Most African countries were better off under colonial rule, but few have people alive today who are still able to remember what that was like.Â The only reminders are remnants of once decent roads, and other infrastructure essential for civilisation â€“ like dams to store water, pumping stations, electricity, sewerage treatment plantsâ€¦ and all the other things western people take for granted.
With the death last week of former Rhodesian leader, Ian Smith aged 88, many people had occasion to pause for thought on what has changed in the 27 years since President Mugabe of the renamed country, Zimbabwe gained power in that once prosperous and beautiful place.Â Comments in British media range from sorrowful reflection: Ian Smith has sadly been proved right, and became an unlikely hero for the black Zimbabweans, to downright stupid Ian Smith: Man whose folly unleashed Mugabe.Â These articles were all published within a few days of each other!Â The last one â€“ about Smith being responsible for Mugabe (whose terrorists Smith and the people of Rhodesia â€“ both black and white â€“ fought a civil war against for thirteen long years) is typical of â€˜liberalâ€™ apologists who (until communism went out of fashion) saw Stalinâ€™s Soviet Union as the only decent way forward for humanity.Â They conveniently forget that they unanimously praised Mugabeâ€™s enlightened approach when he first assumed power from Smith back in 1980.Â Now, 27 years later, it is all Smithâ€™s fault.Â Hmmm… like all liberal thinking it is disingenuous.
So we were reminded again that impoverished Zimbabweâ€™s mega-rich President Mugabe flaunts his power by riding in a bulletproof limo, flanked by motorcycle outriders, followed by an armoured personnel carrier, with lots of flashing lights and sirens.Â His predecessor, Rhodesiaâ€™s (modest to a fault) Prime Minister Ian Smith, drove himself around in an old Renault 5 in what was (despite sanctions and war) once one of Africaâ€™s most prosperous countries.
Today, the people of Zimbabwe suffer the consequences of a failed Marxist state.Â Its Capital City, Harare (and pretty much everywhere else) has been without electricity for weeks on end; and soldiers and policemen have been drafted to mark examination papers because teachers are boycotting (or have left the country); water supplies are in danger of pollution by raw sewage; and garbage collections have been severely curtailed due to lack of fuel and spares to keep the fleet running.
The International Bar Association (the largest grouping of legal practitioners in the world) condemned Zimbabwean police conduct; Zimbabweâ€™s own Attorney General has been arrested on the orders of Mugabe (he was implicated in a struggle for succession); and the government has threatened to sack striking magistrates (local judges).
Meanwhile the ordinary people face starvation (again) because, at the beginning of this yearâ€™s growing (rainy) season, Zimbabwe suffers seed shortages and has to import maize with non-existent foreign currency; and they resort to barter in an effort to secure scarce commodities including food on the streets, because shops are empty and the currency valueless.Â And they canâ€™t get treatment for AIDS or food for the starving unless they first buy a (Mugabe) Zanu PF party membership card.
Readers who would like to make a contribution to help innocent pensioners, who are unable to buy food and other basic necessities in Zimbabwe, should please contact Patricia Williams by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peter Davies was a soldier in Rhodesia from 1963 to 1975, where he took part in the capture and interrogation of terrorists. Â Davies’ novel, Scatterlings of Africa, is based on his own experience during Rhodesiaâ€™s war on terror, and personal observations of how terrorist activities impacted Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and its people.