Magazine article New African

A Bad Man in Africa? A New Bout of Mugabe-Bashing Is under Way in Britain. Welcome to the Land of the Knights of King Arthur. (View from the Editor)

Magazine article New African

A Bad Man in Africa? A New Bout of Mugabe-Bashing Is under Way in Britain. Welcome to the Land of the Knights of King Arthur. (View from the Editor)

Article excerpt

Regular readers of New African may have noticed that this column has been missing since January this year. I was seriously thinking of retiring it after 13 straight years in service. But recent happenings in Africa and elsewhere have proved how premature my decision was. So, like the prodigal son, I am back -- for good. And I hope I won't be turned away.

Now what has shaken me out of my stupor? Starting from 19 February, there has been a new surge of Mugabe-bashing by the British media, so shrill that it is difficult for an African not to comment.

In Ghana, our elders say: "Monkeys play by sizes". I know I am boxing above my weight here, but never mind, the truth must be said, and somebody must say it!

For those who have missed the British headlines, here are three: "A Bad Man In Africa" (The Times), "Mr Mugabe Should Not Be Entertained In Europe" (The Independent), "Illegal and Immoral" (The Guardian).

And what are Mugabe's crimes this time? He is accused of "harassing journalists", "ruthlessly suppressing political rivals and the ruined tobacco farmers" and "intimidating judges".

Yes, there have been recent worrying cases in Zimbabwe: The bombing of the Daily News printing press in Harare on 28 January and the killing of Mrs Gloria Olds on 3 March should be condemned by all, and the Mugabe government should do its damnest to bring the culprits to book. Such naked violence does not help the good case of the land.

Regarding the other charges, we should all take them with a good pinch of salt. Take the case of the "ruthlessly suppressed" political rivals. Throughout history, "ruthlessly suppressed" political rivals have not lived in the same country as the "bloodthirsty dictators" (as Mugabe is said to be) who "ruthlessly suppress" them. They flee the country!

The kind of things that the opposition MDC members, speaking from Harare, say on British TV and in the newspapers, and are still free to go about their opposition duties, do not fit the image of a "bloodthirsty dictator" that Mugabe is made out to be.

The same could be said about the "harassed" journalists (both foreign and local). When journalists were really "harassed" in Ghana between 1981 and 1992, we all fled the country for dear life. For these "harassed" journalists to still live in Harare, and be able to write those vitriolic articles we've seen in the British media and elsewhere, and still walk the streets free ... please give us a break!

This "bloodthirsty dictator" in Harare deports one young BBC journalist and allows in an even more experienced "BBC TV journalist and a camera team" and give them accreditation two days later.

What I am saying here is that we should bring a sense of proportion to bear on what is happening in Zimbabwe. Every bit of violence is one too many, and must be stopped.

But the British are too keen on Zimbabwe that they end up shooting themselves in the foot. In the last five months, over 430 people (more than 380 Palestinians and nearly 50 Israelis) have been killed in Israel over a long-drawn struggle for land. And we are yet to see the British media say that Ehud Barak (the ex-Israel leader) or Chairman Arafat should not be welcomed in Europe.

Again, where were the British media when Vladimir Putin came to London last year and had tea with the Queen, soon after Putin's soldiers had killed thousands of people in Chechnya and reduced the place to rubble?

It's quite amazing that the British think we don't know that their shrill hostility to Mugabe is because Mugabe is bent on redistributing land in his country -- and the land so happens to be owned by the descendants of the British settlers who killed and pillaged as they seized the land and the cattle from native Zimbabweans just over 100 years ago.

A bad man in Africa? Please look at the photo on the opposite page. See how cool and smug the hangmen look. …

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