Zimbabwe’s Crisis of Criticism

Once considered the ‘bread basket’ of Africa and hailed as a
success of post-colonial transition, the African nation of Zimbabwe
now teeters on the brink of economic collapse. The country’s
embattled leader, President Robert Mugabe, has become emblematic of
many of the problems in post-colonial Africa. In an article written
for the New Statesman, William Gumede, former
deputy editor of the South African newspaper the Sowetan,
sees Zimbabwe’s government as a ‘symbol of the descent of African
liberation movements into brutal dictatorship.’

After helping to overthrow the country’s white leadership in the
1970s, Mugabe took office as the first black leader of Zimbabwe in
1980. That legacy of liberation, according to Gumede, is currently
what is keeping Mugabe in power despite astronomical inflation and
shortages of basic necessities. Many of Mugabe’s opponents, Gumede
writes, have been forced to ‘soft-pedal so that the president could
not paint them as stooges of the West.’

According to Gumede, blaming Zimbabwe’s problems on the West has
allowed Mugabe to consolidate power and silence his critics. And
rather than face the widespread political repression and financial
insecurity, Zeina Awadreports for
Al Jazeera that many Zimbaweans have
simply decided to get out. The economic and political conditions
in the country are causing many of the country’s residents to
‘swim through the crocodile infested Limpopo river, cut through
razor wire, and walk across the bush for hours’ seeking a new
life in neighboring South Africa, Awad writes.

In order to solve the emerging crisis in Zimbabwe, Gumede
suggests that ‘[a]ll governments must be kept on their toes.’ The
lack of criticism from Africa’s leaders surrounding Mugabe has gone
far beyond supporting African liberation movements — it is posing
a danger to Zimbabwe’s residents. Now, Gumede writes, South African
President Thabo Mbeki and other African leaders must realize that
‘Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe represents the worst backsliding of
African liberation movements.’ The time has come to speak out.

Go there
>>
Africa: How We Killed Our Dreams of Freedom

Go there too >>
Zimbabweans Risk All for a New Life

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