Article from ROAPE Volume 31 Number 101
Mugabe, Mbeki and the Politics of Anti-Imperialism
There can be little doubt that one of the most significant aspects of the current crisis in Zimbabwe, especially the events of the past two or three years, has been its international character. At the heart of President Robert Mugabe's offensive against the array of forces opposed to his rule are repeated attempts to place the Zimbabwe problem at the centre of a larger anti-imperialist and Pan-African position. These tactics have been crucial to the process of legitimising the recent actions of ZANU-PF, in power since independence in 1980. The land question in particular has been located within a discourse of legitimate redress for colonial injustice, language which has resonated on the African continent, and within the Third World more generally. Knowing that his authoritarian rule would be confronted with a widespread national and international critique centred on property rights, human rights and the rule of law, Mugabe and his advisors constructed alternative discourses around the need for renewed liberation struggle solidarity, the continuing effects of African marginalisation attendant on the globalisation process, and the presumptions of liberal imperialism. Behind this rhetorical shield, the ZANU-PF government has effectively suspended the rule of law as it attempts to bludgeon its opponents into silence. In doing so, it has enjoyed the support provided by the so-called ‘quiet diplomacy’ and ‘constructive engagement’ of other Southern and Central African governments.