a mad race to grab the best land, and within a year 10,000square miles of the most fertile land had been seized from its inhabitants. White settlers confiscated most of the Ndebele's cattle in the process, a devastating loss to a cattle-ranching society such as the Ndebele. The large tracts of land now run by relatively few white settlers required workers, and the Ndebele became forced laborers on the land they once owned, essentially treated as slaves. The Shona also saw their cattle confiscated by white settlers, and were driven into poverty through the imposition of onerous taxes by the new British rulers. The inevitable uprising by the dispossessed Ndebele and Shona in 1896 was finally crushed over one year later by the British at the cost of 8,000 African lives. The region was established as a new colony in the British realm and named Rhodesia in honor of
Cecil Rhodes "

You may have noticed that Botswana was one of the few African countries to condemn Mugabe. ( I listened with some amusement myself to Jean Ping's opening address to the African Summit which contained not a single mention of the recent Zimbabwean elections much to the consternation of the gathered pack of slavering wolves from the international press ) The reason for this is that the country is in the pocket of the greatest thief in the history of the late 20th century; Nicky Oppenheimer. He's the grandson of Ernest Oppenheimer who succeeded Cecil Rhodes, the greatest thief of the early 20th century, as chief carteliser of African diamonds. Now, let me tell you what befell those original 10,000 square kilometres; they were scooped up by Ernest and were bequeathed to Nicky until in 1999, not 1899, but 1999, thats nineteen ninety nine, Robert Mugabe issued a 'compulsory acquisition order' on 'the property' - half the size of Ireland. The Lord of the Manor was less than impressed. Colonialism might be a dead issue for us but its still alive in Zimbabwe when thousands of hectares of vacant plots of potentially arable land is lying useless and 6-8 million black Zimbabweans are forced to farm in the increasingly fallow 'communal areas'

pcollins said...

Some people reading these exchanges might also be confused as to why the supporters of Mugabe's Zanu-PF are so desperately trying to cling to power - their support base is predominantly from the rural areas, the same rural areas that were known as the 'native reserves' and the best comparison here is the land the native American Indians were forced to live on. It wasn't quite as bad as that land, still good enough to account for 70% of the agricultural produce that earned Zimbabwe the title of 'breadbasket of Africa', the white commercial farmer only accounting for 30%, even though they had the prime arable land. Here is another account, from Greg Elich this time, about how the majority of black Zimbabweans were forced to farm in these areas;

"Passage of the Native Reserves Order in 1899 created reserves on the most arid land, on which the indigenous inhabitants were to be herded. By 1905, nearly half of the indigenous population was confined to reserves. From 1930 onwards, Africans were not allowed to own land outside of the barren reserves. During the twenty-year period beginning in 1935, the Rhodesian regime forced an additional 67,000 African families from their homes and transported them to the reserves. As the Africans were beaten and herded into trucks at gunpoint, their homes were levelled by bulldozers. The reserves soon became overcrowded with people and cattle, and the colonial government decreed in 1944 that 49 of the reserves were overstocked. During the next thirty-some years, well over one million cattle in the reserves were either killed or confiscated for use by white settlers. As the long liberation struggle grew, Rhodesian Security Forces became increasingly repressive, executing civilians, burning villages and crops and shooting cattle"

You do know of course that these disparities in land ownership were maintained up until circa 97 when economic mismanagement, not by Mugabe but by the IMF, who took virtual control of the country's economy in the early 90's through the Structural Adjustment Programme, seriously lowered the standard of living, causing severe economic hardship and prompted the War Veteran's Association needled themselves by their rural support-base to pressure Mugabe, who had just been awarded, desultorily in their minds, a KCB in 1994, to make good his commitments to THEM by making progress on land reform.

I am sure you are also aware that the MDC far from being some indigenous people's movement set up to counter Mugabe's alleged despotism are in fact representing the interests of the Commercial Farmer's Union (ie. white landowners) It was only formed in 1999, only a few months after the breakdown of negotiations at the donor's conference in Harare to provide compensation for white farmers. David Coltart, the MDC shadow justice minister served in the Rhodesian police force and is a legal expert who, in power, will be poised to examine the constitutional status of the land resettlements with an obvious view to reversing them. Roy Bennett, the party treasurer, is a pugnacious white landowner who once attempted to throttle a Zimbabwean judge for calling his ancestors 'thieves and murderers' and Eddie Cross, who was the MDC's newly confirmed Secretary of Economic Affairs in September 1999. made the following policy announcement clearly echoing the raison d'etre of the Structural Adjustment Programme;"We are going to fast track privatization. All fifty government parastatals will be privatized within a two-year frame, but we are going far beyond that. We are going to privatize many of the functions of government. We are going to privatize the Central Statistics Office. We are going to privatize virtually the entire school delivery system. And you know, we have looked at the numbers and we think we can get government employment down from about 300,000 at the present time to about 75,000 in five years."

So that is the white backbone of the MDC and the privitisation that they wish to enforce will only suit their contacts in the UK and US who will have the capital to reintroduce these skewed patterns of ownership.

You say somewhat disingenuously that I don't get my information from Zimababweans. I know plenty of Zimbabweans, and none of them have a veranda in the middle of a safari ranch; one of them is in the Defence Forces and he tells me that his mother and father were illiterates who lived in hovels until Mugabe's government concentrated their resources on providing for programmes of health and education, so much so that the literacy rate for black Zimbabweans went from 5% under Smiths government to 95% today, the highest in Africa.

JC Skinner said...

It is entirely disingenuous to seek to justify the horrors inflicted upon Zimbabwe by the madman Mugabe with colonial events from the 19th century.
Mugabe lost the election, then stole it back. Like he unilaterally stole the land belonging to large farmers (many white, many also black, all of whom employed many of the rural workforce) which you now complain lies fallow.
Why does it lie fallow? Because he beggared the very people who had the skills to work it and drove them from the country! The land lies fallow because it was given to Zanu thugs as reward and they have no idea how to till it.
I know exactly who the MDC are and who supports them, and I don't pretend that they are in any way an ideal government in waiting. They are however an enormous improvement upon the Mugabe kleptocracy, and crucially, they WON THE ELECTION.
Furthermore, this is hardly the first time that Mugabe has resorted to violence in order to steal power by stifling his legitimate opposition with murder attempts and violence. Just ask those who knew Joshua Nkomo, whom Mugabe drove from the country after forcing the closure of ZAPU at gunpoint.

pcollins said...

The time for belligerence is past.
There is a peace process on the table and I wish them well.