Fact or fiction?

BY KETAYI MAKOSA
Our beloved country is blessed to have one of the most educated cabinets of any government anywhere in the world. Some of our learned and erudite ministers may have come across the work of fiction by the British author Frederick Forsyth, a novel called The Dogs of War, first publ

ished in 1974 (some six years before our own independence). I could not believe my eyes at some of the parallels with our country.
The book concerns itself with a fictional country in Africa called (would you believe it) Zangaro. Here are some excerpts (from the Bantam paperback edition of August 1995):
“Really? Good Lord. Rough place is it, this Zangaro?”
… “Too right, Sir James. It’s a bloody shambles of a place, moving steadily backward into the Middle Ages since independence… it’s a classic example of the concept that most of the African republics today have thrown up power groups whose performance in power simply cannot justify their entitlement to leadership of a town dump. As a result, of course, it’s the ordinary people who suffer.”
… “So who does run the show out there?” he asked quietly.
“The President. Or rather the dictator, … he won the first election, just before independence … against the wishes of the colonial power – some said by the use of terrorism and voodoo on the voters…”
“Tough guy, is he …?”
“It’s not that he’s tough, sir. He’s just downright mad. A raving megalomaniac, and probably a paranoid to boot. He rules completely alone, surrounded by a small coterie of political yes-men. If they fall out with him, or arouse his suspicion in any way, they go into the cells of the old colonial barracks …(p 41) He rules by a sort of mesmeric fear. The people think he has a powerful juju, or voodoo, or magic or whatever. He holds them in the most abject terror.” (p42).
“… the plantations have all failed through maladministration … (p42)
“What about the economy?”
“There is hardly any left… the lot of them just about subsist on what they can grow in … plots. The children are a mass of malaria, trachoma, bilharzia, and malnutrition. … there were in the colonial days plantations of … cocoa, coffee, cotton, and bananas. These were run and owned by whites, who used native labour. … made enough, with a guaranteed European buyer, the colonial power, to make a bit of hard currency and pay for the minimal imports. Since independence, these have been nationalised by the President, who expelled the whites, and given to his party hacks. Now they’re about finished, overgrown with weeds”
“Got any figures?”
“Yes, sir. In the last year before independence total cocoa output that was the main crop, was thirty thousand tons. Last year it was one thousand tons …”
“And the others – coffee, cotton, bananas?”
“Bananas and coffee virtually ground to a halt through lack of attention. Cotton got hit by a blight, and there were no insecticides.”
“What is the economic situation now?”
“Total disaster. Bankrupt, money worthless paper, exports down to almost nothing, and nobody letting them have any imports. There have been gifts from the UN, the Russians, and the colonial powers, but as the government always sells the stuff elsewhere and pockets the cash, even these three have given up.”
“A cheap tinhorn dictatorship, eh?” murmured Sir James.
“In every sense. Corrupt, vicious, brutal…” (p 65)
“Who are the country’s friends, diplomatically speaking?”
… “They don’t have any. No-one is interested, it’s such a shambles. Even the Organisation of African Unity is embarrassed by the whole place… no newsmen ever go… The government is rabidly anti-white… No one invests anything, because nothing is safe from confiscation by any Tom, Dick, or Harry wearing a party badge. There’s a party youth organisation that beats up anyone it wants to, and everyone lives in terror”.
“Is there any potential at all down there?” asked Sir James.
…” … there is enough potential, well managed and worked, to sustain the population at a reasonable degree of prosperity. The population is small; the needs few; they could be self-sufficient in clothing, food, the basics of a good local economy, with a little hard currency for the necessary extras. ..The relief and charitable agencies … their staffs are always molested, their equipment smashed or looted and their gifts stolen and sold for the government’s private profit.” (p67).
… “What a bloody shambles of a place.”
“That’s putting it mildly…”
“And who precisely has produced this paradise on earth?”
“[The President] … mad as a hatter, and nasty as a rattlesnake. Visionary, … liberator from the white man’s yoke, redeemer of his people, swindler, robber, police chief and torturer of the suspicious, … Lord High Everything Else, His Excellency, President Jean Kimba.” (p 68)
Need I say more? Saka toita sei? – Makosi is the Kadoma district chairman for MDC and can be contacted at: [email protected]

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