A Fresh Start for Zimbabwe

The nation of Zimbabwe just underwent a change in government. Robert Mugabe is being replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa had been a close ally of Mugabe. However, he had to flee the country after he was dismissed as vice-president. Mnangagwa has close ties with the military and his dismissal may have been the reason the military sent troops to arrest Mugabe. Under the circumstances, Mugabe decided to resign. He is being accused of rigging elections and using violence to repress his opponents. Mnangagwa may not be the hoped-for remedy for eliminating political violence. He is widely believed to be responsible for the Gukurahundi massacres in which up to 20,000 civilians were killed.

Robert Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 after an election that replaced the white-dominated Rhodesian government with a largely African one. This was a great victory for anti-colonial progressives. Mugabe has been showered with honorary degrees from universities as far away as Edinburgh, Massachusetts, Michigan, Atlanta, and Moscow. He was recently named a goodwill ambassador by the World Health Organization. This a curious honor in light of Zimbabwe’s deteriorating health-care system. Many critics complain that Zimbabwe’s health-care system has collapsed. They assert hat medical staff is regularly unpaid and medications are in short supply. The inability to obtain basic drugs and medicines has been blamed on hyperinflation. About one-fifth of the population is infected with HIV. At one point life expectancy of Zimbabwean women has dropped from 61 years, in 1991, to 34 years. The World Health Organization currently (2015) puts the female life expectancy at 62.3 years. However, in light of the deteriorating health care system, their figures should be looked at skeptically.

The failure of Zimbabwe is an embarrassment to the progressive globalists. It is best to avoid reporting news from there except for reports of crop failures due to drought. Few would, like Andrew Young, defend Mugabe. Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times, “Many, many ordinary black Zimbabweans wish that they could get back the white racist government that oppressed them in the 1970s.”

The Financial Times reported that, “One of Mr Mnangagwa’s main challenges will be turning around the ailing economy as the country grapples with a severe currency shortage, rampant unemployment and crumbling infrastructure.” According to one Zimbabwean source, China and the West provide 80% of Zimbabwe’s revenue. In 2015, the United States provided $159 million in aid to the country.

Mugabe will get a 5 to 10 million dollar “golden parachute,” immunity from prosecution for his family and his family’s assets will be protected. He will also receive his $150,000 salary for the rest of his life. His wife has been nicknamed “Gucci Grace” for her lavish spending. She has spent millions on property and luxury cars in South Africa. Her oldest son, Bellarmine Chatunga, recently posted a clip on social media showing him pouring a £200 bottle of Ace of Spades champagne over a $60,000 diamond-encrusted Rolex at a Johannesburg nightclub. He boasted, “daddy runs the whole country”. Kristof quotes a farmer by the name of Isaac, “It was better under Rhodesia. Then we could get jobs. Things were cheaper in stores. Now we have no money, no food.”

Zimbabwe’s elite love showcasing their wealth on social media. They have no concern for the millions of their countrymen who are starving. This is more than conspicuous consumption. It borders on the pathological. Robert Mugabe Jr. travels in a private jet “with an interior decked out completely in gold.” He has a black Batmobile. He purchased two Rolls Royces in September. Sidney Himbara Jr., whose father is one of the richest businessmen in Zimbabwe, wears customized alligator skin, gold-plated Giuseppe Zanotti $14,000 trainers. He has a golden revolver that fires lipstick pellets.

Nicholas Kristof pointed out in the New York Times, “When a white racist government was oppressing Zimbabwe, the international community united to demand change.” He states that now a black racist government is harming the people. He claims that most of the criticism is focused on the seizure the farms from white landowners. The major victims, however, are black Zimbabweans. Kristof states, “Our hypocrisy is costing hundreds of Zimbabwean lives every day.”

John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing). He has a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations from St. Mary’s University. He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.