Commentaries and Analyses Index

Dictatorship Packaged In Pan Africanism

HARARE, June 15 - It is now common practice that every time an African dictator is under fire, whether from the west, fellow African states or his own people he revokes the racial card and colonial history. I am not here trying to denigrate our painful history but that it is made more painful by our fellow African leaders. That Africans suffered a lot under the racial and white supremacists is a fact that cannot be denied and will never be erased from human history. That there are some African inspirers who sacrificed a lot for Africans to be free from colonial yoke is again a proven fact. These range from Kwame Nkrumah to Nelson Mandela.

Our painful colonial history must and should never be an excuse for dictatorship. But there is another brand of African leaders who interpret Pan Africanism to mean their unquestioned exercise of power. These are the leaders who whenever they are under fire even from their own people will always resort to attacking the west. I am not here protecting the west from the evil they did and continue to do but African Dictators cannot use them as a scapegoat.

In this brand of African dictators we had people like Idi Amin, Kamuzu Banda, and Mabuto Sese seko. Current students in this school of thought are Robert Mugabe, Muammar Gaddafi and Sam Nujoma. Among the founders of this double standards behavior, an interesting character is that of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada. Idi Amin went to the extent of proclaiming himself conqueror of the British Empire and King of Scotland but back in his homestead he was conquering his fellow Ugandans. Thousands were killed and humiliated by him in Uganda. These thousands were not British neither were they from Scotland. They were fellow Ugandans. Amin was killing Ugandans and at the same time preaching anti British gospel. Idi Amin labeled all Asians enemies of Africa and chased them all out of Uganda. By killing his people and at the same time attacking everything unAfrican Amin was trying to create a false impression that he was killing because of his love for Africa. Ultimately Amin fell. Good triumphed over evil.

This strategy of talking right and act left is the same strategy that was employed by many fallen regimes. This strategy of talking pan Africanism and at the same time killing fellow Africans is meant to develop inferiority complex within the African population.

It is amazing how Amin‚s students have perfected this art. It is true that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history. The short and eventful life of Idi Amin must present a free lesson to all of us.
Amin‚s most promising student is none other than Robert Mugabe.

President Mugabe is on record attacking British Premier Tony Blair but back in his homestead he is killing his own people. Amin also used this rhetorist approach of diverting attention. On one end Mugabe constantly attack the west and blame it for the ills that are affecting the people of Zimbabwe and on the other end kill the same Zimbabweans that he claims to protect. Think of hundreds of Zimbabweans who lost their lives in the run up to the immediate past Parliamentary and Presidential election. Think of thousands who were tortured and are now homeless because of their resolve to support the opposition party (MDC). Think of the recent attempted murder of NCA Chairman Dr Lovemore Madhuku by uniformed militia of ZANU PF. And start to think of those who will lose their lives in the upcoming election. All these victims are Africans and not British natives yet Mugabe claims to be championing the African cause. This double standards and rhetoric of his and not action is precisely the reason why he is viewed as a hero in South Africa but hated by millions of his own people. The reason why South Africans continue to celebrate and salute a person who has been rejected by his own people is a question that needs an article on its own.

But what is more surprising but revealing is the fact that while Mugabe daily churns out vitriol to Tony Blair and Britain, daily his people are running away from him to Britain. For record‚s sake, Zimbabweans who are flocking the UK everyday are not running away from Zimbabwe, they are running away from Mugabe who in turn claims to be a defender of Pan Africanism.

Mugabe‚s strategy of revoking colonial history is what made him survive from internal political pressure this far. But what he is failing to realize is that he is like a driver of a bus and we are his passengers. When you are driving you need to look ahead and see through the windscreen, and periodically use the rear view mirror, for you to reach the destination. If you use a rear view mirror, on and on, you will only see what you have passed and this unavoidably results in fatal accidents. This is where president Mugabe is missing it. While it is important to periodically reflect on our history as a country we need to be future oriented. We need to use the windscreen for us to reach the destination. What exacerbate the Zimbabwean situation are Mugabe‚s lieutenants, especially the Chief misinformer Prof Moyo, who seem to be competing for the post of Chief Pan Africanist. Two things are terribly wrong with the minister. First is the way he handles the government propaganda desk. For his benefit and that of the country let me tell him. The best strategy of handling propaganda is not complete denial of facts but rather the ability to twist existing facts to suit your goal.

Secondly is the issue of 100% local content. While on paper it is supposed to be 75% local content, the minister disregarded this and the TV and radio stations are churning out 105% local content. The idea of localizing our channels is a noble one but the intention with which it is done is evil. Local content does not mean ZANU PF propaganda on our national channels and ZANU PF propaganda does not mean Pan Africanism.
The strategy is meant to create inferiority complex within Zimbabweans. This is meant to make us unaware of what is happening in fellow African states and beyond. On this note I am reminded of what US Senator Henry Berry said in 1832 when addressing the Virginia House of delegates concerning the state of Negro slaves. He said, „We have as far as possible, closed every avenue by which light may enter the slaves mind. If we could extinguish the capacity to see the light our work would be complete. They would then be on the level with the beast of the field and we should be safe.‰

The ZANU PF propaganda missiles that we are bombarded with daily is meant to put us on the same level with a beast of the field. It is meant to make us unable to question the activities of a dictator on the pretensions that it is pan Africanism. This is a futile attempt to make everything ZANU PF pan African.

Also to worry about is the way fellow African leaders succumb to this rhetoric. It is because of this rhetoric that they also survive in their treacherous political waters in their respective countries. A big question still hangs why Zimbabwe has not yet actively endorses and participate in NEPAD, which is a product of pan Africanism but rushes to every COMESA, ECOWAS and other third world development forums. Is it not because of the peer review mechanism that is enshrined in NEPAD and not in any of the other forums?
Time will tell.

Fidas Muchemwa
Southern African Students Union

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