• Saturday, May 18, 2024
businessday logo


Obama erred on cause of Zimbabwean crisis

Dodging the issue: Obama’s attack on offshore cash

Taiwo Akerele

I wish to respectfully disagree with President Barack Obama of the United States on the true cause of the Zimbabwean economic and political crisis. During his recent visit to Ghana, he opined that the economic crisis in Zimbabwe was not caused by colonialism but bad leadership. While I agree with him that President Robert Mugabe has become an embarrassment to the liberation struggle and an impediment to the emergence of true democratic culture in the Southern African country, we all recall that at the heart of this crisis is the land question.

For many years, the white minority that ruled Zimbabwe appropriated to themselves the productive agricultural landscape in the whole of Zimbabwe, leaving the black majority to become slaves in their own fatherland. As if this was not bad enough, the British Government agreed to finance the land re-distribution policy as part of the negotiation in the advent of the historic independence in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Read Also: Dear Zimbabwe: We are sorry

It is common knowledge that for the umpteenth time, the British Government reneged on this agreement to the consternation of the African Union (AU) as well as the Zimbabwean Government and its people. In the process, there arose a serious internal insurrection (although tacitly supported by the Zimbabwean Government) against the white minority holders of the land and in its wake, severe sanctions where meted out against the government amid violence.
It is very unfortunate that the whole world, supported by the powerful Western media and new broadcasting technology, rather than condemn the British Government for reneging, turned against Robert Mugabe who rightly was fighting for his people. Again, whether the strategy is right is another issue entirely.
Against this background, it came to me as a rude shock that Obama, an apostle of transparency and equanimity of purpose, would outrightly condemn African leaders on our soil and leave Europe to enjoy their loot from Africa.
Today in Africa, millions of people live together against their wishes. This partly accounts for the ethnic clashes all over the continent, manifested in the genocidal war in Rwanda, the perpetual religious crisis in Nigeria and the contradictions in Cameroon, where a part of the country speaks French and the other half English.
Like former US President Bill Clinton, Obama should read the works of Walter Rodney on How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Claude Ake’s Democracy and the Crisis of Underdevelopment in Africa, and of course compare the situation with Singapore as captured in the work of Lee Kuan Yew Singapore: From 3rd World to the 1st. I am sure these will give him an idea of the difference between what it takes for a people to control their destiny and for a people’s destiny to be controlled by others.

Quite frankly, most African leaders have messed up severally post-colonial rule and squandered the opportunities that clearly came to us as a continent to develop and liberate our people from poverty, disease, illiteracy and others too numerous to mention. In Nigeria, we have experienced strong man rule as noted by President Obama, which comprises attempts to amend the constitution rather than strengthen institutions.
In Gabon and Zaire, presidents have died in power trying to equate the destiny of the countries with their own existence, and in North Africa, gerontocracy still reigns supreme.
However, the Zimbabwean situation is a classic case of the battle of a people to take over their God-given land. What they do with it is another page for history to reveal.