SADC leaders don't like Mugabe, but they hate West more
A blow to the West and a double blow for the MDC, this coming days after Morgan Tsvangirai got battered and arrested by Mugabe’s police.
After splashing photos of the badly beaten opposition leader to the world media and getting messages of support from the Western powers, and condemnation unleashed at the Mugabe regime by the same Western powers, many thought the African leaders or at least the SADC leaders would give Mugabe a dressing down of some sort in chorus with the condemnation from the West.
But, alas this was not to be and perhaps those that expected the SADC leaders to come down hard on Mugabe misunderstand these African leaders.
The regional and arguably most if not all of the African leaders may or may not be in support of the tactics used by Mugabe to hold on to power but are not in a position to criticise Mugabe because they also practice some of the dirty tactics used by Mugabe in their own countries.
Most importantly, we may be failing to understand the ideological positions that inform the SADC leaders' position. Pan-Africanists (at least those who hold more influence in this regional body) will never side with the imperialist West over their own "brother". They see no reason to support the West in its drive for regime change maybe because they are insecure and do not know what the future holds, what with the rise of neo-colonialism. Today it may be Zimbabwe, and tomorrow it could be you. Western-driven regime change is like a poisonous serpent and should never be allowed into any part of Africa.
The whole idea of regime change in Zimbabwe in the eyes of the SADC leaders is a Western-driven idea, and the MDC is championing the Western cause rather than that of the Zimbabwean masses, this is evidenced by the lack of interest by the people in Zimbabwe to participate in the anti-government protests such as the so-called final push and stay-aways. Despite the numerous calls by the opposition to take to the streets in protest against the government, the larger part of Zimbabwe has ignored the calls of the opposition even the calls for mass stay-aways have not been a success.
The MDC has dismally failed to take advantage of the economic meltdown in Zimbabwe to rally support to push Mugabe out of office simply because they continue to align themselves too much with the West. They have thus far successfully managed to win the hearts and minds of those in the West but are yet to rally and garner the support of the ordinary Zimbabwean who matter most in this struggle to end Mugabe's rule, or is it misrule?
The SADC leaders are not blind to the tactics of the West and if truth be told, Zimbabwe’s crisis is not the worst of situations in Africa and there are reasons plenty why Zimbabwe has dominated the Western media. I am sure if we are honest in our assessment of the crisis in Zimbabwe, it is clear that the situation is conducive for change but what lacks is strong leadership to lead the people to a revolution.
In the past six or seven years that the MDC has been in existence, one cannot help but see how they have been unable to present themselves as a government-in-waiting. They have failed to demonstrate that they have what it takes to turn the country’s failing economy round. They have not advanced us any meaningful economic recovery policies. While it is true that people are not happy with the current government, it is equally true that the MDC is not an alternative otherwise Mugabe and Zanu PF would have been long gone.
At the moment, we have two factions of the MDC and it is unclear to a lot of people which of these two is the official opposition party. Both factions seem to be united in their call for Mugabe to go, which is starting to sound like a scratched record.
This however, may be somehow welcome to some who are trying to gain refugee status in Western capitals, or those overcome by emotions and hate so much that they would be glad to see an immediate end to the brutal Mugabe government and would welcome any sort of change without considering the capabilities of the alternative. Such people have all fled the country and are making all sorts of noises from different parts of the world, and the unfortunate part is those on the ground in Zimbabwe see the MDC in a different light and seem to have considered long and hard the alternative and chosen to suffer on with the brutal regime.
The regional leaders are not convinced that the MDC is the way to rescue Zimbabwe from the road to ruin on which Mugabe has taken the once prosperous country. Zimbabwe now holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records, for the world’s highest inflation and fastest-shrinking economy and this according to the Western media is a direct result of Mugabe’s corrupt regime, nothing to do with the sanctions Thabo Mbeki wants lifted.
Surely, we all can see that all is not well in Zimbabwe but to assume that the people will rally behind a party with not much else to offer save it for chanting the slogan ‘Mugabe must go’ and not laying out what then happens when he goes is insulting to some of us.
History is replete with the sad experiences of African countries that have undergone a revolution to remove long-time leaders, dictatorships and one-party states.
And we have learnt, where change came, it was often so fast that before much good could be done, a new elite had entrenched themselves solidly in power as those they had replaced. It is time for every Zimbabwean to ask, if you have not already asked, what grantees do we have that the MDC is not going to be another Zanu PF. Tsvangirai has already shown his disregard for the MDC constitution when it does not suite him and that is a very early tell tell sign for what is to come should he ever make it to State House.
So for the SADC leaders, the best person(s) to fix the problems in Zimbabwe is Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF and perhaps the best way to understand this is through the analogy I borrowed from author Geoff Hill.
Liken Zimbabwe to a car that needs attention. Zimbabwe is a car, with rough gears and no handbrake. The Zanu PF government which in this case is the owner of the car, drives this car every day and knows which gears stick, when to pump the clutch and that you have to put a brick under the wheel if you park on a slope.
Then someone else buys the vehicle in this case say MDC (gets into power), knowing that it’s far from new but not aware of the exact problems. And, in a day, the new owner has wrecked the car.
This is what happens when donor countries and their experts come in to fix a country. The people running the system know how to keep it going, but a lot of damage can be done once you start putting things right.
You can just about keep power stations going if you know where the faults are. But once they collapse completely, then, like a car that’s been written off, you have to start again from scratch.
Now, with the power station, you have to take the whole plant out of service and rebuild it. So, whereas there used to be cuts, there is no power at all and people say that the old regime was better and Western donors throw up their hands, amazed that anyone could think that.
It's no good relying too much on the West. Lessons from history will point out that it has never worked well, one only has to look at Iraq in our day to see what sort of chaos the so-called Western democracies have brought to that country.
This is just food for thought to the opposition forces in Zimbabwe. They need to think things through, it is not enough to just say ‘Mugabe must go’. They must convince their immediate neighbours that they have solutions to the Zimbabwean crisis and that they are in a position to resolve it and outline the sort of help you will need from SADC in resolving the crisis.
It is not enough to just say the African leaders must or should do more, outline what exactly it is that you would have them do and perhaps then they would consider taking you more seriously.
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