The new Mugabe

2010-03-07 08:07

By Japhet Ncube

SA leader replaces northern neighbour as West’s punching bag.

AFTER Robert ­Mugabe the West is going to come for us. Everyone of us.” These words of caution were whispered to me by a wise former head of state of an African country.

The occasion was the launch of the Africa Forum, a gathering of former heads of state and presidents, in Maputo, Mozambique, a few years ago.

The words came back to me this week when the British media, in its typically ruthless and holier- than-thou manner, tore into President Jacob Zuma on his first official visit as head of state.

The game plan was to intimidate Zuma, rough him up and ­ensure that by the time he met the Queen over tea and biscuits and British prime minister Gordon Brown over dinner, he would concede to their demands and ­commit himself over issues of ­nationalisation and Zimbabwe, among others. The strategy failed, just as it failed on Mugabe.

Zuma survived the onslaught and returns home stronger and wiser, knowing the British for who they really are: petty people with egos bigger than their country, which is as cold as their hearts.

Zuma did not invite himself to Britain. Their queen invited him because, like it or not, South ­Africa is a key country in Britain’s foreign policy plan in Africa.

It was a significant trip which, in the long term, will benefit both countries. But the wave of ­vicious publicity he had to deal with was the first major indication yet that after Mugabe the West has indeed come for someone else.

What Zuma is dealing with ­today is what Robert Mugabe has had to deal with for nearly three decades – an unbelievably hostile Western media rubbed up the wrong way by what it still refers to as his “land grab” ­policies. But what Mugabe did in Zimbabwe, which no other ­African leader has the balls to mention to the West, is to take the land whites took from blacks and return it to the people.

Yes, it could have been done ­better but Mugabe wasn’t fighting his people, he was getting back at Britain. This was done in a very selfish fashion, I must say, but the West left him no choice but to fight for his personal freedom.

Mugabe must go, by all means, but lets face it: the West has more to gain from Bob leaving office than the average Zimbabwean. And, in my view, Mugabe would long have left office had the British realised their efforts to dislodge him were in vain. The more they pushed, the more ­Mugabe ­realised he had to fight back.

For Mugabe it has become a matter of survival more than ­anything else. No man wants to rule over a broke country with half its citizens scattered in far-flung places nobody can find on the map. He must be desperate.

In reality, though, some in the West still haven’t realised that the battle was lost ages ago. Others, like the ones ploughing into the lad from Nkandla today, have woken up and smelt a new ­African to use as a punching bag.

I have watched the Western ­media and its lapdogs have a go at Mugabe. It’s not a pretty sight. No rules. No ethics. Mugabe Must Go is the clarion call. Only ­Mugabe, for the Queen’s sake!

Zuma has a few lessons to learn from the ageing liberation struggle icon turned villain from across the Limpopo. He has to develop a think skin and lick no ass. It doesn’t matter how pink it is or how many litres of bottled royal British water and bars of English soap have been used to wash it. Ass is ass.

Zuma’s turn to fight the battle and win the war begins now. Thabo Mbeki succeeded in putting the West in its place by ­refusing to be a token darkie of a president who jumps at every call coming from the White House or Downing Street.

It’s Zuma they are after now. But other African leaders must take note of the words of the elder statesman I shared a drink with in Maputo. For after Zuma the West will come for them.

) Ncube is news editor of City Press and has no intentions of landing a job in either the Zuma or Mugabe governments. He hopes that after Zuma the West won’t come for him.

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