Tomorrow will mark the 34th anniversary of Zimbabwe's deliverance from the rule of the "white settlers". At the time when the reins of government -- and the keys to the bank vault and printing presses -- were handed over to Comrade Robert Gabriel Mugabe, Rhodesia (as it then was) enjoyed a standard of living second in southern Africa only to that of South Africa.
Rhodesia was a net exporter of food, the infrastructure (including a railway and an airline) worked, life expectancy was rising and it took two American dollars to buy a Rhodesian dollar. Now, having been looted six ways from Sunday by Mugabe's kleptocracy, Zimbabwe is an economic basket case. Millions of Zimbabweans are dying, not just from HIV/AIDS but from hunger. 1/12th of its citizens, including all but a handful of whites, are living overseas.
Celebrations of independence and "majority rule" will thus be a little muted. Some older people even dare to suggest that perhaps things were better in the days when the country was run by people who knew how, even if those people were, errr, a whiter shade of pale. Here are some thoughts along those lines from Walt's old friend CZ, writing in this week's Financial Gazette.
Patriotic as Dr CZ would love to be seen to be, if he is going to be allowed the freedom to be honest, he would confess that he is divided as to which event to celebrate tomorrow… that is if he has an option to choose between independence and Easter Friday.
There are, however, many reasons CZ would rather celebrate Easter than independence because independence is there, yes, but a lot of things are quite amiss… so amiss as to tempt some like Yours Truly to think Ian Smith could have been right after all when he told the then newly-sworn in Prime Minister Robert Mugabe at his new official residence in 1980 that the success of the new nation depended largely on the size of the white component of the population that new government was able to retain.
What the political hooligan called Smith was simply doing was wantonly casting aspersions at the leadership qualities of black people, which naturally was an insult to any patriot. Sadly, Dr CZ now feels that the collective behaviour of many of our leaders over the years — be they political, business, religious et al — seem to be totally divorced from anything remotely suggestive of even a fleeting hint towards debunking this “stereotypical nonsense”. Dr CZ regrets it if he has failed to properly articulate his point as to sound racist!