Basildon Peta: Our fellow Africans will do nothing for us in our hour of need

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My heart bleeds when I go to a Johannesburg restaurant these days and find all the waiters are my compatriots, Zimbabweans. These menial workers are nurses, lecturers, accountants, engineers and other professionals forced to flee their once prosperous homeland by Robert Mugabe's political and economic Pol Potism. Professionals I used to spot in BMWs in Harare are now cleaning lavatories.

Imagine what goes through me seeing a friend who was once a high flyer in a bank running a brothel in Hillbrow, a suburb of Johannesburg. Zimbabwe, my country, once made me proud of my heritage. It was the breadbasket of Africa and an exporter of tobacco, gold and platinum. Now it is reduced to a being net exporter of prostitutes.

I speak for many Zimbabweans when I welcome Gordon Brown's apparent move to adopt an energised new stance against Mugabe's fossilised regime.

Sceptics will not easily embrace the shift. They will say it plays into Mr Mugabe's claim that he is a victim of neocolonialism. They will say it plays into Mugabe's rhetoric that he is being victimised for empowering his black countrymen by redistributing white farmland. They will repeat the same tired mantra, that Africans should take the lead in reining in Mr Mugabe.

But the philosophy that African states should take the lead on Zimbabwe is bankrupt. Most of these African countries remain a collection of mismanaged entities that would not survive without Western subsidies. What leverage do Mozambique, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and many others, whose national budgets are half funded by donors, have over Zimbabwe?

How can one expect Angola's Jose Dos Santos, who has overseen the economic stagnation of his country, despite billions of mismanaged income from oil revenues, to sit with Mugabe and discuss good economic governance? How can Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, who has relinquished power in a flawed election, have been expected to counsel Mugabe on the virtues of democracy as the Commonwealth once naively mandated him to do? How can Equatorial Guinea's Theodoro Nguema, reputed to have eaten the testicles of opponents and bankrupted his oil-rich country, bring counsel on Mugabe?

We Zimbabweans have reconciled ourselves to the fact that our fellow Africans will do nothing for us in our hour of need. In desperation, we have to look to our former colonisers for help.

If the EU sanctions imposed on Mugabe's circle of cronies were extended to children and relatives, the men and women who make up Mugabe's edifice would be forced to rethink. And maybe then, things could start getting better for all of us.