There are a few men who are as controversial as the Zimbabwean president. Even Western foreign policy has proven to be ill-equipped to deal with President Robert Mugabe. Former British Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd reportedly admitted, “The trouble with Mugabe is he thinks like us.” The West has proved it is not intellectually endowed to deal with the veteran leader who remains a thorn in the West’s flesh. President Mugabe stands for the downtrodden African countries on the international stage. He is the voice of the voiceless.
The Double Standards of the West
Roy Agyemang, the producer of the movie “Mugabe: Villain or Hero” understands the story of the Zimbabwean leader all too well. Agyemang says, “In western lore he has been a terrorist, a Marxist ideologue, now a bloodthirsty tyrant, stereotypes that he alone on the continent has been able to mock and laugh off.” Agyemang might have forgotten to mention that he has also been a Western darling, even being knighted in 1994. He was however, stripped of the knighthood in 2008 after a period of skirmishes which started from the land resettlement programme of 2000. Britain has since then been decidedly anti-Mugabe yet when they thought he did not threaten white interests in Zimbabwe, he was a good leader deserving of knighthood. There is a practice of rewarding “good boys” in African politics: an incentive for being a puppet and in 1994, President Mugabe had the West fooled. The world thought he would be another leader who would champion Western interests. The glaring inconsistency in its policy has made the West a joke. Obviously Western policy is not engineered to benefit Africans and this has further legitimised President Mugabe and his policies. Some people have complained and labelled his policies grabbing foreign-owned resources. If the minerals and other resources are really Western owned, what are they doing on African soil?
Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans, Africa for Africans
President Mugabe in 2002 fired off what the Daily Mail called a ”salvo” at Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of Britain. He said, “We have fought for our land, we have fought for our sovereignty, small as we are we have won our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood. So Blair, keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe.”
Predictably, his words resonated with a continent which has been at war with interfering Western forces hiding behind capital. At one point, President Mugabe told United States of America to stay out of African affairs. He said to the US, “Keep your pink nose out of our affairs, please. Where do you get that audacity to open your mouth and try to sermonise us?”
The truth is though he may not be everyone’s favourite leader, he says everything that Africans should be saying to the West. The West should stop meddling in African affairs! President Mugabe is revered for speaking this hard-hitting truth. He is no one’s puppet. He has also economically ensured the Africans who were the whole reason for the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe get the benefits of independence through the Indigenisation Policy and like spirited policies. All these are engineered to make Africans own their economy but in response, Zimbabwe has been punished by the West and not lauded for trying to set a new path to self-sustainability. In essence, Zimbabwe is being pinned to submit to the Western masters but President Mugabe has remained defiant. Africans can no longer be glorified slaves of greedy imperialists.
Speaking against inequality in world affairs
At the opening ceremony of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, he told the United Nations Secretary General to tell the West that Africa demanded equal treatment. He said, “Tell them, tell them we are not ghosts, that we also belong to the world…part of the world called Africa, and Africans shall no longer tolerate a position of slavery, slavery by any other name. By denial of rights, slavery by being treated in a manner we regard as not equal to the manner in which they treat themselves.”
The crop of leaders on the rise are malleable apologists afraid to say no to inequality. Clearly the West has used donor funds to control politics in Africa and silence African leaders on the global stage. When big decisions are made in the United Nations Security Council, African countries are not there yet some of those decisions if not most, affect Africa. What sort of balance is that when foreign countries hold the fate of Africans in their hands? The sadder fact is a few African leaders have brought the West to task over its attempts to establish political hegemony in global affairs. President Mugabe speaks for the downtrodden African nation with no voice at the United Nations. That country which goes year in and year out to General Assembly summits and gains nothing save for fatter bills to cover for the trips. This makes him the modern hero he is.
President Mugabe like any mortal man will have his flaws and weaknesses but when it comes to standing up against imperialism and neo-colonialist tendencies, he is a modern legend. It is allowed to criticise his conduct in other dimensions of his leadership but when it comes to sticking it in the face of the West, a few have done a better job than him. World relations should change, and Mugabe represents that change.