New York, Illinois Politicians Whitewash Zimbabwe Tyranny in Report

Several New York state politicians, along with an Illinois colleague, recently visited Zimbabwe and have released a unanimous report that whitewashes Robert Mugabe’s tyrannical rule over that nation.

New York City Council Members Charles Barron and James Davis; New York State Assembly members State Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell III; and Illinois State Senator Donne Trotter visited Zimbabwe on a fact finding mission sponsored by The Black World Today.

The group apparently decided that they would release a work of fiction to commemorate their visit. As The Black World Today’s resident Zimbabwe apologist Donna Lamb summarized the group’s findings,

In brief, the unanimous findings of Barron, Davis, Powell and Trotter are that for such a young nation Zimbabwe has succeeded in accomplishing some tremendously important things, and the hard work continues. To revile a brand new country for not solving its problems fast enough is unfair, and to expect the leadership to accomplish everything without any mistakes is unrealistic. As Assemblyman Powell put it, “This is a newly developed country that was colonized for umpteen number of years and now it’s just coming into its own. You have to expect them to make mistakes. They have problems just like we have problems, and we have to be patient.”

Powell here is describing a nation that is currently experiencing double digit declines in output and is on the verge of a famine that could kill hundreds of thousands of people. Powell is whitewashing a tyrannical regime which is openly withholding food aid from people whom it believes side with the opposition. For Powell to claim that “they have problems just like we have problems” is prima facie evidence that he is unfit to serve in any capacity at any level of government.

The group’s claims about Mugabe’s “land reform” read like they were written by the PR wing of Mugabe’s Zanu PF,

As Councilman Barron explained, even though the Black Zimbabweans agreed about the urgent need for land reform, after Mugabe became President he kept dragging his feet. The white farmers loved him for it, but the Zimbabweans grew more and more impatient with him. However, he continued to ignore them for a decade and a half, until 1995 when he began land reform in earnest. Stated Barron, “Mugabe said there’s 4,500 farms owned by whites and we’re going to take back 2,900 from those who own multiple farms and leave them with the single one of their choosing. He told them they would be reimbursed for any structures and development of their farms, but not for the land itself.”

Mugabe promised white farmers he would never pursue this route in order to keep them in the country after its independence. Far from legitimate land reform, the seizure of white farms has been used as part of a patronage system to reward Mugabe’s followers. Not only have most blacks not benefited from the land seizures, but they are in fact suffering the most from the food shortages it has caused. Many white farmers had the means to move them and their families out of the country — an option which is unfortunately not available to those whom Mugabe’s policies have relegated to extreme levels of poverty.

Barron offers one of the most ridiculous quotes I’ve ever read about African food shortages,

Even here they found that there isn’t an intense anti-Mugabe feeling and that most of the people associate the food shortage not with land reform, but with the draught. There are diehard political opponents who want to say land reform is to blame, but it simply makes no sense. As Barron commented, “Africans knew how to farm long before the Europeans came. Then they were farming the land after the colonization because they were forced to do it for the Europeans. What would make anyone think that they lost a sense of farming now that they have the land back for themselves once again? The logic escapes me.”

Apparently Barron believes farming is something that is genetically passed along through Africans — just pluck a Zimbabwean family from urban squalor, plop it on a plot of land, and the family will just instinctively know how to properly manage a farm. The reality is that the seized land has been given to people with little knowledge or ability to properly farm the land and the result is a tremendous decline in food production. The drought explanation is simply absurd (one wonders if Barron also attributes Zimbabwe’s precipitous decline in economic production to drought — perhaps commercial and industrial enterprises are simply wilting due to lack of water).

Lamb — who is, frankly, one of the more despicable people I’ve had the misfortune to read this year — offers a classic fellow traveler-style take on Zimbabwe’s well-documented use of torture, violence and murder against the opposition parties,

The MDC said that during the 2000 election Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party used intimidation and violence. When asked about it, official representatives of ZANU-PF said that some of that did indeed happen. It occurred on both sides, but more so on the government’s side. However, Mugabe had known nothing of it at the time; he certainly hadn’t initiated it, and he condemns any of that kind of action now.

Yeah, he was only the president and leader of his party at the time. It’s completely outrageous that his critics might seem to think he had something to do with the all of the beatings, torture and political killings in Zimbabwe. But, instead, Mugabe was actually blissfully ignorant. Right, and Iraq doesn’t have any weapons of mass destruction.

Lamb’s take on repression of homosexuals in Zimbabwe is instructive of this sort of idiocy,

Other reports have reached this country that Mugabe was beating, jailing even killing homosexuals. Across the board, people said that was ridiculous. Mugabe had said some negative things, but basically in African society they declare that you can be what you want to be, however you just can’t do what you want to do in public, whether you’re hetero- or homosexual.

Mugabe said negative things? He gave a speech in which he said gays were “worse than pigs and dogs . . . a scourge planted by the white man on a pure continent.” Mugabe went on to urge Zimbabwe’s media to take up the fight against homosexuals by exposing their activities. The government-owned The Herald ran ads proclaiming that called for a “crusade” against homosexuals claming that “God commands the death of sexual perverts.” Male homosexuality is a crime in Zimbabwe punishable by up to eight years in jail (lesbianism is technically not illegal, but lesbians are arrested and charged on other offenses).

And just when you think things can’t get worse, Lamb and her fellow apologists just keep getting nuttier. Mugabe has arrested, tortured and sometimes killed his opponents. He’s used gangs of supporters to intimidate voters and denies food aid to those he thinks side with the MDC. But who are we to judge him — after all, the United States didn’t hold a presidential election until 1789!!! Lamb writes,

One of the things all 4 elected officials saw was the double standard this country uses in judging Zimbabwe and its history, and our own. They won their freedom in 1979 and had their first election in 1980, just one year after. “But,” said Powell, “this nation took 13 years just to have an election for president. We had General George Washington running the country from 1776 until 1789 when he was first elected.”

What an idiot. Prior to the ratification of the United States, of course, the country was governed by the Congress of the United States as laid out quite clearly in the Articles of Confederation which was agreed to in 1777 and ratified in force in 1781. Powell also seems unaware that Washington resigned as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in 1783.

Well, he doesn’t know anything about Zimbabwe, why should we expect him to know anything about his own country?

Sources:

Elected Officials Take Fact-Finding Trip To Zimbabwe. Donna Lamb, The Black World Today, November 7, 2002.

African American Group Disputes Mugabe’s Claims On Land Reform. Mthulisi Mathuthu, Zimbabwe Independent (Harare), November 15, 2002.

Homosexual and hated in Zimbabwe. The BBC, August 12, 1998.

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