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5 September 2007
I write as I please - biweekly column by Wilf Mbanga

Why is it that African leaders feel nothing for ordinary Africans? Have power, prestige and money isolated and insulated them from the suffering of their people? Why is it that they will go to such extreme lengths to side with their fellow leaders? No matter how corrupt, no matter how cruel – African leaders will never condemn their fellows.

It is a tragedy that, after all Africa has been through, ordinary Africans cannot expect their leaders, or any other leaders on the continent, to champion their cause.
For genuine pan-Africanists it is a huge source of embarrassment that people in the west, the former colonial masters, are the ones who tend, for whatever reason, to champion the right of Africans.

The behaviour of African leaders is even more puzzling given that the majority of those in power today are the very people who led their countries to independence. They fought for one man one vote, they were jailed for fighting for the freedom of African peoples, they believed passionately in the human rights of those same people.
Yet the moment they came to power, they began to trample over all our human rights – and their fellow leaders applaud them. No raises a hand or a voice against such behaviour. It is a mystery indeed.

The recent SADC summit in Lusaka is a case in point. To a man, southern African leaders defended the murderous, corrupt, vicious and destructive regime of Robert Mugabe and Zanu (PF). They went further than that – they even applauded him.
Exactly the same thing happened more than 30 years ago at an OAU meeting in 1976. At that time Idi Amin, the butcher of Uganda, was causing untold suffering to millions of his own people. History has proven that he was responsible for the wholesale slaughter of Ugandans. Africans. And yet that gathering gave him a standing ovation when he arrived at the meeting.

Mugabe has destroyed Zimbabwe. He has reduced the people of Zimbabwe to abject poverty. More than 25% of the entire population has gone into exile – as political and economic refugees – to every part of the globe. Millions are starving. Agriculture, health, education have all been destroyed. Employment is way over 80%.
The average man and woman in Zimbabwe cannot expect to see their 40th Birthday. For which of these achievements do the leaders of Africa
applaud him I wonder?

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Wilf Mbanga, one of the founders of the independent Zimbabwean daily newspaper "The Daily News", is currently living in the UK. He writes about the current situation in Zimbabwe.


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