Saturday, 15 August 2009

MDC puppets can NEVER be Zimbabwe's heroes.

MDC, liberation heroes it can’t

THE basis of Christianity is that man, by virtue of being born of sinful loins, carries the sins of his forebears. The Lord admits in Exodus 20 verse 4 that he is a jealous God who holds children answerable for the sins of their forebears to the third and fourth generation. As such each man has to break this chain of sin by being born again through baptism, after which the old should pass away and a new life in Christ begins.

It appears the neophytes in Government, in those shiny corridors of power in Government offices believe this biblical rebirth applies to politics, where even the politically ugly among us morphed into beautiful swans by taking the oath of office even as they quack like ugly ducklings.

I say so because disturbing things, very disturbing things have been happening in the corridors of power since February 13.

Our history of stolid, defiant opposition to neo-colonial domination, in the eyes of some, ended then and hitherto even selling out became acceptable in the spirit of ‘inclusivity.’ That is why even the likes of Eddie Cross of the ‘‘crash and burn’’ thinking, men who never lifted a finger to advance the nationalist cause, claim to be more Zimbabwean than the heroes who fought to bring the same Zimbabwe.

A spirited campaign is underway to re-cast our history and even national ethos to reflect a nation as old as February 13. This week Trudy Stevenson even boldly asked, in the Zimbabwe Independent, ‘‘whose history is it anyway?’’ And one Obert Gutu proposed a redefinition of national heroism, the setting up of a national Heroes commission to direct the exhumation of ‘‘undeserving characters’’ from the national shrine and the re-burial of ‘‘those luminaries who were denied national hero status.’’

Clear agenda-setting was at play throughout the Zimind and names of ‘‘luminaries’’ like Gift Tandare, Jestina Mukoko, Beatrice Mtetwa were bandied as deserving honour on National Heroes Day.

Reading these reports I came to understand why Giles Mutsekwa held a victory celebration in his Dangamvura/Chikanga constituency as VP Msika’s body lay in state in Harare. While, given Mutsekwa’s history in the RF it would be understandable if he belittles the role played by Msika, what of the likes of Biti who were educated free of charge because of the sacrifices of people like Msika? Biti was there in Chikanga where he was quoted telling MDC-T supporters to honour their own heroes like Learnmore Jongwe and Isaac Matongo.

Such utterances imply that the holding of the victory celebration at the time of the demise of a venerated national hero was not coincidental, and may not have been about Mutsekwa’s victory in the 2008 elections.

What kind of society are we creating with this so-called inclusive Government, and to what extent should this ‘‘inclusivity’’ be stretched? At this rate, who can blame Obama and Clinton for being a-historical in their utterances over Zimbabwe?

For during her whirlwind tour of Africa, Hillary — who appeared lost to the irony of having husband Bill pick Lewinsky-look-alikes in North Korea — was busy urging South Africa to turn against Zimbabwe. ‘‘Zuma has to get tough with Mugabe,’’ Hillary quipped to the SA media.

Hillary needs to acquaint herself with the history of southern Africa. The Zuma she was speaking about was still deemed a terrorist in the US as late as last year (assuming he was struck off the terror and sanctions list along with Mandela ahead of the latter’s 90th birthday). Zuma will never forget that his ANC compatriots traveled the world on Zimbabwean passports as the US barred them from its shores and gave the apartheid regime spirited backing to delay the onset of black majority rule. Clinton’s posturing might find purchase among Western-sponsored politicians but not those grounded in liberation ethos. Then of course, there was Obama, who only this year extended the economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, claiming — in Ghana — that the West had nothing to do with Zimbabwe’s economic downturn. This revisionist thinking is apparently aimed at recasting our proud history and pegging it from the year the MDC was formed. The illegal regime change lobby has to be deodorised as a fight for democracy, and its askaris as national heroes. And all this in the week we celebrated the real heroes who stepped to the plate when some of those passing themselves as ‘‘democrats’’ today ran or opposed. This earth, my brother!

* * * *

For the avoidance of doubt, the MDC was formed out of the West’s misplaced economics that it was cheaper to fund an opposition to topple Zanu-PF than fund a land reform programme to dispossess the children of Albion. The MDC has no proud history to speak of and the nation has precious little to emulate from the party’s leadership as currently constituted. The MDC formations, infact need to be born again, politically that is, and it is my fervent hope that February 13 signified that rebirth. Lets not forget that the economic sanctions we are reeling under were imposed at the behest of the party’s leadership, as such the MDC-T was complicit in the socio-economic regression we witnessed over the past decade, a regression that Biti says needs US$140billion to undo. And if that is the stuff heroes are made of, then Hitler is a pacifist.

* * * *

Nowhere in our history was any US administration found on the side of our fight for self-determination. Instead Washington has been consistently found on the side of those we fought against.

At the risk of having our history hijacked and made over, here are a few facts Hillary and Obama should never forget whenever they pass themselves off as champions of Zimbabwe’s democracy.

When Smith declared his UDI on November 11, 1965, the progressive world was naturally outraged and the UN Security Council responded by punishing the Smith regime with a raft of sanctions beginning that year till the brief restoration of British rule in December 1979.

Though the terms of the sanctions forbade trade or financial dealings with Rhodesia, the US supported the beleaguered settler regime regardless and covertly channeled assistance through apartheid South Africa.

US allies among them Portugal - then under Marcello Caetano, Israel, and Iran then under the US puppet — Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi — also assisted and traded with Rhodesia. In an attempt to bypass the UN sanctions, the US passed the Byrd Amendment in 1971 and continued to buy chrome from Rhodesia in violation of the UN sanctions. Washington’s argument, chrome was ‘‘a strategic raw material’’, yet the chrome was for the US auto industry.

As if that was not enough, the US also contributed to the establishment of an armaments industry in Rhodesia that enabled the RF to kill over 50 000 innocent Zimbabweans whose only "crime" was daring to demand majority rule.

Uncle Sam also provided the technical knowledge and support, again through apartheid South Africa, toward establishing the 700-kilometre Border Minefield Obstacle along our borders with Zambia and Mozambique. An obstacle that was aimed at stopping aspiring cadres from crossing to training camps and to blow-up trained combatants crossing back into Zimbabwe. What is more US mercenaries and servicemen joined the RF ranks, with many of them bringing back to Rhodesia military ideas and concepts from Vietnam.

For a detailed expose of the extent of Washington’s destabilisation of the Second Chimurenga, Hillary should read the 2001 book ‘‘From the Barrel of a Gun — The United States and the War Against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980’’ by the African-American writer Gerald Horne. She can get a copy from the publishers, University of North Carolina Press at Chapel Hill failing which she can contact the Centre for Defence Studies at the University of Zimbabwe.

The bottom line is Washington not only significantly contributed to Rhodesia’s national income, which enabled the Smith regime to buy weapons to pulverise freedom fighters; it actually assisted Rhodesia’s fight against Zipra and Zanla combatants.

As such Hillary must read history before exercising her jaws on Zimbabwe. By acquainting herself with our history, she will find that her government — which today opposes the land reform programme — supported the Patriotic Front on land at the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference, with the then US president Jimmy Carter promising that Washington would significantly fund land reforms and also urged the British to do the same.

Carter’s promise — which was delivered by the then US ambassador to London, Kingman Brewster — was made after the Patriotic Front threatened to walk out of the Conference when the British sought to scuttle demands for land reforms. Clinton can access these revelations from the BBC website

* * * *

Do not get me wrong, and this is not hate speech. Heroes emerge from all walks of life, and there are many heroes and heroines who have distinguished themselves in diverse fields. It is such people who can be adjudged by commissions or committees of eminent persons or even elders, and can have their own venerated ground on the plentiful land we acquired at considerable wrath from the West.

The National Heroes Acre was set up for heroes of the struggle for independence, which is why it is shaped like two juxtaposed AK47s and why it has a liberation museum at the entrance. It is simply not feasible to have Chamisa, who was born only two years shy of Independence, or Bennett and Mutsekwa who fought on the side of the RF decide on the heroes of the struggle for independence. There are simply some things that ‘‘can’t,’’ in the same way 1 — 2 can’t at grade one level?

* * * *

Now what is all this fuss about service chiefs and salute for the Prime Minister? I thought the question of who gets the salute is now in the public domain, the Commander-in-Chief of the ZDF and serving or retired commanders.

This week Internet ghost sites were awash with debate over whether the airforce commander saluted Tsvangirai during the Defence Forces Day, and the Zimind went one up by publishing an obscure picture on the front page that claimed to show Air Marshal Perrance Shiri saluting PM Tsvangirai.

I am sure that there were better pictures to show that Air Marshall Shiri was standing beside VP Mujuru and between VP Mujuru and the PM sat Retired General Solomon Mujuru, the former ZDF commander, who was obscured by the PM from the angle at which the Zimind picture was taken. So how could a salute jump the VP and the Retired General and be meant for the PM who was seated at the far end?

And assuming Air Marshal Shiri was saluting, the salute was evidently for his former boss, Rtd Gen Mujuru. More so military salutes are given and received when the giver and receiver are both standing upright and looking directly into each other’s faces. Looking at Air Marshal Shiri’s posture it was most likely he was greeting VP Mujuru.

Anyway only he can answer as to who he was ‘saluting’ or greeting but for the sages at Zimind it had to be a picture that matched their lead story.

Such is the nature of recasting history, at times it bids those doing it to carve headlines about sunrise on a dry savanna day.

Friday, 14 August 2009

The propaganda about Zimbabwe cloaks an imperial mindset

The propaganda about Zimbabwe cloaks an imperial mindset

By Jordan Pearson

Zimbabwe, and the apparently rigged elections that saw Robert Mugabe win his 6th
consecutive term as President, is a story that’s all over the news at the
moment, and it’s a story that’s presented with unprecedented singularity; Mugabe
cast, in nearly every story, as an evil dictator who has ruined the country and
needs to go. This unanimity of opinion got me wondering: is Mugabe really that
rare, Hitleresque figure of ultimate evil? Maybe even more evil than Skullitor?
A little wider reading, particularly from African sources, presents a different
picture. That Zimbabwe is in a very bad way is indisputable; one of the worst
cases of hyperinflation in recorded history, people starving in what was once a
rich farming land, but while the reason for this is always attributed to
Mugabe’s inept and brutal leadership, the actual reasons are infinitely more
Missing from nearly all coverage of the issue is any consideration of its
historical context, and, more importantly, its global political-economic context
– that is, the international pervasiveness of Western economic dominance (why
it’s called “globalization,” I guess) and the impossibility of resisting it.
Zimbabwe’s dire situation seems to be less about a brutal dictator and more
about the government’s revolutionary resistance to Western economic
exploitation, or neo-colonialism. Everything is framed through the familiar
perspective that Mugabe is an “evil man”. The fact that he is an African makes
this a lot easier for Western audiences to accept, so too does the fact that
there’s probably a lot of truth to it, but before accepting this too easily ask
yourself, “Why?” Remember: “Evil Mugabe” was once “Sir Robert Mugabe,” and it
was only this month that Nelson Mandela was removed from the United States
terrorist watch list.
It’s not my intention in this to be an apologist for President Mugabe – he seems
like a real brute – but to point out some of the hypocrisies and
double-standards operating in this story, and to see why, of all the “brutal
dictators” in the world, this brutal dictator is being singled-out.
The spectacular hypocrisy with which our Western media operate is always
exaggerated when discussing black people, especially Africans. The absurdity of
the same countries that colonized (that is, invaded and destroyed) Africa now
telling African nations how to run themselves goes unnoticed by most. So does
the ridiculousness of stories calling for Western “humanitarian intervention” in
Zimbabwe (that is, the pretext to invade and destroy) in the world section of
newspapers next to stories about our humiliating defeats in Iraq and
Afghanistan. Do people really want to repeat the procedure of invading another
country on falsified humanitarian pretenses, attempting to exploit its resources
or geographical position, and having our asses handed back to us by the local
And who the hell is George Bush to cast dispersions on a rigged election?
Zimbabwe first started getting this intense media attention in 2000, when
Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party started re-expropriating land back to black Africans by
confiscating it from white farmers (land which, of course, had originally been
stolen by the British). According to the media narrative, this is where the
country fell into decline. The subtext is, of course, that African’s don’t know
anything and will mess everything up in the absence of white guidance. This
completely ignores that most black Zimbabweans are either descendants of Bantu
civilizations that existed for literally 1000’s of years or Ndebele people, both
of whom prospered on the land long before Europeans set foot on it.
I remember once being told by someone that the answer to Africa’s problems was
not aid, but guidance: “If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day,” she
said, “but if we teach them how to fish, we’ll feed him and his family forever”.
At this, I had to point out that, “Sweetie, these people were fishing and eating
a long time before white people got there and messed everything up, and if you
teach a man to fish and then steal everything he catches, this guy and his
family are still gonna starve!”
These sorts of ideas are unthinkable in mainstream Western discussion of “third
world” problems. Completely uncovered in the news is the colonial legacy of
Britain in Zimbabwe, and its continued responsibility for Zimbabwe’s economic
cataclysm, in collusion with the United States and major international financial
institutions, who are punishing the country for failing to open itself up to be
robbed and pillaged. We are reminded on a daily basis that Mugabe is a
super-villian, while equally or much more oppressive dictatorships enjoy the
full support of the West and go unnoticed in the news, because their
governments’ make the country open for exploitation; governments like those of
neighboring Uganda and Rwanda, for example. Mugabe dares defy the dictates of
the United States, and so, like many other similar leaders before him, and
today, he has to go.
According to Stephen Gowans:
“The charge that the West is supporting civil society groups in Zimbabwe to
bring down the government isn’t paranoid speculation or the demagogic raving
of a government trying to cling to power by mobilizing anti-imperialist
sentiment. It’s a matter of public record. The US government has admitted that
“it wants to see President Robert Mugabe removed from power and that it is
working with the Zimbabwean opposition…trade unions, pro-democracy groups and
human rights organizations…to bring about a change of administration.”
Robert Mugabe is part of a group of people that fought a long, hard struggle
against Britain who ruled the country for ninety years in a way that makes the
current government look like Care Bears. Mugabe’s part in this struggle is one
of the things that gives him his wide support base in Zimbabwe and greater
Africa. While Zimbabwe rid itself of foreign political control in 1980 through
this struggle, the battle for economic independence continues. Says, Jabulani
Sibanda, the leader of the association of former guerrillas who won against
“Our country was taken away in 1890. We fought a protracted struggle to
recover it and the process is still on. We gained political independence in
1980, got our land after 2000, but we have not yet reclaimed our minerals and
natural resources. The fight for freedom is still on until everything is
recovered for the people.”
This is exactly what President Mugabe is trying to achieve, the protection of
the revenues from Zimbabwe’s extensive natural resources and other industries
for the Zimbabwean people. This is his great crime as far as Western powers are
concerned, powers who demand open-door access to all African and third world
countries. This is also the great crime of Hugo Chavez, singled-out and vilified
for similar reasons.
Another great crime of Mugabe’s, a crime he also shares with Hugo Chavez, was to
turn his country away from the IMF after seeing the economically disastrous
consequences of implementing IMF structural adjustment conditions, which
Zimbabwe did from 1991-1995. The IMF declared Zimbabwe ineligible to use IMF
resources in 2001, which meant Zimbabwe could not pick up any credit from
markets without paying very high interest rates, and could not sell using
international banking. This is the true cause of the collapse of their currency.
This was, of course, done to punish Zimbabwe because the government had the
audacity to return the country’s land to its original owners.
We can see here how the former colonial owners still exercise great control over
the country, where, according to Mugabe, the British and their allies (including
my country, NZ)
“… influence other countries to cut their economic ties with us…the soft
loans, grants and investments that were coming our way, started decreasing and
in some cases practically petering out. Then the signals to the rest of the
world that Zimbabwe is under sanctions, that rings bells and countries that
would want to invest in Zimbabwe are being very cautious. And we are being
dragged through the mud every day on CNN, BBC, Sky News, and they are saying
to these potential investors ‘your investments will not be safe in Zimbabwe,
the British farmers have lost their land, and your investments will go the
same way.”
This brings us back to the fundamental point about the totality of Western
economic dominance: powerful nations like the UK and U.S. have almost total
control over developing nations – including the power to shut a country down,
and to unanimously condemn in the media any leader they dislike.
A significant clue, however, that the “worldwide” condemnation of Mugabe, as is
most often implied, may not be so utterly unanimous, is that much of the world
refuses to condemn him. China and Russia have repeatedly vetoed attempts by the
States and Britain at the UN Security Council to place heavier sanctions on the
country, and both these countries represent alternative sources of trade and
investment for Zimbabwe. F. William Engdahl contends that “Mugabe’s Biggest Sin”
is that he “has quietly been doing business, a lot of it, with one country which
has virtually unlimited need of strategic raw materials Zimbabwe can provide –
China” putting Zimbabwe (along with Sudan) “on the central stage of the new war
over control of strategic minerals in Africa between Washington and Beijing”.
[] Indeed, Zimbabwe is
a country with a lot of mineral wealth to which Western businesses want
exclusive access, for both their real and symbolic wealth: Zimbabwe serves as a
potential example to other countries wishing to protect their own resources, and
so must be made an example of. Closer ties with China may or may not necessarily
be a positive thing for the people of Zimbabwe; for example, China ships
significant amounts of weapons to the country. Strong criticism of China from
the U.S. for this however is yet another example of the spectacular hypocrisy
that goes unnoticed, when throughout this century and the last, the U.S. been
constantly arming the most brutal governments and terrorist organizations it
can. Zimbabwe, of course, has every right to develop trade with any country it
chooses, but is being brazenly punished by the West for pursuing new investment
not from the old imperialist powers.
Zimbabwe’s resistance to imperialism has meant the country has been singled-out,
cut-off, and gradually strangled. Gowans chronicles the process:
“In March 2002, Canada withdrew all direct funding to the government of
Zimbabwe. In 2005, the IT department at Zimbabwe’s Africa University
discovered that Microsoft had been instructed by the US Treasury Department to
refrain from doing business with the university. Western companies refuse to
supply spare parts to Zimbabwe’s national railway company, even though there
are no official trade sanctions in place.… Pressure will also be applied on
countries surrounding Zimbabwe to mount an economic blockade. The point of
sanctions is to starve the people of Zimbabwe into revolting against the
government to clear the way for the rise of the MDC and control, by proxy,
from London and Washington. Apply enough pressure and eventually the people
will cry uncle (or so goes the theory.).”
(A theory that worked so perfectly with Saddam Hussein, didn’t it? Only killing
an estimated 1,500,000 Iraqis before failing and being abandoned in favour of an
invasion that killed hundreds of thousands more.) So Zimbabwe is faced with a
shitty choice: maintain and have the country’s economy totally destroyed, or
give-up and submit to an economic ass-raping. Such is the totality of Western
economic dominance: sovereign nations don’t have choices, and sovereignty itself
doesn’t exist.
The political alternative, the MDC, or Movement for Democratic Change, lead by
Morgan Tsvangirai, who reportedly won the recent elections, is presented in the
news as Zimbabwe’s only hope for democracy and receives overwhelming media
support. Never once mentioned is that the MDC is primarily a representative of
Britain, the U.S. and their economic interests, and almost entirely funded by
foreign groups, with the expressed aim of opening Zimbabwe up for investment, or
in other words, exploitation. The party was formed in 1999, immediately after
the Zanu-PF government announced its land confiscation program. According to the
Gowans article, “The party was initially bankrolled by the British government’s
Westminster Foundation for Democracy and other European governments, including
Germany” and “acknowledged in February 2002 that [it] was financed by European
governments and corporations, which funnelled money through British political
consultants, BSMG”. The MDC receives this overwhelming media support, because it
operates as a front for Western business interests and in the event of being
elected would allow these interests to do as they please, transforming Zimbabwe
from a rebellious dictatorship to a well-behaved dictatorship, and thus not a
problem. With regards to policies that advance the interests of Zimbabwean
people, like returning land back to black African owners for example, Tsvangirai
has said it’s not acceptable as it “scares away investors, domestic and
international“. Investors are usually scared of justice.
The position that Mugabe and Zanu-PF hold onto power through violence and
intimidation alone, as advocated by all mainstream news, doesn’t seem to quite
add up either. While it seems that violence and intimidation undoubtedly occur,
Munyaradzi Gwisai, strong opponent of the Mugabe government as leader of the
International Socialist Organization in Zimbabwe, puts things in a different
“There is no doubt about it – the regime is rooted among the population with a
solid social base. Despite the catastrophic economic collapse, Zanu-PF still
won more popular votes in parliament than the MDC in the March 29
parliamentary elections. Mugabe might have lost on the streets, but if you
count the actual votes, his party won more than the MDC in elections to the
House of Assembly and Senate. Zanu-PF won an absolute majority of votes in
five of the country’s 10 provinces, plus a simple majority in another
province. By contrast, the MDC won two provinces with an absolute majority and
two with a simple majority. But because we use first past the post, not
proportional representation, Zanu-PF’s votes were not translated into a
majority in parliament. It was only Mugabe himself, in the presidential
election, who did worse in terms of the popular vote.”
Mugabe’s support in Africa in general is also seemingly contradictory to the
story as we are told it. He’s often greeted with a heroes welcome when he
travels in Africa and African leaders have continually refused to outright
condemn him. This is usually explained away as being a case of Africans sticking
together, refusing to condemn “one of their own” no matter how deplorable their
leadership may be, because they don’t want to be seen as sell-outs or traitors
to the West. While this is bullshit, if it were true that Africans were prepared
to accept despotic rule by other Africans as preferable to agreement with us,
would this not indicate that our presence and opinions were not really wanted
Our Western governments continued pontificating and intervention on the excuse
of human rights and democracy, even if they were genuine, demonstrate, as the
worst human rights violators on the planet, an incredible arrogance and
hypocrisy. In 2004, Mugabe was voted #3 in New Africa magazine’s issue of “100
Greatest Africans”. While Mugabe was outright condemned at the recent G8 summit
in Japan, there was no similar condemnation at the most recent AU summit.
Headlines covering the summit were generally phrased with implicit assumptions
that explicitly reveal the news’ sheer ridiculousness and partiality, even Al
Jazeera saying “African leaders fail to condemn Mugabe” . Fail to condemn
Mugabe?! Fail to? As if they were supposed to and didn’t? Here, you can clearly
see that nowadays media impartiality isn’t even a consideration – especially
when considering black people, and especially when considering Africa: at worst,
a continent incapable of managing itself, at best, just sticking together out of
racial solidarity.
The “Perils of Racial Solidarity” (if you’re not white) are evident anywhere,
like the current U.S. elections for example, where Obama had to disown his own
church (because his minister had the audacity to speak truthfully about 9/11),
and has had to generally cater to white people’s fears. Says, Kevin Alexander
“Give a listen to the corporate media, and it’s pretty clear what tune black
voices are supposed to be singing. Obama is constantly called on to swear
allegiance to America – to prove he isn’t swearing allegiance to blacks. The
other way to say that is he’s supposed to swear allegiance to white, not
black, America. Meanwhile, the back end of that deal is that black Americans
are required to substitute Obama for real structural racial progress. As in,
‘You got your nominee. See, we’re not so racist or bad after all. Now shut
Ultimately, all this shit is best summed-up by Africa’s Hitler himself, the
current President of Zimbabwe and former Sir Robert Mugabe, who, at his address
to the UN in October last year had this to say:
“The West still negates our sovereignties by way of control of our resources,
in the process making us mere chattels in out own lands, mere minders of its
trans-national interests. In my own country and other sister states in
Southern Africa, the most visible form of this control has been over land
despoiled from us at the onset of British colonialism.
That control largely persists, although it stands firmly challenged in
Zimbabwe, thereby triggering the current stand-off between us and Britain,
supported by her cousin states, most notably the United States and Australia.
Mr Bush, Mr. Blair and now Mr Brown’s sense of human rights precludes our
people’s right to their God-given resources, which in their view must be
controlled by their kith and kin. I am termed dictator because I have rejected
this supremacist view and frustrated the neo-colonialists.
Mr President,
Clearly the history of the struggle for out own national and people’s rights
is unknown to the president of the United States of America. He thinks the
Declaration of Human Rights starts with his last term in office! He thinks she
can introduce to us, who bore the brunt of fighting for the freedoms of our
peoples, the virtues of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What rank
Mr President,
I lost eleven precious years of my life in the jail of a white man whose
freedom and well- being I have assured from the first day of Zimbabwe’s
Independence. I lost a further fifteen years fighting white injustice in my
Ian Smith is responsible for the death of well over 50 000 of my people. I
bear scars of his tyranny which Britain and America condoned. I meet his
victims everyday. Yet he walks free. He farms free. He talks freely,
associates freely under a black Government. We taught him democracy. We gave
him back his humanity.
He would have faced a different fate here and in Europe if the 50 000 he
killed were Europeans. Africa has not called for a Nuremberg trial against the
white world which committed heinous crimes against its own humanity. It has
not hunted perpetrators of this genocide, many of whom live to this day, nor
has it got reparations from those who offended against it. Instead it is
Africa which is in the dock, facing trial from the same world that persecuted
it for centuries.
Let Mr. Bush read history correctly. Let him realize that both personally and
in his representative capacity as the current President of the United States,
he stands for this “civilization” which occupied, which colonised, which
incarcerated, which killed. He has much to atone for and very little to
lecture us on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
Mugabe’s message to George Bush is one all of us in the West could do with
paying attention to. You don’t have to stray far from the mainstream media to
get a much clearer perspective on Zimbabwe; perspectives, especially African,
that go a long way to answering the important questions around the issue.
Questions like: Why does Zimbabwe receive so much attention as a dictatorship,
when other dictatorships do not? What makes Zimbabwe special? Why was Mugabe
once a Knight and is now a villain? Why do countries like China and Russia’s
position on Zimbabwe differ so much from the U.S. and UK? Why won’t most other
African leaders condemn Mugabe? While the man may very well be a “dictator” or
“tyrant” or any of the other names he is called, he is clearly trying to protect
his country from exploitation, and so his country suffers for this.
He may be a dictator, but just like with Saddam Hussein in Iraq, we in the West
are applying one standard to Mugabe, another standard to all the other
dictators, and – from our position as the worst human rights abusers on Earth –
yet another standard to ourselves. Zimbabwe has been singled-out in the media
and Mugabe so thoroughly vilified because they have chosen to exercise the
country’s sovereignty, as opposed to being told what to do, and yet our news
preaches of bringing Zimbabwe democracy – just like we did in Iraq, eh? In the
words of evil-incarnate himself again: “Democracy… means self-rule, not rule by

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A war veteran's memo.

By Mafira Kureva

I WAS touched by the article by Jane Madembo dated September 8, 2008 entitled: “Will the real war veterans please stand up? [1]” I am myself a war veteran and I briefly sketch my profile below.

I left for the war in 1975, at the age of 14 when I was in Form II at then St. Mary’s Hunyani Secondary School. On arrival in Mozambique I stayed at Zhunda briefly then went on to Nyadzonya in October 1975. At Nyadzonya I underwent my basic political education and training in military tactics using wooden guns. I left in April 1976 for Chimoio where I completed my military training then joined Wampoa Political Academy (whose history is hidden from Zimbabweans).

I then became a political instructor first at Chimoio, then Chibavava holding camps, which have been termed refugee camps by those who manipulate history for their ends. I briefly stayed at Beira (Manga Base) before going to operate in Mutambara Detachment covering the areas of Chayamiti, Muusha, Gwindingwi Estate, Chimanimani etc. I was wounded in battle and went back to Mozambique then to Chaminuka Sector, Mazowe Detachment. I operated in Tete Province till the ceasefire in 1979. We were then moved into the Assembly Points.

This brief sketch is to illustrate that I do not doubt my standing as a war veteran of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and I am not shy about it.

My answer to Jane’s touching plea is as follows. It is sad that the history of our struggle for emancipation as a nation is yet to be written. I say this because whatever is claimed to have been written is not the truth of what we know as veterans of the liberation struggle of Zimbabwe, at least from my view point.

What I have so far read except for few marginalised texts, is about the history of the ruling elite, about the heroism of nationalists and their exploits. For example, I know of many comrades who lost their limbs at Nyadzonya on that fateful 9 August 1976 when Morrison Nyathi attacked the camp. But towards Heroes Days, ZBC presents what it terms the history of the armed struggle. And whom do they show about the Nyadzonya attack – Eddison Zvobgo and Simon Muzenda who say they were driven to the scene as a delegation.

They say what they saw long after the attack was over and the bodies were in a state of decomposition. Even Zvobgo, the eloquent Chicago lawyer, struggles to capture the images to convince the media about the devastation at Nyadzonya. The simple question is: why has our society, intellectuals, ruling clique, politicians and the state failed to give audience to people who really suffered these experiences? Why has our society tended to shun us even well before the negative picture painted about us now?

After Independence we were treated worse than the rebels of Sierra Leone, for example. I mean it literally, not figuratively. Do you know that no one who fought the liberation struggle of Zimbabwe was ever rehabilitated, mentally, physically, socially or economically? Yet the rebels of Sierra Leone were rehabilitated? To bring the issue home, do you know that the Rhodesian soldiers were given pensions, medical attention, retrenchment packages, alternative employment and retraining for them to fit back into civilian life? But this was not done to the war veterans. Why? The answer is simple. The ruling nationalists had an agenda of liberation that was different from that of the fighters, peasants and farm workers in the struggle. They quickly forged an alliance with the very same people the struggle was fighting against and this created a fissure in the movement. The peasants, war veterans and farm workers were relegated. If you see people, they parade as war veterans, next time ask yourself the interest of the person who is making that parade.

Relegation of war veterans is well-known as it was captured in the print media from 1980s-90s. Their suffering was debated in Parliament but nothing was done about it. This is what led to the street demonstrations against Mugabe, Zanu-PF and the state in the 1990s as Jane herself recalls. The point is that the revolution of the masses, the poor and the exploited was highjacked by the ruling elite who wanted to advance their interests with white capital. That is what led to the invasions of land beginning in 1997/98, led by the war veterans.

The actual issue at hand then was not just white capital but the alliance between the ruling classes with white capital. This is why the Zimbabwean issue is so complex and not a simple Zanu-PF/MDC issue. As Jane recalls Mugabe was at the centre of attack by the war veterans until they besieged State House after holding ministers hostage, stopping an American businessmen investment conference, demonstrating in the streets etc. But what was the reaction of our society to this?

The ZCTU, which was the leading civil society movement then failed even to utter a statement of support, contrary to their usual stunts for teachers, doctors industrial workers when they strike for more pay and improvement on their living conditions. War veterans were not even asking for improvement, but for basic survival. I know many who died of wounds they had sustained during the war because they were not treated after independence. Why did society keep quiet when war veterans rose against Zanu-PF, Mugabe and the state?

Now, when the government was forced to pay back what was due to the war veterans what happened? Workers and the whole society was mobilised against war veterans and there is all mockery and scorn about the $50 000 pay-outs yet the Rhodesian Security Forces who earned this without resorting to the streets did not get this treatment. Why? In any case, that money was looted again by people who really did not participate in the war as fighters. Many of those people you hear were in the armed struggle were actually in Maputo perhaps closer to the Indian Ocean than they were to the border with Zimbabwe. A lot of these were recruited by letter from overseas with the purpose of displacing real fighters from the leadership of the struggle and this persisted after independence. Have you ever asked yourself why war veterans never featured in Zanu- PF structures despite their mobilisation skills and demands by the peasants that they be part of the structures?

Nationalists do not have the same agenda with war veterans and the later have remained a threat. As such they are silenced and our society, because of ignorance, has danced to the tune of the nationalists and alienated their own heroes. The propaganda about marauding war veterans is clearly a creation of the ruling class because they know that if the people would unite with the war veterans then they cannot manage to terrorize anyone and commit all those atrocities that Jane mentions.

The people of Zimbabwe should know that war veterans are not as cheap as presented by the media and the ruling elite. But it is not only the ruling elite who have presented the war veterans as such, the international media, local media and opposition politicians as well. All these people also want to gain mileage from this depiction. It is easier to convince anyone that someone is committing atrocities against the other only if there is evidence that the victim is weaker. War veterans being militarily trained, with a record put by especially western trained scholars and ruling class that they were murderers during the war, it becomes easy to construct violence around war veterans.

But is this true?

Yes, war veterans started the land occupations as I said but I challenge anyone who would want to carry scientific research to come with evidence that confirms extreme violence against white farmers, farm workers etc committed by war veterans. I researched in the Mazowe, Mutepatepa and Nyabira areas for a PhD study. I am sincere about this. Another researcher, Angus Selby, a son of a white farmer, also did research in that area just to demonstrate that I am not just a war veteran trying to protect my lot. I have not read anywhere Selby has pointed out that anyone was killed in that area.

In my personal archives I have letters written by white farmers, High Court documents besides interviews I did with them and the land occupiers and these illustrate that the white farmers themselves are aware that war veterans were not violent. They did not want to totally dispossess the white farmers of land but to share. They wanted land to be distributed to the landless peasants; not the ruling elite. I was there myself. I took part in it and with a very clear cause for that matter. I am not even ashamed of that role. Through the process I even made some of my best friendship with white farmers and I could give specific names if this were not to infringe upon their rights.

When the ruling elite discovered that the war veterans had managed to occupy land and were moving to distribute it to the needy and simultaneously managing to have little effect on white commercial farming as they targeted unused land, excess land and multiple ownership farms the state knew that the war veterans had demonstrated their heroism and mission of not only redressing the land grievance but also managing to accommodate their former enemies, the white farmers. What did this mean to the ruling class?

They would lose support as the people would clearly see that war veterans, who had not been afforded an opportunity to rule the country, were better that the nationalists. The opposition also panicked and instead of uniting with the war veterans they were against them and campaigned against land seizures as if they did not know this national grievance and its potential danger. Once again the ruling elite sought to discredit the war veterans and it implemented the Fast Track Land Reform without making revealing to anyone that they were seeking to negate the initiatives of the war veterans.

The objective of that fast track programme was to thwart the war veteran-led land movement to cripple their ability to mobilise the masses to claim national wealth which they had been denied, worsening during ESAP. The ruling class did not want the masses to have faith in the true heroes of the nation. This would erode their power base and trust and support would shift from them to war veterans. This is why you see that the fast track programme targeted the war veterans and peasants who had occupied land and weeded them out. Even the Charles Utete Commission report points out this dispossession of war veterans.

A question that has not been asked is, “Why did the ruling elites carry out Murambatsvina? And our society seems to forget so easily as well. Remember the famous story that Comrade Chinx stood on the roof of his house when the bull dozer was about to raze it to the ground? Who is Chinx, the singer? Chinx Chingaira, the war veteran! War veterans had moved to engulf the urban areas in their mobilisation for resource distribution among the marginalised and they gave land to the urban poor for housing. They even attempted to form housing co-operatives in order to safeguard the interests of these poor people.

This was the most frightening thing to the ruling elite and the opposition alike.

The opposition and Zanu-PF had both thrived on holding on to the workers and peasants exclusively as their constituencies. The land movement broke this and merged the two struggles. War veterans had taken the struggle for economic emancipation of the marginalised Zimbabweans at a very high scale. The opposition was put in an awkward position of condemning land allocation to the urban poor through land occupations yet it purported to stand for their cause and to fight for their rights. So what was wrong with war veterans getting land and distributing it to the landless workers? Were they not fulfilling the very cause they went to war for? In the end the picture painted by the opposition about war veterans is exactly the one the ruling elite would want portrayed. They have the same agenda when it comes to real emancipation of Zimbabwe’s peasants and workers.

Another thing, do you know that Murambatsvina was followed by Chikorokoza Chapera? Why did the opposition keep silent about this? What was the motive of the ruling elite? All this was an attempt to hit at the rural occupiers so that the ruling class would assert its power. They wanted to dislocate the rural workers so that they had no economic means to propagate their ideas and exercise their will freely. And again the conditions of small scale mining were created by the land occupations, everyone knows that. Chikorokoza as we know it today was part of land occupations. But again only the peasants and farm workers know the truth because they are part of these struggles in which the rest join hands against war veterans.

The answer therefore to Jane’s touching question and plea is that our society has to distinguish between war veterans and Zanu-PF ruling elite. They have to judge correctly when war veterans taken action in the interests of the poor and support that. Otherwise society will continue to take actions which are against the interests of the majority and in the interest of those who are only fighting to get into power in order to do exactly the same as those who are there or the whites who colonized us.

What would this mean for the emancipation of the marginalised people?

For me as a war veteran, this is the moral question that hounds me. I see beyond MDC and Zanu-PF, beyond Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe. I consider my historic mission as being that of fighting for the poor. I know that many want to create a bad image of me precisely because they have a different agenda.

This is true about the Zanu-PF ruling elite, including Robert Mugabe, the opposition including Morgan Tsvangirai and international capital which would prefer either or both of these than the war veterans. They realise that emancipation of the marginalised poor of Zimbabwe means cutting strings of exploitation of the nation’s resources by these imperialists.

The new revolution towards Africa’s emancipation in the post-colonial era will have triumphed!

Sadc Tribunal does not exist - 10 August 2009

Sadc Tribunal does not exist - 10 August 2009

By Mabasa Sasa

THE Sadc Tribunal that has passed two judgments perceived to be an attempt to reverse the country's land reform programme is illegitimate because two-thirds of the regional body's membership has not ratified the protocol that seeks to create the Southern African court.

According to a presentation by Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa to his regional counterparts and Sadc attornies-general, said only five countries have so far ratified the protocol and an amendment to the document.

This means by law the Sadc Tribunal does not exist and raises questions as to why the bloc's secretariat has allowed it to even sit in the first place.

Separate investigations have also revealed that the Sadc Secretariat has been enforcing other protocols and treaties that have not yet been ratified by two-thirds of the membership.

Part of Minister Chinamasa's presentation to the July 23-August 3 meeting in South Africa, states: "The Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe is surprised that in its haste to judge Zimbabwe, the Tribunal has not examined the history of the treaty and the protocol on the Tribunal, an exercise which was necessary in order to determine whether the protocol came into force and, if so, whether Zimbabwe is a party to it.

"We had not raised this issue before as an indication of our good intentions but the referral of this matter to the Summit leaves us with no option but to question the Tribunal's omission to address so fundamental a question."

Only Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius and Namibia have ratified the protocol, meaning that the Tribunal remains in existence as a proposal only.

Seventy-nine Zimbabwean white commercial farmers applied to the Sadc Tribunal to reverse the acquisition of their farms by Government for purposes of resettlement.

The Tribunal subsequently passed two judgments in favour of the farmers; an interim relief and a final relief order barring Government from acquiring their farms.

However, Government has said it will not recognise these orders because the Tribunal does not yet exist.

Regional justice ministers deferred their discussions and will meet on the sidelines of the Sadc Summit in the DRC in September.

In an interview yesterday, Minister Chinamasa said: "According to the Treaties Status Report given to us by the Sadc Secretariat itself, only five countries have ratified the protocol and its amendment. This is short of the required two-thirds majority and thus the Tribunal does not exist.

"In fact, Zimbabwe is not even one of the five countries that ratified. The Tribunal is not in a position to exercise jurisdiction even on the five who have ratified.

"The Sadc Treaty of 1992 requires that any protocols must be ratified by two-thirds of the total membership. Over and above this, the constitutions of the member states oblige them to first have any treaties approved by their own parliaments before any ratification.

"There has never been any basis for the Tribunal to exercise jurisdiction and trying to do so is a grave violation of Zimbabwe's Constitution, the Sadc Treaty and international law.

"It is quite an embarrassing situation because both the Tribunal and the Sadc Secretariat have egg on their faces."

He said the Tribunal should have on its own initiative first sought to establish if it was legally constituted and the secretariat should have never allowed protocols to enter into force before the requisite ratification.

"The Tribunal itself and any judgments it purports to pass on anyone are null and void. To move forward, the secretariat must seek to regularise the enforcement of protocols.

"On our part, Zimbabwe will not ratify that protocol until the relationship between the Tribunal and domestic courts is clarified because right now it looks as if there are people who want to make it a court of appeal superior to member states' own highest courts."

Zimbabwe's Supreme Court, sitting as a Constitutional Court, ruled against the 79 farmers and upheld the constitutionality of the land reform programme.

They successfully appealed to the Tribunal but the judgments cannot be enforced.

Observers said there was a possibility that the white farming community intended to use the Tribunal to reverse the land reform programme by getting a regional court to bar acquisitions and overturn the resettlement that has already taken place.

On the issue of the enforcement of other protocols, it has emerged that Sadc could have been using up to 10 agreements that are yet to be ratified.
Source: Herald (Zimbabwe Government)

Mugabe is the last man standing.

Baffour's Beefs by Baffour Ankomah - August/Sept 2009

When one sinner repents…

Cameron Duodu puts it more aptly in our cover story: “If [President
Obama] is to do anything meaningful to address the hopes [invested
in him by Africa], he will have to unlearn a lot about Africa
himself, and educate his fellow G8 leaders too”. For a brother who
has sat in the US Senate since November 2004 to pretend not to know
the shenanigans that went on when the two houses of Congress rushed
through, in a mere 30 minutes, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act in December 2001, an Act which in one fell swoop
imposed stringent economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, to come to Accra
and tell the whole world in a major policy speech to Africa, that
“the West is not responsible for the destruction of the Zimbabwe
economy over the last decade”, well, he is a brother and Beefs is
prepared to give him time to unlearn… It is too early to knock him.
But could somebody please tell him not to go around the world making
such irascible statements!

Anyway, those of you who haven’t read the Bible before, please come
with me to Luke chapter 15 verse 10. There you find this quote:
“There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner
that repents.” Imagine one sinner causing a stoppage in Heaven – for
the angels know how to have a good time, you know. Rejoicing is big
business up there, and they don’t joke about it. So just imagine
what happened there in early July 2009 when Michael Holman,
ex-Zimbabwean and ex-Africa editor of the British business daily,
Financial Times, repented (see p. 32 of this issue). What joy we
must all have to welcome him and his ilk back into reality. Until he
recanted, Holman, a white Zimbabwean, born and bred in Zimbabwe, who
like others before him such as Lord Malloch Brown found fame outside
the land of their birth, had been one of the chief drivers of the
bandwagon that campaigned ceaselessly, for the past 10 years, for
Mugabe’s head. You can therefore imagine the joy in Heaven when this
sinner repented, and wrote in early July exhorting his kith and kin
in the West that it is “Time to do business with Mugabe”.

Holman can be theatrical when it suits him: “It is time for Western
governments to admit defeat, swallow their pride, re-engage in
Zimbabwe, and do business with Robert Mugabe,” he thunders in his
opening paragraph. “Far from being driven by ethical concerns about
dealing with a dictator,” he goes on, “the West in general, and
Britain in particular, is motivated by pique, seeking revenge on the
man who has outwitted them, rather than acting in the long-term
interests of Zimbabwe… “The first step [of the re-engagement
process],” Holman continues, “is to acknowledge an uncomfortable
truth: Mr Mugabe has won the battle for Zimbabwe. True, the price
has been high … but his victory is more than Pyrrhic… He has
presided over a fundamental change of an African economy. His
popularity in much of Africa is undeniable, and the landless of
Kenya, South Africa and Namibia look on his work with admiration…

Whatever Mr Tsvangirai might say in public, it would be political
suicide to attempt to return white farms to their former owners.
Never again will a 5,000-strong minority own much of the country’s
best farmland; and though it has cost Zimbabwe dear, Mugabe has
created a lasting legacy, having radically changed the racially
distorted land tenure structure he inherited at independence in
1980.” Hallelujah! Angels know how to rejoice when a sinner repents!
If I, Baffour Ankomah, son of a Ghanaian farmer who had no help from
his government for all his life (he died in 1988), had written what
Michael Holman has just written, it would not have seen the light of
day, not even in New African, the magazine I have worked for, for 21
solid years, 10 of which have seen me in the editor’s chair! For I
did write on the same lines in January 2009, for this very column,
Baffour’s Beefs, and our Group Publisher, a man of strong liberal
tradition and open-mindedness, who loves Africa to bits, wanted a
change from the constant focus on Zimbabwe. And so my column did not
appear – in New African! I would have beaten Holman to it by six
long months!

Now that Holman has opened the floodgates, surely not even “a
surfeit of Zimbabwe coverage” is going to stop me from quoting a wee
bit from my spiked January column. Commenting on Obama’s electoral
victory and stretching it to cover another victory in Southern
Africa (at least to discerning Africans), I wrote: “I know I will be
damned for saying this, but I will still say it because it is the
truth – here we have the success of the first leader in both pre-
and post-independence African history to be still standing after
having been assailed for 10 long years by the combined might of the
nations of European stock: President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

“Looking back into history, from the first encounter of Europeans
with Africans on our shores, we can’t find one single example of an
African – leader, community or nation – that was assailed by the
nations of European stock and survived! The Asantes held the British
at bay over seven debilitating wars but finally succumbed in 1900.
Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was cut down in five years of assault by the
nations of European stock; his economy then overwhelmingly dependent
on cocoa exports, collapsed dramatically when an artificial credit
crunch was induced in Ghana by the West via the deliberate
manipulation of the world cocoa price which fell calamitously from a
high of £480 a ton in the early 1960s to an incredible £60 a ton by
1965. In 1999, 33 years after Nkrumah’s overthrow, the British
daily, The Times, admitted in a leader comment that ‘Nkrumah was
brought low by the cocoa price’. “Patrice Lumumba fared even worse
in Congo; he was gone within seven months of independence, his
Belgian killers cutting up his body as a butcher does beef, and
dousing it in a barrel of acid to obliterate the evidence.

Today, the descendants of the same people come to us as preachers of
human rights, democracy and good governance. May the Good Lord help
them to see beyond their feeding spoons! Yes, just look around you,
in Africa’s pre- and post-independence history, every one of our
leaders who was disliked by the nations of European stock was cut
down and overthrown… And behaving to type, for the past 10 years …
President Mugabe has been under a continuous assault by the nations
of European stock. And as they did to Nkrumah’s Ghana, they have
deliberately engineered an artificial credit crunch in Zimbabwe,
cutting the country off from the international financial system for
8 years now, and thereby inducing an economic implosion and an
inflation rate the likes of which have never been seen since the bad
days of Germany between 1914 and 1923.

“And yet, at issue in Zimbabwe is a just cause – the land issue. I
have gone back to my scrapbook to find this entry for Charles
Powell, Mrs Thatcher’s long-time foreign policy advisor who, while
at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1979, was instrumental in
the Zimbabwe independence negotiations at Lancaster House. Talking
about Zimbabwe’s land issue in an interview with David Dimbleby for
a BBC1 documentary broadcast on 24 June 2000, Powell said on camera:
‘We tackled it really from the point of view of the Rhodesian
regime, not the future of Zimbabwe. The real concern at the
beginning was to offer guarantees, assurances, protection, to the
white farmers.’ “All told, with high inflation, an economy on its
knees, and an electorate justifiably voting with their stomachs or
‘stoning the leadership’ as the late Robin Cook had warned would
happen, Mugabe was a ripe candidate for a big fall. But what do we
see – the man is still standing! Though wounded somewhat
politically, he has nonetheless become the very first black African
leader to be undefeated after 10 years of brutal assault by the
nations of European stock. Is it the beginning of the turning of the

Holman ahoy
Michael Holman has the answer: “It is time for Western governments
to admit defeat, swallow their pride, re-engage in Zimbabwe, and do
business with Robert Mugabe… [It is time] to acknowledge an
uncomfortable truth: Mr Mugabe has won the battle for Zimbabwe.”
Well, it calls for celebration, Mr Obama. The West is responsible
for the destruction of the Zimbabwean economy over the last decade!
If not, Holman could not implore the West “to admit defeat” – for
what? Lying in bed? No, Mr Obama, Mugabe could “not have won the
battle for Zimbabwe” without having been engaged on the battlefield
by the West. That war for regime change destroyed the Zimbabwean

Today, Morgan Tsvangirai (Zimbabwe’s new prime minister), has been
telling anybody with ears to hear that inflation has been brought
down from a stultifying 500 billion per cent to 3 per cent in four
months. Let’s ask ourselves: How does one reduce inflation from 500
billion per cent to 3 per cent in four months? This can only be done
by the son of God, and for all we know Tsvangirai & Co are no sons
of God. Whatever they say, the truth (which some of us have been
writing about for the past 8 years) is that much of what has
happened in Zimbabwe since 2000 has been artificial and once you
remove that artificiality, everything comes back to normal – just
like that! It is not magic. It is common sense. Just imagine Gordon
Brown’s government in the UK, which has borrowed to its eyelids,
being barred from borrowing any more money, Britain would go to pot.
Imagine what the same policy will do to an African country dependent
on foreign assistance.

On 7 July, Prof Welshman Ncube (a former opposition stalwart and now
Zimbabwe’s trade and commerce minister) admitted at a conference in
London that “the sanctions regime” in Zimbabwe goes beyond the
“travel bans and assets freeze” fed to the world by Western
governments and their media. “The “Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act [passed by the US] is not about travel bans… Economic
sanctions were imposed even on industries some of which are under my
ministry,” Ncube said. One day, Mugabe, like Nkrumah, will be
rehabilitated and those of us who stood with him in the fight for
African ownership, dignity and pride will share in the honour of his
magnificent victory so theatrically pronounced by Michael Holman. I
may be lying in my grave by then, but take it from me, nobody will
be able to take the honour away from the man who “has won the battle
for Zimbabwe” in the teeth of stiff opposition from the West.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Gabriel Shumba at it again.

This uncle tom never seizes to amaze me. The last time i commented on his behavior was when he was campaigning for the 'invasion of zimbabwe' Iraq-style by Britain and America. I will not go to that topic for now.

However the Uncle Tom is at his antics again. Joining in a vicious battle in which some imperialist mineral prospecting western companies and thugs have been working flat out to make sure if they dont mine and sell Zimbabwe's diamonds, then no one can. You wonder how a black Zimbabwean 'lawyer' becomes a pawn in such a filthy game. No wonder it took mr Shumba more years than the average to complete his first degree, it seems thinking is not one of his attributes.

What a slave.

Violet Gonda plays the white farmers' hangman on Chinotimba..

A fascinating hot seat interview between our plump cheeked Violet Gonda and the war veteran. You cant help cringing can you. The fake american accent, bizzare accusations on Chinotimba from violet about 'invading white farmers' land'. Aha, and Chinoz was straight to the point, knickers and all.

Hanzi, land yaka inivhedwa ndeyababa vako here. Indeed, i agree with Chinoz. Violet haana kukwana. Apart from trying to prove she can speak better Hingirishi with a pseudo americanized zim accent than chinotimba, thre was nothing Violet brought to that interview.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

A Handsome Investment Opportunity: Washington’s Plan for a Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe

A Handsome Investment Opportunity: Washington’s Plan for a Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe
Posted in Imperialism, Zimbabwe by gowans on July 21, 2009

By Stephen Gowans

Washington’s plan for a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe has been sketched out by Michelle D. Gavin, White House advisor and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council [1], while she was a research fellow at the influential Council on Foreign Relations. In Planning for Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe [2], a paper which spells out “a vision for (Zimbabwe’s) future and a plan for how to get there,” Gavin explains how the “existing roster of (Zimbabwe’s) civil society leaders…lends itself to the U.S. desire” to put Zimbabwe’s valuable natural resources, including its farmland, up for sale to U.S. investors. Gavin cautions that a populist and nationalist reaction against the U.S. plan could arise, and recommends three counter measures: a job creation program; co-opting the corps of Zimbabwe’s middle-level military officers with training programs, exchanges and pay increases; and entrepreneurship programs to divert the energies and attention of politicized youth.

What is the Council on Foreign Relations?

The Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) is the largest U.S. ruling class policy organization. Founded in 1921 by bankers, lawyers and scholars interested in carving out a larger role for the United States in world affairs, the organization’s membership is today dominated by finance bankers, corporate executives, and lawyers, supplemented by journalists, scholars and government and military officials.

The CFR is funded by corporations, wealthy individuals and sales of its journal, Foreign Affairs. Its most important function is to bring together small discussion groups, of 15 to 25 corporate executives, State Department and Pentagon officials, and academics, to explore specific issues in foreign affairs and identify policy alternatives. Discussion groups often lead to study groups, led by a research fellow, Gavin’s role at the CFR. As sociologist William Domhoff explains,

“The goal of such study groups is a detailed statement of the problem by the scholar leading the discussion. Any book that eventuates from the group is understood to express the views of its academic author, not of the council or the members of the study group, but the books are nonetheless published with the sponsorship of the CFR.” [3]

The books and papers are sent to the State Department, where their recommendations are often adopted, either as a result of the prestige of the CFR or because members of the CFR circulate freely between the organization and the State Department and National Security Council. Gavin herself is emblematic of this career path.

Gavin’s Analysis

It is quite astonishing that the United States can deny that it is imperialist, when scholars, government and military officials and CEOs, meet under the auspices of the CFR to plan the future of other countries. In an affront to democracy and geography, Gavin, a U.S. citizen, articulates the CFR’s “vision for (Zimbabwe’s) future and a plan for how to get there.”

Gavin attributes Zimbabwe’s economic difficulties to “gross mismanagement,” rather than U.S. efforts to undermine Zimbabwe’s economy, a commonly practiced deception by U.S. officials. While “President Mugabe and his cronies frequently claim that Western sanctions are sabotaging the Zimbabwean economy,” she writes, this cannot be true because “there are no trade sanctions on Zimbabwe.” True, there are no formal trade sanctions, but there are plenty of financial sanctions, a point of which Gavin must surely be aware. She was a long-serving foreign policy advisor to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, a co-sponsor of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery of Act of 2001 (ZDERA), along with Hillary Clinton (now U.S. Secretary of State), Joseph Biden (now U.S. Vice-President) and the arch racist Jesse Helms. Gavin, herself, describes ZDERA as “a law prohibiting U.S. support for both debt relief and any new assistance for Zimbabwe from the international financial institutions.” This means that Zimbabwe has been barred from accessing development assistance and balance of payment support since 2001, a virtual economic death sentence for a Third World country. Gavin’s deception extends to claiming that while “it is true that major donors oppose extending any additional support to Zimbabwe at international financial institutions, Zimbabwe’s own deep arrears and the ZANU-PF government’s unwillingness to pursue sustainable economic policies prevent this support from being extended anyway.” If this is true, why did the U.S. government go to the trouble of creating ZDERA? And why is Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Finance, now under the control of the U.S.-backed Movement for Democratic Change, complaining that ZDERA is undermining its efforts to bring about an economic recovery? In May, Finance Minister Tendai Biti pointed out that,

“The World Bank has right now billions and billions of dollars that we have access to but we can’t access those dollars unless we have dealt with and normalized our relations with the IMF. We cannot normalize our relations with the IMF because of the voting power, it’s a blocking voting power of America and people who represent America on that board cannot vote differently because of ZDERA.” [4]

As bad as ZDERA is, it’s not the only financial sanctions regime the United States has used to sabotage Zimbabwe’s economy. Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations African Affairs Subcommittee, Jendaya Frazer, who was George W. Bush’s top diplomat in Africa, noted that the United States had imposed financial restrictions on 135 individuals and 30 businesses. U.S. citizens and corporations who violate the sanctions face penalties ranging from $250,000 to $500,000. “We are looking to expand the category of Zimbabweans who are covered. We are also looking at sanctions on government entities as well, not just individuals.” She added that the U.S. Treasury Department was looking into ways to target sectors of Zimbabwe’s critical mining industry. [5]

On July 25, 2008 Bush announced that sanctions on Zimbabwe would be stepped up. He outlawed U.S. financial transactions with a number of key Zimbabwe companies and froze their U.S. assets. The enterprises included: the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (which controls all mineral exports); the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company; Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe; Osleg, or Operation Sovereign Legitimacy, the commercial arm of Zimbabwe’s army; Industrial Development Corporation; the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe; ZB Financial Holdings; and the Agriculture Development Bank of Zimbabwe. [6]

Two other aspects of Gavin’s comments on Zimbabwe’s economy must be addressed.

First, her reference to senior Zimbabwe officials as “cronies” of Robert Mugabe: This is a transparent effort to discredit Zimbabwe’s government through name-calling, a hoary practice that, during the Cold War, led U.S. officials and mass media to adopt differential terminology depending on whether they were referring to capitalist or socialist countries. The Soviet Union had a “regime”, “secret police”, “satellites” and an “empire” while the United States had a “government,” “security organizations,” “allies,” and “strategic interests.” The propaganda function of the term “cronies” becomes evident when used against the United States. Were we to talk of Obama and his cronies (his top advisors and cabinet officials) we would be dismissed as crude propagandists. “Cronies” not only serves a clear propaganda function, it also reflects Washington’s frustration with Mugabe’s having built up a loyal circle of advisors and political lieutenants, whose members the United States has been unable to co-opt.

Second, Gavin’s attributing “Zimbabwe’s own deep arrears” to international lending institutions to the former “ZANU-PF government’s unwillingness to pursue sustainable economic policies,” requires some explanation of what sustainable economic policies are. Sustainable economic policies, from the point of view of the World Bank, IMF and the North Atlantic financial elite that dominates these organizations, are policies which benefit the lenders. Credit does not come without strings attached, and the strings are often deeply inimical to local populations. The economic policies the Mugabe government pursued, under the guidance of the World Bank and IMF, hardly sustained the people of Zimbabwe.

“In January 1991, Zimbabwe adopted its Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP), designed primarily by the World Bank. The program called for the usual prescription of actions advocated by Western financial institutions, including privatization, deregulation, a reduction of government expenditures on social needs, and deficit cutting. User fees were instituted for health and education, and food subsidies were eliminated. Measures protecting local industry from foreign competition were also withdrawn.

“The impact was immediate. While pleasing for Western investors, the result was a disaster for the people of Zimbabwe. According to one study, the poorest households in Harare saw their income drop over 12 percent in the year from 1991 to 1992 alone, while real wages in the country plunged by a third over the life of the program. Falling income levels forced people to spend a greater percentage of their income on food, and second-hand clothes were imported to compensate for the inability of most of Zimbabwe’s citizens to purchase new clothing. A 1994 survey in Harare found that 90 percent of those interviewed felt that ESAP had adversely affected their lives. The rise in food prices was seen as a major problem by 64 percent of respondents, while many indicated that they were forced to reduce their food intake. ESAP resulted in mass layoffs and crippled the job market so that many were unable to find any employment at all. In the communal areas, the rise in fertilizer prices meant that subsistence farmers were no longer able to fertilize their land, resulting in lower yields. ESAP also mandated the elimination of price controls, allowing those shop owners in communal area who were free of competition to mark prices up dramatically…By 1995, over one third of Zimbabwe’s citizens could not afford a basic food basket, shelter and clothing. From 1991 to 1995, Zimbabwe experienced a sharp deindustrialization, as manufacturing output fell 40 percent.

“The government of Zimbabwe felt it could no longer endure this debacle, and by the end of the 1990’s, started moving away from the neoliberal program. Finally, in October 2001, the abandonment of ESAP was officially announced. ‘Enough is enough,’ declared President Mugabe.” [7]

Zimbabwe: A handsome investment opportunity

Gavin estimates that the overall costs of undoing the damage of U.S. economic sabotage “fall between $3 billion and $4.5 billion over five years,” representing a substantial investment for the U.S. government. But “such a substantial investment makes sense,” Gavin concludes, because “private investors have expressed strong enthusiasm for Zimbabwe’s long-term potential.”

However, taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s long-term investment potential may not be easy, she cautions, for the suspicions of populist and nationalist Zimbabweans must be overcome. “The United States and others should be aware of nationalist and populist sensitivities,” she warns. The creation of “a reform agenda” and “a more favorable investment climate” could lead Zimbabweans to believe that U.S. involvement ”is leading to a selling off of valuable natural resources in deals that are lucrative for foreign investors but do little for the Zimbabwean people.”

Zimbabweans’ experiences with World Bank and IMF economic structural adjustment programs of the 1990s, and the experiences of Serbia – in which the United States created a reform agenda and more favorable investment climate after the socialist-inclined Slobodan Milosevic was ousted in a U.S.-backed coup – serve as warnings. In Serbia, U.S. involvement led to a selling off of publicly and socially-owned assets in deals that were lucrative for foreign investors but did little for the Serb people.

“In Serbia dollars have accomplished what bombs could not. After U.S.-led international sanctions were lifted with Milosevic’s ouster in 2000, the United States emerged as the largest single source of foreign direct investment. According to the U.S. embassy in Belgrade, U.S. companies have made $1 billion worth of ‘committed investments’ represented in no small part by the $580 million privatization of Nis Tobacco Factory (Phillip Morris) and a $250 million buyout of the national steel producer by U.S. Steel. Coca-Cola bought a Serbian bottled water producer in 2005 for $21 million. The list goes on.” [8]

Meanwhile, in the former Serb province of Kosovo, the

“coal mines and electrical facilities, the postal service, the Pristina airport, the railways, landfills, and waste management systems have all been privatized. As is the case across the Balkans, ‘publicly-owned enterprises’ are auctioned for a fraction of their value on the private market with little or no compensation for taxpayers.” [9]

Prior to the U.S. corporate takeover, the Yugoslav economy consisted largely of state- and socially-owned enterprises, leaving little room for U.S. profit-making opportunities, not the kind of place U.S. banks, corporations and investors are keen on. That the toppling of Milosevic had everything to do with opening space for U.S. investors and corporations was evident in chapter four of the U.S.-authored Rambouillet ultimatum, an ultimatum Milosevic rejected, triggering weeks of NATO bombing. The first article called for a free-market economy and the second for privatization of all government-owned assets. NATO bombs seemed to have had an unerring ability to hit Yugoslavia’s socially-owned factories and to miss foreign-owned ones. This was an economic take-over project.

To lull Zimbabweans into accepting the selling off of their valuable natural resources, Gavin recommends that U.S. investors establish “a corporate code of conduct that takes into account these sensitivities” and that they “be sensitive to Zimbabwe’s urgent need for job creation when considering how they might protect and nurture long-term investments.”

This says that U.S. investors should tread carefully when gobbling up Zimbabwe’s valuable natural resources, and that creating jobs may be a way to stifle nationalist and populist sentiment.

The outcome of “the more open investment climate,” of course, would be to deliver ownership of Zimbabwe’s natural resources and economy to the corporations, investment banks and wealthy investors represented among CFR members, while Zimbabweans are relegated to the subordinate role of employees. U.S. investors would create jobs to reduce nationalist opposition, but this would be a sop. The Zanu-PF program of making Zimbabweans masters in their own house would be reversed, and Zimbabweans would return to the role of creating wealth for foreign owners, mired in poverty and condemned to perpetual underdevelopment.

Restoring private property rights

Zimbabwe’s long-term potential for U.S. investors can’t be realized unless investments are protected from expropriation. “The core conditions for a resumption of assistance” therefore “must include…repeal of the legislation passed in recent years” that “gutted private property rights,” Gavin writes.

Restoring private property rights is also critical to Washington’s plan for Zimbabwe’s farmland. The essence of the plan is to clear “away obstacles to private investment,” by according ownership rights to families on redistributed land. They would be able to sell their land, transferring ownership to the highest bidder. At the same time, expropriated white farmers would be fully compensated, thereby acquiring the means and the legal structure to reclaim their farms. Foreign investors could also buy large tracts of lands, helping to “facilitate the consolidation of small parcels into more economically viable entities.” This is a vision of a commercial agricultural sector based on ownership of vast tracts of land by foreign corporations and white farmers restored to their former dominant positions, in which black Zimbabweans are relegated to the role of farm workers, or, once again, to the least favorable land.

Gavin worries about politicized youth, especially those who participated in “farm invasions and youth militia activities,” presumably because they represent an activist nationalist sector likely to oppose the selling off of Zimbabwean’s natural resources, including its farmland. In order to divert their energies, Gavin recommends “programming for youth through credit schemes, technology-focused skill building, programs to foster entrepreneurship and empowerment initiatives designed to give young people an ongoing, institutionalized voice in government.” This borrows from the successful strategy of ruling class organizations in the United States to move the civil rights and anti-Vietnam war movements off the streets and to bog them down in legalistic and bureaucratic activities. This was done, in part, by funding voter registration drives and lowering the voting age to 18 from 21 – anything to remove militants from the streets and to bring them into formal institutional structures the ruling class dominates.

“By 1963, the civil rights movement was becoming more militant, and the ‘black power’ slogan, first used by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, made elites nervous. The Ford and Rockefeller foundations responded by creating the National Urban Coalition to transform ‘black power’…into ‘black capitalism’.” [10] This was done by providing funding for the same kinds of activities Gavin wants to promote in a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe: micro-credit loans, entrepreneurship programs, and engagement of youth in electoral and parliamentary processes.

The culmination of this program in the United States was the election of Barack Obama, who, in a recent speech to mark the centennial of the NAACP, described his election, blacks in political office, and black CEOs running Fortune 500 corporations, as the final goal of the civil rights movement. Because a militant black power movement was hijacked and turned into a movement for black capitalism, the United States remains profoundly unequal in employment, income, opportunity and education, with blacks on the bottom rung of the ladder. By Obama’s own admission, “African Americans are out of work more than just about anybody else…are more likely to suffer from a host of diseases but less likely to own health insurance than just about anybody else…” and “an African American child is roughly five times as likely as a white child to see the inside of a prison.” [11] To illustrate how effectively the co-opting of the black power movement has emasculated efforts to end oppression of blacks in the United States, the best Obama can offer to redress the appalling level for racial inequality is to urge black U.S. citizens to do what he urged Africans in his Ghana speech to do: stop blaming others and try harder.

“We’ve got to say to our children, yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crimes and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades—that’s not a reason to cut class—that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands—you cannot forget that. That’s what we have to teach all of our children. No excuses. No excuses. You get that education, all those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes we can.” [12]

There’s nothing wrong with a determined approach to overcoming obstacles, but there’s an ambiguity in Obama’s message that borders on racism. It’s clear that he acknowledges that blacks face obstacles, and it’s also clear that he does not foresee the obstacles being removed, otherwise why would he urge blacks to overcome them, rather than act collectively to eliminate them? The ambiguity arises because Obama urges blacks not to attribute their condition to the obstacles they face. Why not? If the obstacles are real, why not acknowledge them, and organize politically to remove them? The alternative interpretation is that Obama means the obstacles are not formidable, and that blacks are using them as an excuse to cover up for personal failings. If this is indeed what Obama means, his analysis is deeply racist. By contrast, Zanu-PF has worked to remove obstacles to black Zimbabweans left in place by the country’s colonial heritage and hasn’t adopted the Obama approach of leaving racist structures in place while bidding the victims to pick themselves up by the bootstraps.

To consolidate its control over Zimbabwe, Washington plans to energetically engage “middle-level officers” of Zimbabwe’s military, purged of “clearly political actors,” in “a dialogue about security sector reform.” Middle-level officers would be targeted for pay increases, to be underwritten by “donors other than the United States,” who Gavin believes would “be best equipped to assist with this.” It is standard operating procedure in the imperialist playbook to engage the officer corps of countries to be subordinated to outside control. As Szymanski and Goertzel explain, imperialist military power can be

“exerted through the support of local military institutions and the resultant gratitude of the officer corps. The local military establishment frequently are willing to support the imperialists against their own people. Metropolitan countries train the officers of Third World armies, either in the metropolitan countries (the top officers), or in Third World countries (low-level officers.) They provide military advisers at all levels of the chain of command, and they provide the modern weapons of war—airplanes, tanks, artillery, etc.—on which Third World armies are totally dependent.” [13]

This is the CFR’s vision for Zimbabwe. True to imperialist practice, Gavin recommends that the United States secure the loyalty of Zimbabwe’s middle-level officers with training programs, exchanges and technical assistance. She expresses frustration that Zimbabwe’s senior officer corps, many of whose members are ideologically committed to national independence, remain loyal to Mugabe and his nationalist goals. Middle-level officers would be promised promotions to replace loyal senior officers, who would be purged.


While working as a research fellow at the CFR, Michelle Gavin set forth the vision of the United States’ top executives, investment bankers and corporate lawyers for Zimbabwe’s future and a plan for how to get there. Not surprisingly, the future the CFR envisions is one of a more open investment climate in which U.S. corporations, banks and investors can buy Zimbabwe’s valuable natural resources and purchase vast tracts of farmland to establish profitable commercial agribusinesses. Having moved to the U.S. National Security Council as Senior Director for African Affairs, Gavin is ideally situated to see the CFR plan and vision she articulated converted into action.

To guard against the United States realizing its plan to plunder their wealth, Zimbabweans should recognize that:

* The United States is working through civil society actors to achieve its goal of reversing the gains of land reform and selling off Zimbabwe’s valuable natural resources.
* Washington has followed a two-step approach to Zimbabwe’s economy. First, sabotage it, and then attribute the country’s economic difficulties to “mismanagement.” In this way, Washington creates the conditions to bleed support for Zanu-PF, if it can control Zimbabweans’ understanding of why their economy is in crisis. Washington created the economic hardships Zimbabweans face, through the Economic Structural Adjustment Programs of the 1990s and financial sanctions since 2001. It’s important for Washington to avoid blame for Zimbabwe’s crippled economy, and to attribute blame wholly to Zanu-PF. Accordingly, Washington will continue to minimize, if not hide altogether, the role of its financial sanctions in undermining Zimbabwe’s economy, citing mismanagement as the cause. The North Atlantic mass media, which tends to uncritically reflect the pronouncements of U.S. officials on foreign affairs, will echo Washington’s fabrications.
* If Washington manages to sideline Zanu-PF, and the U.S.-backed MDC secures a decisive grip on power, Washington will pressure the MDC to create a reform agenda that emphasizes the creation of an investment climate favorable to the sale of Zimbabwe’s natural resources, and its state-owned assets, including arable farmland, to foreign investors.
* Programs to promote entrepreneurship, training and skills development will be used to depoliticize Zimbabwe’s youth so that their patrimony can be stolen from under their feet. Job creation will be used as a sop to mollify nationalist sentiment. In this, Zimbabweans should recognize that the economic sabotage policies of the United States and its North Atlantic partners are implicated in the problem of mass unemployment, and that foreign investors, while promoting job creation as a necessary political maneuver to guard against a populist reaction to the sell-off of Zimbabwe’s assets, will allow unemployment to rise again once Zimbabwe has been parceled out to foreign investors.
* The United States will seek to safeguard the investment of its banks, corporations and wealthy individuals, by co-opting the middle-level officer corps, and using Zimbabwe’s military as an extension of U.S. military power, to suppress populist revolts.

1. Accessed July 20, 2009. “Opinion: Obama’s Africa Policy,” Maternal Health, Medical News Today, July 13, 2009, describes Gavin as a White House advisor.
2. Michelle D. Gavin, Planning for Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe, CSR No. 31, October, 2007. Council on Foreign Relations,
3. G. William Domhoff, “Who Rules America? Power and Politics, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Fourth Edition, 2002.
4. The Herald (Zimbabwe) May 5, 2009.
5., July 16, 2008.
6. The New York Times, July 26, 2008; The Washington Post, July 26, 2008; The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe), July 27, 2008.
7. Gregory Elich, Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit, Llumina Press, 2006.
8. Elise Hugus, “Eight Years After NATO’s ‘Humanitarian War’: Serbia’s new ‘third way’”, Z Magazine, April 2007, Volume 20, Number 4.
9. Ibid.
10. Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism, State University of New York Press, 2003.
11. Remarks by the President to the NAACP Centennial Convention, New York, July 17, 2009.
12. Ibid.
13. Albert J. Szymanski and Ted George Goertzel, Sociology: Class, Consciousness, and Contradictions, D. Van Nostrand Company, 1979.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Violet Gonda at it again: Blow jobbing white farmers

How can Violet Gonda compare Dr Chihombori's medical practice in America to a white farmer's farm. Did Dr Chihombori rob or loot the practice from some American native or receive it from an ancestor who looted some American native at gun point?

This sister is a fool.

Broadcast: July 10, 2009

Violet Gonda: The land issue is a very emotive one for Zimbabweans. On the Hot Seat this week we attempt to get to the bottom of this contentious issue with guests Dr Arikana Chihombori and John Worsley Worswick. Dr Chihombori is an American citizen of Zimbabwean origin and has been at the centre of controversy since her attempt to take over a commercial farm in the Chegutu area. She also hit the headlines when she accompanied the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to the inauguration of the South African President Jacob Zuma.

The MDC say that she is Tsvangirai’s niece and there has been concern that a member of the prime minister’s family is involved in illegal farm grabs. John Worsley Worswick is a spokesperson for the pressure group Justice for Agriculture and has been campaigning for many years on behalf of the commercial farmers. Let’s start with Dr Chihombori – you are planning to take over a farm in the Chegutu area that is owned already by the Cremer family, why?

Arikana Chihombori: Well let me start by correcting your statement – I have never tried to take over a farm, period. I have an offer letter, this application for land was put in over seven years ago and like I said to you at one point the initial offer letter also turned out to be a double allocation which was fine by me because the acreage was a little larger than I thought my sister could handle. It wasn’t until over a year ago that another offer letter was given and again I never had the opportunity to view any land. The same was true with the first property, I’d never seen it before, the land was allocated, it was vacant and my assumption was, when the second offer letter came with 60 hectares, I felt comfortable that my sister could work a smaller plot and I’d never seen it before. I never was given a choice to choose so I assumed it was another available land just like the previous one was. So I’ve never tried to take any land, I only have an offer letter, plain and simple. So I did not choose whether it was going to be Chegutu or Mutare or anywhere, I had no choice. I don’t even know why this particular plot was offered to me, an offer letter is all I have.

VG: OK, you are an American citizen and I understand you have a large medical practice in the US where you have lived for the last 30 years, so how do you qualify for an offer letter?

AC: When I applied, if I remember correctly, I had to also be qualified in terms of my ability to operate a farm, financially that is and my assumption was they felt comfortable that I would be able to support a farm financially. But this was over seven years ago, it’s probably getting close to eight, nine years ago, I can’t tell you exactly when I put in the application but I felt that it was because financially I could support a farm.

VG: I spoke to the Cremers and they said your sister first came to their farm with an offer letter that was dated 2007 and then later on one that was dated December 2008, so does this mean you were given three offer letters?

AC: Like I said, my sister has my power of attorney, of course you can only get one offer letter. The first offer letter was the one that was the double allocation and I’m told the DA was asked to straighten that situation. It was my assumption that I was going to be allocated a smaller portion of the original offer but to my surprise, a totally different farm was offered other than the one that was originally offered which I thought was simply going to be sub-divided and I would be allocated a smaller portion of that original offer, but that did not happen.

VG: On the issue of your status, I am presuming that you have dual citizenship, an American citizenship and a Zimbabwean citizenship?

AC: Well when I put in the initial application I was still a permanent resident in the US, I have subsequently become a citizen.
VG: But in Zimbabwe, dual citizenship is not allowed.

AC: To be honest with you, it really did not matter as far as I was concerned, my sister was going to work the land but secondly it is my understanding that we are now allowed, dual citizenship is now allowed in Zimbabwe.

VG: John, what are your thoughts on this?

John W. Worswick: Well Violet what I have heard so far highlights the chaotic nature of this so-called land reform programme that we’ve witnessed over the last nine years in the country, multiple offer letters, I’m led to believe the first offer letter was for a farm that was already derelict and probably wouldn’t have been attractive at all. The comments in terms of not being involved in the violent take over is not true because according to the Cremers’ testimony, Dr Chihombori’s sister went there with thugs and put thugs in place on the farm in January of this year with a view these were invaders, indisputably invaders onto the property and the only reason that they pulled off the property was they argued three days later that they were not being paid enough to drive this eviction.

AC: Actually I would like to disagree with that particular story. Look, prior to coming to Zimbabwe in May of this year, I had not been to Zimbabwe for almost 20 months, my last visit to Zimbabwe was in 2007, I want to say August or September. So as far as what was happening on the farm, I can only go by what my sister told me. I am aware of the situation when she went with the, I’m not sure if it was the land officer or just someone from the lands office in Chegutu and that is the situation I discussed with you pertaining to the abuse that took place. Other than that I know she has been back on the farm, again trying to talk to Mr Cremer. The story about trying to invade the farm, I’m not familiar with it. In January certainly I hadn’t been to Zimbabwe, since the previous year.

JW: Can I come in there - yes, indisputably it was Dr Chihombori’s sister that was there in January that went onto the farm with these invaders but indisputably also she was acting probably with the power of attorney of Dr Chihombori but certainly acting as her agent on that front. I’d also like to comment on the dual citizenship issue in that provision has been made in the next amendment to the Constitution which has not even been debated in parliament at this stage to allow for dual citizenship but as we stand at the moment, and certainly at the time of these two offer letters the law states basically that from the moment Dr Chihombori accepted American citizenship and swore an oath of allegiance to the United States of America, it automatically rescinded her Zimbabwean passport and she became ineligible and the onus was on her at that stage to avail yourself of the law and be aware of exactly the circumstances of accepting that offer letter.

AC: Well I am aware, this is what I’ve been told that the current unity government document does state that dual citizenship is allowed. The offer letter was given prior to my becoming a citizen, but again, that’s neither here nor there.

VG: What about the process though of taking farms. You’ve said that you were given an offer letter but do you think that is how it should be done that a person can just be given an offer letter and you just walk onto someone’s farm and say I’m taking it over? I don’t know, what can you say about that?

AC: I think that is rather a crude way of putting it as it is my understanding that according to the Lancaster agreement of 1980, the land reform was going to take place and also the Lancaster agreement clearly stated the process which land reform was going to occur. It’s also my understanding that the process of allocating, re-allocating the land started with Section Three letter. The Section Three letter was supposed to give the farmer three years and during these three years the farmer is supposed to come and negotiate with the government, put in an application, identify which section of his farm the farmer was going to keep and the rest would be re-allocated. Keep in mind some of the farmers owned thousands of hectares, so clearly I’m hoping John, that we are in agreement that the land reform needed to take place, the inequalities pertaining to land needed to be addressed.

So after three years, if the farmer had not approached the government or submitted an application, a Section Five letter would be issued and I’m also told this Section letter would give the farmer six months to come and submit an application for an allocation for a smaller piece of land or negotiate with the government which ever way and if again the farmer continued to disregard the Section Five letter, the final letter would be the Section Eight. By the time Section Eight letter was issued it was the understanding that the farmer was unwilling to negotiate with the government, unwilling to apply for a smaller portion of the previous farm and it was after the Section Eight letter that the government was now free to reallocate the farm as it wished as the farmer would not have been willing to apply for a smaller portion.

With that backdrop it seems to me there was enough time given for a farmer who was willing to clearly say let’s do what’s right. Surely how can someone have 20000 hectares, 80000 hectares. The process itself, I may be wrong in how I see it, but I think if that was followed, it seems to me the allocation, the land reform programme would have gone on a little bit smoother but when farmers refuse to put in an application, refuse to agree to share the land, then it started a totally different problem. Where we end up after that it just depends on human feelings.

VG: I’ll come to John just now to get his reaction to this but still Dr Chihombori, with the current chaotic process don’t you think there should be proper procedures that should be followed to redistribute land to all who needs it?

AC: I quite agree with you. Yes there needs to be proper procedures and like I said that was my understanding the three letters. It seems to me it was a procedure that if followed, could work but unfortunately you are dealing with issues of beneficiaries and dispossessions and it is a touchy issue. So even when you try to deal with it in the best of environments, it is a difficult situation no doubt about it.
VG: John do you agree that land redistribution was long overdue?

JW: Yes absolutely Violet I don’t think you’ll find a single Zimbabwean especially a Zimbabwean farmer that would argue against the necessity for the equal distribution of the land in Zimbabwe although the statistics have been distorted by the propaganda. We have been all for meaningful land reform but certainly what we’ve seen in the last nine years, ten years since the start of the land invasions is absolute chaos.

I’d like to comment on Dr Chihombori’s ignorance with regard to the legal procedure in Zimbabwe because what she is saying there would have been heaven for us here in Zimbabwe in terms of due process, it’s not the case at all and I think it needs to be clarified.

The original Land Acquisition Act which was brought in in 1992 was a just Act and it involved merely a preliminary notice of acquisition, a Section Five notice which had a validity of two years and gave a farmer due warning. He then would be involved in a court process through a Section Seven having a fair hearing in a court of law to argue his case and win it on merit if the State, and it was incumbent on the State to prove the necessity of taking the land and the suitability of the piece of land being targeted.

Now what we saw in 2002 was the 2002 May amendment to the land acquisition act, wherein a Section Eight which in itself was an acquisition order and an eviction order rolled into one could be issued to a farmer ahead of a Section Seven. So a farmer could be evicted off his property within 90 days of receiving a Section Eight and never been called to court at all and farmers had the right to object on receipt of a Section Five preliminary notice and most farmers did, not all but certainly most farmers did object because the process of acquisition now was absolutely unjust in that it could take a farmer two years, having been kicked off his farm, illegally evicted, it could take him two years before he had a fair hearing in a court and if he won his case at that stage it would be an empty victory in that he would be returning to a farm that was now derelict and this is where the problem started.

We saw many other very unjust laws put in place, there was another amendment that year that allowed for the targeting now of any property that had been under agricultural use over the last 50 years which brought into the target sphere for acquisition urban properties and we’ve had urban properties targeted, anything over two hectares has been targeted for acquisition and deemed to be suitable and necessary.

We then had the repealing of Sections 6A and Six B of the Act, of the Land Acquisition Act and this was a provision whereby farmers could cede property, either old farms if they were multi farm owners or parts of their farm to protect the residual part of the farm and at the time had political policy put in place in terms of maximum farm sizes and we had in excess of 1200 farmers who went down this road and gave away farms and part of their farms and that at the end of the day because three years later we saw the repealing in 2004, we saw the repealing of Sections Six A and Six B of the Act and even in spite of some farmers having formalised this agreement to cede land to the State to protect the residual part of their farm, in the administrative courts there was no basis in law with the repeal of Section Six A and Six B - those farmers were now in a very precarious position out there having ceded property.

We then eventually got to 2005 where there were 4500 cases in the administrative court challenging the acquisition process as having been flawed. We have thousands of cases in the High Court with court orders that were allowing farmers to go back onto their farms but these are not being upheld because of the breakdown of the rule of law in farming areas and the police not prepared to support the sheriff in reinstating these farmers back on their farms.

So the whole legal process at that stage was totally flawed and with all the amendments, 17, to the constitution of Zimbabwe promulgated and in one fell swoop the land was nationalised and from that moment onwards, any farmer that had received a Section Five notice, preliminary notice of acquisition was now deemed to be State land. And certainly this quite recently has been struck down or deemed by the SADC court to be in conflict with SADC protocols and should never have been enacted in the first place. Even at the time, the advice from the legal fraternity was that it conflicted with other parts of Zimbabwe’s constitution.

Now given what Dr Chihombori has said in terms of her perception of what the law was, certainly as a Zimbabwe citizen looking to become a beneficiary of land, certainly I believe it should have been incumbent upon her to make herself aware of the legal process and to make sure that the legal process had been followed because we are talking about the displacement of farming families and although the world seemed to focus on commercial farming families and we’ve only got 4500 of those originally, we’re talking about displacement on average of 140 farm worker families on each property.

So today on the farm worker committee we’re talking about close on to 600 000 families, total population of about 1.8 million people, we’ve had 90% of them displaced and we’ve had gross human rights violations on farms to the extent that we believe it constitutes a crime against humanity and we have a situation where we are recording mortality amongst the farm worker community directly attributable to this of in excess of 20% and could be even over 30%.

VG: Let me bring in Dr Chihombori, what can you say about this because I remember the last time we spoke you had much to say about the treatment of farm workers on commercial farms and also if I may begin by getting your reaction to what John said in this interview where he said your “pretty ignorant” to quote his words on the issues to do with the legal processes, what can you say about this?

AC: The issues that he raised in terms of the various amendments, to expect me to have kept up with the various amendments is ridiculous. If you simply put in an application, do you really need to go in and investigate the laws of the country as a citizen to say am I entitled to be applying for a mortgage loan? Do you investigate the amendments that have been done to one’s ability to obtain a loan from a bank? Of course not. So to expect me to have kept up with the laws and the amendments and the constitution – that’s ridiculous so I won’t even go there. That’s a discussion that John at some point hopefully Violet will have someone from the government to discuss those issues.

I am not representing the government in any way, the conversation that I’m here to have according to Violet is what has happened and everything else particularly pertaining to the treatment that my sister received and what I know as just a regular individual what’s happening in my own perception and understanding of what I’ve seen on the ground. Now I’m not going to stand here and answer on policies to do with the Zimbabwean government, I’m not representing the government and therefore those questions should be left to someone from the government.

Now moving on to your next question about mistreatment or rather what I’ve always perceived as human rights violations on the farms, let me start by saying there was a question of how did I get the Cremer farm. I did call the minister of lands in Chegutu and specifically posed him that question – how did you choose to give me this particular farm, unlike any other farm or the previous allocation two, three years ago. They really couldn’t give me a response except that he was one of the farmers who refused to put in an application for his own allocation, so that was the response that I was given. And I was also further told that those farmers who have put in an application for land have been allocated land.

The other farmers who did not get land allocated is because they didn’t put in their applications. Mr Cremer I am told is one of them. That is the only reason they would give me as to why they gave me that farm. Let me also make another point that the original farm that was allocated a few years ago it had a homestead, my sister was not interested in homestead, the farm was close enough to Harare, she was fine with just a smaller allocation of that farm. You could drive back and forth from Harare to the farm, it was not far from the farm at all so in terms of saying the farm is developed I don’t even know what the Cremer farm has except what I saw in passing in May, there was some flower growing going on, other than that I have no clue what the Cremer farm has.

So the issue of saying this farm is developed, and some other farm was not developed is mute, the previous farm was quite fine by my sister and the homestead had nothing to do with it.

Now the abuse of other farmers by the current workers, now the reason I agreed to have this dialogue is because I feel as a human being understanding a simple land issue that is Zimbabwe, it’s a complicated situation, it’s a very difficult situation we all end up in. You have those who have been dispossessed, now you are looking at both sides

The white farmers can look at themselves as beneficiaries at one point but are now considering themselves dispossessed. But you could also take the blacks and call them beneficiaries currently but are previous dispossessed. So it’s a very tricky situation whichever way you want to look at it and when you analyse the situation and you take somebody like John and you take somebody like myself, we both have families that were both beneficiaries and dispossessed, so then where do we go which is why I agreed to this conversation. So it takes John and I realistically looking at the situation and being fair as we look at the situation. This house belongs to both of us, we can keep fighting about this house but at some point we need to stop and say John, it’s got four bedrooms, you get two bedrooms, I get two, if we have to share the living room we share the living room but at some point an honest, genuine, sincere approach to the land reform is in place.

VG: But Dr Chihombori, this is where I go back to my earlier question that is this though how things should be done in Zimbabwe? We know that there were a lot of historical imbalances and one could ask you how would you like it if the native Americans decided that they wanted to take your business and then just go and take it because this is precisely what is happening even with the way you narrated how you got the offer letter and how you were given this farm. Is this the way to do it because you also don’t know what happens on the Cremer farm in terms of the kind of production that happens on that farm and this has been the case with many of the farms. How do you respond to this?

AC: Well I go back to the Lancaster Agreement. The Lancaster Agreement clearly stated the way the land issue was going to be handled. At some point we fell off the tracks in terms of following the Lancaster Agreement. If the Lancaster Agreement was followed it was a document that was supposed to make sure this process was carried on legally and professionally and equitably…

VG: But you as an individual and as a professional do you think how you acquired the offer letter to take another commercial farm that is already productive, do you think that is the way to do it?

AC: No to be honest with you like I said I did not expect an allocation of a farm that was functioning…

VG: But that’s how it’s been like.

AC: Contrary to what I’ve heard and I’ve got a few names of people who were actually given farms that were vacant. The original allocation for me was vacant, like I said I had hoped that I would get a smaller portion of the same farm, it was vacant. There are many people who have been allocated farms that were vacant, this young lady I’m talking about, her farm was vacant.

VG: Let me come to John. John can you respond to some of the issues raised by Dr Chihombori and if I can just point out a few, she talked about farmers, commercial farmers who failed to actually put in their own application for allocation and also the treatment of farm workers. Can you talk to us about some of these issues?

JW: Yes indeed Violet. Can we deal firstly about this particular farm that has been allocated to her. One’s got to look at it against a background of thousands of farms are lying vacant today not having been subscribed to or taken up or if they were taken up they’ve then been abandoned whether it be by A1 settlers or A2 farmers, new farmers, in that they didn’t have title, they didn’t have the skills to make a success of it. Now surely the government should focus on reallocation of those farms rather than interfering with a farm that is productive and has already been downsized. Certainly that’s the situation with the Cremer property, it was substantially downsized from 900 hectares down to 60 hectares and remains a very intensive, highly lucrative property, employing over 300 people.

The process itself with regard to the vetting of beneficiaries for the programme has been substantially flawed in that according to the Land Acquisition Act a board should be set up to vet applicants for farms whether A1 or A2 to assess whether they were suitable and had the requisite skills to farm and not just as Dr Chihombori mentions here that she had the financial wherewithal. It’s interesting also to note that her sister was an applicant and was turned down more than likely because she didn’t have the financial wherewithal to do it but certainly the process of vetting has not taken place at all. It’s not being done by the board, it’s being done by a minister who in the law should have no power to issue these offer letters.

The offer letters themselves, we’ve had various legal opinions over the years because of this are substantially flawed. The fact that there’s multiple offer letters for a single property, there are other properties that have never had an offer letter issued on them and should have done highlights the fact it’s all so flawed.

With regard to the farm worker plight on farms, all the more reason for them to reallocate farms that have already been left or abandoned. We have the issue of landless peasants not being given these farms, we’ve had the political hierarchy and businessmen who have been allocated the farms, it certainly hasn’t gone to the landless peasants and in many cases where it has gone to A1 settlers, the landless peasants, they’ve been displaced from those farms by chefs. So there’s a further injustice in the whole process and all the time the farm workers are the ones who take the brunt of this.

Statistics show only 25% of the farm workers are still in residence on farms, many of them refusing to work for the new farmers because it is tantamount to slave labour. We’re talking about a differential today where existing commercial farmers are using US$30 a month as a minimum wage and many of them paying more than that if you take into account rations, that they are given but new farmers are paying two to three, four dollars either, a lot of them are political chefs and very wealthy men who are arguing that they can’t afford to pay more than two or three US dollars a month. Some we have of record, some farm workers who were working to try and hold onto their homes and having to work for no cash realisation a month, they were driven into a cashless society and I’ll deal with the implications of that in a moment, they were given a couple of slices of bread and a cup of tea each day and if they worked the whole month they were given a bucket, roughly 20 kgs of maize.

The implications of becoming cashless are very alarming in that they can’t benefit from subsidized education if you don’t have any cash for paying towards putting your kids into school. Likewise on the health service side you cannot take advantage of medical help through clinics, what little was left, if you couldn’t pay something towards that so as a cashless society of farm workers and we’re looking at a large number of them, we’re looking at 1.5 million people with their dependents having been displaced off farms, the results of this are very alarming and when one looks at how it was done, the illegal eviction of farm workers and it is on going as a current issue at the moment, farm workers are being evicted off farms it’s tantamount to gross human rights violations, the right to shelter and a home is a basic human right, the right to work is a basic human right as well so we’re very alarmed about this being ongoing even in spite of high court orders that have been issued for those farm workers to stay in situ.

VG: The discussion with Dr Chihombori and John Worsley Worswick concludes next week where we ask if there are any possible ways that the farming community brought the land invasions upon themselves.