I have always held London Mayor, Boris Johnson, in high regard. I have found him to be witty and persuasive, what he said made a lot of sense. But in his article “Happy birthday, Mr Mugabe, with special love from Labour” in (UK) Telegraph newspaper and with extracts appearing in many other publications; he lost my respect and high regard.
Of all people Boris Johnson should have known that reputations are like clay pots they are valuable only as long as they remain whole, one slip and they will shutter into fragments of no value to anyone.
Mayor Johnson’s article was full of his usual wit and characteristic Boris Johnson take-no-prisoner thrust but, sadly, lacked substance because the article was not founded of facts. He clearly did not understand the basic facts of Mugabe’s land grab campaign; his desire to have a political “dig” at former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, clouded his thinking and, worst of all, his obnoxious and overbearing British imperialist mentality got the better him.
Boris Johnson was spot on and unsparing, calling a spade a bloody shovel, in his description of the corrupt and murderous tyrant Mugabe, the suffering and destruction his regime has caused and the surrealism of the upcoming celebration of the tyrant’s birthday.
“It promises to be an event of truly spectacular moral ugliness. While his people are starving, the ancient despot will convoke 20,000 cronies at a kind of golf club-cum-safari lodge near the Victoria Falls,” wrote Boris. “In scenes reminiscent of the more disgusting and luxurious behaviour of the emperor Commodus, he will cause various exotic beasts to be slaughtered for the feast.”
“ . . . Zimbabwe is now the second poorest nation on earth – beaten only by Congo for overall grimness.” Spot on!
“But it is vital to recognise that Zimbabwe was not always like this, and did not have to be like this,” continued the London Mayor. “This Mugabe tyranny is no accident – and Britain played a shameful part in the disaster. Readers will remember the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, by which Margaret Thatcher granted independence to Rhodesia.”
The Mayor went on to give the reader a history lesson on how Zimbabwe in 1980 had a thriving agricultural sector dominated by the white commercial farmers who owned most of the good land. The need for the white farmers to give up some of their farms so that the land can be given to the impoverish peasants in overcrowded rural areas was accepted back then. The British agreed to fund the programme by paying the white farms on a willing seller willing buyer basis.
“Mugabe’s long reign has been characterised by one overwhelming objective: to exterminate the last vestiges of white power, whether political or economic,” continued Boris. This is where he completely lost the plot; in an instant the beautiful bride was transformed into the wicked witch, the bridal dress may be exquisitely beautiful but it is the person and not the dress one marries.
Mugabe appreciated the contribution the white commercial farmers were making to Zimbabwe’s the economic prosperity that was why for the first two decades after independence he did not do anything to disrupt the farming. He creamed off the wealth to finance his sociality inspired mass prosperity policies; free education, free health, hefty wage increases for the workers, artificially low prices for many goods and services, etc. for all and for the Zanu PF ruling elite jobs galore and all the luxuries their hearts desired.
Of course Mugabe’s socialism was not economically sustainable and by 1989 the regime accepted that reality. By then the economy had already lost much of its 1980 vitality and competitiveness.
In 1990 the regime was forced to accept the first of two IMF and WB sponsored five-year Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP). The Brentwood institutions agreed to provide the regime with the bridging finance and the regime was to abandon all its socialist policies of the past decade.
Whilst the ordinary people were forced to “tighten their belts” in the face of soaring prices and falling wages, the ruling elite were “loosening their belts” as even more resources were made available to feed their seemingly insatiable appetite for wealth and good life.
Mugabe did not implement any of the agreed reforms that affected the ruling elite and it was for this reason that the first and second ESAP failed to delivery any meaningful economic recovery.
The WB and IMF made it very clear that they would not be renewing their financial assistance to Mugabe’s government at the end of the second ESAP in 1999. Many other international financial institutions and governments followed WB’s example and cut all financial assistance to the regime.
It was at this point, with the Zimbabwe economy on its knees and thus unable to generate the wealth Mugabe needed to gratify the insatiable demand for loot of his wasteful Zanu PF cronies. He was facing an election with an electorate that had lost all confidence in his ability to deliver mass prosperity. The only hope for him to win the election is by rigging the vote, he needed his cronies to help him but he would have to bribe them first. The only resource left was the land and it was at this point that he looked at the white owned farms drooling like hyena looking at a piece of meat.
The country’s economic mess meant he had lost a lot of credibility with the Zimbabwe electorate but what better way to regain his political standing than by assuming his militant and uncompromising stance of the pre-independence years.
Whilst the Lancaster House agreement called for farms to be acquired on a “willing buyer and willing seller” basis; Mugabe discarded that, he would designate which farm he wanted and name the price. The farms bought under the agreement were for resettling the landless peasants; Mugabe threw that out, he was giving the farms to his cronies. The agreement called for a legal acquisition; Mugabe used his Zanu PF party thugs to drive white farmers off the land.
Of course Mugabe knew his dirty tactics would cause disquiet and consternation and they did and that is exactly what he wanted. When Mugabe asked the British to pay him the billions of dollars he knew the British would find the terms unacceptable, he was itching for a fight; and, of course the British refused to pay.
“And then in 1997, along came Tony Blair and New Labour, and in a fit of avowed anti-colonialist fervour they unilaterally scrapped the arrangement,” said Boris.
To have paid Mugabe would have been an act of appeasement and since when has appeasing a dictator ever worked?
Mugabe unleashing his party thugs on the white farmers, their workers and ordinary Zimbabweans – the political violence was never confined to the white farmers only, it was extended to his political opponent and the electorate denying them all a free vote under the pretext that they all sided with the white farmers. Mayor Boris Johnson was disappointed that the British government did not send the army to stop the thugs.
“The Labour government enlisted this country in all sorts of wars around the world, some more disastrous than others,” argued the London Mayor. “British soldiers went to fight and die in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in the Balkans. Here we had people with close relatives in our own country – yes, our own kith and kin – and we did absolutely nothing. We turned our backs on the very people who were actually indispensable to the economic well-being of Zimbabwe, and Labour essentially allowed Mugabe to launch a racist tyranny.”
Mugabe is a corrupt and murderous tyrant, period. All Zimbabweans black and white, young and old regardless of the race and age; we have all suffered and many have died because of his tyrannical rule. Only a hard core racist with cast iron white supremacist mentality would see the suffering only one race and be blind to the suffering of all the other races as if they are not human beings.
Mugabe and his cronies have maintained throughout the years that West demonised him and his regime because he seized the farms from the whites and not because of his bad human rights record. After all the West imposed the target sanctions on Mugabe and his cronies in 2002, the year most white farmers lost their farms. Mugabe committed his worst human rights violations in 1983 to 87, the West said nothing then. Indeed the West even showered Mugabe with praise and money right up to 2000 when the farm seizures started!
Mugabe has missed the opportunity to heap the blame for the country’s problems with the British and their Western allies for destroying the country’s economy with their “illegal and evil sanctions”.
It is not surprising that Mugabe and his propagandists have seized upon the outspoken London Mayor’s ill-advised comments as Papal Bull validation of the Zanu PF’s position.
“We’ve noted his (Boris) views, most of them inaccurate and malicious, and wonder if this admission of guilt is the plea of the Conservative Party or an individual. We’ll let Mr Johnson carry his own cross and deal with his guilt,” was the triumphant response from Mugabe’s chief of propaganda, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.
“It was Labour’s betrayal of the Lancaster House Agreement – driven by political correctness and cowardice – that gave Mugabe the pretext for the despotic confiscations by which he has rewarded his supporters. And that is why Blair should be there (Mugabe’s birthday party): to mark Labour’s special contribution to the tyrant’s longevity in office,” concluded Mayor Boris Johnson.
Like all tyrannical regimes Mugabe and his brainwashed followers will filter out all the ugly truths of the regime’s greed and of feasting whilst millions are starving in Mayor Johnson’s article and discard them as “inaccurate and malicious”. What will be left is the Boris’ admission of British betrayal! And that is what they will be drinking a toast to at the birthday party.
So it you, London Mayor Boris Johnson, who should attend Mugabe’s macabre Victoria Fall birthday party; they will be talking about your admission and drinking a toast to it; it is you who should be helping Mugabe blow out the candles!