The brutal Marxist dictator who turned the ‘breadbasket of Africa’ into a proverbial ‘basket case’ of hyper-inflation and mass starvation has taken control of the African Union, an alliance of 54 nations and over one billion people.
As Robert Mugabe was installed as the chairman of the bloc on Friday he called on his fellow African leaders to focus on “issues of infrastructure, value addition and benefication, agriculture and climate change in the context of Africa’s development”, ironically the exact areas he himself has failed address in almost 30 years of rule in Zimbabwe. Indeed, Mugabe’s control of the Southern African nation has been largely characterised by significant decline in these areas, along with serious abuses of human rights.
When Rhodesia became Zimbabwe in 1980 after over a decade of bloody wars with Mugabe’s ZANU Marxist guerrillas, it was one of the richest nations in Africa, with vast mineral reserves and a highly developed agricultural sector. Although Mugabe rode to power on the back of resentment at white ownership of much of Zimbabwe’s industry and agriculture and a promise to redistribute this property and wealth to the people of the nation this programme has been mired by violence and corruption.
Instead of going to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe who Mugabe claims to help, most of Zimbabwe’s means of production are now in the hands of his political and military allies, many of whom are poorly suited to running sophisticated commercial operations. After thirty years, much of the nations agricultural land now goes untended and industrial equipment has been stripped or neglected beyond use.
Many have reacted to the news of Mugabe being elevated to this position negatively. Piers Pigou, the Southern Africa director of the International Crisis Group said: “His elevation sends a negative signal of African solidarity with leaders who’ve misruled their countries”.
The Financial Times reports the remarks of one opposition member of Parliament in Zimbabwe, saying that while it was bad news for Africa, Zimbabweans had more pressing concerns, such as surviving in a country which has recently seen starvation, 90% unemployment, and jail sentences for farmers attempting to grow food. He said, referring to the brutal violence employed to help decide elections in Mugabe’s favour: “Questions of legitimacy, questions of good governance, questions of rule of law are outstanding and we have more questions than answers from the man who is now sitting on the chair”.
The selection of Mugabe “does dent the credibility and credentials of Africa”, he said.