I want to tell you a story about my country Rwanda; a country said to be one of the most safe in Africa, and that only for the last ten years… And certainly the most stable in the region.
Rwanda receives foreign aid on a scale of around 40% of its recurrent budget:
(Salaries of civil servants, scholarships, travels of politicians, defense, etc.) And more than 60% of its investment budget (roads, hospitals, buildings, some government business, etc.), a situation that of course I am not proud of. Now, why are we benefiting from this foreign generosity?
Because Rwanda rocks these days; people in the west are making movies and music about Rwanda, Bill Clinton says he wants to invest in Rwanda, Bill Gates has visited the gorillas of the mist and is rumoured to have bought land in Kigali and wants to build some thing, Bono of the U2 comes here frequently, European football stars come over, even Paris Hilton was saying she wants to swing by anytime; don’t ask…
Now, all these VIPs have to seek the go ahead and naturally the logistical support from their respective governments; The Americans would usually be guarded by GIs from either the US embassy in Rwanda or imported for the event, the Europeans by Rwandan presidential guards; Who they meet, where they go has to be coordinated by their embassies, ad so on.
Rwanda benefits from the AGOA agreement and apparently we produce the best coffee in the world. Somebody said that mountain gorillas are the most impressive animals in the world – and a must-see specie of animals; everybody seems to believe that, even though the price to visit them is not a given for a foreigner…
Kagame is one popular president in the west that he is always invited to open and speak in the most prestigious universities and events in the US, UK and so on. He has so many honoris causa in every existing subject he could easily claim to be the living reincarnation of Albert Einstein, the philosopher of all times…
But then again, he is hated and branded all sorts of names by the French government, and I don’t recall him being given the flow to even say bonjour to decent French citizens in a super market, and that since he came to power… strange huh? Now, you must be wondering where I am going with this right?
Now Let me introduce, Robert Gabriel MUGABE KCB aka Uncle Bob.
In his early days, Bob hanged out with Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda all considered as African heroes and architects of the African independence.
At the guest list of his second wedding with Grace Marufu, the name of a gentleman called Nelson Mandela appears. When he took power Mugabe saved ZANU, the then ruling party to split over tribal origins of its members the Shona his tribe and the majority and the Ndebele the minority; Comrade Mugabe and comrade Madiba share an almost identical past; time in prison for freedom fighting – 10 years for Mugabe and 27 for Mandela, both are known for preaching unification of blacks and whites after the independence and sharing the power with their opponents – After acceding to power, Mugabe allocated twenty seats to whites in the new Parliament , Mugabe also incorporated ZAPU into his Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) led government and ZAPU’s military wing into the army. ZAPU’s leaders, Joshua Nkomo and his friends were given a series of cabinet positions in Mugabe’s first government.
A university lecturer all over Africa, he has seven university degrees including in law, science, administration and economics among others, in 1994 he was bestowed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath by Queen Elizabeth II. Several universities such as the University of Edinburgh in the UK and the Michigan State University (ASMSU) both gave him honorary degrees. He was considered by all of us as a freedom fighter, the father of the nation, an African hero. That was a couple of years ago…
When Zimbabwe gained independence, 46.5% of the country’s arable land was owned by around 6,000 commercial farmers out of the 13 million total populations. Then Mugabe signed an agreement in 1979 to redistribute the land among other concessions of the white minority. As part of this agreement, land redistribution was blocked for a period of 10 years, the programme was nicknamed “willing buyer, willing seller” and the British government agreed to reimburse the coasts. The nickname meant that the black guy who wanted to retrieve their land after independence could do so and UK would compensate the actions of the white former exploiter, and the black guy who would prefer cash for his land instead, would directly knock on the UK’s door
When the government changed in the UK, The new British government led by Tony Blair unilaterally and abruptly stopped funding the “willing buyer, willing seller” land reform programme in 1997 with these accompanying words arrogantly put by minister Clare Short, the then Secretary of State for International Development: “I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers.”
A few days later a frustrated Robert Mugabe was redistributing the lands on his own terms to the “indigenous”, taking the opportunity to boost his popularity that was being threatened by a raising opposition leader by the name of Morgan Tsvangrai.
That was it! The International Monetary Fund (IMF) one day declares that reforms in Zimbabwe are “not on track.” And suspends all aid. Reforms not on track?! Now, what the hell has that supposed to mean? Oh yeah I know! It means Zimbabweans can die in misery and go to hell and back, with no body giving a hoot, so long as their president remains “stubborn”…
Then the Common wealth of Nations cut foreign aid to Zimbabwe and Mugabe reacts by withdrawing his country from it;
Americans joined the saga On 9 March 2003, with the Bush government deciding to freeze assets in the US of Mugabe and other high-ranking Zimbabwe politicians, and stop American citizens from engaging in any transactions or dealings with the republic of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Democracy Act, so they called the decision, with their habitual gift of baptizing bad things with good names and vice versa… Democracy Act my foot! You bring democracy to a country by freezing assets and transactions with them? What can I say…
The next day, the University of Edinburgh suddenly realizes Mugabe is ignorant after all, and decides to withdraw the honorary degree they had attributed to him. On his side Mugabe, like the former Chelsea FC coach Jose Murinho, multiplies controversial speeches to the satisfaction of the press:
– Bob Vs the Gays:
Homosexuality is a practice that “degrades human dignity. It’s unnatural and there is no question ever of allowing these people to behave worse than dogs and pigs… We have our own culture, and we must re-dedicate ourselves to our traditional values that make us human beings… If you see people parading themselves as lesbians and gays, arrest them and hand them over to the police”
In Rwanda, homosexuality was not considered as problem since its existence was never admitted, until recently, after realizing it actually was a reality, they passed a law criminalizing it. Does that make Rwanda a chaotic country? Oh no, our reforms are very much on track…
Mugabe is that kind of African old man who’s seen it all and doesn’t give a damn anymore to say out loud what we all think deep down. Many African leaders, like Museveni, have a problem with gay people, who knows? We are just not “Mugabe” enough to admit it…
The general misunderstanding
Welcome to Zimbabwe, Africa’s paradise!
As I was looking for some information on the net to include in this paper, I visited this website with the title: “welcome to Zimbabwe, Africa’s paradise!” ‘The website must be outdated!’ I said to myself, ‘no one refers to Zim as such nowadays’
The thing is, People talk about Zimbabwe more than ever, but for some reason they avoid with elegance to talk about Zimbabwe as a land (Zimland for my buddies), or Zimbabwe as the people, their focus is Zimbabwe as the president; the scoop that provides content for BBC, CNN…
The Victoria Falls strangely became artificial all of a sudden, Great Zimbabwe, fake and the Matopos park, a zoo. People cynically erase the best moments of their lives in Zim and prefer to watch BBC because it is more convenient, because that is the general understanding, or rather misunderstanding…
This started yesterday, when an American friend of mine Kimberley, with whom I’d argued about Mugabe a long time a go, had ran out of arguments and promised to get her own back after she’d done some more research, was sending me a link to the story of a Zimbabwean comrade who’d die of starvation while seeking for a job in SA. Here is the link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7090730.stm, She sent it with the note: “Is this the happy life in Zimbabwe that you were referring to? Kim.” She didn’t even bother to say hello after almost five months that she’d gone back to the states, five months in which we’d both managed to send one quick e-mail to each other, and this being her second…
My God, people are paranoid! I mean, a Zimbabwean starves to death in South Africa and they blame Zimbabwe, as if – like my Zimbabwean sister Moira says- he’d come from Zim with an empty stomach.
Take another look guys, take another look! Has Mugabe changed? Has he given up on the African dreams he’d once shared with Mandela, Nkrumah and Nyerere; his friends and brothers in arms? Has he suffered from severe amnesia that erased all the science he’d read and taught in the most prestigious universities in Africa? Very doubtful!
Have you ever wondered why African presidents still support him? I am not speaking for any of them, but I suspect they consider him as a spokesman, a messiah; they wish they could have his courage, and then they are scared of what is happening to him now and his people…
Had he succeeded in this campaign, its all African countries that would have adopted the same attitude toward the neo-colonialist? South Africa would have copied the ‘best practice’ and claim back the seventy five percent (85%) of land in the hands of ten percent (10%) white majority. He made the jump and sacrificed himself and his people to find out, he’s a hero! And a fool… Yep, your struggle didn’t work out as planned this time uncle bob! Your strategy has failed… it was too good to be true…
Do you remember Rwanda deciding to cut all diplomatic relations with France with no major consequences and Cote d’Ivoire considering implementing the same “best practice?” no one is blaming Kagame now, he’s a hero and the French are the bad guys; because they never saw it coming; he pulled the rug under their feet; Mugabe just made a similar move. Quiet obviously it didn’t work out as planned then, did it?
Oh He was a fool to believe…
In the beginning I talked about Rwanda and the scale on which it enjoys western aid. I also talked about the good reputation that our president enjoys in the most powerful countries in the world
Now try to imagine for one second that Kagame decides today that after all the War in Iraq is not worse than the genocide in Rwanda and that Hugo Shavez and Fidel Castro are not so bad since they have educated their population and provided health care for all, unlike America; that the American embassy in town actually blocs the traffic and reduces the amount of clients going to SORAS the insurance company and the Rwandan Development Bank (BRD) next to it. But then he decides to spill his guts in the press. Now you tell me, what’s gonna happen?!?
Jean Pierre Bemba, the former rebel leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo and now the opposition leader who lost in the previous presidential elections in the DRC is living under the threat of being arrested and prosecuted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. I won’t be surprised if the threat becomes reality within the next year of 2008. Some Congolese that I talked to though, told me that Bemba could have won the elections in DRC if Kabila had not cheated…
The current president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza is alleged to have been posing several land mines in the city of Bujumbura, killing several innocent people; he was even once sentenced to death by the former government. Now he is president and everyone forgets…
The international community is waiting for Mugabe to resign like vultures that have smelled blood. The day he stops being president is the day he dies! He knows and you know this.
I remember in one fiction movie by Tom Cruise, “the minority report” where this witchy old woman says to Tom cruise that when any creature is cornered and squeezed to its limits, only one thing matters to it: its own survival
He has been squeezed into a corner; he has no choice but to hold on. Besides, he has his pride to defend; they will not take him alive… Then again those who hate him shouldn’t worry too much, he won’t be holding on for long anyway, he is too old now
One day as I was discussing with my dad about Mugabe and Zimbabwe, he told me that indeed Mugabe is to blame for what is happening to his country! He said Mugabe behaved more like a teenager than a father of a nation or head of a family. “When you have a family to feed you should be ready to be spat on. Nothing your boss says or does can make you react as long as he feeds your kids. Never forget that son!” The old man said…
I respect my father, but I strongly disagree with that!
I guess Mugabe couldn’t take it anymore, then he is to blame…
He is to blame because he must have missed the old good days when he was a revolutionary, a free thinker and an academic and didn’t have all the Zimbabweans on his shoulders but in his heart
God! He is so to blame!
I wish you success in your endeavors
 1Ha = 1000m2
 KCB: is a title, a decoration bestowed by the Queen of GB. Like Sir or Baron; etc, etc.
In 1994 Mugabe was bestowed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath by Queen Elizabeth II.
 (The embassy is due to move very soon to Kacyiru a more isolated corner of kigali and in the same neighborhood as ministries)
 Robert Mugabe was born on February 21, 1924 in Matibiri village near Kutama Mission in the Zvimba District northwest of Salisbury and Southern Rhodesia
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