After a recent brief meeting with new U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, Zimbabwe Prime Minister Robert Mugabe has declared the American official “an idiot” with a condescending attitude who suggested actions his troubled government needed to take. Last year, he described Carson’s predecessor, Ambassador Jendayi Frazer, as “a little American girl trotting around the globe like a prostitute” because she agreed with many others in the international community that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change had won the disputed March presidential election. Neither Frazer nor Carson bothered to respond to his disgraceful remarks. However, in determining who the real idiot is in this situation, consider the following:
Zimbabwe, until the unity government was installed, experienced a rate of inflation so high that it was considered incalculable. The spiraling rates were broken only when the new unity government agreed to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar for foreign currency such as the U.S. dollar and the South African rand.
The Mugabe government’s “Operation Murambatsvina” in 2005 destroyed not only housing but also the informal business sector. The regime had earlier demolished the commercial farming sector, which took down the manufacturing sector they didn’t realize depended on purchases by large-scale farms. Most small and medium businesses had been bankrupted by the government’s ruinous currency policies.
The country’s decimated economy, which created a serious lack of government finances, allowed a rampant, unchecked cholera epidemic, claiming the lives of thousands of Zimbabweans and infecting tens of thousands of others. The country’s citizens still have a fear of their own drinking water despite a government cover-up campaign.
According to Human Rights Watch, hundreds of children are now being forced by the army to dig for diamonds in eastern Zimbabwe to accumulate money – not to fund much-needed social services – but rather for the bank accounts of the ruling party’s leaders. In the face of all the hardships Zimbabwe citizens face, the ruling party apparently is oblivious to how voters will regard this development.
Mugabe continues to blame the Americans and British for the negative impact of sanctions (aimed at the regime’s leaders) and the refusal to fund an inequitable, disastrous land reform scheme, but clearly, his government ruined his country’s economy through its own actions. Mugabe and his lieutenants can’t even seem to understand the need to cooperate with the other elements of the unity government they agreed to create in order to obtain the foreign aid they need to survive.
So given all this, who’s the real idiot here?