Even though Tony Blair has denied ever plotting to oust Robert Mugabe by force, it’s something of a poorly kept secret that the British indeed considered a military option to solve the Zimbabwean problem.In an interview with Al Jazeera, former president Thabo Mbeki said “the problem was, we were speaking from different positions. There were other people saying ‘yes indeed there are political problems, economic problems, the best way to solve them is regime change. So Mugabe must go’. This was the difference. So they said ‘Mugabe must go’. But we said ‘Mugabe is part of the solution to this problem’.”
“There is a retired chief [Charles Guthrie] of the British armed forces and [he] said that he had to withstand pressure from the then prime minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, who was saying to the chief of the British armed forces, ‘you must work out a military plan so we that can physically remove Robert Mugabe’.”
Mbeki, who took a lot of criticism for his “softly-softly” approach to the Zimbabwean problem, said: “We knew that, because we had come under the same pressure, and that we need to cooperate in some scheme – it was a regime change scheme – even to the point of using military force, and we said ‘no’.”
In Zimbabwe’s military and intelligence circles, there was a genuine fear that the British would invade Zimbabwe and install Morgan Tsvangirai as the new president. As a result, Mugabe went to great lengths to tell his supporters “not [to] kill [whites], but hit back wildly”.
Presidential affairs minister, Didymus Mutasa, who once served in the state security portfolio, told researcher Blessing-Miles Tendi that “the fear [that] Britain might stage a military operation to protect whites…was very real”. 12 white farmers died at the height of the invasion, the years 2000 to 2002. People who killed white farmers were even arrested. During the trial of Munetsi Kadzinga, a man accused of killing a white farmer, Charles Anderson, the defendant told the court that he had been given the gun he used to kill Anderson by the late minister of homes affairs, John Nkomo. The minister, apparently, had told him and his accomplice to “intimidate the white farmer out of the property” but not to kill him. Kadzinga was convicted of murder and condemned to death.
Let’s compare Blair’s trigger-happy attitude with the gun shy Harold Wilson in the 1960s. In the negotiations about majority rule with former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith, the labour prime minister Wilson let it slip that he wouldn’t want to wage war against “our kith and kin” and, therefore, would never invade Rhodesia to stop Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence of 1965. UDI was the move by Smith’s Rhodesian to prevent majority rule, a move that deferred democracy for about 15 years and resulted in the war for liberation in which 50 000, mostly black people, died.
It’s true when Mugabe says Zanu PF brought democracy to Zimbabwe. Pity they fought for the vote and then trashed it…