Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe is dead. But he will be remembered 100 years from now for liberating the longsuffering people of former Rhodesia.
Before Mugabe’s intervention, the racist white minority government of Rhodesia had perfected plans to enact their own form of Apartheid in the Southern African country.
At that time, the white minority controlled most of Zimbabwe’s land through colonial enablement rather than merit.
As if that wasn’t enough, the racist white minority regime of Lan Smith maliciously stopped black Africans from trying to buy good land by hitting them with unjust laws.
This was not acceptable to Robert Mugabe. And he launched a civil war to end racist white minority rule. For refusing to bow to racism, Mugabe was imprisoned for 17 years. But in 1979, the white minority government was pressured to hand over to democratic majority rule. Mugabe was elected by a landslide.
All seemed to be going well at first: Mugabe launched what would turn out to be Africa’s most effective educational system (Zimbabweans are the most literate people in Africa today).
And Britain had signed the Lancaster House Agreement to partner with Zimbabwe to compensate some of the white farmers who had benefitted from the colonial land grab so that blacks would get a fair share of the land.
But something strange then happened: Britain suddenly refused to implement the compensation agreement. Meanwhile, Mugabe, who had promised his people fair land redistribution felt he had no choice but to continue with it – Britain or no Britain.
But, the moment he started redistributing this land, Britain convinced its allies to impose crippling sanctions on Zimbabwe. They said they wouldn’t go ahead with fulfilling their side of the Lancaster agreement unless Mugabe left power.
Mugabe must have looked at European democracies like France where the president can run for as many reelections as he wants and decided that a diktat that he should leave smelt very much like a neo form of colonialism.
Britain’s allies never insisted on Britain implementing the Lancaster agreement. Rather, they slapped debilitating sanctions on Zimbabwe. Its was as if Zimbabwe was being indirectly punished for daring to throw off the yoke of white racist minority rule.
That reminds me of how Haiti has been punished for centuries for daring to throw of the yokes of slavery. I hope a similar century’s long affliction is not planned for Zimbabwe. The British SAS has the motto: He who dares wins. But it now seems to be: He who dares is punished if he is black.
I listened to the BBC analyse Mugabe’s death. And just as I had suspected, there was no mention of the Lancaster agreement whose non-fullfilment by Britain (together with British-led sanctions) has turned Zimbabwe from the bread basket of Africa to the basketcase of Africa – a place where the price of bread can sometimes cost billions of dollars.
All I could hear were attempts to tie the late Mugabe to the present ills of Zimbabwe. No mention of how the ills scientifically came about.
Americas first African President Barak Obama had a perfect opportunity to persuade Britain to implement the Lancaster agreement and free Zimbabwe.
But in his 8-year administration, he failed to use that opportunity. Well, the situation now calls for a new William Wilberforce, a British leader who will say, “Look, we have to implement the Lancaster agreement, for the sake of all Zimbabweans – white and black.”
Zimbabwe should insist that Britain honours the Lancaster agreement and drops sanctions. Both white and black Zimbabweans have suffered very much because of Britain’s refusal to implement an agreement no one forced her to sign.
Britain said she would implement Lancaster after Mugabe leaves. As unfair as it is, the UK now has the condition it set; for Mugabe has not just left power, he has also left life.
Today in Nigeria, some white Zimbabwean farmers who were displaced from Zimbabwe due to the non-implementation of the Lancaster agreement are flourishing. Britain, if you implement the Lancaster agreement, that could yield one more good thing, a new agricultural linkage between Zim and Naija.