Tuesday, April 13, 2010

South Africa and Zimbabwe – where to now?

It has been a momentous fortnight for South Africa with the murder of Eugene Terre’blanche following the weeks of hype surrounding Julius Malema and his ‘Shoot the Boer’ song. Coincidentally Malema was in Zimbabwe over Easter, seeking solidarity with ZANU PF youths and Mugabe. Conspicuously he ignored the opposition MDC and has subsequently told the world that the ANC supports ZANU PF, not the Government of National Unity and not Tsvangirayi and his party.

Malema apparently didn’t say too much or make too many friends while he was here but he did congratulate Mugabe on his ‘nationalisation’ of the farms and his new policy of nationalising business, which is, apparently, exactly what Africa needs to secure their African future. He also criticised the South African judiciary, complaining it was too ‘white’ to be relevant to Africa’s needs.

“There is nothing worse than active ignorance”. So said Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German dramatist, novelist, poet, and scientist. Malema is clearly actively ignorant. Unfortunately he is not alone in this.

What is the reality of the Zimbabwe he thinks meets the needs of the people?

Thirty years ago Zimbabwe was described as the Jewel of Africa. Today it is a failed state. The state enterprises responsible for the supply of essential services cannot do so. The electricity supply authority can no longer supply power. Business must of necessity have its own power supply. The water authorities can no longer provide water. Business must provide its own boreholes or other sources of water. The state fixed line telecommunications authority can no longer provide a reliable telephone service and there are no competitors allowed. Business must provide alternatives. The roads are potholed and dangerous, the street lights no longer work, the street lamp posts are rusted hulks, the traffic lights no longer work, there is no waste removal service, the fire department cannot provide a service. The Health Ministry can no longer provide a health service (The British Government by the way is paying the salaries and wages of the Zimbabwe government health staff). Education has collapsed. The criminal justice system is abused by the ruling party to suit their own ends and there is no law and order. People who are simply suspected of being opposition supporters are victimised and harassed, yet ZANU PF supporters get away with, literally, murder. Life expectancy has been reduced to 35 years. The farms are unable to produce anything near the food requirements of the country. Those farms that were ‘distributed’ were not distributed to ‘landless blacks’ but to ZANU PF chefs many of whom simply pillaged the machinery and buildings and moved on to the next farm to do the same. A drive through the country reveals hundreds of thousands of hectares of land now derelict and overgrown. Where once there were crops or cattle there are now weeds. Less than 10% of the population is employed and out of 100,000 school leavers last year, none are able to find work inside the country.

What all this states quite clearly is that the ordinary Zimbabwean is today far worse off than he was in 1980, not better. The gap is not marginal, it is massive. Some might suggest that the ordinary Zimbabweans are better off because they can have a say in the future of the country, but that is not true. In 2008 Zimbabweans voted Mugabe and his ZANU PF out of office, but they are still here, holding the power and denying the Zimbabweans right to a better future.

The actively ignorant need to know that none of this degeneration has had anything to do with sanctions of any kind. It has all been brought about by Mugabe and his ZANU PF warlords. As if this was not enough over 30,000 black Zimbabweans have been systematically murdered and many others beaten half to death in the name of material greed and an unparalleled lust for power. I have seen the photographs of the flayed buttocks of people simply suspected of supporting the opposition. They are horrifying.

This is what Malema says he wants for South Africa. What about the rest of the South Africans? What do they want? If South Africa runs true to African form, they won’t be getting what they want; only the rich and powerful will get what they want at the expense of ordinary people, the great majority of whom are the very people Malema espouses to want to look after. Malema, like Mugabe, doesn’t give a damn about the ordinary people. It is only about power and material wealth for the leadership.

Nothing would please Mugabe more than to see South Africa follow his road to ruin. But perhaps, just perhaps, Malema has done South Africa (and Zimbabwe) a great favour by a timely exposure of the ANC Youth League intentions for the future. Zimbabwe never had that forewarning. When Mugabe initiated his violent ‘land reform’ programme it came as a shock. South Africans are forewarned, and forewarned is forearmed.