On Point: Zimbabwe the Next Genocidal Killing Field

by Austin Bay
October 30, 2002

In 1932, who believed Germans would systematically slaughterGerman Jews by the millions? In spring of 1994, how many of us in anallegedly savvier, Internet-informed world were ready to believe RwandanHutus intended to hack to death 800,000 Tutsis in an orgy of macabre macheteviolence?

Pay attention to Zimbabwe, a nation brutalized by the rapidlydecaying regime of dictator Robert Mugabe. Zimbabwe may well be the nextgenocidal killing field, with the Matebele tribe the target of Mugabe'sShona.

Last February, this column described Mugabe as the SlobodanMilosevic of Africa. Both the Shona and the Serb are thieves, "formerMarxists" and ethnic cleansers who provoke ethnic strife, incite economicenvy, murder opponents and do so under the propaganda cover of rightinglong-term historical wrongs. For beasts like Mugabe and Milosevic, "rightinghistorical wrongs" means killing your ethnic enemies.

I recently returned from three weeks in East Africa, examiningmicro-development projects run by Africans for Africans. What a good newsstory. But bad news is like bad money -- it drives out the good. Across thecontinent I encountered Zimbabweans who recounted the last four years'terrible spiral of events, as Mugabe's corrupt government turned Zimbabwefrom a food exporter to a land stalked by famine. The past 30 months havebeen dreadful. The GDP has shrunk 25 percent, with inflation up 135 percent.

Mugabe's taste for tribal brutality isn't new. In 1980, with theaid of North Korean military advisers, Mugabe's Shona tribe savaged theMatabele tribe. From seven to ten thousand Matabele were killed. The worldignored the attacks. At the time, Mugabe was a hero to "globalprogressives," having toppled the white racist regime of Ian Smith in theformer British colony of Southern Rhodesia.

Now comes a report from The London Times that indicates Mugabeintends to pull a Milosevic-style Kosovo on the Matabele, with an evenlarger body count. The document opens with this breathless passage: FOR THEEYES OF THE SHONA ELITE ONLY! PLEASE PASS TO MOST TRUSTED PERSON! PROGRESSREVIEW ON THE 1979 GRAND PLAN."

The document was obtained by Matthew Parris. Parris once servedin the Rhodesian government, so he'll be dismissed by "progressives." GivenMugabe's track record and the bitter fact of Rwanda, that would be aterrible mistake.

According to Shona tribal history, in the 19th century, theMatabele entered Shona country (after fleeing Zulus) and took Shona land.Parris describes it as a "narrative" that fits the Shona's "tribalnationalism," just like Milosevic's "Kosovo recovery" fit into a Serb litanyof historical wrong.

The Shona now live in central and northern Zimbabwe and comprise70 percent of Zimbabwe's 13 million people. The Matabele are around 15percent.

The "Grand Plan" outlines a political, cultural and genocidalcampaign for pushing the Matabele back into South Africa.

Mugabe has systematically kicked Zimbabwe's white farmers out ofthe country and given those farms to his henchmen. Famine is the result.Now, Mugabe must distract the hungry, and an anti-Matabele campaign servesMugabe's immediate political needs. Parris is even more blunt: "... a fightwith the Matabele would enhance Mugabe's troubled position among his ownpeople."

Here's a key line in the Grand Plan: "For many years both theNdebeles (Matabele) and Europeans were living under a shameful illusion thatthe crimes of their forefathers had been forgiven ... This was not to be as(Mugabe) the illustrious son of the Shona people ensured that the two groupspay dearly for the evil deeds of the ancestors."

These deeds included rape and looting. So what's the GrandPlan's means of rectification? The rape and looting of the Matabele.

Could the Grand Plan be a forgery instead of Mein Kampf? Sure.Mugabe, however, has been stoking these ethnic hatreds.

The Shona, however, are no monolith. Many Shona oppose Mugabe.The Matabele are also capable of resisting.

But what happens if ethnic savagery begins? Send Britishparatroopers? That's a thought, though Mugabe would portray that as thereturn of the white colonialists. The real regional peacekeeper is SouthAfrica. Though the South African government has shied away from involvingitself with Zimbabwe's internal troubles, it cannot ignore a genocide on itsnorthern border.

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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