Labour's Betrayal of Zimbabwe

By Oborne, Peter | The Spectator, August 31, 2002 | Go to article overview

Labour's Betrayal of Zimbabwe


Oborne, Peter, The Spectator


THIS autumn Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Africa, is on the verge of manmade famine. Soon refugees will be pouring out over the borders, above all into neighbouring South Africa. According to the United Nations six million people half the population - are in peril of undernourishment or starvation.

Most famines are to some extent manmade. But very rarely are they created deliberately, as an act of government policy. Stalin engineered a rural famine to exterminate the kulaks in the 1930s. So it is with Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President. He has already set about eradicating his opponents. Aid agencies have noted that food is being diverted to Mugabe's political clients. Hundreds of thousands of black farmworkers are being lifted off the land, and dumped.

The white farmers left in Zimbabwe are, in statistical terms, not much more than an irrelevance. But they enable Mugabe to propagate the notion that he is the victim of a racist, colonial conspiracy. This elaborately constructed fantasy cuts less and less ice in Zimbabwe itself. But it seems to work in neighbouring countries, and above all in the regional superpower, South Africa, which has sat by as Mugabe has embarked on murder, torture, expropriation and ethnic cleansing. Mugabe's fantasy has carried great weight, above all, with the British government. The Zimbabwean President's constant emphasis on Britain's colonial past has had an astonishing effect. It has almost completely emasculated Tony Blair and his ministers. Again and again, in their quest for an excuse for inaction, government ministers have reverentially prayed in aid the anticolonialist sentiments of the Zimbabwean President.

The consequence has been a feeble and useless foreign policy. As the storm clouds have gathered, ministers have been timid and inert, and at times have shown a bewildering readiness to believe protestations and assurances from Mugabe himself. They have displayed some of the naivety of the idealistic, well-meaning and reasonably minded prewar British statesmen who preposterously believed that there was a deal to be done with the Axis dictators.

The determining moment in British policy came two years ago, as the first farm seizures occurred and Mugabe began to resort to open violence and intimidation as a means of keeping power. At this stage there were two schools of thought within the Foreign Office about how the impending calamity should be handled. Peter Hain, the minister of state, powerfully argued that Britain should engage directly with Zimbabwe and its neighbours. Hain, who as a young activist in the 1970s masterminded the exclusion of South Africa from world sport, knew the country far better than most, and had impeccable civil-rights credentials. He made a number of interventions, criticising not merely Mugabe for the murder of opposition opponents, but also implicitly the inert posture of the South African government. The outspoken Hain approach caused consternation among officials, and in due course he was stamped on. According to one well-placed Foreign Office source, Hain received a direct rebuke from Robin Cook (though the Foreign Office has officially denied this). Today Tony Leon, leader of South Africa's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, says that `Hain is the best we've seen from the British government'.

Cook's own approach fitted in better with the languid Foreign Office preference for avoiding confrontation. As the first farm expropriations went on, Cook opted for a policy of `quiet diplomacy'. At the Africa-Europe summit in April 2000 in Cairo, relations between Britain and Zimbabwe were restored to what the Independent called a `frozen kind of friendliness'. Its report of 6 April 2000 recorded that Zimbabwe's President had agreed to halt his attacks on British leaders, while Britain had agreed to `lower the temperature of its commentary'.

The Cairo summit set the tone for the torrid summer of 2000. In July, amid well-- authenticated reports of violence, ballot-- rigging and intimidation, Mugabe claimed his victory in the parliamentary elections. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Labour's Betrayal of Zimbabwe
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.