Friday, August 14, 2009

(TALKZIMBABWE) Mugabe: still clenching the fist

Mugabe: still clenching the fist
Frank Tsambe - Opinion
Fri, 14 Aug 2009 13:01:00 +0000

THE premier political icons of my early adulthood were Robert Mugabe, Herbert Chitepo, Dr Parirenyatwa, Dr Joshua Nkomo, Joseph Msika among other luminaries. Locked into a battle against imperialism, for the West and for others they hung over that part of the world like a terrifically bad smell. They were bitterly hated, deep from the heart, and often sincerely wished dead.

President Mugabe is, apparently, still hated and villified, yet the struggle that he fought that time is still the struggle he fights today: against imperialism. His crime: to empower politically and ECONOMICALLY his people. Yet he has never swerved from that struggle or feared political punch ups.

Infact he has given that struggle a new impetus as calls for self-determination and struggles for economic independence have taken a new twist.

He, after the death of Yasser Arafat, is the only icon from that generation that stands tall in the struggle for land.

He has said time and again, the issue is about land, not about internal division. Two times over his Zanu PF party has entered into unity with other parties in the country; first with PF Zapu and now with the MDCs. Yet the debate is still about land and economic empowerment, not about internal division and how its resolved.

At the burial of VP Msika (May his soul rest in peace) President Mugabe took the opportunity to ask why there was no Western government willing to put its money into the inclusive Government, but wanted to remote-control what goes on in that country. It's a good question.

As it happens, the government of Zimbabwe has the best record of any I remember, on the fight for self determination and economic empowerment. Work on a land redistribution and black empowerment strategy proceeds apace, and that's crucial.

If President Mugabe's reference to land and black empowerment in all his speeches is no clarion call, it still heartens Africans used to deafening silence and offers hope to former colonised people who wish to control their own means of production.

The West seems to have realised that if they don't manage Mugabe there's going to be mayhem as people of clour start calling for control of their wealth; not their politics.

So far so good, then. They are doing just that, but failing.

With the prospect of a potentially close-fought election in the offing and a general sense that the public as a whole is sick to the back teeth of ideology-free politics, the West is desperate to destroy Mugabe once and for all. They are not missing this chance for a proper political punch-up?

But there are no young people to carry the torch or to pass the baton to. The future is too ghastly to comprehend. There are no visionaries anymore, at least not in the current crop of politicians.

There is a lot of space for ideology and ideological debate in Zimbabwe and Africa. There is a dearth of visionaries. The politicians we have today are merely warming up with some stretching exercises, moving into some light ideological sparring around how they would ensure the Zimbabwean question is properly dealt with.

They fail to really stir us up by showing some passion about addressing the plight of Zimbabweans and addressing the land question.

If politicians were really feeling brave they might try talking about how they could help tackle the land problem globally.

I passionately think the West secretly admires Mugabe. They realise he will not swerve from the land debate or will not shun political punch-ups. The fist is still clenched.

There's an urgent need among us the youth for the same energy if we are really going to be empowered.

Frank Tsambe is a researcher with Global Policy Research. He is based in Kualar Lumpur, Malaysia.

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