Zimbabwe and the Battle of Ideas
by Netfa Freeman
"The U.S. admits to actively engaging in efforts to\\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 points important to note are:
-Reaffirm the principle of the United Nations Charter on non-interference in the internal affairs of member (states/nations);
-Agree that no outsiders have a right to call or campaign for regime change in Zimbabwe;
-Call upon 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 several places)
-Accept the irreversibility of the land acquisitions and redistribution;
-Agree to call upon the United Kingdom government to accept the primary responsibility to pay compensation for land acquired from former landowners for resettlement;
-Recognize that the consequent contribution of Western financial and economic isolation to the further decline of the economy; and
-Agree that 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 “bamboozled.”
“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 alleged inability to trust a “repressive ZANU-PF” which is said to hold on to power pretty much for power’s sake. These notions have not been asserted without a corresponding but no less dubious backdrop.
Furthermore the historic agreement for national unity was not birthed without the typical attempts of foreign interference. “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 bankroll any deal in which Mugabe retained control, they said.” This explains why, after signing 13 agreements with Zanu-PF and the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC formation, Tsvangirai abruptly pulled out of the South African-facilitated talks. He only returned after realizing his stubborn could lead to his forfeiting any role in the new government.
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 analyst 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.
Bomba’s article 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 tendencies.
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 Condeleeza 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 matter worse. How many of us heard of the story, 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-PF brutes 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 deployed were posing in ZANU-PF regalia while terrorizing their own people. This seems more credible than, while denying to the world that they were using violence and intimidation, that ZANU-PF would deploy people wearing anything that would so obviously identify them. On the other hand, attacking its own members is not out of character for the MDC, as Trudy Stevenson can attest.
Leading up to the run-off 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 eventually discovered that the “diplomats” 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 more foreign intervention. Tsvangirai went gallivanting the world on this mission 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 credibility.
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 from which the Boers are descendants 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 circumstances.
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?
"Should the 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 funded by 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 or civil society organizations that relate well to our governments or even get some support from them regarded as 'political' or 'puppets' yet those dependent on Western governments are by that very fact 'independent'? Who is fooling who?"
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 assertion.
"The illusion being spread is that somehow European governments are more
interested in (good governance) than their African counterparts."
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 so.
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 happens when an ideological premise is so 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 suit them.
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 themselves.
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.
"Bomba completely excuses US, UK and EU destabilization efforts against his own country."
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 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.
Zunes saying 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 against Zimbabwe."
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 of Ugandan 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 a space of just six years starting in 2000? And how is it that a stable Zimbabwe has 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.
There is 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?
If these 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 Condoleeza 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 Burden crap.
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, again meeting 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 really 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.