Mubarak’s Ghost haunts Mugabe in Zimbabwe
By Hassan Isilow
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has reportedly been acting in fear ever since his friend, Hosni Mubarak, was forced to resign last month, a leading Zimbabwean journalist has told African Witness.
Wilf Mbanga, Editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper, said ever since pro-democracy protests started in Egypt, Mugabe’s ZANUPF party activists started to intimidate opposition supporters whom they anticipated would protest against Mugabe’s 30 year-old rule.
“Mugabe has been acting very nervously of late. He has deployed security in the streets. Last week his ZANUPF activists also looted shops owned by foreigners in Harare. I assume he is doing all this to intimidate the opposition and silence civil society organizations that he thinks might revolt against his regime,” Mbanga said during telephone interview.
“We condemn in the strongest of terms the ZANUPF-led looting of shops owned by foreigners in Harare last Monday. As a party in government, they must realize they have obligations to look after not only the country’s citizens, but all our guests as well,” the London-based editor and publisher of Zimbabwe’s leading newspaper in the Diaspora said.
He added that if Mugabe’s party does not want foreigners doing business in Zimbabwe, there are legal ways of stopping them. He said the party could bring in legislation to that effect, but not force the closing of such shops by looting. “What happened on Monday does not help the indigenization process, neither does it send a positive signal to potential investors concerning the security of future business ventures in Zimbabwe,” Mbanga said.
Nine years ago Mugabe’s cronies grabbed prime commercial farms for themselves, disproving Mugabe’s claim that he was dispossessing white farmers for peasant resettlement. Mugabe’s indigenization policy was one of the reasons why Zimbabwe was sanctioned by major world powers. Although Mugabe has repeatedly justified his land seizure programme as rectifying colonial injustices, several of his henchmen and cronies have reportedly cherry-picked the best farms for themselves.
According to Mbanga, it seems that ZANUPF is “confused” about what is good for the country. He said Mugabe’s party has been encouraging foreigners to invest in Zimbabwe, while at the same time organizing demonstrations against them and looting their property.
This is indeed double-speak – for which ZANUPF is well known. The same tactic is used when the party publicly condemns violence, and Mugabe says he wants peace in our country – yet his henchmen threaten war and his thugs thrash people,” he said.
When asked if Zimbabweans could follow the Egyptian route of forcing their undemocratic leader into resigning, Mbanga said his countrymen were not ready to take the risk. The 86-year-old Mugabe has been ruling Zimbabwe since 1981. It is estimated that up to 3 million Zimbabweans are currently living in exile as a result of Zimbabwe’s economic crisis and repressive regime.