The Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity of the government of Pres. Robert Mugabe has ordered the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) and other state-controlled newspapers to stop covering ministers belonging to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T). The MDC-T is a partner in the Zimbabwe government and headed by prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The ministry’s directive came down after the MDC-T suspended its power-sharing arrangement with Mugabe’s party, ZANU. The reason for the suspension was because of Mugabe’s unwillingness to live up the the agreement hammered out last year to prevent a civil war.
Anyone who has paid attention to the Zimbabwe situation will know that Robert Mugabe has never been one to support free media or any other democratic institution. This was clear from the beginning when he was the leader of one of two rebel groups trying to overthrow the white government of Ian Smith in what was then called Rhodesia.
Once Smith and the ruling white forces realized they had to make changes to avoid a bloody revolution, Smith negotiated a series of elections to transfer power to the black majority.
Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, another rebel leader, rejected the elections.
So did the Carter administration and many U.S. groups.
Observers of the elections, however, saw something different. They saw black voters turning out in large numbers to move their country toward real majority rule.
One of those leaders was U.S. civil rights leader Bayard Rustin. (Rustin was the organizer behind the 1963 civil rights March on Washington.)
In a July 1979 article Rustin talked about the election and why the critics were wrong. He also said of Mugabe:
Mugabe, even more than Nkomo, favors totalitarianism out of ideological conviction. He has made no secret of his belief that “the multiparty system is a luxury,” and he has announced that if the blacks of Zimbabwe do not like his ideology, “then we will have to reeducate them.”
Otherwise reasonable people ignored Rustin’s view of Mugabe and pushed through policies that doomed the transitional government and condemned the people of Zimbabwe to 30 years of poverty, dictatorship and violence.
Only recently have people begun to see what Rustin and others like him saw 30 years ago.
If a person rises to power with a background of anti-free press, anti-democratic views, the rest of the world should not be surprised when that person sets up a dictatorship.