Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tragedy in Zimbabwe
This week the government of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe lifted the ban on a number of foreign journalists and news agencies. CNN is going to shortly be airing the first interview Mugabe has given to the Western media in years. In the run up to that there have been a number of stories at their website featuring some of the tragedy that has befallen the country since Mugabe came to power in 1980.
This post may be off the normal radar for some of the readers of "Beyond the Pale" but over the years I have known and worked with a number of white Zimbabweans and have listened to their heartache as they tell the almost unbelievable stories of their homeland descending into madness.
Since the Mugabe government came to power in 1980, replacing the previous white led government under Ian Smith, the country had slowly came unravelled as crime, corruption, incompetency in administration increased. But the bottom finally fell out beginning in 1999 when Mugabe ordered the country's prosperous farmlands, and cornerstone of the economy, to be redistributed to the county's black citizens.
Although many, including most of Zimbabwe's white population, were open to some policies to address years of racial inequalities, no one was was ready for the violence and thuggery that descended on the country. The agricultural sector collapsed and hundreds of thousands of black farm laborers were suddenly unemployed as the farms they had worked on were seized by militia groups. In the years since, the economy has continued to disintergrate. The local currency, recently acknowledged by the government to carry no value, has been replaced by foreign currencies and a make shift barter system.
Only today I was talking to a white Zimbabwean coworker about his country. He said, "Steve, I can't even watch the media on the issue because my blood boils when I see what is happening to my country". I sympathized and could only imagine how I would feel if my country had collapsed and thugs, like those in the CNN clip, were running loose.
For the first time though, a glimmer of hope has arrived. In the recent election, Robert Mugabe was forced into a power sharing agreement with a new prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
My hope is that the nightmare unleashed by Robert Mugabe will soon be over and peace will prevail once again in that wonderful country.