Zimbabwe is an African country that had all of the advantages of becoming a self-sustaining and even wealthy nation. It was a victory for the people of Africa that a white racist regime was overthrown in Rhodesia with a lot of support from the international community. Many whites remained and continued to maintain their productive farms. Unfortunately, the new Zimbabwe came under the control of a single party ZANU-PF dictatorship led by its erstwhile liberation leader Robert Mugabe. Mugabe used reverse racism, seeking to take over the prosperous and productive farms of Zimbabwe's white minority through forced land invasions as a way of enriching his supporters, ridding the country of whites and maintaining his grip on power. In the 1980s, Mugabe unleashed his notorious North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade, dominated by his own majority Shona tribe, on Matebeleland, where 30,000 people were killed and thousands more raped and maimed.
Mugabe has persecuted not only the whites but all opposition groups using his his thugs of both the party, the military and police to arrest, beat, imprison and murder them and so called veterans to harass them. When the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai appeared to have won the plurality in three way national elections in March of last year, Mugabe cracked down on the opposition so that a fair run-off would be impossible and was boycotted by the MDC. Mugabe ran alone, declaring his victory as President.
The situation in Zimbabwe under Mugabe's rule has gone from bad to worse. The economy continued to deteriorate as productive sectors were marginalized. The Zimbabwe currency became worthless, with continuous inflation and printing of new denominations in the billions and trillions of Zimbabwe dollars that could buy almost nothing. As things deteriorated, a cholera epidemic took hold that has now killed over 3,800 people and sickened over 80,000 and continues to grow, creating a major health threat for Zimbabwe's neighbors already flooded by refugees.
Under extreme pressure from the African leadership, with South Africa taking the lead, Mugabe was forced to accept a coalition government with the MDC, under a "power sharing" arrangement, with Mugabe remaining president and Morgan Tsvangirai becoming the Prime Minister of that government. However, control of the military remains in Mugabe's hands and even control of the police is spilt. The MDC has largely been handed the hot potato of the failed economy. The new MDC leadership is counting on international assistance to rebuild the country, requesting billions of dollars. Even as the new Prime Minister was taking office, his followers continued to be arrested without explanation. Suddenly, there has been an increase in the number of farm invasions by Mugabe supporters. Tsvangirai continues to speak optimistically in favor of the coalition arrangement. It is questionable, however, whether Mugabe and his followers really intend to make the arrangement work or are simply trying to buy time by appearing to go along with international pressures, while perhaps organizing for further repression.
In a recent book Dinner with Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom Fighter who Became a Tyrant, by Heidi Holland, the South African journalist describes her relationship with Mugabe over a number of years. She basically assesses him as a person with a stunted personality who does not have the capacity to empathize with those around him. She describes him as "in denial." (For her interview on NPR last June see: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92036177) In truth, Mugabe constantly describes a world in which the West is out to get him. This has become a self-fulfilling prophesy as countries have leveled sanctions against his government.
Mugabe is frequently compared with Adolf Hitler, or called the Hitler of Africa. I do not think that this is an unfair characterization. Like Hitler, Mugabe has used racism as a means of promoting his own hold on power, has fostered a one-party militarized state, has ruled for the benefit of his clique of supporters at the expense of his own people and has been indifferent to the suffering of his own people. Something bordering on a slow motion genocide of his own people has been taking place.
Mugabe has already admitted that he is willing to be considered "a Hitler ten fold."
That statement and the brutality of his regime is apparent in the following video.
Zimbabwe is still a back burner problem, but under the current regime, things will only continue to deteriorate there leading to more deaths and abuses of human rights verging on genocide. The international community will have to consider regime change in Zimbabwe. We wish Mr. Tsvangirai well, but have little faith in his optimism. A tyrant is always a tyrant, and there is only one way to deal with such a leader. This is a Valkyrie moment. Sic semper tyrannis.