The ecstasy of Fox News appears premature, as I will explain at bottom.
Most westerners know nothing about Zimbabwe except the lies they are told by their governments and media outlets.
Liberals and conservatives equally swallow the lies, and repeat them as “fact.” A post in the “progressive” Counterpunch blog calls Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe a “dictator” and a “tyrant.” Indeed, “progressives” often display their racism when they say, “Those Africans don’t know how to run a country. They still have hyper-inflation.”
(Zimbabwe’s currency problems resulted from a coordinated attack by the USA, IMF, and European Union, which imposed sanctions, embargoes, asset freezes, and visa denials on Zimbabwe. The crisis ended in 2009 when Zimbabwe switched its currency.).
Rule of thumb: If the corporate media outlets accuse a foreign a government of “dictatorship” and “human rights violations,” it means that the target government refuses to bow to the Empire. It means the target government declines to participate in war, imperialism, neoliberalism, debt slavery, inequality, and Western corruption. It means that the target nation is socialistic or semi-socialistic, and has some degree of equality and self-sufficiency. It means that the target government refuses to let foreign corporations extract resources for free, and that its humane treatment of its citizenry threatens to spread to other nations.
According to the Empire, the governments of Cuba and Russia are guilty of “human rights violations.” So are the governments of Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Eritrea, and Zimbabwe. (Libya was also a “dictatorship” until NATO destroyed Libya.) All are led by “dictators” that “starve their own people,” and who are simultaneously “Marxists” and “Nazis.” All are sanctioned, embargoed, and constantly threatened with military attack for defying the Empire.
Now the neoliberal Empire thought it might finally get regime change in Zimbabwe, and install a puppet government, so that foreign corporations can freely steal Zimbabwe’s resources. But it seems their hopes have been dashed again.
To explain what’s happening, I must briefly recount the Empire’s long campaign against Zimbabwe’s quest for independence.
One thing to keep in mind is that Zimbabwe’s economy is based on agriculture. This means that a central question is always, “Who owns the land?” In an agriculturally based economy, no development program can succeed if people are not given access to land.
Between 1890 and 1920, British settlers, who constituted less than 2% of Zimbabwe’s population, stole at gunpoint 250,000 head of cattle from the natives, plus 80% of Zimbabwe’s best arable land, while forcibly confining 98% of the population to less than 24% of the land in the most marginal and least productive regions of the country.
Therefore land ranked highest among the grievances that motivated the indigenous black majority to later fight for independence. Over 50,000 of them were killed, but by 1979 they achieved independence. A conference was held at Lancaster House in London between British authorities and the leaders of Zimbabwe’s independence movement, who wanted their land back.
Finally the British and American governments devised a scheme to delay land reform. They offered to compensate any whites in Zimbabwe who agreed to sell their farms. It was estimated that £2 billion would be needed for this, but between 1980 and 1996, the British government provided only £40 million for land reform. (By way of comparison, in the 1960s the British government had paid out £200 million to resolve the land question in Kenya.)
Throughout the 1980’s and most of the 1990’s, Zimbabwe patiently tolerated these British delaying tactics, and was praised as a shining example of a successful, stable, prosperous, democratic and well governed African country.
However nothing had changed from colonial times. All the best land was still owned by whites, many of whom lived in England as absentee landlords. Some 4,000 families out of a population of 13 million still owned 75% of the productive land in Zimbabwe, 82% of which they did not even use.
(To repeat: In an agriculturally-based economy, a central political question is always, “Who owns the land?”)
By 2000 Zimbabwe grew tired of waiting, and began to agitate for true land reform. The natives, led by their traditional chiefs and spiritual leaders, began to occupy unused parts of white-owned farms.
This enraged the Empire, which imposed multiple sanctions on Zimbabwe, and called it a “rogue nation,” a “state sponsor of terrorism.”
Zimbabwe’s government repeatedly tried to negotiate with the Empire, and was repeatedly rejected. So Zimbabwe’s government accelerated the settlement of its people on the unused portions of white-owned farms, and paid the whites for any improvements (houses, barns, wells, canals, etc.). As for the land itself, white farmers were told to go the British, who had promised to compensate them.
No whites were ever divested of any land that they actually used and lived on.
Still, the Empire began drawing up plans for regime change. Then Zimbabwe nationalized most of its mining operations, plus banks and other important businesses. Zimbabwe also became tight with Russia and China, inviting them to run the mines. Zimbabwe was also the most active participant in Muamar Gaddafi’s campaign to unite Africa (before the Empire destroyed Libya).
Unlike most other African countries, Zimbabwe does not cooperate with AFRICOM, and has no US military bases or drone bases, nor foreign “advisors” entrenched in Zimbabwe’s armed forces.
In nearly every way Zimbabwe has asserted its independence from the neoliberal Empire.
This is unforgiveable.
The CIA funds a counter-revolution in Zimbabwe’s government, led by Morgan Tsvangirai and his pro-Western, pro-neoliberal “Movement for Democratic Change” (MDC-T) which opposes all land reform issues. In public, Morgan Tsvangirai condemns the Empire’s sanctions. In private (as revealed by Wikileaks) he urges the Empire to maintain them. It is exactly the same situation as Venezuela’s.
The CIA directly controls Morgan Tsvangirai and his “Movement for Democratic Change” (MDC-T). They have promised to install him as dictator if he can get regime change. The goal is to reduce Zimbabwe to being another compliant African client state where the needs of the poor are crushed by the wealthy minority, in service to the Empire and multinational corporations.
Because of Mugabe’s leadership, as well as the determination of the Zimbabwean people, Zimbabwe has become the envy of Africa. Its wealth is still not equal to African states that have remained loyal to the Empire, but when wealth is concentrated in the 1%, is that really wealth?
The USA had previously banned the import of elephant ivory and lion pelts from Zimbabwe, but yesterday reversed this ban in order to destroy Zimbabwe’s wildlife and its tourist industry.
By the way, the Empire calls Zimbabwe the most corrupt nation on earth, and claims that Robert Mugabe enjoys eating elephants. (When Idi Amin of Uganda defied the Empire, he was called a cannibal who ate children. The Empire’s lies always portray African independence leaders as savage monkeys, in order to exploit Western racism.)
Onetime defense minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was fired this month, paving the way for Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to succeed him as president. This caused instability. The military is loyal to Mugabe, but they wanted Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe when he dies.
The Empire hates Mnangagwa, and is trying to use the instability to install Morgan Tsvangirai as puppet dictator. However the military will not allow this. The military has always been loyal to Mugabe and his campaign of independence for Zimbabwe.
The Washington Post says, “The Zimbabwe military is discovering it may not be so easy to remove Mugabe.”
Translation: it’s looking like the CIA has failed yet again. They will not be able to install Morgan Tsvangirai as a neoliberal puppet dictator, at least for now. The “military coup” was simply a move to maintain order and prevent a coup.
TRIVIA: The purple trees below, in Harare, are called jacarandas. They originally came from Central and South America, and have been planted all over the world, including the USA. I have one outside my house. They bloom in the early summer.
P.S. — Zimbabwe has Zimbabwe has 16 official languages. The most widely spoken are English, Shona and Ndebele.
China has extensive investments in Zimbabwe mining, agriculture, energy and construction sectors. China was Zimbabwe’s top trade partner in 2015, buying 28% of its exports. China financed the guerillas that fought for and won independence in the 1970s. When the US and EU imposed sanctions in 2002 elections, China stepped in, investing in over 100 projects. China also blocked UN Security Council moves to impose an arms embargo and restrictions on Zimbabwe’s government. Xi Jinping, China’s president, visited Zimbabwe in December 2015 and has promised a $5 billion in additional direct aid and investment. Xi’s personally provided $46m towards constructing a new parliament building in Harare.
China built a $100 million medical facility in 2011 and a new hospital in rural Zimbabwe. In 2015, state-owned Power Construction Corporation of China signed a $1.2 billion deal to expand Zimbabwe’s largest thermal power plant. Chinese investors have also bought unused farms seized from their former white owners. China financed and built Zimbabwe’s National Defense College, and China’s Army has helped train the Zimbabwean army.
All this infuriates the Empire.