Organisers of a lavish 83rd birthday party for Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe prepared on Friday to slaughter prize herds of cattle as shops ran short of basics such as cooking oil and bread. Africa's oldest-serving leader, who has been in power since independence from Britain 1980, turned 83 on Wednesday amid mounting pressure to step down.
Post colonial Africa has been a litany of corruption lasting more than half a century. As freedom movements have taken over government of the various countries, their leaders have entrenched themselves as life-long rulers. Most of these 'leaders' have risen to the top of their respective political party through violence and elimination of their competition. As leaders of popular movements they make it into government on a wave of euphoria amongst their voters, but once there do nothing for the rank and file as they set out to enrich themselves beyond belief, set up a circle of friends who are also beneficiaries of this wealth, and squash their opposition with squads of vicious 'security' forces.
And the poor remain desperately poor.
Western aid becomes a further source of wealth. That which reaches the starving, the sick and the uneducated is just a pittance. No matter how many Band Aid concerts are held, no matter how many Bono's and Madonna's castigate the Western World for lack of financial help, it will not change.
>Leading African countries, such as South Africa, have to be at the forefront of condemnation of the corruption that blights Africa. Thabo Mbeki has been an abject failure, despite his declaration that this is Africa's century. He has failed to criticise Mugabe, his silence being covert support for ZANU's destructive policies; he has failed to pressure Mugabe into change and he has failed to take the African Union along with him.
>Further he has presided over a scandal of corruption, amongst leading members of the old guard of the ANC, in a massive arms deal that has netted huge personal wealth for the chosen few. There is suspicion that Mbeki himself was one of the largest recipients.