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Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Alternative Perspectives on Zimbabwe (Noel Tucker)

Another new alternative perspective on Zimbabwe from Noel Tucker - In the shadow of empire. Well worth the read!

9 comments:

  1. That's actually the best "but Zanu-PF has a point" type of article that I've ever read. It doesn't really bring any new good points but doesn't conviniently ignore piece of information to make them.

    For instance, the fall of popularity of Zanu-PF pre-land reform is mentionned, which something people usually decide not to remember.

    but anyway, the logic of some of the statements is disputable.

    The "excuse for croynism" is weird. I fail to see how the fact that Rhodesia had rampant croonysm justifies even minimal amounts of equivalent behavior in Zimbabwe. I thought corruption was always wrong. Beyond that, I fail to understand how it could be sustainable. Rhodesia could afford it because they were robbing the Black majority (not only land, but taxes, price controls) to favour a small mynority. It's just impossible to do and to not oppress the majority (hell, didn't many Rhodesians get worse off when the system dissappeared ?). That said, *I* for one, think the people who argue that personal enrichment was the goal are wrong. It was a side opportunity. The goal was to buy or at least keep support.


    Like many, I think he presents a villified picture of MDC and that's especially ironic considering the fact that he does describe a compromising Mugabé in the 80's. In short, MDC is just like the orange coalitions in Kenya or in Ukraine. They were circumstancial alliances. When and if they get into power, they'll either have to compromise or split.the only thing that puts trade unionists and big business together under that banner is dislike of Mugabe, Zanu-PF and their policies. There is simply no way, the white farmers will get what they want, unless they become a dictatorship (and i don't see how keeping them away from democratic power is supposed to prevent that).


    Similarly, he overestimates the sanctions. The United States, even with 17% of the votes cannot uniterally impose such an embargo (ask Nicaragua). And in any case, Zimbabwe defaulted and had fiscal problems before those sanctions.


    On an historical note, I doubt Mugabe decided to go all socialist in 1980 because of fear of retribution by South Africa. I'm pretty convinced that he did think that nationalizing everything would have been an economical mistake back then. Angola and Mozambique weren't in the state they were in only because of South Africa. There were genuine economic issues and real ressentment from rural folks to be exploited by SA anyway.


    Finally, his logic behind the monetary aspects of the Land Reform is quite interesting. One would think that a government that can't afford to pay for it would either not do it or do it at a pace or in a way that wouldn't create dire consequences. And Zimbabwe knew that the biggest problem wasn't even to pay for the land reform but how to pay for what followed. Once Zimbabwe in 2000 couldn't finance the investments, the subsidies and an extensive welfare system the way Rhodesia did it because Rhodesia did it on the back on the majority of the population. And the Zimbabwean agriculture between 1980 and 2000 relied on private finance because the government of Zimbabwe was rightfully spending its budget on things like education and healthcare. Zimbabwe was unwilling to cut on things like public service payrolls or to privatize or to not get involved in DRC so where the money was supposed to come from ? Donors ? Well, the donors said no, whatever their motivations were (creating a "right" to intervene in DRC is a fallacy, DRC wasn't Angola or Mozambique). Why would one decide to keep going ? What the outcomes were supposed to be ?


    I think what many people miss is that the Zanu-PF didn't get in power with the mandate of improve the lives of their people if the honkies were nice. They knew they wouldn't be nice and the goal was to make the lives of Zimbabweans nice IN SPITE of evil honkies all around.


    The fact that someone made the decision to keep going and keep going and print money as the economy collapsed is the biggest problem.


    If the goal was to go for land reform in spite of sanctions, lack of money and all that with the belief that it wouldn't pay in the long term, they should have been upfront about it and cut spending in other ways and asked everyone to tighten up their belts. But since swtiching the blame allows you to get it both ways or make your people think they could get it both ways, well, you try to get it both ways and you fail.

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  2. I don't know Zimbabwe enough to comment but ...

    "creating a "right" to intervene in DRC is a fallacy, DRC wasn't Angola or Mozambique"

    This was a business affair. It did cost the state of Zim millions USD per month but individuals of Zanu-PF (politicians as generals) managed to get rights on mining concessions of all kinds in return, which were run btw by WHITE friends of Mugabe like Billy Rautenbach. It unmasking Mugabe as the opportunistic criminal he is.

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  3. First of all, it is telling that the only factual point by point account of the situation in Zimbabwe appears on a website called 21st Century Socialist, not the BBC, not CNN, not on any of the mainstream so-called news outlets.

    Secondly, the intervention by Zimbabwe in the DRC was within the SADC framework and on the request of the LEGAL government of the DRC. In other words, it was completely legal and above board. Just another lie the MDC thought they could get away with.

    It was the west which was supporting lawbreaking, by supporting the illegal presence of Uganda and Rwanda within the borders of the DRC.

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  4. First of all, it is telling that the only factual point by point account of the situation in Zimbabwe appears on a website called 21st Century Socialist, not the BBC, not CNN, not on any of the mainstream so-called news outlets.

    There are plenty of "factual" account all over the spectrum.
    I mean I could say that it is telling that the best account I've read has been written by some Brit on a website called 21st Century Socialist and not by, say, you !

    Secondly, the intervention by Zimbabwe in the DRC was within the SADC framework and on the request of the LEGAL government of the DRC. In other words, it was completely legal and above board. Just another lie the MDC thought they could get away with.

    Hold on.
    1. The LEGAL government of the DRC was Kabila's ? The guy who took over with Rwandan, Ugandan (and by proxy American) help after he had been forgotten by anyone in the country, immediatly suppressed the transition parliament that Mobutu was fighting against and ruled as a dictator ? That's your LEGAL government ?
    2. the notion that there ever was any concern about legality in a conflict in which all sides were simply concerned about bounty is laudable.
    3. the legality of the intervention didn't matter. What mattered was that it strained Zimbabwean finances at a time when they couldn't afford it. You don't go fighting a useless war when you're begging for IMF money to pay for your deficits. Namibia and Angola which were on the same side as Zimbabwe never heard a word about it because they could afford it.

    It's not a MDC lie. There's a bunch IMF reports in which they say "well, your deficit is too big, cut on the war expenses and the public service wage increases so you can have money to pay for health or education" before MDC existed. The only defense the government gives is "solidarity". And that doesn't make sense. Angola and Mozambique were "solidarity" issues. In this case, it was warlords against warlords, looters against looters.

    It was the west which was supporting lawbreaking, by supporting the illegal presence of Uganda and Rwanda within the borders of the DRC.

    Well, I guess it wasn't so illegal when the same Uganda and Rwanda with US support entered DRC to put Kabila on his throne and kick Mobutu off..
    Or was it illegal when Tanzanian troops entered the borders of Uganda without permission to remove the LEGAL regime of Idi Amin ?
    Was it ILLEGAL when India entered Eastern Pakistan, stopped a genocide and let it become Bangladesh ?

    Choose some country where there's at least some vague impression of legitimacy, not outright looting murderous dictatorships !

    (and as a reminder, France supported Mobutu and later Kabila when he fell off with his friends, so the "West" isn't really the concept here)

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  5. Let's talk again about that the concept of legality in that war.

    As I said before, Kabila conquered Zaire with Rwandan and Ugandan help. Not cover help, actual troops and guns etc..

    He had "Rwandan" ministers in his cabinet (I'll explain why I put it in quotes) and his chief of staff is the current Chief of Staff of the Rwandan Army.

    NO ONE exactly knows what happened but after a year Kabila broke off with his former patrons. Could be that Rwandan were genuinely asking too much, could be that Kabila was sensitive to the resentment building up in Kinshasa (and if you think that one is sane, you're wrong too), could be that he didn't want to be seen as a pawn, could be that someone said something he didn't like (and Kabila had quite a temperament, like the kind where advisors are dismissed for doing their jobs).. But in short he ordered the Rwandan and the Ugandan out.

    Now one has to remember why Rwanda helped him to start with.

    Now it could have been about looting ressources too but not certainly not only (Uganda's role is less complicated).

    1. The US wanted Mobutu out after supporting him for years. They were very happy about Kagame, Museveni or Zenawi and were more than ready to have that kind of leader in the Congo now that the communist threat was out of the table.
    2. Mobutu was hosting the Hutu extremists right at the border of Rwanda (that fits in their pro-french alliance I guess). Many of the genocide leaders were right there launching raids into Rwanda or simply, well, being there.
    3. There is a sizeable Ethnic Rwandan (and Burundese) minority in Eastern Zaire. While many have been there for a long time, a lot of Tutsi who flew Rwanda in the 60's were there. In the 80's, Mobutu had denied all of them citizenship by passing one of the most ridiculous laws ever. Some moved back to an already overpopulated Rwanda. And with Hutu extremists running amok, many of them who didn't seek refuge were unsafe (to say the least). And yes, that's why the "Rwandan" was in quotes.

    So Rwanda helped Kabila for all of that. In fact, they may have started the rebellion and used Kabila as a figurehead because they didn't want it to look like an invasion.

    When Kabila broke off with the Rwandan, a few things happened that may have made them understandbly "nervous".

    1. he went on TV and actually said something that at least could have been understood like "get those Rwandans" by the most extremist of his people. Now in Kinshasa, a "Rwandan" is someone who LOOKS Rwandan. Tutsi, Hutu, Foreign, Recent Migrants, Migrant since the 19th century or since the 30's, it doesn't matter. They all look Rwandan and people went after them. And you can understand why Rwanda as a state is a *bit* sensitive about such events.
    2. In the East, where the Banyarwanda minority was organized, tensions were never really resolved. Killings, clashes with the rest of the population happened often. THEY had no trust in the state of DRC's ability to guarantee their right to exist. And of course, once again, Rwanda was a bit nervous. Especially with Kabila fanning the flames to show his "nationalist" credencials.
    3. Kabila did what is I guess the obvious thing: he allied with what was left of the Hutu extremists and at least turn the blind eye when they started attacking the Tutsi Banyrwanda again. Which is quite likely to make FPR nervous.

    What happened after that was that while Kabila argued that the sanctity of his territory made Rwanda's actions illegal, Rwanda argued that they got in 1. to protect THEIR territory and 2. to prevent possible ethnic cleansings. Burundi said the same. Uganda vaguely argued that Kabila was hosting some rebels. Some former Mobutists rose and claimed that Kabila was an impostor and allied with Uganda. Congolese Tutsi argued that they were fighting for their lives (and still do). Other ethnic easterners argued that THEY were fighting for their lives, so did Hutu groups. And for some odd reason, Mugabé, Nujoma but also rosy characters like Deby and Dos Santos got in to preserve the "sanctity of DRC's territory" (it's funny because a year before, Angola got into the other Congo on the side of someone who wasn't the "legal" president but who had connexion to the French interests too).

    And then you have 4 millions dead, a country destroyed, millions displaced, ressources looted (by all sides) and the worse mess in African history.

    And we're trying to claim that anyone was on the side of "legality" here ? Really ? That Zimbabwe got in on a side of a "legal" government that consisted of a crook who took over with foreign help, who ruled by decree, raped his country's richess and incited the killing of at least thousands ?

    What's the difference between Kabila (or Mobutu) and Idi Amin ? Weren't they all the "legal" rulers of their country ?

    (and who killed Kabila's father ?)

    ( As far as Kinshasa nationalist ressentment, I was there aroudn the time Kabila Jr swore in after the elections. The city was firmly pro-Mbemba. And the argument was that Kabila Jr all of a sudden was a pawn of the West and .. and.. of Rwanda. Quite odd considering that Mbemba himself was a former Mobutist and admited ON CAMERA that as a rebel he received Ugandan help. In Kinshasa, traitors become heros quite easily.)

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  6. As said by random ...

    EVERY PARTY engaged helpen to ruin the Congo.

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    "It's not a MDC lie. There's a bunch IMF reports in which they say "well, your deficit is too big, cut on the war expenses and the public service wage increases so you can have money to pay for health or education" before MDC existed. The only defense the government gives is "solidarity". And that doesn't make sense. Angola and Mozambique were "solidarity" issues. In this case, it was warlords against warlords, looters against looters."


    Angola and Zimbabwe have, as of today, still interests in mining concessions as a repayment by the DRC for

    1) Saving Kabila sr. when Rwandese troops launched an attack by paratroopers on Kinshasa.

    2) Blocking Rwandese groundtroops to break through from Kasai to Kinshasa.

    3) To help Kabila jr to power after the murder on the father.

    As I stated before these mining interest went to very well-known figures in Angolan and Zimbabwan politics, the states didnt benefit one bit from it. So instead of solidarity it was personal business interest that kept forces of these countries till 2004!!! in the DRC. In 2004 there were still Zimbabwan soldiers sporting around in Lubumbashi. The Peace agreement for a transitional government in Congo was signed in 2003.

    On a side note, if you claim legality to protect a befriended country's territorial integrity, you don't ask anything in return...

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    "In Kinshasa, traitors become heros quite easily."

    Bemba got his popularity mostly because of resentment for the "European backed" Kabila: his coalition was based on the slogan "Everyone but Kabila". The fact that the people of Congo consider Kabila as a foreigner or Rwandese is just African politics. Every so often someone's etnic/parental background is contested, as we will see in our beloved ZED if new pres. elections will be held and Banda is a contestor. In Congo there's also an east-west divide. The Swahili-speaking west voted for Kabila against the Lingala-speaking east voted against Kabila. Im generalising things a bit here...

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    "It was the west which was supporting lawbreaking, by supporting the illegal presence of Uganda and Rwanda within the borders of the DRC."

    The US did indeed back Rwanda but France always backed both father and son Kabila once in power.

    They stayed close to Mobutu till the last moment. Not in the least because France forced Mobutu to unleash the beast in East-Congo by accepting the killer of the 1994 genocide within it's borders. A genocide France is indirectly co-responsible for (this is a different discussion though).

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    Back on track: "Alternative Perspectives on Zimbabwe (Noel Tucker)"

    People should investigate how the Zimbabwan state ate itself through massive corruption. I believe many answers lie there.

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  7. The fact that the people of Congo consider Kabila as a foreigner or Rwandese is just African politics. Every so often someone's etnic/parental background is contested, as we will see in our beloved ZED if new pres. elections will be held and Banda is a contestor. In Congo there's also an east-west divide. The Swahili-speaking west voted for Kabila against the Lingala-speaking east voted against Kabila. Im generalising things a bit here...

    Yeah. Not to mention that accusation of "Rwandese-ness" quickly became a proxy for "Easterner". And Kinshasa really thinks IT IS DRC.

    As far as the votes, I remember seeing maps that actually suggested another theory. Basically rebel controlled territory voted for Kabila and government controlled territory voted for Bemba (why did I type Mbemba before ? lol). With of course a few caveats here and there (Kasaï mostly). But yeah, it was erie because the pockets in the East that were controlled by the government did vote for the opposition. Just thought it was an interesting thing to mention.

    The US did indeed back Rwanda but France always backed both father and son Kabila once in power.

    Well, I believe they started supporting Kabila once he broke off with his patrons. Before, they were trying to "manage defeat".

    They stayed close to Mobutu till the last moment. Not in the least because France forced Mobutu to unleash the beast in East-Congo by accepting the killer of the 1994 genocide within it's borders. A genocide France is indirectly co-responsible for (this is a different discussion though).


    Indeed.
    I remember when the French media was drumming about cholera in camps in Boma, days after the official end of the genocide.
    There were 20 deads. And just a few miles away, 800,000 bodies. Talking about weapons of mass distraction.

    People should investigate how the Zimbabwan state ate itself through massive corruption. I believe many answers lie there.

    Oddly enough, I believe corruption is overestimated. I mean it was there as it is everywhere but a series of short-term political moves, a certain amount of hubris are better explainations.

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  8. Angola and Zimbabwe have, as of today, still interests in mining concessions as a repayment by the DRC for

    Also I believe Angola's motivation were more straight-forward. At least, like in the case of Rwanda, their security was in play. They helped Kabila get rid of Mobutu because Mobutu was helping UNITA (and remember the Shaba war in 78), they helped Kabila against Rwandans probably because Kabila made them believe UNITA would regain strength if he was ejected, either because the Rwanda-Uganda-USA link or because no new president would be able to control the territory (and the borders).
    They intervened in Congo-Brazzaville for slightly similar reasons. They believed (rightfully or not) that one faction was allied with the Cabinda rebels. And the goal was to clear the mess (which they did quite fast, I have to say).

    The Angola intervention in both cases had some "security" justificationn. It's not right but it at least makes some kind of sense.

    Zimbabwe though ? Was there a threat ? a reason ? something ?

    Nope. So either it's Mugabe's hurbis or someone made money. But morals weren't in the game.

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  9. "Also I believe Angola's motivation were more straight-forward. At least, like in the case of Rwanda, their security was in play. They helped Kabila get rid of Mobutu because Mobutu was helping UNITA"

    Well these were valid reasons to back Kabila sr but by 2001 Savimbi was dead and much of UNITA disbanded.

    Don't forget the coalition backing Kabila sr to overthrow Mobutu consisted of a broad African coalition (Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Soedan).

    Even Zambia was engaged as Chiluba had LUN used as a minor hub to fly in weapons for Kabila's rebels. The taking of Lubumbashi took place by rebels that were flown into Zambia from Rwanda and just walked the 30 km from the border town of Kipushi to Lubumbashi.

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