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Zimbabwe Learns from Russian Propaganda

Today, as expected, Robert Mugabe cruised to a landslide victory in his “one-candidate” poll amid a chorus of international outrage, disgust, and disbelief. In all the publications I can find defending his victory, I sense a distinct similarity with that particularly high quality of pro-authoritarianism propaganda coming out of the Kremlin – it’s as though Mugabe hired Vladislav Surkov, who advised him that focusing on Western examples of double standards is the key to whitewashing to poorly faked democratic process (however Zimbabwe did not have the luxury of bottomless resources to direct toward other forces such as the Nashi). Read below and see for yourselves. Like all good propaganda, it contains an element of rhetorical coherence: they are right to complain about the West treating Mugabe differently than a leader like Putin.

Nigeria: Zimbabwe’s Endless Descent Vanguard (Lagos) EDITORIAL – Lagos AFRICA has the notoriety of bearing some of the worst rulers in the world. Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe has been President since 1980, is not exceptional. At 82, Mugabe is unwilling to leave power. His 28 years have ruined Zimbabwe. These statistics give a hint of the peoples’ trauma — life expectancy is 37 years (men), 34 years (women) according to the World Health Organisation, orphans make up 25 per cent of the population, says UNICEF and it has the worst inflation in the world at 1,281 per cent last month. Mugabe is typical of African leaders. His only offence is that he is tangling with Western interests over land. Had he been an ordinary dictator, the West would not have cared about elections in the country.

For the West there are good and bad dictators. Mugabe is obviously a bad dictator.There are many examples of the same Western leaders keeping mute as scores of African leaders ruin their people and cumulatively keep the continent in darkness. El Haji Omar Bongo Ondimba has beenPresident of Gabon for 40 years, the world’s longest serving President. With Gabon’s oil wealth, he has maintained seeming prosperity under his repressive rule. The Gabonese National Assembly has guaranteed him unlimited tenure. At 75, he is not thinking of leaving office.There are others. Libya has had Muamaar Gaddafi for 39 years. Gaddafi is only 66. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been President of Equatorial Guinea for 29 years. Some of the forgotten lasting rulers include Hosni Mubarrak of Egypt and Felix Biya of Cameroun, 27 years each and later arrivals like Blaise Campaore in Burkina Faso and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda since 1986.Lansana Conte is 74, and has ruled Guinea after a coup 24 years ago. Even among those craving for democracy, the example is horrible. Mohammed Abdelaziz of the Western Sahara, has run the country, since it declared independence from Morocco 32 years ago. After this list, more than 20 other leaders who have either over-stayed their elected tenures, or manipulated the laws to remain in power. Others are coup plotters, or those departing dictators imposed.These are the people calling on Mugabe publicly to leave office. It is doubtful what they tell him in private. Mugabe is in good company in a continent of 53 countries, where dictators, former soldiers, who have plundered their countries, and sit-tight rulers, who answer to imperial interests, dominate.No lessons have been learnt. Cote d’Ivoire still bears the brunt of 33 years of Felix Houphouet Boigny as President. Only death, at 88, stopped him from remaining in office. Daniel Toroitich arap Moi was constitutionally forced out of office at 82. He was President of Kenya for 24 years. Kenya may never recover from the Moi years.Zimbabwe’s problems are not just the Mugabe years. When he is finally gone, he would leave his country in tatters — another grim spot for Africa . The world has to save what is left of Zimbabwe from Mugabe.