Why Zimbabwe? Why now?

Poor are the Africans. For the last 500 years they were victimized, oppressed, enslaved and exploited by European colonizers and still are today.

Why there’s so much attention in the U.S. to Zimbabwe, when the average American does not know if Zimbabwe is a country or a river?

Why did President George W. Bush lead the charge that last month election, won by Robert Mugabe was a fraud?

Why so many Western media outlets, including Canadian, have send their own correspondents to cover an election in a poor faraway African country of some 13 million black people?

The answer is that Mugabe is hated by the British now as he was hated in 1980 when he was elected the first president of free Zimbabwe, after ninety years of British colonization under the name of Rhodesia (reference to the land Cecil Rhodes and his men had grabbed from the black African natives). The country had to fight a long and bitter war of liberation.

The British government made no secret then that they hoped the winner of the first free election would be Bishop Abel Muzorewa; Muzorewa was prepared to share power with the white minority who controls the nation’s economy. But Muzorewa, tainted by collaboration as a prime minister, with Ian Smith’s racist Rhodesian regime, was hooted out of office, and his rival, Mugabe swept the polls.

Mugabe was trying to implement a land reform; to redistribute the land of some 5,000 white farmers to his country poor black people. And that is a great sin. So he was and still called in the West a dictator, an arrogant, aging autocrat who has run the economy into the ground, fanned racial hatred and abused his power to suppress political foes, the courts and media, etc. etc.

Western media seldom reports that Mugabe was and still is popular especially in the rural areas; his land reform has won him support among his own people. When Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, 70 per cent of the country’s farm land was in the hand of 5,000 European settler landowners.

In a 2004 poll conducted by the popular monthly magazine /New African/ for the most influential African leaders of the 20th century Mugabe came third after Nelson Mandela and Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah.

Following the presidential elections in March this year the opposition claimed Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) a winner with 50.1 % of the votes. The government claimed it was a tie.

Mugabe decided to hold a reelection last month. But Tsvangirai pulled out and sought refuge in the Dutch Embassy which to some observers is a proof that he is a stooge of Western powers.

Back in 2002 Mugabe defeated Tsvangirai at the polls; Mugabe secured 56 per cent of the vote, Tsvangirai 42 per cent.

Zimbabwe was once among the most promising economies of Africa. The country is rich in mineral resources and has the second-largest deposits of platinum.

But thanks to Western sanctions the country’s economy is in ruins. High inflation, high fuel costs and high unemployment are crippling the economy. Millions of Zimbabweans have fled their country for economic reasons, three million in neighbouring South Africa.

Mugabe is no worse than many leaders in the developing world. Because he is challenging the 100 year old social unjust in his county (albeit, in a clumsy way), sanctions are imposed on his country by the rich and powerful nations including Canada, so the poor African blacks suffer some more.

Today, as it was years ago under the colonialists, it does not pay if you are African, black and poor.