The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Good and Bad Dictators

Dec 15, 2008

The Bush Administration says that Robert Mugabe, the president and dictator of Zimbabwe, must leave. It uses the pretext of the current cholera epidemic raging throughout the country to demand his resignation. It reproaches Mugabe for doing nothing to prevent this epidemic, and especially for hanging on to power after rigging the elections.

As if Bush gives a damn about democracy or the poor masses of Africa. The U.S. government is behind a lot of the dictators in Africa, including oil-rich Nigeria and resource-rich Zaire, among others. Why are the Bush administration along with the former colonial powers of England and France opposing Mugabe?

For an entire period, from the 1980s and most of the 1990s, the U.S. and European powers considered Mugabe among the “respectable” dictators. He submitted to the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He did the bidding of the great multinational companies. He helped them profit from the dismantling of the national economy, at the expense of the poor masses of the country.

Then, in 1997, a giant strike wave broke out, protesting against the IMF-imposed austerity policy. At that point, Mugabe jumped ship. He defied the IMF and big multinationals. He ended the privatizations and returned some of the government subsidies of basic necessities for the population that he had previously cut.

The IMF and big international financial companies retaliated by reducing their loans, which worsened the economic crisis. Peasants who had been squeezed hard by the crisis occupied some uncultivated land owned of wealthy European-owned farms. These big companies controlled much of the fertile land.

Mugabe also gave his blessing to these illegal occupations.

Because Mugabe had the audacity to appear to encourage those who attacked the sacrosanct private property of multinational companies, the U.S. and the rest of the imperialist powers branded him a rogue dictator. The Western powers then organized an economic blockade that strangled Zimbabwe, destroyed the industrial fabric of the country and reduced the population to misery.

Today, Zimbabwe is a country on the edge of bankruptcy, suffering the highest hyperinflation in the world: A dollar is worth 21 billion Zimbabwean dollars!

The current cholera epidemic is the result of the huge increase in poverty and the deterioration of drinkable water in the cities. So far 600 have died and 12,000 are ill. Doctors of the World, a charitable group, has already treated 5,000 people. This very contagious infection is lethal, but it could easily be treated, if drinkable water were available to the population. The U.S., Britain or France could do it! But Bush and the other leaders don’t talk about this.

The dictatorial regime of Mugabe is partly responsible for the current brutal economic and health crisis. But those truly responsible for the economic strangulation of the country are the great western corporations that daily export farm products and valuable minerals, while the banks regularly fleece the country. These big corporations won’t forgive Mugabe for supporting the land occupations. They want him replaced by a dictator who is a bit more docile.

Behind the current indignation of the Western political leaders lies their defense of their respective multinationals.