|Zimbabwe: A Fool's Paradise||John Morse comments on the anarchy and terror now rampant in former Rhodesia|
According to Ann Leslie, writing in the Daily Mail of the 22nd April, these strange sentiments were expressed to her by a British-born gentleman who, together with his good lady, had lived in Rhodesia for many years, at the time when the country's Whites threw the towel in and handed it over to black majority rule some twenty years ago. They were uttered just as marxist terrorist Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF "comrades" had taken over the government of the land which was thenceforth to be called "Zimbabwe", in a British-supervised election characterised by brutal ZANU intimidation.
At that time the terror was directed mainly at Blacks. Now nothing much has changed except that, for all the fulsome, fawning euphoria with which some Whites, such as the above, greeted Mugabe's triumph, the mayhem and murder have at last, with the most recent elections, started to engulf the Whites. This is perhaps an appropriate time to be taking stock of the two decades of "Zimbabwean independence" and its culmination.
Speaking of her interlocutor of all those years ago - and of herself - Miss Leslie adds to her above quotation the following:-
Perhaps both Miss Leslie and the starstruck element among the old Rhodesians who opted to stay on in the country (some of them casting away British passports, or the option of acquiring them, and choosing "Zimbabwean" nationality instead) should have smelt a rat right then and there. The Rhodesians, many from families resident in the country for generations, ought to have had the elementary Africa-bred nous to realise that what you seem to see in that continent is not necessarily what you are going to get.
Veneer of despots
African despots often have a peculiar faculty for generating apparent personal charm, burnished with a blarney to make any Irishman look dreary, leaden and inarticulate by comparison. One thinks of Nkrumah, Kenyatta, Nyerere, etc. ad nauseam. As for multiple degrees from European and American universities - usually in the soft subjects, seldom the hard sciences - that too is a frequently observed trait in African post-colonial rulers. None of it ever adds up to constructive political competence adequate to run the proverbial whelk-stall, let alone govern a country. The record of over 40 years of African "independence" from European rule - mostly financed and sustained by European and American aid - testifies as much. Behind a sometimes initially scintillating facade it has been not uncommon after a while to find that there is little, in reality, beyond a brutal, self-serving and sometimes genocidal kleptocracy. "Zimbabwe" has proved no exception.
In the event, Miss Leslie records that enlightenment, however belated, came to her, as indeed it has, in a much harsher, more personally expensive form to many old Rhodesians who once suffered from post-independence liberal delusions about the possibility of harmonious multi-racial "Zimbabwean" nationhood under Mugabe's regime. It is gradually being made clear that, in the latter's view, "Africa for the Africans" means Africa for black Africans only, Whites never being allowed African status no matter how long they or their families may have lived there.
Interestingly, Miss Leslie reports that at the time she started to have doubts about Robert Mugabe (whom, as she confesses, she once described as a "man of immense moral stature"), "it was the Whites, even more than the Blacks, who refused to hear a word against him"!
This strange mental condition may have been due to a number of factors. To begin with, most Blacks have a natural, instinctive street-wise realism unencumbered by the kind of liberal hallucinations so often found in wishful-thinking, self-deluding contemporary white people everywhere as they contemplate the increasingly hostile world springing up around them. But this type of timid white escapism in the face of harsh reality was not all.
Partly, too, the illusion might have been due to the relatively easy ride, materially speaking, that the white community in "Zimbabwe" had for the first few years of "majority rule." White farmers who stayed on did well financially and were allowed to take their profits, as was only right and just in view of the fact that they produced, and still produce, almost all the country's export crops. Moreover, in the early years the minister of agriculture was a white man, and a more or less rational policy in apportioning and using the land was still, at least in part, possible.
The trouble with this life of apparent calm and tranquillity was that it seems to have bred a false sense of security. If you didn't look too closely, so long as there was no obvious interference with your established way of life, it might easily have seemed, if you were a white farmer living in a remote location with your family and the workers you had known for years, that at least as far as you were concerned "Zimbabwe" was going to prove an exception to the African rule.
Of course, there were straws in the wind, but these were missed. Few Whites evidently imagined that the genocidal rampage against the Matabele people, who were ruthlessly slaughtered in their thousands by Mugabe's Mashona-dominated, North Korean-trained fifth brigade in 1984, might represent the uncorking of a genie that could one day turn on themselves. There were, too, the experiences of the white "Zimbabwean" air force officers who, in a fit of official paranoia, were suddenly arrested, tortured and tried on trumped-up charges of "sabotage". This also might have served as a wake-up call for some wishful-thinkers as to what could possibly happen.
To add to the undertow of racial feeling, which the governing party has always shown itself willing to sponsor if expedient, there has been the "affirmative action" movement of the 1990s on which Spearhead reported about five years ago. This seemed to be more directed at wealthy urban middle-class Whites, many of strongly liberal persuasion, than at old "Rhodies" and the farming community. But all the typically African elements were present in the situation to offer the latter a warning light. Whilst plundering as much of the public wealth as they could get their hands on to line their pockets, Mugabe and his cronies had already been driving the country to economic ruin. Anti-white demagogy was even then a powerful device for deflecting consequent black disaffection.
But the all-out onslaught on "Zimbabwe's" Whites was probably delayed above all by another factor that seems to have been over-looked. In general, African rulers only stay "moderate" whilst there are external constraints of one sort or another acting upon them to prevent their going to excess. Until 1994 one such constraint was the priority given to eliminating white rule in South Africa, both by Mugabe's fellow Africans and by all the forces and powers of the "New World Order". Mugabe had the elementary cunning to understand that anti-white excesses in "Zimbabwe" might frighten that neighbouring country's European population back into the laager. The latter might even have been panicked into resisting their own destruction by the example of what was happening next door.
But now White South Africa is out of the way no such consideration for "Zimbabwe's" Whites is any longer deemed necessary. The hour seems to have struck for them, viewed as a relic of European colonialism, to be swept away as a piece of "unfinished business".
Economy a lost cause
"Zimbabwe's" economy has become a lost cause. The local dollar, which during Rhodesian UDI exchanged for up to one pound Sterling is today worth barely a penny. The position of the Whites, whose numbers have fallen from about a quarter of a million in the 1970s to less than 80,000 today, is politically feeble, and these Whites make an easy target. Hence the new situation of the country in which rational calculation of its economic interests - upon which the Whites have been depending for their survival - is giving way to the passions of a racial antipathy that, pushed to its logical end, will leave them no living space.
As reported in the months leading up to the recent parliamentary general election, drunken, drugged-up mobs of Africans, claiming to be former guerillas from the Rhodesian bush war of the 1970s, have been invading white farms. They have driven the latter's black workers from the land, prevented crops from being planted, destroyed farm houses and machinery and, in an escalating campaign of violence, committed acts of abduction, torture, rape and murder against the farmers themselves, their wives and families. This renewal of what amounts to war on the whites has been approved by Mugabe almost from the start.
In early March, Mugabe's home affairs minister, Dumiso Dabengwa, gave an official promise that all "squatters" (the name given by the liberal media to those who have invaded the white farms) would leave those farms they had occupied "with immediate effect." Mugabe forthwith contemptuously nullified this pledge. As "war veterans" leader Chenjerai Hunzvi vowed to "deport the Whites back to Britain," "Zimbabwe's" president proclaimed: "We will not put a stop to the invasions."
The whole business was without doubt an opportunistic exercise in rounding up votes in a situation of serious popular discontent where otherwise Mugabe and his ruling party might have faced defeat. Swathes of the black population have been damaged by the incompetence and corruption of Mugabe's government, and have seemed to be in a mood to change their rulers. But the methods whereby this threat has been trumped are much more far-reaching in their implications.
Something for nothing
Elemental racial forces have been called forth in the process of inciting the impoverished rural masses to seize good farmland with the beguiling promise that they will get it for nothing. To add to the material gains they anticipate, there is the emotional satisfaction of revenge on perceived white racial "enemies", who can be humiliated, assaulted and robbed at will. The "Zimbabwean" elections may now be over. The race hatred unleashed in the course of them is not likely to be called to a halt so easily. Africa can now wreak its will on a European civilisation which has failed to take proper measures for its own defence.
This is the more so since, however many parliamentary seats ZANU-PF may have lost to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, the latter predictably failed to gain a majority. But even if it had, few seriously believe that this would have made much difference to Mugabe's dictatorship. It was widely anticipated that "Zimbabwe's" president, whose position as head of state would have remained unchanged, would simply stage some sort of coup if any opposition majority in parliament had emerged.
Mugabe has routinely ignored laws and judgements. The court injunction banning squatters from white farms shortly before the elections was a dead letter from day one. The pre-election vote by a ZANU-dominated parliament on April 6th, giving the government power to seize land without compensation, flatly contradicts the supposedly entrenched protection of private property in the country's constitution.
These have been the climaxes of a whole series of arbitrary measures, starting with the arrest and torture of journalists critical of Mugabe's rule and ending with police standing by and doing nothing as squatter mobs wrought their rage on the persons and property of their white fellow "Zimbabweans". In acting thus, the "Zimbabwean" president is in fact doing no more than displaying a typical African despot's contempt for the niceties of the White Man's constitutionalism. The only thing remarkable about any of this is that anyone should ever have believed it would turn out otherwise.
The whole situation is in fact a comment on the pathological credulity - and worse - that in modern times has held Whites in general, and Anglo-Saxons in particular, in its grip. At the time of "Zimbabwean" independence, many white Rhodesians seem to have harboured the belief that if the worst came to the worst, and their country's new rulers started to run amok, Britain's politicians might still acknowledge some obligation towards them by acting to uphold the various "guarantees" of their rights supposedly written into the country's new political arrangements. By his own account, as early as the 1979 Tory Government-brokered Lancaster House Agreement, which delivered Rhodesia to black majority rule, Rhodesian Army commander General Walls even seems to have believed that he had a private personal understanding with Mrs. Thatcher, and that on his say-so she would be prepared to intervene on behalf of the Whites if things went pear-shaped.
Since then, every guarantee ever given has crumbled to dust, with never a British politician, Mrs (now Lady) Thatcher or anyone else, in sight to repair the fabric of the jerry-built "Zimbabwean" edifice that the "Iron Lady" and her government erected with such cynical haste. To them, the priority was simply to get our embarrassing Rhodesian kinfolk off their hands as expeditiously as possible, without regard for their subsequent fate.
Britain does nothing
With the likes of the Labour regime in power in Britain today, the breathtaking scale of the surrender of these hostages to fortune undertaken by Britain at that time is only now becoming apparent. Tony Blair and his foreign secretary Robin Cook have calmly stood aloof as Mugabe has allowed, promoted or instigated one outrage after another. They have refused to impose the most minimal sanctions, even failing to deny him spare parts for the British-supplied equipment used by his armed forces and police. There is a startling contrast here to the all-out sanctions enforced against Rhodesia during the UDI years, when it was Blacks rather than Whites who were allegedly the victims of racist oppression. Indeed, if anything, not only do the close blood ties of most Zimbabwean Whites with us British mean literally nothing to New Labour's governing elite, such is the perversity of the latter's mentality that this seems to create a positive prejudice against them, which in turn underpins our Government's inertia.
Never have we had rulers who so epitomise the lines of Robert Frost:-
In any clash between their own and another race you can be sure to find such people making an ethical imperative of being on the other side. The presence of Mr Peter Hain (perhaps not necessarily himself a full-blooded Briton) as junior minister at the Foreign Office responsible for relations with Africa speaks volumes. There have been few more vicious enemies of Southern Africa's Whites.
It is not as if it is beyond Britain's power to mount military expeditions to the Dark Continent. In fact, at the very moment when our kinfolk in "Zimbabwe" were being terrorised, assaulted and killed the Government was mobilising a substantial force for an African operation - in Sierra Leone! Very few Britons were imperilled in that neck of the woods, and the real and precise purpose of the exercise remains obscure. Perhaps there is some connection to the presence in the region of diamond mines belonging to the Oppenheimer-De Beers interests, which have been occupied by local tribal rebels. If so, the dispatch of British forces for "peace-keeping" in Sierra Leone, rather than "Zimbabwe", reflects interestingly on the priorities of our rulers. Mugabe himself has, coincidentally, dispatched his army to the Congo to protect some diamond interests of his own.
Post-imperial guilt trip
But this is not the only thing which Mugabe and our government have in common. Both stand to gain from the poisoning of British public opinion with the idea that the white "Zimbabweans" somehow "stole" the land they hold from native Africans, to whom it right-fully belonged. There is no doubt at all that this suggestion, slyly implanted in the British people over many years, massively helps the Government to absolve itself in the public mind for its inaction in the face of the current wave of anti-white violence in "Zimbabwe", just as it was used to disarm solidarity with Rhodesia amongst our people at the time of UDI. An evil notion is certainly widespread that the Whites are only "getting what they deserve" for alleged past colonial sins against the Africans. It is all a part of Britain's post-imperial guilt-trip.
For his part, Mugabe has not been slow to capitalise on this diseased mentality. In a slippery piece of claptrap designed to fool the ignorant and credulous in the world at large (particularly Britain), he and his lieutenants and agents claim that there is some monstrous inequity in the ownership of an alleged 70 per cent of what they call the "good" farm land by Whites. In this way, public opinion outside "Zimbabwe" is neutralised, leaving Mugabe to carry out his land grab under the outrageous guise of some righteous Robin Hood taking from the wicked wealthy in the interests of the noble and suffering poor.
Clearly, in their naivety, none of the old Rhodesians who stayed on in "Zimbabwe" in the hope that it would all come right under "good old Muggers" ever anticipated such a convergence of forces working for their final ruin after the lapse of so many years under such a smokescreen of lies. If only for the record, it is at least worth laying some of these lies to rest.
In truth, there has probably never been so benign or productive a colonisation of any territory anywhere in the world as that of Rhodesia by the white pioneers, mostly British, who penetrated the country from 1890 onwards.
Of course, force majeure was brought to bear where these first colonists deemed it necessary in order to establish their presence. But this has to be seen in proportion and in context before accepting the preposterous claims by Mugabe and his supporters to all the country's land.
In those far off days there was no organised, coherent or comprehensive ownership or control of the very large tract of Central Africa that was to become Rhodesia by the small number of tribalised natives, dispersed mainly in self-governing groups of little more than clan size across the interior. Only the Matabele, an offshoot of the militant South African Zulu nation, which had slightly earlier migrated to the south western fringe of the country, had established any more far-reaching social organisation. The Matabele had themselves come as ruthless conquerors, massacring and subjugating the lesser breeds they found in their path and establishing a mini-empire of their own in a limited area. In so doing they incurred the hatred of Rhodesia's Shona-speaking majority which persists to this day. It took the European settlers to put a stop to the bloodshed between these native ethnic groups - at least for as long as their rule lasted, forging some order out of chaos for a time.
In fact, the amount of force ever used in the process of white settlement was minimal. Much of the country was virtually uninhabited empty space which few of the natives - who were sparsely distributed across it - ever even thought of doing anything much with. As elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, they lived as semi-nomadic subsistence farmers, over-cropping, over-grazing and exhausting one patch of soil before moving on to the next. Much of the time Whites could move into an area where few, if any, Africans were to be found, clear the land, which was completely virgin, and establish farmsteads without any opposition at all - because there were no natives there to provide it.
Elsewhere, of course, force might be needed. In another Daily Mail article ("Can Whites and Blacks ever live together amicably in Africa?", published on the 12th April), Stephen Glover realistically summarised the situation in early Rhodesia:-
After a brief native rising in Mashonaland in the mid-189Os, a paternalistic white supremacy was more or less established for the next 85 years. The growth of the white population in the decades up to about 1975 was just enough to maintain a demographic "critical mass" adequate to perpetuate this supremacy. Meanwhile over the same period, the black population multiplied about thirteen-fold, reaching some six and a half million (today it is nearly double this). That this was possible is a measure of the explosive economic expansion that white work and enterprise generated, creating employment and income for all Rhodesia's inhabitants.
The numerical imbalance that developed between the races during this time was perhaps also the harbinger of self-inflicted white demographic annihilation. But at any rate one might think that "Zimbabwe's" Blacks have little enough to complain of about the 90-year period of white rule - in view of the fact that most of them would never have been born without it. It was the precondition for all the country's progress.
Land going to ruin
Since it came to an end, vast amounts of formerly white-owned land have in fact been acquired by Mugabe's Government. Many Rhodesians "took the gap" and left rather than live on in black-ruled "Zimbabwe". Their farms were acquired by the state, which in any case by law now has first option on the purchase of any private land put up for sale. As elsewhere in "independent" Africa, much of the best of this land has ended up in the hands of the dictator's cronies. That which has been "communalised" and occupied by subsistence-farming peasants incapable of learning agricultural skills different from those of their ancestors, has been ruined - all of which is likewise a repetition of what has happened elsewhere, from Kenya's White Highlands to Zambia.
In a third Mail article ("The Rape of a Dying Paradise", 3rd March), Ross Benson gives the lie to Mugabe's claims. Says Benson of the proposition that white farmers "stole" the land they occupy:-
Benson goes on to describe the life's work of a typical old Rhodesian settler in the country's Eastern Highlands:-
Small evidence here of any "theft." Ziehl is then quoted, neatly demolishing the claims of Mugabe and his friends:-
The truth is that even today "Zimbabwe" is an underpopulated land. It is possible, as Benson points out, to drive through hundreds of miles of lush and fertile country which has simply been left as wild bush. There is nothing to stop the Blacks from clearing as much of it as they like for cultivation or grazing, just as the Whites did. But they do not do this.
Farms running to seed
When once white farms are handed over for btack settlement they run to seed. One such adjoins Ken Ziehl's property. Taken over 14 years ago, says Benson, it was...
No wonder that, as Benson reports, in the midst of what used to be Africa's bread basket, "millions are edging towards starvation." Every morning, he says, "thousands leave their uncultivated fields and go begging for employment at the white homesteads."
"We give them what work we can, otherwise they'd starve," comments another farmer whom Benson met, "but there is only so much we can do - every time a white farm is taken over, the poverty line advances another few miles."
As for the white farmers themselves, they are in no way, nor have they ever been, the oppressive parasites of anti-colonialist legend. They are men and women of character and courage, with deep roots in the country reaching back in some cases for generations, who have earned the hard way the wealth they enjoy, typified by Benson as follows:-
Seldom has any people had a better title to rule the land it occupies than the Whites of Rhodesia. Seldom has a people been "euchred" out of its birthright in such a manner.
The fate of those kinfolk of ours still remaining in "Zimbabwe" is now in the balance. Whatever befalls them, from their sorry story it remains for us to learn the lessons it teaches about the consequences of renouncing power in the face of irreconcilable enemies.