Zimbabwe: where to start? Ever since the national election where the brutalised population overcame ridiculous odds to manage to not re-elect vicious, criminal despot Robert Mugabe I have been increasingly befuddled by the UK response.
The press coverage is detached to the point of nonchalance, reeling off stomach turning facts as if torture were a shopping list: “four opposition activists were burned to death last night,” “the tested tactic of beatings has evolved into a full-blown military strategy of abductions and murders of opposition,” “violence has increased dramatically in the past two weeks, moving from beatings and torture to mutilation and killing, with several victims burnt alive.” That last quote from The Times which casually refers to this as intimidation.
Jesus. Intimidation is pushing and shoving, a dirty look, shouting a few profanities. To sanitise systematic, state-sponsored murder, rape, torture and beatings with the lily-livered term “intimidation” is obscene. It’s more than that: it’s fucking insulting. I’ve seen more genuine emotion in articles about battery hens than is apparent in these clinical accounts of human beings beaten, raped, gouged, burnt, shot and bludgeoned.
Why the cold detachment? Why transparent disdain for suffering? Why does homicidal maniac Mugabe still have a knighthood? Why are the only people sticking up for Zimbabwe those with tragically little power to prevent mayhem? No one can plead ignorance, yet no one seems remotely interested in doing anything.
The nearest I’ve seen to a suggestion that someone should do something is a fatuous poll asking whether or not “neighbouring African states” should intervene. Firstly, since when are questions of genocide settled by fucking opinion polls? We’re talking about murder here, not the latest shoe craze. (Would anyone dare publish something so crass if the people being murdered were white?) Secondly, why African states? Aren’t the UK and US all for going in guns blazing in defence of democracy? Oh, that’s right. Zimbabwe doesn’t have any oil reserves to plunder, so no point in sending in the cavalry.
I think the UK blatantly doesn’t care because we secretly like to watch Africa fuck up. It makes us feel justified. Somewhere in our post-colonial heart of darkness we’re chortling “told you so!” After all, Mugabe was Britain’s parting gift to the former colony of Rhodesia, a farewell flourish that said, “Oh, you want independence do you? Hahaha. Fine… we’ll just install a maniac as your leader, prop him up for 30 years… see how you like ‘freedom’ then.”