Zimbabwe: The Conundrum (introduction)
The current condition of Zimbabwe is undeniably complicated and rapt with controversy. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s only president since the country became independent of white rule in the early 1980s, was once hailed as a hero and held up as an example of excellent leadership to other newly-independent African nations. Now, as the rate of inflation in Zimbabwe continues to skyrocket and a cholera epidemic appears to be ravaging rural communities, many are calling Mugabe an inadequate dictator who’s unwillingness to accept new leadership may lead to his country’s demise.
Unfortunately, the current situation in Zimbabwe is anything but clean-cut. The country’s complicated colonial history continues to influence Mugabe’s political posturing and decision-making. Mugabe argues that the United States and the United Kingdom are executing a form of post-colonialism via sanctions levied against himself and companions in his political party, ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front). He argues that these sanctions are the primary cause of deteriorating social and economic conditions in Zimbabwe. He also boldly claims that the U.S. and U.K. regularly generate false data regarding the health of Zimbabwe’s citizens, most recently in the case of a cholera epidemic that Save the Children, a British NGO, claims has taken the lives of 1,111 among 20,581 cases since August 2008. Mugabe and his supporters have suggested that this data is an attempt by the West to usurp his democratically-appointed powers.
On the flip-side, the United States and the United Kingdom have issued repeated calls for Mugabe to relinquish his presidential powers in wake of Zimbabwe’s current social and economic crises. Many in both countries have accused Mugabe and ZANU-PF of influencing Zimbabwe’s most recent election through violence and intimidation. Supporters of the opposing MDC (Movement for Democratic Change), led by former presidential candidate and current prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, have narrated stories of abuse and “reeducation” in camps operated by ZANU-PF. Similarly, as the apparent cholera epidemic continues to spiral out of control and child malnutrition worsens, the U.S. and U.K. cite that Mugabe is killing his own people through stubbornness.
The situation in Zimbabwe is complicated. These brief descriptions barely scratch the surface of the country’s multi-layered complexities. Nonetheless, we at SCOUT BANANA believe that the current conditions of Zimbabwe offer an excellent opportunity for education on multiple topics, including international health, development, post-colonialism, and globalization.
To offer a further introduction to Zimbabwe, I’d like to direct you to the BBC’s Country Profile. As you move to this site, I’d encourage you to examine the information offered there with a critical eye. What might appear fair and balanced is often rife with bias.
Good luck and please continue to check scoutbanana.org for updates.