HARARE – President Robert Mugabe must match his Pan African rhetoric by providing food, jobs, schools, housing and healthcare that are still so sorely lacking in his country, academics and the opposition have said.
Pan-Africanism, including even a “United States of Africa”, has been a rallying cry since the continent started to shake off its colonial shackles in the 1950s and 1960s.
But in messages to commemorate Africa Day on Thursday, a cross section of Zimbabweans said African governments in general and Mugabe’s administration in particular have failed miserably to improve the lot for their people, hence the need for citizens to “fight against black liberation struggle elites to stop their pervasive plunder of our resources under the pretext of the emancipating the masses.”
University of Zimbabwe Sociology lecturer Rudo Gaidzanwa said bodies such as the Sadc and the African Union (AU) have become platforms for solidarity with dictators.
Gaidzanwa dismissed calls by African leaders to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC) and establish an independent African Court saying African states unhappy with the ICC should work to reform it from within rather than pulling out.
Almost a third of the ICC’s 124 members are African, and a withdrawal by a large number of them would cripple a court that has yet to fulfil hopes that it would ensure perpetrators of war crimes and genocide never go unpunished.
Fifteen years old this year, the ICC has only ever charged Africans, including the presidents of Kenya and Sudan, although it has procedures open at earlier stages dealing with crimes in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America.
Gaidzanwa said African leaders only pronounce Pan-Africanism in the belief that it can help them withstand foreign criticism against their dictatorships, life presidencies, corruption, negative ethnicity, violations of human rights and perpetration of civil wars and genocides.
“However, when I went through the Zimbabwean experience I said to myself ‘what is there to celebrate about not having water, electricity, food and access to health?’,” Gaidzanwa said.
“When I talk to my students, they don’t believe when I tell them the life we lived under colonialism, that I lived in an African township like they called it but it had drainage, there was electricity and the postman brought letters to our home.
“I actually walked to school and at my school, I learnt French, did Technical Drawing, played tennis and my teacher was gay, although we didn’t know what it means. I tell them that at the University of Rhodesia, we used to have bacon and egg, fruits and everything.
“They (students) ask me how this could have been in an African township because they come from places where there are no roads, no water and sometimes they have to take a bath at the campus, so it’s been an invasion of reality.
“They grow up in conditions of terrible deprivation without water and potholes everywhere, so when you bring about the discourse of liberation and freedom and our heroes, there is a disconnect and I can see the contempt they (students) have for it because sometimes they take turns to come for lectures and take notes on behalf of each other.”
Opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in his Africa Day message that given the continent’s vast mineral wealth and its wide base of natural resources, it is without any rationality and justification that Africans must continue to have such poverty.
Tsvangirai said while Mugabe is a national and continental hero who played a huge part in the development of the country and the continent, he has since turned into a villain on account of his policies as well as ambitions to die in office despite his advanced age.
Willias Madzimure, PDP secretary for international relations, said liberation movements who did the excellent work to liberate the continent from colonial rule failed to transform themselves from military wings to proper modern civilian governments capable of driving the economic transformation agenda on the African continent.