Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Zimbabwe Wikileaks about president Mugabe.

The Wikileaks are making some interesting waves around the world. Most of what I have read, around 200,000 of them (I was taught speed reading in Rhodesia), remain a blur because I read them rather rapidly, but I did come across one about Zimbabwe.

It is a bit old now, 2007, but is a nice piece written by the then US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher William Dell. Some of you might remember Mugabe ranting ‘Dell can go to Hell!’. Zimbabwe opposition has jumped on this Email with glee. I am not surprised. It is a beautifully written and honest account of what was/still is going on Zimbabwe. Dell says about Mugabe –

Robert Mugabe has survived for so long because he is more 
clever and more ruthless than any other politician in 
Zimbabwe.  To give the devil his due, he is a brilliant 
tactitian and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly 
change the rules of the game, radicalize the political 
dynamic and force everyone else to react to his agenda. 
However, he is fundamentally hampered by several factors: 
his ego and belief in his own infallibility; his obsessive 
focus on the past as a justification for everything in the 
present and future; his deep ignorance on economic issues 
(coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him 
the authority to suspend the laws of economics, including 
supply and demand); and his essentially short-term, 
tactical style. 

There is more, but man, has this guy done us a favour or what! I just love it. The full Email can be read here. Sadly, he balls up a bit, predicting Mugabe’s imminent demise.

Anyway, in the Times (print copy, I refuse to pay for their on-line service), which I bought for a train journey to school, it gave a Wikileak reference to another leak which I gather comes from South Africa. I can’t find it online, but it quotes Mugabe as a ‘crazy old man’. Nothing new here but interestingly, it refers to ‘president Mugabe’. With a small p. Mmm, well that could just be a typo mistake…but, have a look carefully at this picture I scanned from the print edition. 

So, is this a sort of signal that he is sort of, like president, but not really President….hah hah – brilliant!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

45 Years Ago…

45 Years Ago…

Following a referendum the previous year in which voters had overwhelmingly backed independence, in late 1965, with negotiations between the United Kingdom and Rhodesia at an impasse, Smith (according to his biography Bitter Harvest) had authorized a committee under Cabinet Secretary Gerald B. Clarke to look at historical independence declarations in order to come up with a suitable version for Rhodesia in the event of a UDI having to be declared. The committee decided to use the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence as its reference. Once the text was agreed upon, the Government Printer in Salisbury created the actual document (during the first week of November).

Clarke placed the document in storage in the Rhodesian Parliament building until the morning of November 11, when Smith and his cabinet colleagues — after a last-minute appeal by the British Government failed to convince them not to follow this course of action — voted unanimously to declare their independence. Clarke was then directed by Smith to prepare the signing ceremony. The document was placed in an adjoining conference room to where the cabinet had convened to take their vote. With a photographer to record the historic moment, Smith, Deputy Prime Minister Clifford Dupont, and the other cabinet members signed the declaration. Later that day, Smith read it out on national radio, along with a speech giving justification for the action, and giving warning about probable negative reactions by the international community.

The timing of Smith's telegram to the British Prime Minister (Harold Wilson) announcing the UDI was symbolic. The message was sent at precisely 1 pm local time (11 am in London) at the exact moment that the United Kingdom started its Remembrance Day tradition (two minutes of silence to mark the end of World War I and honour its war dead). The not-so-hidden message in this timing was to recall the fact that Rhodesia had helped the UK in its time of need in both World Wars and that the British should not forget that.

Actually, I remember reading somewhere that the Rhodesians lost more servicemen as a proportion of its population than any other of the commonwealth nations. I also recall that during UK imposed sanctions the Rhodesians were banned from commemorating their fallen comrades in the UK on this day.