Mhambi has been redeployed.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hitchens on Zimbabwe and South Africa

The former left wing polemicist Christopher Hitchens this week published a very interesting piece about Zimbabwe, Mugabe and South Africa.

He said that the actions of the Durban dock workers (Satawu) "made me remember very piercingly how good it sometimes felt to be a socialist."

Formerly a Trotskyist and a fixture in the left wing publications, Hitchens departed from the consensus of the political left in 1989 after what he called the "tepid reaction" of the European left following Ayatollah Khomeini's issue of a fatwa calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie.

Hitchens recently courted further controversy by supporting the Iraq War. He is a vociferous critic of what he calls "fascism with an Islamic face".

Hitchens said of the South African Union action in Durban: " improves the chances of democracy worldwide. This is how socialism began, with Karl Marx and his allies organizing a boycott of Confederate slave-harvested cotton during the American Civil War, and however often a thieving megalomaniac like Robert Mugabe claims to be a socialist, there are still brave and honest workers who, by contemptuously folding their arms, can deny him the sinews of oppression."

Hitchens also sheds light on the different roots of Zanu PF, the ANC and the non racial influence of South Africa's Communist pParty.

"...the distinction between the Zimbabwe African National Union (Robert Mugabe's vaunted ZANU-PF or Patriotic Front) and the Zimbabwe African People's Union, or ZAPU, which had been led by veteran Joshua Nkomo. Not only did this division reflect the ethnic makeup of Zimbabwe as between the majority Shona and the minority Matabele, respectively. It also involved the Russo-Chinese split in the world Communist movement, with Nkomo being backed by Moscow and Mugabe by Beijing. The same split was evident in the larger South African liberation movement, though in that case Nelson Mandela's African National Congress, with its heavy Communist Party influence, effectively dwarfed the renegade Maoist forces of the Pan Africanist Congress, which stood for an unreconstructed form of blacks-only Stalinism and which was to be obliterated in the first South African elections."

Hitchens remembers when Mbeki and other ANC members settled in liberated Zimbabwe. "Thabo had come to Zimbabwe to be as close to the dramatic developments across the frontier as he could manage. But the life of an ANC official in Robert Mugabe's Harare was not an easy one. "The regime openly prefers the PAC," he told me, "and they treat us with contempt." At the time, also, supporters of Joshua Nkomo, an old friend of the ANC, were going in fear of their lives as Mugabe's North Korean-trained special forces vengefully roamed Matabeleland.

So all this invites a question: Knowing what they knew about his primitive politics and even more primitive methods, why did the leaders of the ANC continue to tolerate Mugabe when they themselves succeeded in coming to power democratically in the post-apartheid state? The answers are both illuminating and depressing."

One reason is says Hitchens that Nkomo sought help from white South Africa. This alienated him from the ANC who felt betrayed.

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1 comment:

Gareth Thomas Searle said...

man, i love reading your insightfull, and well sort out articles. keep it up