Friday, 27 June 2008

Morgan Tsvangirai: Out and in for Royal Dutch Courage

Morgan Tsvangirai: Out and in for Royal Dutch Courage

I have no difficulties with Westerners hating President Mugabe, or calling for his head even, as did British MPs in this week’s debate in their House of Commons. That is to be expected, in fact an affirmation that Mugabe is right. White westerners, both for direct and vicarious reasons, have cause to be revulsed by Robert Mugabe, and thus reason to hate him to his grave. He has dismantled what took the empire a good nine decades to build, a plentiful legacy so badly needed in these days of a maddening scramble for natural resources.

So western antipathy of Robert Mugabe is quite understandable, much to be expected.

For me, it is some kind of tribute to the man’s credentials as an African nationalist, a tribute conveyed as retributive hatred.

Lessons from Nazi Germany

But I have mounds and mounds of difficulties with understanding Africans who hate Robert Mugabe, apparently on behalf of white westerners. That is atrocious, in fact an abomination which, sadly enough, confirms with despairing vengeance that as Africans we have lost everything, lost everything including our right to own and cock up our own anger and hatred, deploy, direct and distribute it purposefully as a carrier and remedy to the hurts we have suffered and endured in the past, the wrongs for whose righting we are deeply owed by the white world.

Come to think of it, hatred, or its polar opposite, affection, are that most elementary of human impulses, yet so fundamental as to inform our whole system of behaviour whether as individuals, as families, as communities, as peoples, or as nations. Take the Germans as an example. Under Hitler the Germans grew clear in the knowledge that their collective hatred had to be directed against Jews. This German anti-Semitism — however mistaken, however outrageous, and in the end however tragic — went towards defining German-ness, indeed went towards building the German people’s collective self-consciousness. It became the open sesame to membership into the Aryan family. This anti-Jewish sentiment built a war, declared it, prosecuted it before eventually losing it, in the process, losing itself as the dominant, organising idea. Indeed this is why the defeat of Nazism in Europe has meant the construction of a counter-myth of Semitic Infallibility.

No second promised land

Similarly, the Jews, once they became a Nation — thanks to British imperial arbitrariness — knew that their collective hatred had to be directed against Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinians remain the immemorial real owners of the land on which stands this British implant of endless woes and wars, called Israel. Themselves initial victims of Nazi pogrom, Israelis have decided to teach the world about the iniquity of racial hatred and genocidal attacks simply by practising and perfecting the same against Palestinians. It is the most cynical way of imparting knowledge to mankind.

And of course Jew-ness is a unique biological attribute; it is not a socio-political condition created by pogrom. So unlike the Jews, the Palestinians cannot pass for victims that have to be rescued and resettled; cannot count on the Anglo-Saxony world for any modicum of pity, let alone for a gift of "a second promised land".

It is turning out the notion of the promised land was never meant to be universally applicable, let alone eternally evocable by any other race facing a comparable set of circumstances, outside this only ONE for which it was founded.

If it were not so, colonialism would not have been such an obdurate foe on this continent. The only time I thank the often in-attentive God of lesser Africa is when I am reminded the state of Israel could have been the present day Uganda. I could go on and on, mentioning even our Dutch friends whose kind got deposited on the Southern tip of our continent in 1652.

Through apartheid, they developed intense hatred for Africans into a veritable mould for constructing a vicious Afrikaner state soon to subdue and overlord present day South Africa. So anger and hatred have always been purposeful, in fact right from biblical days, in founding and developing identities and nations, yes, in asserting and/or defending shared interests, however ill-gotten or claimed.

Deficiencies of acquired anger

without immunity

Which brings out my bafflement. Why would any African from any part of the continent or beyond have reasons enough to hate Robert Gabriel Mugabe? He is not your Emperor Bokassa or your Idi Amin, both of whom pass in western mythology as flesh-eating African gorgons. He is not; he cannot be. He is not your Mobutu, again in Western mythology a personification of State-battening venality.

He is not even the longest serving leader on the continent, or one vowing to die in office, as BBC is trying to suggest through the twisted and self-serving quote misattributed to the President. For all we know, the President was ready to call quits after his 2002 term. Until the British decided to re-enter the fray, hoping to seize upon his departure to reverse land reforms. Once that became apparent, the choice for Mugabe ceased to be a matter of term of office, but one of either shirking a responsibility of defending the country’s sovereignty so gravely threatened, or taking on the challenge of shaking off the British once more, in defence of that same sovereignty. Needless to say he chose the latter.

No rhyme, no reason

One can understand African anger against Bokassa, Amin, Mobutu, etc, etc. But what is unfathomable is why an African emerging from a colonial experience, an African still handicapped by that same experience in terms of present life chances and possibilities, would hate Mugabe for his kind of war against imperial West. Why would an African hate Mugabe who says Britain — and by extension any power which colonised Africa in the past and would want to neo-colonise her in the present — should keep her dirty, intrusive hands off Zimbabwe, off Africa?

Why would an African hate Mugabe who says Zimbabwe will not be dictated to by any foreign power, least of all one with an imperial past? Why would an African hate Mugabe who says Zimbabwe’s resources must be owned and controlled by Zimbabweans; hate Mugabe who says a black Zimbabwean has no right or reason to feel inferior, to kowtow to a white person merely because he is black? Why would all these threaten this dark biped called an Africa, firing him into a frenzy of incandescent hatred against a man whose fight resonates so directly with his larger quest in this white, uni-polar life? Or is this how profoundly subdued we are?

Democracy that pleases Britain, America

How do I understand an African who strains — vein and limb — to convince me that "democracy" is so high a value as to dwindle and trash sovereignty — itself the very essence and life force of nations? If this were so, why would Western nations suspend civil liberties to better fight wars that threaten their very essence and founding values? Thatcher savaged the institution of the media in her fight to retain British imperial control over Northern Ireland. We have also seen such summary suspension of civil liberties in the so-called war against terror, which in reality is a war against aggrieved Arabs, robbed Arabs. Why would they do that if democratic values stood above all else, including the survival of the very nation-state within which the ballot box exists and plays out its legitimising role?

Would it make sense to tell a woman facing a murderous rapist to straighten her pants lest the world glimpses her undergarment? We are being told, told by Africans — some as high and as enlightened as to lead their nations — that Zimbabwe must submit as a sovereign nation in order to secure its rebirth as a British — and American-pleasing democracy!

What has entered Africa’s head? Is the fight here unknown to Africa? Who in Africa does not know that the present stand-off between Zimbabwe and the western world is over the control and ownership of the country’s resources? Who in Africa does not know what such a fight presages for the continent, indeed what its likely victory bodes for this underdog race disdainfully called African? Who in Africa does not know that far more important than the ballot was the gain of sovereign statehood, itself the prime instrument for developing all else?

Which African can ever convince me that my independence materialises only once every five years in a voting booth, on a voting slip and in the resultant ecstasy or despair deriving from the results of that ritual? What am I eating between those voting five years? Why is what I eat, what I own, what I control, not a legitimate subject-matter of the political question facing the continent, a subject-matter far above and more important than the ballot, far more important and far above western approval? I thought Africa is in turmoil, is in poverty precisely because it has dodged this existential question, seeking release in inane rituals and practices that ornament false independence. I despair when a serious politician like Mugabe earns African revilement for posing and seeking an answer to a question so fundamental to the continent. This is why Egypt is going to be so critical.

Boycott as participation

Have we not seen a comedy of errors this whole week? You have Morgan Tsvangirai pulling out of the Presidential race a mere five days before polling day, with the whole western world surprisingly supported by some dubious African leaders, chiming in. To suggest what? That the whole run-off was meant for Tsvangirai, not for Zimbabwe? You get a distinct sense of a process which would have been rigged for one outcome — the crowning of the stooge, and which immediately fell into disfavour once the process proved too brittle to bend to that political whim.

Does the so-called democracy not include the right to pull out of the race? In any case, is this new to our body-politic? The MDC in the past pulled out of polls, with no suggestions of a reduced significance to the selection process. What kind of monster are we creating out of this timid and whimsical paper-man of the British, to suggest legitimacy of a whole national process rests on you and you alone? But all that is to assume that the man indeed pulled out of the race. He did not. He could not.

When a politician counts his prospects, emerging with a candid negative, and then deciding to participate from the other extreme end, namely that of urging voters to boycott the poll, has he pulled out or is he in? Of course he is in, with the results of his efforts counting by the success of the boycott. It gets even more vexatious when you realise the man is participating in the three by-elections --- under the same conditions, in the same environment giving him reason enough to drop out of the higher race. What is one to make of that?

A shot of Dutch courage

What is one to make of his disappearance behind the ornate walls of the Dutch Embassy without his three other participants in the poll whom one must presume to be facing as much danger, as much hindrance, as he claims for himself, and thus in as dire a need of Dutch courage as himself? Curiously enough, his entire staff — young Chamisa included — did not know a thing about this monumental trip to this mighty Dutch Kingdom in miniature. And then the man emerges from the embassy to castigate the media for being unduly sensational about the trip and sojourn, before disappearing once more behind Holland’s mighty diplomatic walls.

Interestingly, the man’s second coming coincided with a Dutch decision that tobacco smoking would never be allowed. Only dagga smoking would! Seriously, why would a man who is depicted by Zanu-PF as a western stooge seek refuge in a western embassy? Or get his erstwhile election agents he had massed in Harvest House seek similar succour in the German embassy only to turn to the South African Mission after being snubbed by the Germans? And then to tell the world they decided to go to the South African embassy in order to force President Mbeki to act? Except Mbeki is acting, maybe in a manner not quite to their liking. Would that be the issue?

Beyond the shot, what is short?

All these events must have a context. Once the British realised Tsvangirai was in for a drabbing, they ordered him out of the poll. Their calculation is a simple one: stop the run-off so that the March result in which Tsvangirai has a lead remains the only result available as a premise for working out a settlement. Such a result would give Tsvangirai leverage in any negotiations with Zanu-PF.

More importantly, the absence of a result to the contest would lay a basis for legitimation of the notion of government of national unity which the UK and US badly need while they work out new strategies for tackling and burying Mugabe. Thirdly, an inconclusive result means Tsvangirai avoids the humiliation of a second personal defeat which is certain to close his political career. Fourthly, a Tsvangirai pullout denies Mugabe legitimacy and recognition, thus paving the way for greater sanctions this time with a veneer of international legitimacy.

Such sanctions could always lay a foundation for greater hostile actions against the Republic, not least armed intervention. Except legitimacy derives from the Zimbabwean people and Zimbabwean laws, never from the outsider. The poll is being handled and read in terms of Zimbabwe’s electoral laws, not in terms of western expectations, or the fickle disposition of one contestant called Morgan Tsvangirai. What is more, with or without Tsvangirai’s participation, and with Mugabe’s win, the Western world was not going to recognise the result anyway. So what is the big deal?

Inside the Trojan Horse

But I found something very instructive. The Tsvangirai people are distancing themselves from an article published by the British Guardian in Tsvangirai’s name, calling for armed intervention in Zimbabwe. Yesterday Tsvangirai was at pains to tell Government he had nothing to do with it, the same way he was sneaking in and out of the Royal Dutch Embassy to reach out to Zanu-PF for contacts he badly needs.

That is what lies behind the fa├žade of his bravery — a dying wish for settlement, a grave fear for any escalation. But who penned and put up the article? The British of course, hoping to use it for commencement of hostile action against Zimbabwe. Does this not sum up the career of Tsvangirai, the purpose of the MDC in the British scheme of things, namely both as a legitimating tool for Britain’s pre-determined hostilities against Zimbabwe? Which is what makes Tsvangirai quite impotent in the talks he seeks. Apart from collapsing himself as the Trojan Horse for British aggression, nothing much stands to be gained from talking to him.

He is a pitiful minor in this high-stakes game he cannot even comprehend. Which is why he will find himself at the helm of a movement of bandits he does not lead. This is why Bennett is the man to watch, Dhlakama the model to quash, Gorongoza, Maringue and some such places, zones to keep under joint surveillance.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Idi Amin was actually backed by both UK and Israel.

Mugabe is the opposite of Idi.