Obama And The Zimbabwean Blame Game — A Sad ZANU-PF Fantasy

Obama And The Zimbabwean Blame Game — A Sad ZANU-PF Fantasy

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African leaders always paint themselves as faultless for a rash of reckless policies, wasteful expenditures and high levels of corruption.

New interim Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa looks on after he was officially sworn-in during a ceremony in Harare on November 24, 2017.
Zimbabwe’s newly sworn-in President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed during his inauguration speech on November 24 to protect foreign investments in the country as he sought to lay out his economic credentials. “In this global world no nation is, can, or need be an island. All foreign investments will be safe in Zimbabwe,” he told a crowd of tens of thousands at his inauguration ceremony.
/ AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN

Ahead of an emotional and historic visit to Ghana in 2009, then-U.S. President Barack Obama criticized the theatrical blame game African leaders employ all the time to disclaim their failings. He also debunked the extensively disseminated myth that the West — and not Zanu-PF — is responsible for the economic tribulations that afflict Zimbabwe.

Obama said: “I think part of what’s hampered advancement in Africa is that for many years we’ve made excuses about corruption or poor governance, that this was somehow the consequence of neocolonialism, or the West has been oppressive, or racism — I’m not a big… I’m not a believer in excuses.”

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Yet still, whenever a ruling party in Africa faces tough electoral accountability for its economic and political failures, undue responsibility is swiftly heaped on the U.S. and E.U. nations.

While the evidence to substantiate allegations of electoral interference and secret participation in African affairs by the U.S. is characteristically scant, African leaders always paint themselves as faultless for a rash of reckless policies, wasteful expenditures and high levels of corruption.

Obama alluded to this African skulduggery when he added: “And yet the fact is, we’re in 2009. The West and the United States has not been responsible for what has happened to Zimbabwe’s economy over the last 15 or 20 years. It hasn’t been responsible for some of the disastrous policies that we’ve seen elsewhere in Africa. And I think that it’s very important for African leadership to take responsibility and be held accountable.”

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In Zimbabwe, so-called economic sanctions did not stop former first lady Grace Mugabe acquiring super-extravagant properties. And Doha-based news channel Al-Jazeera has described President Emmerson Mnangagwa as a successful businessman.

Interestingly, how did a 37-year long civil servant become a wealthy businessman, anyway?

You can blame the West for the devastating electoral woes all you want. But how did the West prevent Zimbabwe from conducting free and fair elections in the past?
This is just it: how has the West advanced unethical conduct by state officials?

Take your pick from an appalling collection of local catastrophes that have emptied the Zimbabwean treasury over the years and decipher this: how did the West instigate the War Victims Compensation Fund debacle, the ZINARA scandal, the NRZ crisis, the Chiadzwa diamond scandal, the Harare Airport scandal and the Ziscosteel scandal?

You can blame the West for the devastating electoral woes all you want. But how did the West prevent Zimbabwe from conducting free and fair elections in the past?

Did the West sanction electoral violence in 2000 and 2002? Did the West fail to provide Zimbabwe with a credible voters’ rolls in 2008 and 2013?

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Did the West halt the privatisation of Zimpapers and ZBC? Did the West enact dubious laws such as AIPPA and POSA?

Before we overthink the causes behind the deplorable situation we find ourselves in, we must deal with the blame game. A few weeks ago, Mnangagwa and the self-styled Team Lacoste were the local villains on the run.

TOPSHOT – Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa (C) receives a statue of a crocodile “Ngwena” after planting a tree during the extraordinary conference of the Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe’s ruling party, in Harare December 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

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