How Socialism Reshaped Africa

Adamantly Blind

Kaunda, however, adamantly refuses to admit the hopelessness of his monoparty socialist state.  Although, in response to angry public protests, he has agreed to hold a referendum (using an outdated voters’ roll) later this year on opening up to multiparty elections, there will be no competition for the presidency.  Generally, he says, there is no need for Zambia to change its political system, “as East Europe was merely following Zambia in guaranteeing citizens’ rights.”  That caused a horse laugh.  Rights?  In KK’s Zambia, what rights?

History has been a long time catching up with him, but his luck is now running out.  And so is his reputation.  In a Zambian court hearing (March, 1990) of four army officers accused of plotting to overthrow Kaunda in 1988, it was alleged that the President had swindled his country out of US$4 billion, which he “keeps in foreign banks.”  True?  Who knows.  But a lot of Zambians believe it.

Still as Business Day recently commented, there is no pleasure for South Africans in Kaunda’s fate.  We have too many of our own dead set on following the same path.


As recently as 22.4.89 the London Economist claimed that relations in Zimbabwe were “sunny,” that the economy was “chugging along more successfully than in any other country in Southern Africa except Botswana” (surely not all that difficult?) and that it had a “relatively advanced manufacturing centre.”  Where do these people come from?

Rotting Away

The truth is that Robert Mugabe stares into a bottomless pit, his country rotting from within, eaten away by a killer combination of socialist ineptitude; a dramatic increase in HIV-positive cases, mainly in the economically active element of the population; overwhelming unemployment; all compounded by the insuperable task of living up to the enormous expectations created by Zimbabwe’s new Marxist rulers at independence in 1980.

Mugabe told his Parliament in 1983 that “there is no dogma holier than communism.”  Then-President Canaan Banana was even more lyrical.  “For me, socialism is the legitimate child of Christianity.  Christianity and socialism have everything to do with human destiny.”  That’s what our own beloved Tutu thinks, too.  Even as he builds yet another African pest hole, Mugabe remains wedded to his old Marxian ideologies.  Swimming against the current African tide, he continued to fight doggedly for an official one-party Marxist/Leninist state.  Zimbabwe, as the London Sunday Telegraph recently pointed out, already shows classic symptoms of such a state.  The head of the army, Rex Nhongo, is now the country’s richest man and the title of richest woman is probably held by the high-minded President’s wife, Sally Mugabe.  Nor can any visiting journalist fail to see that in Zimbabwe a handful of individuals driving in luxury cars have noticeably separated themselves from the masses they profess to serve.