24 June 2008

A Man like Hitler and Stalin combined

Many Irish people take little notice of other countries and their affairs, especially when they are far away, on another continent.
However, the ongoing and ever increasing campaign of terror, violence and political intimidation that is unleashed daily on the people of Zimbabwe has now become a regular news item here on the Emerald Isle and thus Irish people are ever more aware of the worst abuse of political power in Africa.

Having lost the parliamentary elections of March 29th to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as well as the first round of the presidential election held on the same day, the now 84-year-old Zimbabwean leader (he is no longer the legitimate President) Robert Mugabe is using any possible means to cling on to power, while his country deteriorates into chaos, economic meltdown and famine.

Robert Mugabe (above), a Jesuit-educated Catholic and once a revered freedom fighter in the struggle for the independence of Zimbabwe, has in his old age become the worst and cruelest dictator the African continent has seen in modern times. As a historian one needs to be careful with the use of superlatives, but sadly there is no doubt that Robert Mugabe now outranks even Uganda's Idi Amin and Zaire's Mobuto when it comes to cruelty, brutality, violence and absolute egoism. Zimbabwe's dictator also outshines other African leaders in his combination of huge arrogance and ignorance, with total incompetence in the field of proper political and economical leadership. And the longer he carries on in power, the clearer it becomes to observers and analysts that he is a totalitarian maniac who has lost all sense for reality and the outside world. In this he resembles Adolf Hitler in his last days in the bunker beneath his office, still convinced of 'his special mission' while the world around him was shot to pieces by Russian artillery.

Like Hitler, the Zimbabwean dictator also believes that he is "chosen by God" as the leader of his people. And in a speech that can only be described as a bad copy of Hitler's Nuremberg rally speeches, Mugabe declared a few days ago that he "will never give up power to the opposition" and that "only God" could remove him as leader.

In private, it is said, he is quite a shy man who lives a rather simple life (another similarity with Hitler), and like Stalin he appears to be fond of much younger women in his old age. During his first marriage (to the Ghana-born political activist Sally Hayfron) this was not the case. It was in fact Sally who inspired him politically and believed in Mugabe as 'the chosen one' to rule and lead his country. A similar belief was shared by Mugabe's mother, a pious Catholic who saw her son Robert as some kind of Messiah after a priest had told her that he was gifted and 'chosen by God to do great things'. As it happens, this priest was Irish and thus we have perhaps a share in the responsibility for the making of Robert Mugabe.
Hitler was a Catholic as well, even though not very practising and church-going. He also did enjoy a close relationship with the Church throughout all his life and was - despite his atrocious crimes against humanity - never excommunicated.


But Hitler is not the only of Mugabe's inspirational characters from history. In many ways he is actually closer to Stalin than to Hitler and shares several personality traits with the former Soviet dictator. Before he got involved in revolutionary politics, Stalin was a seminarian, studying to become a Russian-Orthodox priest. Mugabe, who grew up on a Catholic missionary station in (the then British colony of) Rhodesia, took the name of the archangel Gabriel as his confirmation name and was educated by Marist Brothers and later by Jesuits, with the prospect of joining the order. But like Stalin he preferred politics to theology and got involved in the revolutionary underground of Rhodesia.

Stalin attempted a large-scale land reform, confiscating land from bourgeois private land owners and handing it over to collectives of landless peasants. The result was a dramatic shortage of food production, which led to a massive famine. More than 20 million Russians died within a decade, most of them from starvation, but many of the former landowners were also killed by the NKVD (later renamed KGB) on Stalins explicit personal orders.

Mugabe did the same. He confiscated the most productive farms in his country (which happened to belong mostly to successful white Zimbabwean farmers) and handed them over to motley crews of so-called 'war veterans', uneducated and arrogant young thugs who never saw a war in their life. High on alcohol and drugs, they wreaked havoc in the countryside, killing many farmers and driving the rest off their lands. Then they occupied the farms as the new masters, but since they have not the slightest idea how to run them, the result is the same as in the Soviet Union in the 1920s: a drastic decline in food production and subsequently a massive famine.

Meanwhile the unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is above 80%, and inflation is rising so fast that any percentage rate is already out of date by the time one mentions it. A British journalist who covered the elections of March 29th told me that he got one billion Zimbabwe Dollars for one pound sterling when he entered the country. A week later, when he left, the exchange rate had already doubled. And last week, when he went for another visit, the value of one pound sterling had jumped to a staggering 40 billion Zimbabwe Dollars!

Both Hitler and Stalin used their armies, police, secret police and uniformed party militias (formed from uneducated thugs, bullies and criminals) to intimidate their political opponents, bully the population and force people to comply with their political programmes and wishes. Robert Mugabe does exactly the same. Just like Hitler and Stalin he has also corrupted the leadership of the armed forces in such a way that meanwhile their own survival depends entirely on him and the continuation of his totalitarian regime. And there is another parallel between the modern African dictator and his two historical inspirations: Like the leaders of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia the leader of Zimbabwe also is very blunt and open in his speeches. He freely admits his aim of absolute and total control, and he openly threatens his opponents in public speeches, which - like those of Hitler - are filled with references to war and fighting.

In the past week alone at least 84 MDC members and supporters were killed by armed thugs of the ZANU-PF (Mugabe's party) militia, modeled on Hitler's SA. About 3000 more were attacked and wounded with weapons or beaten up. Many have been arrested by the police and tortured in prison. And hundreds of women were assaulted by ZANU-PF thugs and raped, while their children were either killed or abducted. The wife and son of the Mayor-elect of the capital Harare, who is a leading member of the MDC, were abducted by soldiers last week. The wife was later found dead, while the son managed to escape injured.

Yesterday a large contingent of police has stormed and ransacked Harvest House, the MDC head office in Harare, and any MDC candidate trying to campaign in the second round of the presidential elections has been arrested.
Tendai Biti, the Secretary General of the party, has been in prison for a week now, held on the spurious charge of 'treason'. Subsequently the leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai (above), a former miner and trade union leader, had to abandon his campaign and seek protection and safety in the Dutch embassy in Harare.
Meanwhile the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has declared that "a free and democratic election in Zimbabwe is no longer possible". He urged Robert Mugabe and his party to stop the violence and intimidation and restore law and order. But as welcome these words are, they are just words and will have no impact. Mugabe, who lives in his own little world, has long ago stopped to listen, and especially to people from the outside world.

Every time I hear further news from Zimbabwe I find it hard to believe that in the 21st century such behaviour is still possible - and tolerated by the rest of the world. The scenes reported by journalist and people from Zimbabwe are the same as one finds described in books about Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union during the time of Stalin's terror. The only difference is that now the world looks on in horror - and does nothing. Critical words from western politicians are the only reaction of the so-called 'free' world.
George W. Bush, who mentions in almost every speech that his country's mission is to bring democracy to the third world, is ominously silent. There are no US or NATO troops preparing to go into Zimbabwe to defend and restore democracy. Of course not, as they are too busy in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they wage war against civilians and behave worse than the most brutal German forces in Poland and Russia during World War II.

The greatest disappointment is the silence and inactivity of most of the other African leaders. The ignorance displayed by them is nothing short of criminal, and they are co-responsible for the terror and chaos that is happening in Zimbabwe. Idle bystanders who could help to avoid a catastrophe, but chose not to, are as guilty as those who plan and execute acts of terror.

With the exception of
Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa, who is currently also the Chairman of the SADC (South African Development Council), Africa's leaders are in denial over the violent attacks on Zimbabwean democracy, most of all South Africa's spineless President Thabo M'beki, who recently declared in public that there was "no crisis in Zimbabwe".
Last month I had the privilege to meet Morgan Tsvangirai at a conference in Belfast, where he was the surprise guest of honour. He is a kind and friendly man, but also a determined politician and a true democrat, probably one of the few to be found in modern Africa. He needs all the support the free world can give, and I hope that our politicians will this time offer more than a few lukewarm words.

Many years ago, when racist white regimes in South Africa and Rhodesia oppressed the political will of their black people, the western world was outraged and imposed harsh sanctions on both countries. The imprisoned leaders of the black rebellion - among them Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe - were hailed as heroes all around the world. They both achieved the ultimate political and personal success and became the Presidents of their countries.

But where is the outrage of the world when an illegitimate and tyrannic black leader does to his fellow black compatriots worse things than the white minority governments ever did? Not much is seen and heard from the people who were so active in the 'Free Nelson Mandela' campaign. It is a real shame and a clear sign of hypocrisy. There is also absolute silence in the Catholic Church. No critical word about Mugabe is heard from any church pulpit or bishop's palace, and especially not from the Vatican.
Why has he not been excommunicated for his murders, terror and cruelties?
(A local woman, who got married again after her divorce, was refused communion by the priest in her church, with the backing of the bishop. It appears that for the Church she is a worse sinner than Robert Gabriel Mugabe...)

Dictators around the world and of all times have the same psyche as bullies on a playground: they are really cowards inwardly and need the constant harassment of other people to feel their apparent own importance. They can only succeed if they find enough others to go along with the cruel ideas they have, enough who are willing to get involved in their crimes. And they also need many others to accept their bullying and dictatorship. No country can be ruled against the will of its people, and each nation is responsible for its own destiny.

But the world as a whole - especially in the apparently so enlightened 21st century - has also a collective responsibility. Criticising Mugabe and his henchmen is not enough. A truly criminal and inhumane regime that kills its own population systematically with weapons and with starvation is unacceptable and needs to be removed by all means. The world's major powers have enough soldiers and equipment to liberate Zimbabwe in a week, if they want to.
Sadly it appears that the people of this once rich, fertile and prosperous country will have to suffer ever more in years to come, as no country has the courage and humanity to put an end to Robert Mugabe, the worst dictator in Africa and a man who is like Hitler and Stalin combined.

The African Union (the successor to the OAU) has actually the power for a military intervention in member countries 'under exceptional circumstances', which has been used recently in Lesotho and the Comoros Islands. It is more than time for the Africans to sort out their own problems, face the facts and restore law, order and democracy to Zimbabwe.

The Emerald Islander

4 comments:

Hubris said...

Your hyperbolic headline is indicative of a very blinkered view. Since Mugabe has no concentration camps and has yet to launch purges or mass killings, I can only conclude that accuracy was never one of you strong points.

Right Wing British War Mongerers for Democratic Change?

So, who provides the money to that wonderfully independent and fantastically democratic political party MDC (Millions of Dead curly-haired-people) and it’s inspirational leader Mr Morgan (Can you kill Mugabe for me?) Tsvangirai?

THE EMERALD ISLANDER said...

In contrast to Mugabe's Zimbabwe, this weblog allows free speech and expression of opposing views.

So you are very welcome to make your point, although I doubt that you will find many others agreeing with it.

Anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear in this world knows by now what is going on in Zimbabwe and who is responsible for the worst case in recent history of raping and destroying a prosperous country that once was the envy of Africa.

I know this country quite well and as a historian and analyst I have substantiated the points I made in my piece about Mugabe and the many similarities he has with both J. W. Stalin and Adolf Hitler.

If you have any real arguments of evidence to offer, please present them the next time you write here.

Anonymous said...

I cannot under stand how you can remotely liken one of Africas greatest ever liberation heros to the Likes of Hitler ,Bush, Pinochet, Begin etc. President Mugabe only crime was he dared to do what no African leader ever dared do after liberation , in that he decided to right the wrongs of brutal white oppression and restore the stolen farmlands to their rightful owners , the indegenous Zimbabaweans. Where on earth do you get your info from, SKY, FOX NEWS, BBC, SUN ETC.?.

Anonymous said...

The above comment is clearly the statement of a professional ZANU-PF propagandist or an official of the corrupt Mugabe regime. No-one in his (or her) right mind would defend the appalling tyrant and murderer of his own nation, Robert Gabriel Mugabe (85 years old and Roman Catholic).

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