Some entertaining reading on Mugabeland

The nutty dictatorOne of the Economist journalists is keeping a journal after sneaking back into Zim to check things out. He had previously been thrown out for being “a spy masquerading as a tourist” and was pretty frightened on his way in, especially after learning that “the man from Time spent an uncomfortable five days in the jug, without food”.

His first entry is about trying to sneak in without being noticed. He talks about having used “tennis rackets, bird-watching guides and enormous paintings” in the past to get in as a tourist. He was mightily relieved to find that although the government had boasted of a computerised list of banned journalists, they didn’t have any computers at the airport!

Hi second entry talks about how both Mugabe and the country he rules are strange combinations of wonderful and terrible. He describes how Mugabe is such a strange character:

  • “There’s something about the president, those Elton John glasses, the camp flicking of his wrists, the moustache that recalls both Chaplin and Hitler, that makes him as much a caricature as a real man”
  • “He is smart, agile, hard-working, yoga-exercising, frugal and he cracks a crude joke or two (Australians are “genetically modified criminals”; Tony Blair is a “boy in shorts” who leads a “government of gay gangsters”)”
  • “But he is a charmer with fingers dipped in blood.” Lately he has brutalised opposition supporters and “worst of all, in the early 1980s as he established his control, Mr Mugabe directed the murder of many thousand opponents in the country’s south.”