2005: Zimbabwe (former Rhodesia): Mugabe’s Russian and Chinese Jet Fighters

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Date & Time Posted: 4/18/2005 3:56:32 PM

Mugabe’s Russian and Chinese Jet Fighters

[Those of us who lived in Rhodesia have been saying for decades that Robert Mugabe is a product of Communist China. We have the evidence of his links to them, right from the beginning. Old Communist Mugabe can now discard any pro-Western pretentions he fooled people with. Jan]

Harare – Chinese-made jet fighters flew over independence celebrations in Zimbabwe at which President Robert Mugabe declared he had no need for Western help or Western-style democracy.

“We have turned east, where the sun rises, and given our back to the west, where the sun sets,” Mugabe told a crowd of 8 000 gathered on Monday at the Chinese-built national sports stadium, referring to efforts to seek new economic partners among the “Asian tigers”.

Newly acquired Chinese jet fighters and older Russian fighters had flown overhead in salute as Mugabe arrived to deliver a 35-minute, nationally televised address marking the 25th anniversary of independence from Britain. Hawk jets bought from Britain in the 1980s have been grounded because Zimbabwe has been unable to get spares since an embargo was imposed in 2000.

The 81-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled since independence, spoke emotionally of the legacy of British rule, referring to the “strangled shrieks of brave guerrilla fighters facing execution”.

‘To this day we bear the lasting scars of that dark encounter with colonialism’

“To this day we bear the lasting scars of that dark encounter with colonialism, often described in the West as civilising,” Mugabe said.

A bush war that claimed 30 000 lives preceded independence in 1980, when what was then known as Rhodesia became Zimbabwe.

Scorning accusations that March 31 parliamentary elections were rigged, he said: “We made our own democracy and we owe it to no one, least of all the Europeans. Let it be forever remembered: it was the bullet that brought the ballot. Our ballots have not needed Anglo-American validation.”

The United States Embassy led those voicing doubts about the March 31 results. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party was declared the winner of 78 of parliament’s 120 elected seats. Another 41 seats went to Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, which has said the election was stolen.

One seat went to an independent candidate. Under Zimbabwe law, Mugabe appoints 30 more members of parliament, and now controls the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution.

‘Let it be forever remembered: it was the bullet that brought the ballot’

On Monday, Mugabe thanked friendly African states for endorsing the election results.

The celebrations included the awarding of state honours to past presidents of Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.

“We proclaim our pan-African spirit, stressing we shall never be a colony again,” Mugabe said as he announced the awards.

Conspicuously absent from the honours’ list was former South Africa President Nelson Mandela. Mandela has repeatedly criticised Mugabe’s human rights record during the last five years, though the South African government endorsed the March elections as free and fair.

In his speech, Mugabe listed recent redistribution of 5 000 white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans as among major achievements of his rule.

“We have resolved the long outstanding land question and the land has now come to its rightful owners, and with it, our sovereignty as well,” he said. “Our people are happy and contented and that is all that matters.”

Agriculture, the mainstay in a country once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa, has collapsed and the economy has shrunk 50 percent since 2000, when ruling party militants began invading white-owned farms. Unemployment is at least 70 percent and at least 70 percent of the population live in poverty.

Only about 20 000 of Rhodesia’s 1974 peak white population of 293 000 remain in Zimbabwe. In his speech, Mugabe attributed economic problems to “induced skills flight”. Today, 3,6 million of Zimbabwe’s 15 million people live abroad, most are economic refugees in South Africa and Britain.

Mugabe said Aids constituted the young nation’s biggest challenge. The epidemic has “really strained our health delivery system as well as our financial resources”.

He did not cite statistics, but health workers say at least 3 000 people a week are dying of HIV-related complaints. Many of the dead are the most economically productive, in the 18-55 age group. – Sapa-AP

Source: Independent Online (IOL)

Source: http://archive.africancrisis.info/?p=105102

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