Zimbabwe Supreme Council Of Islamic Affairs Courts Villagers
While Robert Mugabe was busy making faces in Copenhagen (where he delivered his predictable broadside at the West, Britain "and its allies and also moaned about sanctions), back home, his Acting President was busy accepting gifts from the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, who publicly declared yesterday that they will now intensify their efforts to woo Zimbabweans with direct aid in the form of food hampers and clinicsHarare, Zimbabwe, 18 December 2009
It used to be that the Americans and the West were worried about the "Red Menace". Southern Africa was the final battleground of the Cold War, with apartheid South Africa citing Communism as the reason for its existence.
But now, it appears the new Cold War is between Christianity and Islam. Day before yesterday, the Islamic Affairs Council of Zimbabwe handed over goodies out in Bindura, the home province of Vice President Mujuru (Acting President, who is not referred to as "Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, Head of State and Government etc, as is the norm every time a clearly insecure Mugabe is mentioned).
The "goodies" include food, medicines and even sports uniforms.
While Mujuru, who attended the function, moaned about sanctions, as is now obligatory for all ZANU PF public speeches, the Iranians and the Supreme Islamic Council was more interested in telling Zimbabwe that they are only just getting started.
"We are also going to start a programme for an Islamic Charity Centre in Bindura while the Iranian embassy will also introduce an outreach clinic for the town," said Iranian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Rasoul Momeni.
Although the religion is still in its infancy in Zimbabwe, the issue of continued hunger and poverty has led to it making inroads into purely Christian Communities in rural Zimbabwe. Most villagers see the way in which the efficient Islamic support structure works out there, taking care of Muslims' daily needs and making sure that they do not go without, and they decide to take a look-see.
Islamic Conventions and gatherings have now gained a reputations for being events where huge amounts of food are consumed and he common understanding is that the religion "takes care of its own."
The leader of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe, Sheikh Ishmael Duwa, is a black Zimbabwean and he reckons Islam is the religion of the future as far as Zimbabwe is concerned.
ZANU PF enjoys very close relations with the Ismaic Republic of Iran, the first Islamic republic in the world. That country has funded and capacitated the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and many of its staff now go for training and the like to Iran.
Mugabe and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran deliver almost identical speeches at international fora.
Iran's own interest in Zimbabwe, of course, has to do with the Uranium found a couple of years ago in the Zambezi Valley. At that time, Mugabe boasted that he would use the uranium to generate electricity for Zimbabwe. This was during an Independence Day Speech in Harare.
Soon after that, there were several delegations of Iranian officials which visited the country. It was then tht donations to the national broadcaster and other national institutions started being announced.
Maybe it was just a coincidence, but several ministers back then insisted that there was a secret uranium extraction deal that was being negotiated.
So far, Mugabe has resisted going public with these dealings, because he knows that it will focus attention on him and his regime much more intently that has been the case now with his human rights violations and abuses.
Still, I am willing to bet with anyone that, with the advent of dollarisation, it is only a matter of months now before the uranium deposits of Zimbabwe start being exploited and that it will be a joint partnership between Mugabe's Mining company and two other ventures: an Iranian vehicle and a North Korean vehicle (the North Koreans also held secret talks with Mugabe last year and to this day, it has not been revealed why their second-in-command felt it necessary to make a trip to this tiny Southern African Nations with a delegations comprised almost entirely of energy experts from North Korea.
Time will tell.
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