Condemning Mugabe calls into question the concept of African liberation, says Anthony Daniels
Nelson Mandela's description of the Zimbabwean catastrophe wrought by Robert Mugabe as a failure of leadership is a failure either of intelligence or of honesty, or of both. There comes a point at which euphemism turns into untruth; and Mugabe's regime long ago passed the stage of mere human error that the term 'failure of leadership' implies.
The reason most African leaders find it so difficult to condemn Mugabe's rule is that to do so would put in question the whole concept of African liberation. The crimes of colonialism are only too well known; but the crimes of anti- and post-colonialism are still too recent, and too current, to be talked of with frankness by their beneficiaries.
The attachment of the ANC under Nelson Mandela to freedom is comparatively recent, and wholly the result of the downfall of the Soviet Union. Until then, the South African Communist party, which was plus staliniste que Staline, was very powerful, if not preponderant, within it. If the ANC had come to power with the Soviet Union intact - which would have been impossible without a civil war - it would have made contemporary Zimbabwe seem like a garden party.
Moreover, there are still elements within the ANC that would like to move in Comrade Bob's direction. The fact is, for many African leaders of the first and second generation, the impoverishment of the population has been the road to power and riches.
Mugabe has done only what many other post-colonial African leaders have done. A fifth of the Zimbabwean population has fled; but a third of the population of Guinea, under the leadership of another hero of African liberation, Sekou Toure, fled. It would be difficult to say who was the worst liberator: the competition is so stiff.Africa is the one continent in which, with a few honourable exceptions, there has been little advance or progress in the last forty to fifty years. What Africa desperately needs is liberation from the liberators. But who is to do it without renewing the catastrophe?
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Stop terrorist Nelson Mandela!