My liberal arch-nemesis has some characteristically smart thoughts:

I think the great majority of non-Africans do not in fact believe that Robert Mugabe is entitled to rule Zimbabwe because he is black. But the opinions of non-Africans on this question do not matter much, and didn’t really even in 1979. The UK and US could no more have held a weaker, more democratic and capitalist government in place in 1979 than they could have held the Kerensky government in power in Russia in 1918.

However, the apparent belief by Thabo Mbeki that Robert Mugabe has the right to dispossess and slaughter the Ndebele because he is a Shona, has the right to dispossess, exile or kill whites because he black, and has the right to impoverish his entire country and beat his political opponents to death because he was a hero of black anti-colonialism — that has certainly empowered Robert Mugabe. Mbeki is a very strange figure; despite running Sough Africa for eight years, he seems still not to really deeply grasp that he is actually running a country and bears responsibility for what happens to it. But other African leaders seem equally incapable of intervening against Mugabe. The question is really to what extent non-Africans can influence the attitudes of Africans on these kinds of issues. Does it matter what we think of Robert Mugabe?

As always, read the whole thing.

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