From independence hero to puissant leader, Robert Mugabe has become convinced that he rules by Divine Right, and that only God can take power away. In his increasing anger, he reserves his fire for Zimbabwe’s former colonial master, Britain:
“A vote for the MDC is a vote for the British to have once again, not just a foothold here, but real power,” he told supporters.
Mugabe’s election propaganda rams home the point. Tony Blair morphs into George Bush, then into Gordon Brown, and finally into Morgan Tsvangirai. The MDC leader, says the advert, is simply a Western pawn.
Zimbabwe’s descent into chaos goes back years, when Mugabe launched his campaign to drive out the country’s few remaining whites. Led by gangs of independence fighters, Zimbabwe’s white-owned farms were besieged, and the MDC was accused of working with their former colonial rulers.
But the seizures brought unforeseen consequences. The veterans were ill-prepared for, and seemingly uninterested in, the business of farming, and Zimbabwe began its remorseless downward spiral into poverty and hunger. Inflation exploded to more than 100,000 percent, unemployment is running at 80 percent, and millions of people simply fled, mostly to South Africa.
Ignoring criticism of the worsening situation, Mugabe continues to rail against his enemies, including aid agencies:
“Funds are being channelled through Non-Governmental Organisations to opposition political parties, which are a creation of the West,” he told a World Food Summit in Rome. “Further, these Western-funded NGO’s use food as a political weapon, with which to campaign against the government, especially in rural areas.”
Mugabe has presided over the near-total collapse of his country. From being southern Africa’s most-productive farming economy, Zimbabwe now seems on the brink of catastrophe.