From breadbasket of Africa to basket case
- A good & valid letter to an SA newspaper:
From breadbasket of Africa to basket case I refer to your editorial of July 24 and wish to take issue with some points that you raised. It is rather odious to call Ian Smith a dictator, thereby directly comparing him with Mugabe. Smith was never a dictator, and while he was many things to many people, he was most certainly not corrupt.
When Mugabe took over Rhodesia in 1980, the country was still very much a going concern and had money in the bank despite 15 years of sanctions and a hugely expensive so-called war of freedom. Zimbabwe has gone from being the breadbasket of southern Africa to being just another African basket case.
Ask the average black African in Zimbabwe who is old enough to remember when Smith was prime minister and they will tell you that they were far better off then than they are now with Mugabe, who has reduced this once thriving, prosperous country to an international pariah. You talk of a "negotiated settlement and freedom for Zimbabwe" - freedom from what?
Of course Mbeki is going to recommend that South Africa temporarily bail out Zimbabwe with what is euphemistically being called a loan. The reasons for doing so now are rather spurious, as millions of Zimbabweans have been flooding into this country (and indeed many other countries) for years. He is doing it not for reasons of altruism but because Mugabe is calling in favours that he extended to the ANC in the days of South Africa's struggle and because, I suspect, Mbeki actually agrees with what Mugabe is doing.
Published on the web by Sunday Independent on July 31, 2005.
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