Mugabe at his happiest

4. August 2013


„Alone, vilified, attacked by Western governments but victorious – Mugabe was at his happiest.“

(Richard Dowden, Africa. Altered States, Ordinary Miracles)

Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF won the elections in Zimbabwe. By any means. Surprised? Anyone?

Well, not anymore. Experts all around the media world now explain how logical it had always been that „Bob“ makes it again. But not too long ago, as a matter of fact just a few days ago, some of these „experts“ sounded different. „People are tired of Mugabe“; „Tsvangirai is the people’s real hero“; „this time, there’s a real chance for change“; „the SADC won’t tolerate another election fraud“… just a few predictions that were made with utter conviction in German media. One head of office of a German political foundation in Harare said on Deutschlandradio: „Problems with elections mostly begin after the elections, with the announcement of the results.“ Really? No! They began weeks before! Many Zimbabweans knew it better than him:

Instead of more expertise in wishful thinking, I will leave you here with another two wise quotations from Richard Dowden’s comprehensive analysis, published in 2008. Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society. Not being one of those kings of wishful thinking, Dowden makes you understand a bit more why, indeed, there’s no surprise in Mugabe’s triumph.

„One of the usual reactions of outsider to Mugabe is, ‚He’s gone mad, hasn’t he?‘ The common impression is that Mugabe used to be a good guy and Zimbabwe did well in the early years. Then he went crazy and ruined it. Some have suggested that he was always evil, murdering rivals, manipulating supporters. But Heidi Holland, the Zimbabwe-born writer, has pointed out Mugabe’s love-hate relationship with Britain was created by his own upbringing. The ‚friendless clever little Robert‘ growing up in a fatherless family was adopted by an alternative ‚father‘, an Anglo-Irish Catholic priest, and doted on by a white nun. He could never reconcile the two sides to his personality. He could not, says Holland, ‚pull off the pretence of being both an Englishman and an African since the one despises the other.‘ All his life he has aspired to Britishness. He loves cricket, reflects fondly on his meetings with the Queen, formed a close relationship with Lord Soames and sought meetings with Mrs Thatcher. All these reflect his wish to be accepted. But he feels he is not and his anger at rejection drives his pursuit of power. […] Mugabe has not gone mad. Nor was he always bad. He is a complicated schizophrenic man, driven both by respect for the Western mentality for logic and order and a passionate sense of injustice and rejection by whites. He has both a vision of wrongs to be righted, even revenged, and by the lust for power.“

„Mugabe thinks Zimbabwe is his because he took it by force – exactly the same mentality as the brutal white colonists who seized it more than a century ago. His aim, he says, is total independence but Zimbabweans will remain dependent on others‘ charity for the foreseeable future. In more than forty years Zimbabwe has had only two rulers. Opposites in every conceivable way way, Smith and Mugabe have one thing in common. Stubborn and reckless, they both gave the finger to the rest of the world and to their own people. Maybe it is something in the water.“

Quotations from:

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