By expelling whites, President Robert Mugabe perfected what Amin started

By Kenneth Kwama

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe went into last week’s election a confident man and, as was expected, won by a landslide.

The victory dampened the mood of white farmers whose land he took away and who had hoped for an opposition win to get justice.

Mugabe’s philosophy of the end justifies the means fuelled the “fast-track” land reform programme in which a number of white farmers lost their land. It has been cited as a modern case of tyranny and equated to the expulsion of Asians from Uganda by the late Idi Amin Dada who also suspended tourism for one year.

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Before Mugabe’s antics, Amin’s atrocities against Asians stood out as a case study of the worst economic crimes committed against a race on the continent.

On August 6, 1973, the East African Standard carried a story titled “Gen. Amin again pledges cash for Asians and firms” in which the Ugandan despot promised to compensate the affected Asians and their companies at a Commonwealth summit in Ottawa, Canada.

 “In his statement broadcast on Radio Uganda, he assured the Commonwealth that valuation of the assets was proceeding,” stated the paper.

Press blamed

Just like Mugabe, who has accused the Western press of waging war against him and his regime, Amin blamed the negative press on Britain. He claimed it had stemmed from his decision to expel 40,000 Asians from Uganda.

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“This action,” he declared, “was justifiable in international law,” stated the East African Standard.

His actions can be equated to Mugabe’s who argued that there was need to nationalise Zimbabwe’s assets and return its resources to the people.

Neither of the two quoted the international law that allows for this kind of action, but both were supported by sycophants.

But unlike Uganda where Amin expelled Asians after claiming he had seen the need in a dream, in Zimbabwe some advised caution and respect for the rule of law as thousands of white commercial farmers were expelled from their land and a number brutally assaulted and killed.

Just like in Amin’s Uganda, Zimbabwe’s land reform went ahead ­– unplanned, chaotic, violent, imprecise and economically destructive.

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A defiant Amin was later quoted in the same story assuring Ugandans that they should not worry if the British refused to help their country. The paper quoted Amin saying, “I can buy more modern arms from friendly countries if Britain does not sell us some.”

The story of Amin and the Asians ended with a rider in which Amin displayed his despotic arrogance in a cable to the then President of Madagascar  Gabriel Ramanantsoa congratulating him on his country’s brave decision to pull out of a joint Afro-Malagasy and Mauritanian economic body called Ocam.

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Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe Idi Amin Dada Asia white farmers East Africa Uganda Commonwealth Canada Madagascar Gabriel Ramanantsoa