Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Simpson in Zimbabwe

Regardless of the Gunga Dan Rather-esque nature of the stunt, it was a pretty brave thing for John Simpson to shuffle off to Zimbabwe for a week. Though when he says that malnutrition is a small problem, and that there are surprisingly large numbers of cars on the roads, I susoect he's falling prey to 'capital city-itis'. If he spent the same amount of time in Rusape or Selukwe I suspect he'd see a rather different picture. If he went up to Gokwe or another of the really rural areas, I think he'd be horrified.
For the kremlinologists among you, there's a nice little mystery as to who this is:
A very senior Zanu-PF figure, a man who sees himself as a king-maker, met me clandestinely in Harare. He hated Mugabe more than any of the others.
If you can bear it, look back to March of last year, when I precised the runners and riders in the forthcoming struggle to replace Mugabe. My money would be on Emmerson Mnangagwa as the anti-Mugabe ZANU-PF figure:
For the last five or so years there have been two groups behind Mugabe, jockeying for position, and subject to seemingly capricious changes in favour. The group currently in favour is that led by Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa is a political operator with a great deal of experience: he was the first Parliamentary Speaker in Zimbabwe in 1980. He is also deeply implicated in the brutality and murder that characterise Mugabe's politics. Appointed Minister for State Security in 1982, Mnangagwa bears a great deal of responsibility for the so-called Gukurahundi in Matabeleland. This (which literally means 'the rains that wash away the chaff') was the campaign against quasi-imaginary Ndebele 'rebels' that led to the end of ZAPU, the other main African nationalist party, amid the slaughter of anything up to 20,000 civilian Ndebele. Mnangagwa, like Mugabe a Shona, remains personally implicated in this. To add to this, Mnangagwa has been named as Zimbabwe's richest politician - no mean feat in a Government as stupendously corrupt as this.
One thing is for sure, however. Poor old Simba Makoni, who is the dupe being set up to run against Mugabe, is no more his own master in this as John Simpson was a master of disguise.

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