Chavez & Mugabe: an unholy pair
By Aleksander Boyd
London 19.10.05 | FAO's officials -as good old leaching UNcrats- had the fantastic idea of inviting Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe to address a conference in Rome few days ago. Not to be outdone by the stellar UNperformance given in New York's by his Venezuelan brother, Mugabe placed Bush & Blair's relationship in the same compartment of that of Hitler and Mussolini. The events, however, should be read in the appropriate context. Condemnation from all quarters followed Mugabe's speech. Aside from a few pariah states the Zimbabwean strongman has ran out of friends / supporters. Not surprisingly on the internet, Wikipedia is one of the very few sites that still portrays a benign image (do pay attention to the choice of pictures published). Too much information about killings, illegal land grab, political prosecution and forced hunger make the case against him.
So why is Mugabe so widely despised and Fidel Castro, whose record makes Mugabe look like a progressive leader, still counts with support in many nations? Could it be that Spanish speaking countries and related issues are a subcategory of world affairs? In any case I got in touch with Wilf Mbanga, who is founder and first Chief Executive of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, the publishers of The Daily News (closed down in 2003 under the terms of the Zimbabwe Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act—AIPPA and the editor of The Zimbabwean, to ask him a few questions about Chavez & Mugabe that he kindly replied.
1. How long has Mugabe being in power and how did he reach it?
He was democratically elected in a landslide victory at independence in 1980. Very popular, did very well in the first few years, health and education and roads etc., country prospered, except for Gukurahundi in 1982/3 to suppress the Ndebeles.
2. When was the last time that democratic and transparent elections were held in Zimbabwe?
3. How have Zimbabweans benefited from the land grab implemented by Mugabe? Are they in any way better off?
No, Zimbabweans have not benefitted at all. Only the Zanu (PF) cronies and police and army, used as patronage to keep people loyal to him. The rest are starving as a result because at least before there was a commercial agricultural system which kept the country self sufficient in food and earned forex to buy other things like medicines etc.
4. What's your opinion of Mugabe's speech before the FAO in Rome?
Nauseating. Full of untruths. He should have never have been invited. Done more than anyone to cause hunger.
5. Do you consider Mugabe's friendship with Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez positive?
It's a club of dictators - they always support each other, birds of a feather and all that - isolated by the real democrats, no other friends so extremely loyal to each other.
6. In light of the replicating land measures imposed by Chavez in Venezuela, do you feel that that country is headed towards food self sufficiency as claimed by officialdom?
No way - just look at Zimbabwe. The opposite in fact.
7. What advice would you give to Venezuela's democratic opposition?
They must organise, have unity of purpose, not fight among themselves, not be trapped into being compromised in any way, fight, fight, but non-violently. Fight for freedom of the press, fight for accountability by those who purport to rule.
The picture of Chavez embracing effusively a joyful Mugabe right after the speech caused a swift reaction in the blogosphere [see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here]. It seems that for some there's no better evidence of Chavez 'democratic' disposition than just observing him praising and hugging Mugabe, Castro, Saddam, Khadaffi, the Iranian Mullahs, etc. Tellingly none of the organs of propaganda of the Chavez regime, normally very quick in inundating the internet with fawning pictures of Castro and Chavez, have cared to inform their sycophantic followers about the encounter in Rome.
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