Dan Roodt, American Renaissance, November 24, 2017
Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the Zimbabwe dictator who just resigned, was seen as a hero of the world-wide anti-white movement. In both the US and South Africa, he was widely lauded by black groups for “putting whites in their place” by confiscating their farms and other assets. During a visit to South Africa in 2015, he famously told a TV journalist, “I don’t want to see a white face.” This enormously raised his esteem among South African blacks.
Just a few days before Mr. Mugabe’s ouster by his own ZANU PF party and his own military, the BBC still referred to him as a “liberation hero.” However, as with many other African dictators, Mr. Mugabe’s success depended on a little help from white and yellow people. During the latter part of his regime, it was increasingly being propped up by China. According to the website china.aiddata.org, there were media reports of 128 Chinese aid projects in Zimbabwe between 2000 and 2012.
Before 1980, when Mr. Mugabe took over as prime minister, both China and the Soviet Union supported a terrorist campaign by backing different black factions against Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government. Mr. Mugabe was China’s man, and he eventually emerged on top, although the pro-Soviet faction called ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army) committed more spectacular civilian attacks. On September 3, 1978, ZIPRA used a Soviet infrared homing missile to shoot down a Vickers Viscount serving Air Rhodesia Flight 825. Survivors of Flight 825 were gunned down by ZIPRA guerrillas who raped female passengers before murdering them. The guerrillas then looted the wreckage. On February 12, 1979, ZIPRA shot down Air Rhodesia Flight 827, also with a Soviet missile.
Public opinion in both the Rhodesia and in South Africa was shocked, but the media in the West mostly ignored the incidents. For a while, the idea of shooting down airplanes with white passengers inside fired the leftist imagination, as evidenced by a short, revolutionary novel written by South African author Nadine Gordimer shortly afterwards. July’s Peoplecontains a scene in which South African whites on a passenger plane are sent to their deaths with a missile, signaling an imminent military victory by blacks over whites.
Mr. Mugabe outsmarted his main revolutionary rival, Joshua Nkomo, and took full control of the country in 1980. Beginning in January 1983, he further consolidated power by massacring an estimated 20 to 80 thousand members of the minority Matabele tribe who were Nkomo’s main supporters. Many survivors fled to South Africa, the first of a sustained outflow of people fleeing the country.
During the initial years of Mr. Mugabe’s reign therefore, he acted as an Afro-Marxist strongman but with a certain pragmatism. He left Zimbabwe’s whites in control of the country’s private-sector economy, including agriculture. The main crop in Zimbabwe has always been tobacco, and China, where anti-smoking measures have not been as pervasive as in the West, became a major client.
Liberal commentators and mainstream journalists have consistently denied the notion that whites play a significant economic role in Africa. For them, it is a mystery how South Africa and Rhodesia—run by whites and substantially populated by them—came to be more developed than other African countries. So when Mr. Mugabe decided to confiscate all white-owned land in 2000, it was probably not seen by the international community as a significant event. In fact, the Mugabe regime held a conference in September 1998 on his so-called “land reform,” which was attended by 48 countries and international organizations. Not a single one objected to his program of simply nationalizing all white farms and expelling the owners.
Early in 2000, after losing a referendum to change the constitution, Mr. Mugabe sent some of his ZANU PF party thugs who called themselves “war veterans” to chase whites out of their homes and off their land. This plunged the country into an economic crisis from which it has never recovered, despite Chinese and Western aid, and despite remittances from some three million Zimbabweans who crossed the border into South Africa and work here—mostly as waiters and cooks, or gardeners and farm workers. South Africa’s ANC regime has also given clandestine aid to Zimbabwe in the form of electricity and food on credit, for which its northern neighbor has never paid.
An estimated 95 percent of the Zimbabwean workforce is unemployed, public infrastructure is crumbling, and there are widespread reports of shortages of cash and food. The Economist recently noted that almost a quarter of Zimbabweans need of food assistance and 72 percent live in poverty.
Over the past 17 years, Mr. Mugabe has gone from Chinese-backed military leader to the main character in a comedy of the absurd, reminiscent of Alfred Jarry’s King Ubu. In November 2008, the country suffered hyperinflation of 79.6 billion percent. Zimbabwean dollar bills had to be printed in denominations of billions and then trillions; there is a market among collectors all over the world who want to own such tokens of hyperinflation. In the end, the currency was simply abolished and replaced by the US dollar. Mr. Mugabe and his cronies then limited the amount of cash anyone could withdraw from banks, and issued a new currency, supposedly based on a US dollar-denominated loan, known as “bond notes.” From hyperinflation, the country veered towards perennial cash shortages and all kinds of black-market operations that rendered a normal economic life well-nigh impossible.
Let us not forget that in 1994, the Queen of England made Mr. Mugabe a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath; he could be officially addressed as “Sir Robert.” British universities also awarded him honorary degrees. Some of these honors were quietly withdrawn in 2008 when The Telegraph reported that “in view of the extreme nature of his actions in Zimbabwe,” the Foreign Office and Buckingham Palace decided that he should no longer be a British knight.
In 1996, Mr. Mugabe married a woman 40 years his junior, Grace Ntombizodwa, who soon started playing a political role alongside her aging husband. Until his resignation on November 21, 2017, the 93-year-old Mr. Mugabe had ruled for 37 years, making him the oldest, living head of state, and one of the longest-serving in modern history.
Robert and Grace Mugabe were almost caricatures of African despots. While millions of citizens lived on food aid, Robert and Grace lived in a lavish mansion on the outskirts of the capital Harare, formerly known as Salisbury. Grace acquired a reputation for luxury shopping sprees in London and Singapore. The Mugabe’s also bought various expensive properties in other countries, including South Africa. Mr. Mugabe’s opulent lifestyle—he once ordered the most expensive, armor-plated Mercedes-Benz straight from the factory in Germany—is testimony to the truism that crime pays in Africa.
Although Mr. Mugabe sometimes rigged elections in his favor, Zimbabwe’s black voters mostly rewarded his disastrous anti-white policies with victories at the ballot box. In many ways, he personified the childish but sinister irrationality we associate with a long list of Africans: Idi Amin, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, Charles Taylor, Samora Machel, Mobutu Sese Seko, Mengistu Haile Mariam and of course, South Africa’s Julius Malema, who wants to apply Mr. Mugabe’s policies in my country.
None of this stopped liberal media from looking on the bright side. The New York Timespublished eulogies of “land reform” that “restored the dignity of the African people,” and even suggested that things were now better than in the days of “white supremacy.” In the very month the Swiss Red Cross issued a food-security warning about Zimbabwe—July 2012—the Times published an article called “In Zimbabwe Land Takeover, a Golden Lining.”
Perhaps the worst part of Mr. Mugabe’s departure is that it will probably be a pretext for a new round of Western aid money. As British Prime Minister Theresa May put it:
The resignation of Robert Mugabe provides Zimbabwe with an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterized his rule. . . . As Zimbabwe’s oldest friend we will do all we can to support this, working with our international and regional partners to help the country achieve the brighter future it so deserves.
Most deposed African dictators come to a sticky end, but Mr. Mugabe is getting the royal treatment. He and his wife will reportedly keep all their assets, including overseas homes, and are guaranteed security within the country. They are free to travel, and are immune from prosecution for human-rights abuses.
The man taking over the reins in Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, is likely to be no better than Mr. Mugabe. Until the two fell out in a power struggle, the 75-year-old Mr. Mnangagwa was one of the ex-dictator’s chief henchmen. He was Minister of State Security while the Ndebele were being massacred, and has also been a strong proponent of “indigenization,” or the expropriation of white assets.
Perhaps the best reaction to Mr. Mugabe’s departure, is a depiction of Ian Smith, the last Rhodesian prime minister, toasting his successor. The sentiment is likely to be correct 37 years later.