Zimbabwe and the Battle of Ideas
by Netfa Freeman
"The US admits to
actively engaging in efforts for regime change."
Cuban revolutionaries often point out the significance of
what they call the "battle of ideas" and they explain how "ideas are worth more
than weapons." It stands to reason then
that the goal in such battles is to win the hearts and minds of people. Because the so-called Western World
dominates the most sophisticated and pervasive methods of information today,
people should carefully scrutinize ideas pushed and popularized by these
sources. This means we should never
take for granted anything we read or hear and only half of what we see.
This year on September 11th Zimbabwe's two rival
parties, Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T, representing a faction lead by
presidential hopeful Morgan Tsvangiria) signed a power
sharing agreement that details several critical points. Just a few of these important points to note
the principle of the United Nations Charter on non-interference in the internal
affairs of member (states/nations);
no outsiders have a right to call or campaign for regime change in Zimbabwe;
the governments that are hosting and/or funding external radio stations
broadcasting into Zimbabwe to cease such hosting and funding; (this is illegal
under international law but something the US sponsors and has sponsored in
irreversibility of the land acquisitions and redistribution;
call upon the United Kingdom government to accept the primary responsibility to
pay compensation for land acquired from former landowners for resettlement;
that the consequent contribution of Western financial and economic isolation to
the further decline of the economy; and
all forms of measures and sanctions against Zimbabwe be lifted.
Those who do not read this agreement and only understand it
through the web of corrupt ideas spun around it by Western World sources and
sources supported by the West are sure to misunderstand Zimbabwe. They are sure to misunderstand the
contending elements in this particular battle of ideas and what motivates
them. Malcolm X called this being
"US and British diplomats have confirmed to Business Day
that their advice to Tsvangirai has been to not sign the draft agreement."
Currently it is common to hear positions of reluctance and doubt cast upon the
unity agreement at a time when an eager confidence would be a more
constructive and conscientious position. This reluctance is mostly attributed
to the inability to trust a"repressive ZANU-PF" which has held on to power
pretty much for power's sake. These notions have not been conjured devoid
of a corresponding but no less dubious backdrop.
Further, the controversy endured that birthed the agreement was not without
attempts to interfere. "US and British diplomats have confirmed to Business Day
that their advice to Tsvangirai has been to not sign the draft agreement from
the early hours of yesterday and to negotiate for more power. Their
governments- which are preparing to provide aid to a new dispensation - would
not bankrollany deal in which Mugabe retained control, they said." This explains
why after signing 13agreements with Zanu-PF and the Arthur Mutambara-led
MDC formation during the course of the South African-facilitated talks,
Tsvangirai then abruptly pulled out.
The idea that an authoritarian Mugabe assumed the Zimbabwe
presidency in an uncontested 2008 election dominates the thinking from
conservatives to liberals. "Uncontested" is to imply an undemocratic process
where the electorate had only one choice, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. We are also bombarded with the idea that state sponsored violence, tantamount to that following Kenya's December ‘07
elections, preceded Zimbabwe's run-off date to so intimidate Zimbabweans that
even the secrecy of the ballot was not enough for people to express their will. These stories are parroted by "leftist"
policy analysts and activists respected for their "progressive" and
"democratic" ideals. The apparent aim
of these ideas is to popularize an acceptance of regime change in Zimbabwe.
When it comes to Zimbabwe, imperialists governments,
corporate and liberal media, and so-called Africa advocacy organizations all
reinforce this same simple message.
These narratives however, neglect the intricate nature of events in
Zimbabwe and the real backdrop in which they take place. This article will deconstruct the essence
and methods of imperialist propaganda against Zimbabwe by dissecting
misinformation in two articles deemed as progressive sources/views: African Dictatorships and Double
Standards by Stephen Zunes and Ballots vs. Bullets in Kenya and
Zimbabwe by Briggs Bomba.
crudely compares recent elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya. First he fails to clarify that manipulated
ethnic tensions between the Kikuyu versus the Luo and other groups were at the
center of the Kenya situation. No such
factor plays a part in Zimbabwe. The
polarization in Zimbabwe is of an ideological nature, two opposing political
"Contrary to the consistent media spin this was not an
Bomba, a Zimbabwean, misleads readers about the situation in
his country by implying that there was "a victorious opposition" in the March
29th presidential election even though the country's constitution
requires a candidate to gain over 50% of the vote to be victorious and neither
MDC-T's Morgan Tsvangirai nor ZANU PF's Robert Mugabe did so. Even though a picture is always painted of
Mugabe as a widely unpopular leader he did receive 43% of the March 29 vote,
only 4% less than Tsvangirai.
Furthermore, the candidate receiving the most votes in the required June
27th run-off was Robert Mugabe; 2,150,269 votes to 233,000 (85.5% to
9.3% of the vote). Yes, the author is
counting on his readers to accept the false but commonly repeated premise that
the run-off was uncontested due to Tsvangirai announcing to the media one week
before voting day that he was pulling out of the election. However, Tsvangirai never followed established
procedures for rescinding his candidacy, which requires candidates to notify
the Election Commission (ZEC) in writing no later than 21 days before Election
Day. Even the opposition leader's
grandstanding announcement to the media was after the mandatory deadline, which
is probably designed to prevent candidates from sabotaging an election in
progress in that very manner.
Accordingly, Tsvangirai was still on the ballot as an option for the
electorate. Not to mention that the
June 27 run-off also included elections for three vacant seats in the House, in
which Tsgangirai's MDC-T continued participating and accepted victory for one
of the seats. So contrary to the
consistent media spin this was not an uncontested election. The whole business of pulling-out was
clearly a charade by a candidate (on the instructions of his Western masters)
who wasn't confident he'd succeed in the run-off.
Electorate Turn Around
Allow me to digress from Bomba's article for a moment. Because it makes sense to ask, what could
have turned the electorate around for Mugabe to receive 1,106,818 more votes in
June than he did in March and for Tsvangirai to receive 936,860 less? This is an important question.
First there was the fact that the MDC-T falsely announced
victory over the presidency, claiming that they'd received over 50% of the vote
on March 29th, even though their own figures showed otherwise. And they kept changing their claims from
figures like 58%, to 53% down to 50.3% or something. These announcements were also a violation of the law since the
ZEC was the only entity permitted to make the official announcement. MDC-T expressly agreed to this law in view
of the situation in Kenya. So people
could take their breach of the law as dishonest and an attempt to incite
citizens into violence.
Then, there was how the MDC-T along with the Western
countries treated the delay of ZEC in disclosing the March 29th
results. Gordon Brown of Britain and
Condoleezza Rice of the US were demanding the immediate release of results
instead of stressing the importance of accurate ones. It was not made clear to the world what Zimbabweans already
knew. This was the first time the
country was holding "harmonized elections," meaning elections for not just the
Presidency but that also included its House, Senate and many Municipalities for
Mayors, etc. Of course this would take
longer to tally with unforeseen challenges arising and because of what happened
in Kenya, the ZEC was being especially careful to make sure all the tallies
were accurate. Instead of making this
clear the MDC kept up claims to the international media that the ZEC was an
extension of the ruling party ZANU-PF and the delay was an attempt to rig the
results. However, 50% of ZEC members
are actually appointed by the opposition party in accordance with the election
guidelines of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), so it was
dishonest to say they are an extension of ZANU-PF.
"The Zimbabwe Election Commission was being especially
careful to make sure all the tallies were accurate."
Another thing that held up the result and must have had an impact on how
the electorate voted in June was that some ZEC officials were caught
manipulating results in favor of the opposition. This caused requests for
recounts by ZANU-PF and some later by MDC. Complicit media frenzy only
made matterworse. How many of us heard of thestory, which made the front
page of the New York Times, backed up by a photo of the 11-month old boy
whose little legs were shattered by ZANU-PFbrutes looking to terrorize the
opposition during the run-off period? Of those who learned of the story, much
less of them found out what most Zimbabweans learned right away, that the
story was a complete fabrication.
There we so many attempts to discredit the elections one
could easily miss reports that youth who were really MDC-T were posing
in ZANU-PF regalia while terrorizing people. This seems more credible than that ZANU-PF, while denying to the
world that they were using violence and intimidation, were deploying people
wearing their emblems and letters.
There was also an extremely suspicious incident when US embassy
officials took Zimbabwe police on a high-speed chase after being stopped in an
area they were not authorized to be. It
was found they were on a mission meeting with MDC-T members.
It was in the
aforementioned context that ZANU-PF stepped up its campaign efforts to win more
support in the run-off. Their campaign
was also aided by Tsvangirai's behavior, which was to call for foreign
intervention. Tsvangirai went gallivanting the world during the time he should
have been campaigning inside country and none of his stops were even in any
African countries. If you were Zimbabwean
would you vote for him? Members of his
own party were saying he should return to Zimbabwe. It was even said that US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee had
to instruct Tsvangirai to return to his country because he was squandering his
Then to top things off, once in the country, in a dramatic
attempt to gain sympathy and discredit the run-off Tsvangirai pretended his
life was in danger and took "refuge" in the Dutch embassy in Zimbabwe, off all
places. Anyone who knows the history of
the Dutch in Southern Africa knows why that could have lost Tsvangirai
votes. But for some reason Bomba wants
to insist that the opposition was or even could be victorious under such
More Missing Context
Back to Bomba's comparison of Kenya and Zimbabwe, he
rhetorically asks, "In the battle of the ballot vs. the bullet, can there
ever be a fair match?" He ignores the fact that the MDC-T has the full
weight of the most powerfully
sinister forces in the world on its side, imperialism
tipping political scales in its favor. Because Zimbabwe's situation is completely dissimilar to Kenya,
Bomba's rhetorical questions should be more like the fact-based questions of
columnist Stephen Gowans in his well-researched piece, Zimbabwe At War:
"Should an election be carried out when a country is under sanctions and
it has been made clear to the electorate that the sanctions will be lifted only
if the opposition party is elected?
"Should a political party which is the creation of, and
is funded by, hostile foreign forces, and whose program is to unlatch the door
from within to provide free entry to foreign powers to establish a neo-colonial
rule, be allowed to freely operate?
leaders of an opposition movement that takes money from hostile foreign powers
and who have made plain their intention to unseat the government by any means
available, be charged with treason?"
"MDC-T has the full
weight of the most powerfully sinister forces in the world on its side,
imperialism tipping political scales in its favor."
Being Zimbabwean, maybe Bomba doesn't understand that such a
situation would never be even remotely tolerated in the US. Leaders of any party in the US having the
type of relationship with foreign governments that the MDC has with the UK and
US would be intensely vilified and immediately imprisoned for treason.
Bomba also misleads his readers by first pointing out that
"SADC adopted 'Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections'
aimed at 'enhancing the transparency and credibility of elections and
democratic governance as well as ensuring the acceptance of election results by
contesting parties'." But then he
fails to point out that Zimbabwe was the first SADC member country to implement
these guidelines in 2005 and that observers from SADC and other missions have
approved Zimbabwe elections in compliance with them.
Bomba tries to bolster faith in the development of
"independent civil society" in Africa, independent meaning
organizations without loyalty to African governments. On the surface this may seem appropriate but there are ample
reasons to be skeptical of this idea, particularly regarding how
"independent" this civil society can really be. For instance the fact that for decades
imperialist governments have used civil society organizations in other
countries to implement immoral foreign policy objectives by funneling funds to
them and directives they cloak as "technical assistance". One very revealing reference is a paper by
former CIA agent Philip Agee, called Terrorism and Civil Society
As Instruments of US Policy In Cuba.
Agee points out that 1979 events in several countries, including
Zimbabwe, were the impetus for the US to create the American Political
Foundation to explore ways the US could exploit civil society in other
countries for their own ends. Agee goes
on to explain how this began setting the policy agendas of the USAID and
eventually led to the formation of the National Endowment for Democracy in
1983. Now the NED directs funds to
overt activities that were once the covert operations of the CIA.
Bomba should think about the
words of T.A. Raheem, Secretary General of the Pan African Movement
based in Uganda when he said:
"Why is it 'appropriate' for African NGOs to be funded by non-African
governments and it is 'inappropriate' if they are fundedby African governments.
The illusion being spread is that somehow European governments are more
interested in (good governance) than their African counterparts. Why should
our future be based on the (telescopic and hypocritical) goodwill of European
and American taxpayers?...Why are NGOs orcivil society organizations that
relate well to our governments or even getsome support from them regarded
as 'political' or 'puppets' yet those dependent on Western governments are by
that very fact 'independent'? Who is fooling who?"
"The illusion being spread is that somehow European
governments are more interested in (good governance) than their African
In so many words Bomba accuses the judiciary in Zimbabwe of
being dominated by "loyalists" but if this were true Tsvangirai would
be in jail right now for his plot
to carry out a coup on the government and assassinate Mugabe. And one could list a host of other judicial
rulings that have favored the opposition in ways that completely refute this
Bomba's article is full of accusations against the Zimbabwe
government but he substantiates none of them.
In one paragraph he clearly uses incidents in Kenya to vilify
Zimbabwe. He makes the unsupported
assertion that the Zimbabwe "army, the police and the secret services
merged seamlessly with the violent campaign machinery of the ruling (ZANU
PF)." Then he switches to
mentioning actual incidents in Kenya where the "the police stood in
President Kibaki's corner and brutally massacred hundreds of opposition
activists in protests that followed the disputed election." This is a slight of hand for readers to
assume incidents around the elections similar to those in Kenya also took place
in Zimbabwe when nothing of the sort was ever even reported. It is instructive here to note that while
the post-election death toll in Kenya reached to around 1500, there haven't
been more than 100 post-election deaths in Zimbabwe and the police there have
publicly challenged the opposition accusers to produce
evidence that even all of those killings took place. The opposition has to this day failed to do
The only difference between Kenya and Zimbabwe the author
bothers to identify is also not exactly true. Bomba says in "Kenya, unlike
Zimbabwe, the opposition used mass mobilization and threats of total economic
paralysis to leverage its power..." But the opposition in Zimbabwe did attempt a
mobilization of this sort in April 2008, only to fail in getting
"mass" support. US
imperialism's own propaganda apparatus, Voice of America (VOA), which
consistently favors the opposition even admitted in an April 15 report that the
strike "was largely ignored by Zimbabweans, most of whom reported for work
Tuesday." This is not the first time
people ignored such calls. The
opposition in Zimbabwe, including the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions often
call for strikes that go "largely unheeded."
There are too
many contradictions in Bomba's article to address them all. This is when an ideological premise is
flawed. His is a premise ignoring the
nature of US-UK interests and policy in Africa, as he makes bizarre references
to the "access" and "diplomatic leverage" Western saviors don't have with
Mugabe so they can help put things right in Zimbabwe. He understates the "interference" by Western powers in Zimbabwe
saying it "is not always helpful," and advocates for a "balanced intervention"
and is careful "not to say that the West has no role to play."
"The US and UK wanted the option of playing the
fraudulence card when the results didn't suit them."
"In Kenya," he says, "the United States, Britain, the AU,
and other players in the international community played a key role in brokering
the power-sharing deal..." He overlooks
that in Kenya the US and UK are not engaged in their regime change shenanigans
and feel comfortable that their Africa interests there are safe in the hands of
either a Kibaki or an Odinga in power.
They had even extended premature congratulations to Kibaki on his
"electoral victory," having to rescind it two days later once aware of discrepancies
in the results and the erupting unrest.
In Zimbabwe on the other hand both the US and UK have been obsessed with
the outcome of elections since 2000.
They've consistently condemned them as marred even before they'd taken
place. This has only been because the
prospect for victory of their favored MDC didn't look good enough for them and
they wanted the option of playing the fraudulence card when the results didn't
Bomba says, "Mugabe's response to Britain's ‘school yard'
isolationist diplomacy has been to throw his toys and act like he just does not
care." I'm at a loss to see which
actions by Mugabe fit this analogy but more tellingly what diplomacy is he
talking about? The UK and US have made
it perfectly clear that they want nothing short of regime change in
Zimbabwe. There is nothing diplomatic
about that. This is not some unfounded
accusation by Mugabe. They are public pronouncements
by the US and UK
A revolutionary African ideology recognizes it is now more
important than ever that we push Africa's only solution, a continental war against
neo-colonialism. No matter how valiant
the people of Zimbabwe resist the imperialist, it is an intricate global system
that cannot be defeated by a single microstate, or even an alliance of
microstates like SADC, ECOWAS, COMESA, etc.
To borrow a quote from a mentor, it is either "Pan-Africanism or
perish". African people must help each
other recognize on a mass scale the vital need for the total integration of the
continent, under one socialist government.
Nothing else will work and is a complete waste of time.
Kwame Nkrumah understood this clearly when he emphasized the
need for an All-African Union government, All-African trade union, women's
federation and student union, All-African military and united front of
political organizations (i.e. All-African People's Revolutionary Army,
All-African Committee for Political Coordination, and an All-African People's
Revolutionary Party). Far too many of
us pay lip service to African unity while substituting it for alliances with
so-called Africa supporters, loose regional based associations of heads of
government and states, united fronts of Africans devoid of any serious
revolutionary principles and the like.
With such a set-up vitalized from the bottom up, Africa can
establish a Pan-African monetary banking system with uniform currency, unlike
the imperialist controlled African Development Bank. We need a Pan-African telecommunications system that serves the
continent much like Latin America's TeleSUR and a continental
transportation system that helps to facilitate commerce, economic development
and social and cultural exchanges that are first and foremost in the interest
of all African people. These things can
be done but not so long as a defeatist dependent ideology dominates the people.
"Bomba completely excuses US, UK and EU destabilization
efforts against his own country."
Bomba sees the US' lack of international credibility
undermined simply by practices of the current administration instead of due to
the history and nature of imperialism proven also by its domestic
policies. Does he forget that, like
Rhodesia the US is a settler-colony, which to this day disenfranchises
indigenous people? What about the fact
that there is police repression of African (Black) and Latino people and
political repression of social justice activists? There are no less then 70 political
prisoners in the US, some imprisoned long before Zimbabwe got its
independence. The US' electoral process
disenfranchises people of color and the poor.
Bomba also lessens criticism of US foreign policy to "a discredited Iraq
war" and its "embracing favored dictators," but ignores the multitude
of crimes beyond a Bush administration, such as other military invasions,
overthrowing democratically elected leaders and fueling devastating wars. This list includes Korea, Cuba, Congo,
Ghana, Vietnam, Angola, Chile, Iran, Grenada, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama,
Afghanistan, and the list goes on and on.
I cannot relate to why Bomba completely excuses US, UK and
EU destabilization efforts against his own country in the form of pervasive
economic sanctions designed to strangle his country into submission, covert
operations using political provocateurs, and sophisticated propaganda that
perpetuates misinformation, half-truths and outright lies against
Zimbabwe. None of these things apply to
Kenya, nor is any of it a secret given a little research.
Zunes' Double Standards
Stephen Zunes tries to be more sophisticated in his article,
African Dictatorships and Double Standards. It is clear Zunes doesn't want to be associated with the common
practice of demonizing Zimbabwe while overlooking US neo-colonial governments
in Africa. However, his reduction of US
foreign policy in Zimbabwe to mere condemnations has equally dire
repercussions. As pointed out earlier
the US admits to actively engaging in efforts for regime change. April 5, 2007 was another occasion when the US State Department
went on public record saying that, among several measures, they are working
to "discredit the government of Mugabe." Facts both Zunes and Bomba ignore. No honest focus on foreign policy can ignore such facts.
that the US government "has justifiably criticized the Zimbabwe regime of
liberator-turned-dictator Robert Mugabe" is to say this same government
that supported Ian Smith's racist apartheid regime of Southern Rhodesia before
it became Zimbabwe and this same government that conspired to assassinate
Patrice Lumumba, overthrew Kwame Nkrumah, bombed Libya, orchestrated countless
coups against legitimate democratically elected governments in Africa and the world,
and is now responsible for the second largest refugee crisis in history between
Iraq and Afghanistan is being altruistic when it comes to Zimbabwe. They also had a big hand in the largest
refugee crisis of the Palestinians that saw the creation of Israel at
Palestine's expense and its occupation of adjacent territories.
"Zunes seems to downplay the nature of US sanctions
Zunes commends the Bush administration for joining what he
calls "a unanimous UN Security Council resolution condemning the campaign of
violence unleashed upon pro-democracy activists and calling for increased
diplomatic sanctions..." A point of correction: The Bush administration did not
"join" anything. They collaborated with
the UK to get others to join them. In
typical fashion Zunes' commentary also fails to point out that the violence in
the country has been determined to be from "supporters" of "both sides" and
aside from mere unsubstantiated yet repeated accusations by the opposition,
none of the violence has ever been confirmed as being precipitated or
instigated by the Mugabe government.
Zimbabwe police arrested
supporters of both parties for politically motivated violence. In fact Mugabe himself publicly scolded
supporters of ZANU-PF who perpetuated acts of violence (Zimbabwe Sunday Mail,
May 18, 2008), while presidential hopeful Tsvangiria and his party's secretary
general Tendai Biti are on public record for doing the opposite (BBC, September
30, 2000 and Washington Post, May 16, 2008)
Similar to Bomba's "isolationist diplomacy," Zunes seems to
downplay the nature of US sanctions against Zimbabwe when he refers to them as
"diplomatic sanctions." I see no other
reason to put those two words together unless the author is trying to abet the
regular falsehood that sanctions against Zimbabwe are limited to the travel of
certain Zimbabwe government officials.
US sanctions against Zimbabwe (in cahoots with those of the UK and EU)
explicitly outline stipulations designed to damage the economy by denying any
extension of credit to the government or any balance of payment assistance by
international financial institutions.
They also actively dissuade investments in, or trade with the country.
These moves have had devastating effects on the ordinary citizens of Zimbabwe,
a fact that Zunes and Bomba are consistent in ignoring in their analyses. What usually happens is that the symptoms of
these sanctions are pinned on "Mugabe's economic mismanagement."
Rarely does anyone ask scrutinizing questions like those ofUgandan journalist,
Timothy Kalyegira: "Before the Mugabe Government started uprooting the white
farmers in 2000, this Government kept inflation at 5 percent, 8 percent (or
11 percent in difficult years.) How, then, does a country with all the same
factors and leaders from 1980 to 2000 suddenly (because the white commercial
farmers have been uprooted) see inflation soar to world record levels in aspace
of just six years starting in 2000? And how is it that a stable Zimbabwehas an
inflation rate 1500 times higher than Somalia, a country without a
government since 1991?"
It's important to note that this resolution to increase the
sanctions, which Zunes praises as unanimous, actually failed to pass in the UN
Security Council leaving the indisputably racist governments of the US, UK and
the EU to execute their own sanctions.
So much for the so-called unanimous character of the resolution.
Zunes distorts the essence of the US' double standard
treatment between Equatorial Guinea (EG) and Zimbabwe into the US only wanting
the oil reserves in EG, as if they want nothing in Zimbabwe besides democracy
and human rights. Imperialism's recent
aggression toward Zimbabwe corresponds to the ZANU-PF government's confiscation
of land from a white-settler minority in the face of unrest by a
disenfranchised indigenous African majority.
It also has to do with moves by Zimbabwe to begin controlling its
natural resources in the mines and disavowing the Economic Structural
Adjustment Programs (ESAPs) of the IMF/World Bank. These are telling omissions for a foreign policy analyst to make.
Tactics Versus Principles
Now a little sidebar is in order here. Many of the so-called advocates for Africa
attempt to make confusion around the fact that Zimbabwe abandoned the ESAPs by
countering that the government is still repaying the loan it received from the
World Bank in 1990. While this is true,
the ESAPs and the actual loan attached to them are two distinct things. This also smacks of dishonesty on their part
because most of them never call for African governments to refuse repaying
these loans. Instead their work in this
area is merely to try convincing the World Bank and IMF (imperialism) to
"relieve" or "cancel" the debts of various countries, except Zimbabwe. While Zimbabwe is the only African country
that has abandoned the actual immoral ESAPs, which make dealing with these
financial institutions so fatal, they never commend them for this.
another double standard related to this that also explains why Zimbabwe is
repaying the loan. A couple years ago
when the Bolivarian government in Venezuela finished repaying a loan to the
World Bank that they inherited from the previous government, many of these same
civil society advocates recognize it as economic prowess. Even though Venezuela was able to finally
rid itself of such an odious situation, the country still remains a member of
the World Bank. Why?
detractors of ZANU-PF and Mugabe were honest they would admit the current
capitalist world order puts underdeveloped or former colonized countries
between a rock and a hard place and refusal to repay these loans would
completely drive a country out of the global economy. This is because the economies of the world don't operate in cash. Everything is on credit and IMF and
World Bank are the arbiters for international credit standing. If a
country pulls out of the World Bank they are also effectively out of the world economy.
Zimbabwe is already facing heavy economic sanctions. Can one imagine what reprisals the country
would face if they compounded its jettisoning the ESAPs with a default on the
loan? These are strategic and tactical
questions. So to pretend it is a matter of principle just to suit an argument
is dishonest, particularly since these advocates for Africa spend much of their
efforts on this issue, deferring to the financial institutions themselves and
not the countries hamstrung by them.
The same thing goes for why the Oppenheimer assets in
Zimbabwe currently remain untouched for now.
Some attempt to discredit the land reclamation process in Zimbabwe by
pointing out the enormous tracks of land still held by the family of infamous
settler Ian Smith, along with that of the international conglomerate family of
Oppenheimer. Without a much stronger
Pan-African movement Zimbabwe has little choice but to tolerate this. It can, in essence be compared to Cuba
tolerating the occupation of Guantánamo by the US
military, actually in violation of
international law. However, for Cuba
to do anything about it would invite a battle not in their presently calculated
interest. When journalist Jared Ball,
on a visit to Zimbabwe
asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs why the Oppenheimer land had not been
reallocated, he was told that "due to the Oppenheimer power in a wide range of
resources from oil to sugar to copper to wheat they could, by either flooding
or withholding from the market any or all of these goods, ‘alone whisper the
demise of our economy.'"
Again, no matter how valiant the people of Zimbabwe or our
people in any other part of Africa and the world resist imperialism; it is a
global system that can only be defeated by an internationalism that presupposes
a Pan-African vision the likes of Kwame Nkrumah and Ahmed Sekou Ture. We must revitalize the march toward the
United States of Africa that once flourished in the hearts and minds of many
politically conscientious Black people.
Zunes points out that, on visits to the US Obiang of EG has
been warmly received by Condoleezza Rice and George W. Bush but has Mugabe ever
had such a cozy relationship with imperialism?
When in history can one point to an occasion when Mugabe sat down with
US officials of the likes of these? But
it's common knowledge that the MDC-T does have such a relationship with the US
and UK, agents Zunes refers to as "pro-democracy activists". What does all this that Zunes conspicuously
neglects say about the situation in Zimbabwe?
What does it say about his analysis of Zimbabwe? In his article Zunes constantly reduces US
actions to condemnations, which are mere verbal or written denunciations,
implying that a motivating factor is for Americans to "feel
self-righteous". Frankly it seems
like this article is to help Zunes feel self-righteous while he aids the
destabilization of Zimbabwe through propaganda. That is, by supplementing it with a condemnation of a real US
backed dictator in Africa. Zunes even
says the benevolent US should not wait "until it first ends its support of
Obiang and other African dictatorships before joining the rest of the
international community in condemning repression in Zimbabwe". This is clearly nothing but more White Man's
As this commentary goes public Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe will be in New York to address the 63rd Session of the United
Nations General Assembly, meeting again face to face with not only his most
powerful enemies but also the enemies of Africa and all people of African
descent in general. Yes, the government
of the United State of American and many of those in Europe serve a role within
the world order that makes them enemies of African and all oppressed
people. Our only recourse is to create
an "Africa with the labor, technical and productive capacity to address all of
the material, cultural and spiritual needs of African People" and based on
"collectivists, humanist, egalitarian and socialist principles offer our labor,
technology, skills and resources to the world." (Brochure #1, A-APRP, GC)
Let's not go for the okey-doke. Given the lessons of history and some lessons even implicit in
Zunes' article, if Mugabe has been bent on holding power at all costs (a common
accusation against him), wouldn't it be easier and more effective for him to
simply comply with imperialism's interests and then get their assistance to
quell any civil unrest that may result in the process? That seems to work for Obiang and other
dictators. Why not in Zimbabwe?
Because the unscrupulous interests of the West, or should we
say beneficiaries of neo-colonialism in Zimbabwe have not disappeared, we
should expect maneuvers to derail and/or sabotage any positive outcomes of this
unity agreement. Maybe it will come in
the form of ideas that paint ZANU-PF and Mugabe as acting in bad faith and
breaching the agreement. In any event
we should not sleep on our enemies.
This historic agreement is special in the sense that it was brokered
without non-African interference, despite all attempts. And is, in anti-imperialist fashion, an
example of how Africa leaders should address contentions on the continent.
Netfa Freeman is the Director of IPS' Social
Action& Leadership School for Activists and an activist in the
internationalist and Pan-Africanist movements. He can be reached at [email protected]. The positions herein do not reflect the
positions of IPS.