THE BLOG
02/16/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Mugabe May Be Evil, But Tsvangirai Is No Saint

Originally published on GroundReport.com, the citizen journalism platform that covers world news at the local level.

By Charles Rukuni.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is considered one of the most evil men in the world today. He has been called all sorts of names-- tyrant, dictator, monster. He is said to be ruthless with his own people. Local pastors even at one time described him as a biblical "beast of anarchy" because of the way he terrorized his own people.

A South African Anglican bishop likened him to a 21st century Adolph Hitler. Parade magazine ranked him one of the worst dictators in the world.

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980, first as Prime Minister and then as President, was once a respected African statesman winning accolades the world over. Now he is a pariah. He is now a punching bag for anyone who wants to grab a world headline. As far as the world is concerned he cannot do anything right. The economic collapse of his country has made things worse.

British academic and writer George Monbiot wrote in 2002, that as far as the Western media was concerned, Mugabe was the most evil man after then Iraq President Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Monbiot said that Mugabe's greatest sin was that he had upset the natural order of things by embarking on his fast-track land reform programme in which he kicked out thousands of mainly white commercial farmers to resettle landless blacks.

"Robert Mugabe is portrayed as the prince of darkness, but when whites expel black people from their lands, nobody gives a damn," Monbiot wrote in the British daily, The Guardian.

"There is no doubt that Mugabe is a ruthless man, or that his policies are contributing to the further impoverishment of the Zimbabweans. ... The seizure of the white farms is both brutal and illegal. But it is merely one small scene in the tragedy now playing all over the world."

"Every year, some tens of millions of peasant farmers are forced to leave their land, with devastating consequences for food security. For them there are no tear-stained descriptions of a last visit to the graves of their children. If they are mentioned at all, they are dismissed by most of the press as the necessary casualties of development."

"These are dark-skinned people being expelled by whites, rather than whites being expelled by black people. They are, as such, assuming their rightful place, as invisible obstacles to the rich world's projects. Mugabe is a monster because he has usurped the natural order."

Monbiot's argument and that of anyone who supports it is quickly brushed off with one being accused of being a Mugabe apologist. But blind support for opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai seems to be equally dangerous because he too seems to have increasingly become as arrogant as Mugabe.

A veteran political observer said the problem with Zimbabwean politics was that it had been turned into a quasi religion where Mugabe cannot do anything right and Tsvangirai cannot do anything wrong.

Paul Chimhosva in a letter to the South African daily, Business Day, said this was dangerous as this could land the country with another Mugabe.

"I am a proud Zimbabwean passionately opposed to the Robert Mugabe regime's rule," he wrote. "I am totally disappointed by the level of group think on matters related to Zimbabwe, which could also be referred to as "herd mentality".

"It is fashionable for our media and analysts to tout Tsvangirai as the patron saint and Mugabe as the devil in the Zimbabwean crisis. While this may be popular, and to some extent accurate, it does nothing to solve the crisis in Zimbabwe.

"If Tsvangirai walks into the leadership role of Zimbabwe with some kind of priestly complex, as Mugabe was accorded in 1980, then Zimbabwe is back to square one. Analysts and the media alike are now supposed to hold Tsvangirai accountable for his actions in the true spirit of transparency, which the MDC espouses."

Chimhosva asked why the MDC had signed an agreement that called for the reduction of the civil service when it was founded by the labour movement. He also queried why the party had agreed to a cabinet of 31 ministers when it had argued all along that Mugabe's cabinet was too big and was now backtracking because the parties could not agree on who should get which ministry.

"The opposition must decide what it wants. Either sign to implement the agreement, or pull out. Zimbabweans are tired of the game being played. While the Mugabe dictatorship is looting state coffers and the opposition is amassing donor funded wealth in hard currency, the common people in Zimbabwe are suffering beyond belief.

"There is a theory that says: Mugabe is scared of jail and loss of income hence his reluctance to relinquish power, and, on the other hand, the opposition politicians are used to donor income in hard currency hence their reluctance to join the government to protect their earnings. One hopes for the sake of Zimbabwe this not true.

"Tunnel vision thinking -- "Morgan is always right" -- is a recipe for disaster and Mugabe is living proof of that," he concluded.

Mugabe, leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union- Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and Tsvangirai, leader of one of the two factions of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) signed a power-sharing agreement on September 15 under which they were supposed to form an all-inclusive government but they have failed to do so up to now.

They have failed to agree on the allocation of government ministries with Mugabe insisting that he wants all the security ministries while Tsvangirai says he wants to control, at least Finance and Home Affairs.

Failure to reach an agreement has seen the country's economy continue to collapse. An outbreak of cholera has left more than 2,000 people dead because there are no medicines and health staff is not at work.

Smile Dube of the revived Zimbabwe African People's Union said the bickering between ZANU-PF and the MDC showed that they did not have the people at heart.

"They have failed to come up with a political solution because they are fighting for positions as if the people of Zimbabwe eat those positions. People need food. They need good health, good education, and not positions," he said.

The International Crisis Group, often seen to be more sympathetic to Tsvangirai, has called on both Tsvangirai and Mugabe to step down and give room to a transitional authority to run the country until fresh elections are held.

Charles Rukuni is a Zimbabwean journalist with over 30 years in the field. Go to GroundReport.com for more coverage from Zimbabwe. GroundReport is a citizen journalism platform that allows anyone to publish global news and earn money.