Sunday, 5 July 2009

UK Policy on Zimbabwe (2002 document)

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1. Introduction
Since coming to power in 1997, the UK Government under Anthony Blair has
pursued the following policy objectives in its relations with Zimbabwe and the
ZANU (PF) Government under President Robert Gabriel Mugabe:
• to destabilize and derail the Government’s land reform programme to give
white farmers extended monopoly over Zimbabwe’s most fertile arable land;
• to perpetuate the marginalisation of the black African majority in rural areas to
form a huge reserve for cheap agricultural labour;
• to remove ZANU (PF) and President Mugabe from power and replace them
with the more pliant and directionless MDC and its president, Morgan
• to use coercive diplomacy in the EU, the Commonwealth, and the United
States to conscript them to impose declared and undeclared sanctions on the
Government and people of Zimbabwe;
• to manipulate the IMF, the World Bank and other financial institutions to
withdraw loans and balance of payment support to Zimbabwe to cripple its
economy and generate widespread domestic discontent and disillusionment
against the ZANU (PF) Government and President Robert Gabriel Mugabe;
• to stunt the growth of genuine democracy, the rule of law and people–
empowerment as a means to create a human rights and governance crisis in
Zimbabwe and the isolation of the Zimbabwe Government internationally;
• to employ its immense print and electronic media out–reach to lie about and
demonise Zimbabwe to incite international hostility against the Government;
• to fund non–governmental organisations to arouse and incite internal
domestic upheavals to make Zimbabwe ungovernable.
Over the same period, the Zimbabwe Government under ZANU (PF) and
President Robert Mugabe has pursued the following policy objectives in its
relations with the United Kingdom:
• to draw to the UK Government’s attention its obligations to fund the land
reform programme and to compensate white farmers whose land Government
would acquire for redistribution to the landless black Africans, as agreed
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during the Lancaster House Conference on the Independence of Zimbabwe in
• to convince the UK Government that the redistribution of land to the landless
black Africans was a bilateral agenda between the UK and Zimbabwe and
should be undertaken as such, with the international community having to get
involved only at the joint invitation by the UK and Zimbabwe governments;
• to convince the UK Government that the redistribution of land to the landless
black Africans could not be delayed beyond 2000 and that any delay would
see the landless peasants taking the law into their own hands through
spontaneous land occupations and the eviction of white farmers from the
land; and
• to convince the UK Government that the Zimbabwe Government is committed
to democracy, non–racism and social justice, noting that the struggle for the
independence of Zimbabwe sought to establish these values in Zimbabwe.
In pursuit of these objectives, the Zimbabwe Government has maintained its
appeal to the United Kingdom Government to relate to Zimbabwe more
constructively by:
• entering into direct bilateral dialogue on all outstanding aspects of the land
redistribution process, and especially:
(a) the payment of compensation to white farmers whose land has been
acquired for resettlement;
(b) the rehabilitation of former farm workers rendered jobless and food
insecure by the land resettlement programme;
(c) the extension of start – up support and provision of continuous back – up
support to the new black farmers;
(d) the provision of infrastructure, especially roads, clinics, schools and
marketing facilities in newly settled areas; and
(e) the extension of continuous humanitarian assistance especially to
cushion the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Zimbabwe has repeatedly called upon the UK Government to discontinue its
covert and overt actions to cause change of Government in Zimbabwe,
especially because both the Parliament and President of Zimbabwe were put into
office by the choice of the majority and through sound democratic processes.
That the MDC’s president, Morgan Tsvangirai, lost the March 2002 Presidential
Elections should be accepted without pique, or vengeance because it was the
result of the people’s choice expressed in a free and non-coercive manner
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through a secure ballot. The majority of external governmental and non-
governmental election observers judged the Presidential Elections positively, with
the exception of those with the pre–meditated mission to find fault with them,
especially if Morgan Tsvangirai lost.
Contrary to the policy of the Zimbabwe Government to engage the Blair
Government, Blair’s policy on Zimbabwe has been openly hostile to the
Zimbabwe Government since 1997 when he came to power in the United
In addition to disowning British obligations towards the redistribution of land as
agreed at Lancaster House in 1979, the Blair Government set upon a determined
course of action to cause a change of Government in Zimbabwe. With every
effort of the Government of Zimbabwe to remind him of his country’s obligations
to Zimbabwe under the Lancaster House Agreement, Prime Minister Blair’s
determination to remove President Mugabe became more and more vicious and
We will illustrate the issues raised above in the remainder of this paper.
2. Blair and the Land Crisis in Zimbabwe
Contrary to the claim by Tony Blair’s government that Zimbabwe’s problems are
of its own making, it is very clear that Britain and particularly, Blair’s government,
is at the core of Zimbabwe’s economic and political crisis, either as a form of
vengeance over loss of colony or as a personal grudge against President Robert
Mugabe and his government or simply as a means to satisfy Britain’s desire to
have a trouble spot elsewhere in the world as a popularity gimmick to rally the
British electorate behind Blair. The Blair government has embarked on a massive
international diplomatic and media campaign to deny this allegation and blame
the crisis in the country on the Government’s land reform programme. Although it
has repeatedly claimed that it is not opposed to land reform in Zimbabwe, an
examination of the UK’s actions towards Zimbabwe since 1980 would reveal that
it has always been Britain’s policy to delay the land reform programme by
pursuing a gradualist approach which would maintain the status quo or take at
least 150 years to deliver land to the landless black majority.
The seeds of this gradualist approach were sown at the Lancaster House
Conference through the inclusion of the following conditions in the agreements
which brought about Zimbabwe’s independence:
• Land acquisition was to be on a willing–seller/willing-buyer basis during the
first ten years of independence. This provision, which was enshrined in the
Lancaster House Constitution, severely constrained the Government’s ability
to acquire land for resettlement purposes as farmers were either unwilling to
sell their land or asked for exorbitant prices.
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• The Government of Zimbabwe was to provide counterpart funds and match
British funding dollar for pound. Due to inadequate resources, the new
Government could not allocate enough resources from its meagre budget to
match British funding, resulting in only £26.5 million out of the £30 million
pledged by the British Government for land acquisition on a willing–
seller/willing-buyer basis being utilised. The balance of £3.5 was eventually
not disbursed after the programme hit a snag.
As part of this strategy, the British also sent a number of technical missions to
Zimbabwe, whose overt intention was to show British interest in the land reform
programme, when, in fact, the strategic objective was to complicate matters to
achieve the delay or derailment of the programme. A case in point was the 1988
Overseas’ Development Assistance (ODA) sponsored Land Resettlement in
Zimbabwe, Evaluation Report by J Cusworth and J Walker of Bradford
University in the UK, which concluded that the programme had a high economic
rate of return (12.5%) compared to other development programmes on the
continent and had benefited the rural poor. However, latching onto the mission’s
observation that the first phase of resettlement had “little or no impact on the
plight of the communal areas that still suffer from land degradation due to
population pressure”, a point the Government of Zimbabwe had also emphasised
in seeking additional funds to complete the land reform programme, the then
British Overseas Development Minister Lynda Chalker, wrote to the then
Zimbabwe Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, the late Dr
Bernard Chidzero, in 1992 outlining her government’s proposals on reforming the
land reform programme.
A second ODA Land Appraisal Mission, comprising J Cusworth, M Adams, E
Cassidy, M Lowcock and F Tempest was dispatched to Zimbabwe in 1996 to
carryout further evaluation of the land reform programme. As in 1988, the
mission also concluded that the programme had benefited mostly the landless
rural poor.
A Zimbabwean delegation subsequently went to London in 1996 to present a
report on the institutional and other reforms that the Government had put in place
to improve the effectiveness of the land reform programme as suggested by
Lynda Chalker, but the report was not discussed as the British authorities
preferred to concentrate on a review of assistance policy and new
conditionalities. Lynda Chalker’s letter marked the end of donor funding for the
land reform programme and any funds disbursed afterwards were solely for the
purpose of completing on – going projects. Nevertheless, dialogue between the
two countries continued, but the Conservative Party was defeated in the 1997
general elections before concluding negotiations on new funding for the land
reform programme. By that time only 3, 5 million hectares had been acquired for
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With the coming into office of Tony Blair’s government following New Labour’s
election victory in 1997, the British Government cut off all meaningful dialogue
with Zimbabwe as it repudiated Britain’s colonial responsibility to fund land
reform in Zimbabwe as agreed at Lancaster House. In what was then described
by the Economist magazine as imperial amnesia, the new British Minister for
Development, Ms Claire Short, wrote to the then Minister of Lands, Agriculture
and Rural Resettlement of Zimbabwe, Honourable Kumbirai Kangai, stating her
Government’s policy as follows:
“I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special
responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a
new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former
colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were
colonised not colonisers.”
In its attempt to evade its colonial responsibility, the British Government has
sought to rewrite the Lancaster House agreement, declaring boldly in an undated
“Memorandum on Zimbabwe”:
“The UK Government accepts, and has always accepted, that land reform is
essential if Zimbabwe is to develop to the benefit of all its citizens. But it
has never accepted that the solution is to hand over large sums of money
to the Zimbabwe Government on an unconditional basis. We did not agree
this at Lancaster House in 1980 and we will not in future. We made clear
that funding for land reform was beyond the capacity of any single donor.”
This position was reiterated in a note verbale sent to Diplomatic Missions and
International Organisations accredited to Zimbabwe on 23 October 2002 saying:
“At the Lancaster House Conference in 1979, the British Government
outlined its support for land reform. Lord Carrington, then British Foreign
Secretary, drew attention to the fact that any serious land resettlement
programme would be beyond the scope of any one donor to fund. But the
British Government undertook to support the efforts of the Government of
Zimbabwe to obtain international assistance.”
British duplicity is best noticed and understood when it is recalled that the country
which publicly undertook to mobilize international assistance towards
Zimbabwe’s land reform programme is the same country which, at the same
time, is leading an international hate-campaign against Zimbabwe and its land
reform programme.
The Blair Government has been roundly criticised over its “imperial amnesia” not
only by the Government of Zimbabwe but also by prominent British politicians
such as Lord Owen, Foreign Secretary under the Labour Government of Jim
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Callaghan (1977 – 1999), who, in a newspaper article on 23 April 2000,
unequivocally stated:
“The last Labour Government in 1977 under Jim Callaghan promised
substantial sums: £75 million pounds from Britain and US$520 million from
the United States”.
Similarly, Lord Peter Carrington, former British Foreign Secretary, who brokered
the Lancaster House Agreement, has called on the UK government to meet its
promises in helping to pay for land resettlement and agricultural reform.
Carrington told SABC news on 29 October 2002 that the programme was started
in good faith – but was halted amid suspicions over how the funds were used,
“There was a disproportionate amount of good arable land in the hands of
the white farmers and what was proposed was that we should help not pay
entirely but help out with compensation for those farmers. And the
Americans incidentally said they would do the same thing. And this went
all right, I mean we did help for some time.”
In spite of the suspicions in White Hall that land reform was benefiting “Mugabe’s
cronies,” Carrington, a member of the British House of Lords and the Zimbabwe
Democracy Trust, an organisation formed in April 2000 to fuel dissent in
Zimbabwe, said that the payments should go ahead, but directly to farmers
whose land has been acquired for resettlement.
“You could help them in some way, and we always envisioned spending
the money in this way and it seemed to me sensible to do so. But I got a
very wintry answer from the government about this, and I am wondering
what else I can do”, he said.
Criticism of the British policy of meddling itself in the land reform programme in
Zimbabwe has also come from an unlikely quarter, Commercial Farmers Union
Director David Hasluck, who recently lashed out at the British government for
approaching the land question in Zimbabwe without regard to the country’s
history and British commitments made at Lancaster House.
For its part, the Government of Zimbabwe was taken aback by the new British
position as it repudiated the cornerstone of the Lancaster House Agreement and
effectively removed any prospects of resuming co-operation on the basis of that
agreement. However, the Government of Zimbabwe accepted this reality and
following a meeting in Brussels between His Excellency President Robert
Mugabe and the then European Commissioner for Development, Professor Joao
de Deus Pinheiro in January 1998, decided to appeal to the international
community for assistance through an International Land Donors’ Conference that
was held in Harare from 9–11 September 1998. The Donors’ Conference agreed
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on basic principles for international assistance to the land reform programme and
set up a task force of major donors to prepare documents for a two-year
Inception Phase, which would kick-off Phase II of a donor supported land
acquisition and resettlement programme. Although the UK, whose reluctance to
join the other donors had been evident throughout the conference, refused to join
this task force, it exerted a negative influence on the other donors by proposing
that a consulting firm be appointed to do an economic returns analysis of the
programme to date and assess how far it alleviated poverty among the chronic
poor in Zimbabwe, thus effectively killing the Inception Phase in its tracks. As a
result, nothing was achieved, not even the purchase of the 118 farms then on
Having failed to secure donor funding for the land reform programme as a result
of these British machinations at the Land Donors’ Conference and being keenly
aware of the growing impatience and land hunger among the landless black
majority, the Parliament of Zimbabwe on 6 April 2000 amended the Constitution
of Zimbabwe to empower the Government to compulsorily acquire land for
resettlement purposes and absolve it of any responsibility for paying
compensation for land acquired for this purpose. The Constitutional amendment
placed responsibility for compensating farmers whose land would be acquired for
resettlement on the British Government, while the Government of Zimbabwe
would only be required to pay for improvements on the land. This prompted the
Blair Government, for the first time, to invite Zimbabwe to send a team to London
to discuss funding for the land reform programme following a meeting in Cairo
between His Excellency President Mugabe and then British Foreign Secretary
Robin Cook brokered by President Obasanjo of Nigeria.
However, no material progress was achieved at the London meeting as the
British Government refused to offer any funds for the land reform programme
beyond the £30 million pounds already offered to Zimbabwe in 1999 in the
country programme published by DFID, whose stringent conditionalities rendered
it totally inaccessible. £5 million already offered but still not distributed to non-
governmental organisations and civil societies in Zimbabwe was also thrown in to
bring the total to £36 million. The British Government stubbornly refused to move
forward and evaded the issue of Britain’s colonial responsibilities. In the end, the
Zimbabwean delegation left London with the conviction that the meeting had
been a stage-managed media circus designed by the British Government to play
to the British public, which had already been primed to expect a tough position.
The concluding statement issued on 27 April 2000 at the end of the meeting was
illustrative in this respect:
“The UK delegation reiterated its commitment to enhanced developmental
support for Zimbabwe, as set out in the DFID (Department for International
Development) Zimbabwe Country Strategy Paper. This could provide an
additional 36 million pounds over the next two years for the UK
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development programme in Zimbabwe provided the conditions are met for
moving to the high case scenario”.
Similarly, although Britain accepted the conclusion reached at Abuja on 6
September 2001 that land was at the core of the crisis in Zimbabwe and
undertook to make a significant financial contribution to the land reform
programme as well as encourage other donors to do the same, it has not fulfilled
this obligation. By contrast, the Government of Zimbabwe has already fulfilled all
its obligations arising from the Abuja meeting as evidenced by the lessening of
tensions within the country.
It is quite clear from the foregoing that it is an abiding objective of all British
Governments to delay the land reform programme in Zimbabwe. Delayed access
to land by the indigenous African majority would guarantee the continued
occupation of Zimbabwean land by Anglo-Saxons in Britain, and elsewhere in the
Anglo-Saxon diaspora.
It had always been hoped that with increasing population growth in rural areas,
more and more Africans would drift into commercial farmland as cheap labour.
The so-often repeated success and profitability of Zimbabwean commercial
agriculture was principally the result of African cheap labour. Most farm workers
were paid in salt, beans and mealie meal, with no cash left for them to send their
children to school, nor to clinics and hospitals for treatment.
The impoverishment of indigenous Africans became an abiding strategy of all
white colonial settler regimes who wanted to exploit African poverty and
backwardness to augment their profits and comfort.
No wonder agricultural production rose to such a flowery level, turning the
country into a bread basket for the entire region. It is therefore, primarily because
of profit considerations that the British are bitterly opposed to the land reform
programme as it would empower the majority of the people and reduce the
supply of cheap labour and by extension, the profits of white farmers.
3. Blair’s Pursuit of “Regime Change” in Zimbabwe
The coming into office of Tony Blair’s government in 1997 coincided with the
Government of Zimbabwe’s twin decisions to legally compulsorily acquire 1800
white owned farms for the resettlement of landless peasants and to send troops
to the DRC. This provoked the wrath of the British Government which had
encouraged Rwanda and Uganda to invade the DRC. The best minds were
assigned to come up with an effective strategy to cripple Zimbabwe’s economy
as well as bring down its Government. The policy framework of such a strategy
was well articulated by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw during a debate in the
House of Commons on 8 January 2002 when he said:
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“Our approach has been to internationalise the issue, while taking a firm
lead within all the international forums in which we speak. That is why the
General Affairs Council – the Foreign Affairs Council – of the European
Union is in train to take firm action on this; why I called a meeting of
Commonwealth Ministers for 20 December; why I have spelled out to the
House that if the situation in Zimbabwe continues to disintegrate we will
argue for Zimbabwe’s suspension from the Commonwealth.”
The Foreign Secretary added exasperatedly during the same debate:
“I repeat that I have been trying to ensure that Zimbabwe, not Britain, is
isolated for the terrible actions that President Mugabe and his henchmen
are taking. That has received the approbation of many Conservative Back
Benchers, as well as Labour Members. --- One of my key aims has been to
ensure that the issue ceases to be a bilateral one and is made an issue of
shared concern by the international community.”
The EU was immediately prevailed upon to commission a study on Zimbabwe in
1998 by the Conflict Prevention Network, a network of academic institutions, non-
governmental organisations and “independent experts”, which is part of the
European Union Analysis and Evaluation Centre. The CPN report entitled
“Zimbabwe – A Conflict Study of A Country Without Direction” was duly
presented to the EU’s Africa Working Group in December 1998 for use in making
recommendations on Zimbabwe. Of note was the EU report’s recommendation
that for things to go “right” in Zimbabwe, President Mugabe must go. This could
be done through civil society, notably the trade union movement or NGOs,
through organised urban uprisings, the implied possibility of discontent in the
armed forces, the exploitation of perceived rifts in the ruling ZANU (PF), and the
transformation of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions into a political party.
The prediction was that President Mugabe would not last till the 2002
Presidential Elections. The EU report singled out the land reform programme and
Zimbabwe’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo for special
mention as prime pretexts for their hostility towards Zimbabwe.
In the UK itself, the EU report’s recommendation to topple President Mugabe
was carried forward at Chatham House during a meeting of the Royal Institute of
International Affairs on 24 January 1999, whose theme was “Zimbabwe – Time
for Mugabe to Go?.” The meeting considered a number of options for achieving
this objective, including masterminding a military coup, upheavals in the streets
and manoeuvres within the ruling party, ZANU (PF). The Chatham House
meeting identified “confiscating” white – owned land and sending troops to the
DRC as underlying excuses for their attacks on the Zimbabwe Government. A
similar meeting held at the US State Department on 23 March 1999, obviously at
the instigation of the British, also deliberated on ways of removing President
Mugabe from power. The US State Department meeting resolved that the best
way for achieving this would be to work through NGOs, find ways to divide the
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Shonas and Ndebeles, probe the ruling party for weak spots with a view to
subverting it, and generally make Zimbabwe ungovernable. The conveners of the
US State Department meeting emphasised Zimbabwe’s presence in the DRC as
a problematic issue.
Other prominent personalities in the UK and the US with substantial economic
interests in Zimbabwe and ties to the Ian Smith’s racist Rhodesian regime,
stepped forward to implement these scenarios for “regime change” arising from
the recommendations of the EU report. Most notable among them are the
members of the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, who include four former British
Foreign Secretaries – Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Lord Douglas Hurd, Lord Peter
Carrington and Lord Geoffrey Howe as well as a former US Assistant Secretary
of State, Dr Chester Crocker. Other members are Sir John Collins, Lord Steel of
Aikwood, Lord Taylor of Warwick and Lady Soames. The primary mover in the
organisation is reputed to be Sir John Collins, the Zimbabwean Chairman of
National Power, the largest British energy company, which also has substantial
investments in Zimbabwe. Rifkind is involved with an Australian company which
has mining interests in Zimbabwe, while Chester Crocker sits on the Board of
Directors of Ashanti Goldfields, which owns gold mines in Zimbabwe. The
Zimbabwe Democracy Trust fostered the birth of the opposition MDC under the
pretext of promoting democracy and has orchestrated a well-funded advocacy for
that party through the private and international media with the intention of
demonising ZANU (PF) and undermining land reform in Zimbabwe.
For its part, the British government has not disguised its designs in Zimbabwe as
demonstrated by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s declaration during a question
and answer session in the House of Commons on 25 June 2002 that:
“What I would like to happen is very clear. I would like President Mugabe to
recognise the error of his ways and the disaster into which he has plunged
Zimbabwe. I would like him to leave office, allow elections to take place
immediately, stop interfering with humanitarian relief, get the farmers,
whether they are white, Indian or black, back on to the land ---- I am asked
how that would happen, but that is the point. I say to Opposition Members
that the issue for the international community is how we do this. That is the
truth of it.”
These sentiments were echoed by Tony Cunningham, MP for Workington, who
said during the same question and answer session:
“I am sure we would all agree that the sooner he (President Mugabe) goes,
the better, not just for Zimbabwe, but for the entire region.”
In pursuit of this objective therefore, the British government has exerted its
immense diplomatic and economic clout as well as control of global media to
demonise President Robert Mugabe, isolate Zimbabwe internationally and deny
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the country access to vital international financial support. First to be targeted at
the diplomatic level was the European Union, for the obvious reason that
members are required to act in concert on foreign policy matters under the
provisions of the Maastricht Treaty, the founding charter of the European Union,
thus forcing countries such as Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and
Spain, which have no quarrel with Zimbabwe, to support the British position.
Furthermore, the Cotonou Agreement between the European Union and its
former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), though not yet
ratified by the majority of European Union countries, would give the EU
considerable leverage over Zimbabwe. The British government has achieved
some notable success on the Maastricht Treaty track, as evidenced by the EU’s
imposition of so – called “targeted sanctions” on Zimbabwe on 18 February 2002,
while its machinations on the Cotonou Agreement track were thwarted by the
Southern Africa group, which twice mobilised ACP countries to resist attempts by
British members of the ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly to sponsor
condemnatory resolutions on Zimbabwe in March 2000 (Abuja) and October
2000 (Brussels). Most recently, the fifth ACP–EU Joint Parliamentary session,
which was scheduled to be held in Brussels on 25 November 2002, was
abandoned after ACP countries resisted attempts to prevent Zimbabwean
ministers from attending the meeting, despite threats by the head of the EU
parliamentary delegation, Glenys Kinnock, to withdraw development aid. This
setback on the Cotonou track notwithstanding, Jack Straw could, however,
assure the House of Commons during the question and answer session on 25
June 2002 that:
“The sanctions that I was able to ensure that the European Union imposed
in February are stronger and more extensive …”
In what was widely perceived as a racist onslaught on a black country by white
supremacists, the British government, with support from Australia, Canada and
New Zealand, also took its relentless campaign to isolate Zimbabwe to the
Commonwealth, with then Foreign Secretary Robin Cook falsely claiming in
February 2001 that he had agreed with Commonwealth Secretary General Don
McKinnon to place Zimbabwe on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s
agenda, even though that body did not have the mandate to discuss the situation
in the country. CMAG was eventually prevailed upon to illegally discuss
Zimbabwe at its meeting in London on 30 January 2002 but rejected demands by
the UK and its allies to have Zimbabwe suspended from the Commonwealth.
Having failed to secure a suspension, Tony Blair took his campaign to the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that was held at Coolum,
Australia from 1 – 4 March 2002. But tempers flared at Coolum over attempts by
the UK and its allies to prejudge the 9 – 10 March Presidential poll before it was
even held, with President Thabo Mbeki declaring that:
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“-- those inspired by notions of white supremacy are free to depart (leave
the Commonwealth) if they feel that membership of the association
reduces them to a repugnant position imposed by inferior blacks.”
He added that the outcry against the Commonwealth decision to set up a troika
to decide on how to deal with Zimbabwe after the election:
“-- reflected a stubborn and arrogant mindset at all times that the white
world must lead.”
A livid Tony Blair immediately broke with convention by distancing himself from
the customary end–of–summit consensus and attacked the 54–nation
organisation for postponing a decision on sanctions, saying he hoped the
Commonwealth would eventually:
“-- do the right thing. If it does not, its credibility is at issue; if it does not
act in circumstances where it is plain that a member country has held an
election which has not been fair.”
In a final broadside at African countries, which had stood by Zimbabwe, Tony
Blair told reporters before his departure from Coolum that:
“If there is any sense in which African countries appear to be ambivalent
towards good governance – that is the one thing that will undermine the
confidence of the western world in helping them. The credibility of my
country, investment in my country, doesn’t depend on Zimbabwe. But for
Africa it is a major issue, on which their credibility and the possibility of
investment flows depend. --- There are no half measures about democracy.
It is for Africa that if countries are not behaving democratically --- that we
are seen to act.”
This theme was picked up by a number of speakers in the House of Lords on 6
March 2002 after Prime Minister Tony Blair admitted in an address to the House
of Commons on the same day that he had failed to secure Zimbabwe’s
suspension at Coolum. Drawing heavily on claims by US Assistant Secretary of
State, Walter Kansteiner that:
“The road to NEPAD lies through Harare,”
several speakers called for strong linkages between support for NEPAD and firm
action on Zimbabwe. Most striking in this respect were the remarks by Lord Astor
of Hever who said:
“We must now make it clear that the kind of aid anticipated by NEPAD is
dependent on recipient governments demonstrating a return to good
governance and an acceptance of the will of democracy. --- It is imperative
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that we send the strongest possible message to the SADC countries that
they should take action against the man who threatens to plunge the entire
region into a catastrophic economic and political meltdown. All democratic
nations have a responsibility to try and preserve democracy wherever it is
The message was not lost on the primary sponsors of NEPAD, Presidents Mbeki
and Obasanjo, who, in spite of the endorsement of the outcome of the
Presidential elections by the official observer missions from their own countries,
voted to suspend Zimbabwe from the councils of the Commonwealth for a period
of twelve months, paving the way for an ecstatic Jack Straw to declare in the
House of Commons on 25 June 2002 that:
“One of the many things that we have done is to secure a situation
whereby the decision on the suspension of Zimbabwe from the councils of
the Commonwealth was taken not by us, not by the Commonwealth
Ministerial Action Group, of which the United Kingdom is a member, but by
a troika of the current chair of the Commonwealth, Prime Minister Howard
of Australia, and two key members – President Obasanjo of Nigeria and
President Mbeki of South Africa. It is hugely to their credit that they made
the decision that they did once the Commonwealth observers found that
the elections were not free and fair.”
Having secured the isolation of Zimbabwe in the West, the UK government
turned its attention to attacking Zimbabwe’s economy with the intention of
creating political instability in the country. To achieve this objective, the UK
enlisted the support of the United States, with which it enjoys a “special
transatlantic relationship,” in denying Zimbabwe access to international lines of
credit. The Bush Administration obliged by signing the Zimbabwe Democracy
and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 into law on 21 December 2001, which
among other things, instructed American officials in international financial
institutions to:
“oppose and vote against any extension by the respective institution of any
loan, credit, or guarantee to the government of Zimbabwe ---- and to vote
against any reduction or cancellation of indebtedness owed by the
Government of Zimbabwe.”
The Act also authorised President Bush to:
“fund an independent and free press and electronic media in Zimbabwe.”
US$6 million was subsequently granted for aid to “democracy and governance
programmes,” a euphemism for groups seeking to topple the Government of
Zimbabwe. Also acting in terms of the same law, the Bush Administration on 22
February 2002 imposed “targeted sanctions” on senior government, ZANU (PF),
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business and church leaders following the imposition of similar sanctions by the
European Union on 18 February 2002.
The impact of the US policy of “opposing any extension of loans, credit or
guarantees to Zimbabwe” by international financial institutions was immediately
evident as the International Monetary Fund, which on 24 September 2001 had
declared Zimbabwe ineligible to use the general resources of the IMF and
removed Zimbabwe from the list of countries eligible to borrow resources under
the Fund’s Poverty and Growth Facility over non–payment of US$53 million in
debt service payments, followed this up with a declaration of non–cooperation
and suspension of technical assistance to Zimbabwe on 13 June 2002. The
IMF’s declaration of non–cooperation was intended to discourage lending by
other financial institutions, putting additional pressure on Zimbabwe’s economy.
Due to the decline in foreign trade and the denial of credit, unemployment in
Zimbabwe rose to 70 percent, while three fourths of the population were
classified as poor.
A relentless campaign of negative publicity against Zimbabwe mounted at the
same time the British government embarked on its diplomatic campaign to isolate
Zimbabwe internationally also created perceptions of instability, which scared
away investors and led to capital flight from Zimbabwe. Foreign direct investment
in the country slumped from a peak of US$426 million in 1998 to US$5, 4 million
in 2001 as investors fled from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. A number of
company closures in the last two years are suspected to have been motivated
primarily by political considerations, not unfavourable macro economic
conditions. Similarly, the many travel advisories issued by western Embassies in
Harare warning citizens not to travel to Zimbabwe also served the same purpose
of denying Zimbabwe access to foreign currency. This policy is set to continue for
the foreseeable future following Jack Straw’s assurances to British
parliamentarians on 14 March 2002 that:
“But I can tell the House today that we will continue to oppose any access
by Zimbabwe to international financial resources until a more
representative government is in place.”
In the mean time, the crippling foreign currency shortage has made it difficult for
Zimbabwe to service loan repayments, leading to the withdrawal of international
credit facilities for the importation of fuel, electricity as well as capital and
commercial goods. This has led to stunted industrial activity, low exports, high
interest rates, high inflation, company closures, massive lay-offs and a crippling
brain drain, which are intended to arouse discontent against the Government and
political polarisation within Zimbabwe.
While the British government likes to blame President Mugabe for the worsening
economic situation in the country, it is nevertheless quick to assume credit for
creating this situation. For example, in a spirited response to shadow Foreign
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Secretary Michael Ancram’s allegations in the House of Commons on 25 June
2002 that sanctions were not working, Jack Straw had this to say:
“A year ago, President Mugabe expected to be treated, and was treated in
capitals around the world, as a legitimate head of state. Today, he is
condemned by the Commonwealth, the European Union and the United
States. He is increasingly shunned by other African governments and has
been declared by the International Monetary Fund to be in non–cooperation
and subject to sanctions and suspensions. That international consensus
has come about not least as a result of the painstaking diplomatic activity
of the British Government.”
Having created the conditions for disaffection and political instability in
Zimbabwe, the British government now intervened directly in the internal affairs
of the country with the intention of subverting its democratic processes. Working
through the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, an organisation that
receives 95% of its funding from the British government and whose board of
governors includes representatives from each of the three major political parties
in the UK, the British government clandestinely poured substantial amounts of
money into the opposition MDC for use in a combination of violent campaigning,
bribery and smear tactics against the legitimate government of Zimbabwe. At the
behest of the Blair regime, the Foundation financed sorties into Zimbabwe by
operatives, organised seminars and assisted in designing and printing political
party cards for the MDC. Some of the Foundation’s “projects”, a euphemism for
subversive activities, were brazenly published on its website The
website was subsequently cleaned up after the Government of Zimbabwe
presented the material to the international community as evidence of British
interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe. However, the following entries
remain indelibly etched in the minds of many Zimbabweans:
Zimbabwe: DOA Further Assistance to Oversee Election Organisation: £13
876.00 to fund the Conservative Party to provide the opposition to Robert
Mugabe, in Zimbabwe, with support from like-minded democratic parties in
Zimbabwe: Opposition Visit to UK: £4 460.00 to fund the Conservative Party
to provide assistance to the opposition forces in Zimbabwe ahead of
presidential and other elections by bringing to the UK leaders of two
opposition parties for briefings; £4 980.00 to provide assistance to
opposition forces in Zimbabwe ahead of presidential and other elections by
bringing to the UK key leaders of the movements for briefings on the
promotion of democratic change in Zimbabwe;
MDC Party Development: £30 000.00 to fund the Labour Party to assist the
MDC to consolidate party structures throughout the country;
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MDC Women Candidates: £5 263.00 to fund the Labour Party to assist the
MDC to produce campaign material specifically for women candidates and
voters in the run-up to the General Election in June 2000;
MDC Purchase of Photocopier: £4 375.00 to fund the Labour Party to assist
the MDC in Zimbabwe to purchase a photocopier to produce materials in
preparation for the elections in June 2000;
MDC Elections Assistance: £8 594.00 to fund the Labour Party to assist the
MDC to increase political awareness through the radio, in advance of the
elections in June 2000;
MDC Production of Leaflets: £18 750.00 to fund the Labour Party to assist
the MDC to produce leaflets in preparation for the election in June 2000;
MDC Media Communications for Women: £7 018.00 to fund the Labour
Party to assist the MDC in targeting women voters through media
communications to encourage them to vote in the election due in June
Training of MDC Election Monitors: £19 982.00 to fund the Labour Party to
assist the MDC to train party representatives on election monitoring
techniques for the June 2000 elections;
Zimbabwe - Membership Cards for the MDC: £10 000.00 to fund the Labour
Party to assist the MDC to produce membership cards before their first
national conference in early 2000;
Training for MDC Election Monitors: £10 000.00 to fund the Liberal
Democrats to assist the MDC to train party representatives on election
monitoring techniques for the General Election due in June 2000;
Training for MDC Election Monitors: £10 000.00 to fund the Labour Party to
provide further assistance to the MDC in a project part-funded with the UK
Liberal Democrats to continue to train MDC party representatives in
election monitoring techniques for the June 2000 elections;
Support for Youth and Women’s Chairpersons of MDC: £12 600.00 to
provide salary support through the Liberal Democrats for the Youth and
Women’s chairpersons for the MDC in Zimbabwe in 2001;
MDC Voter Registration and Women’s Outreach: £12 300.00 to fund the
Conservative Party to assist the MDC for voter registration by providing a
full-time co-ordinator and also facilitating a women’s outreach programme
in advance of the Presidential election;
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MDC Provincial Workshops: £10 625.00 to fund the Labour Party to assist
the MDC to organize workshops on election strategy in preparation for the
forthcoming Presidential elections starting from July 2001;
MDC Elections Assistance: £10 119.00 to fund the Labour Party to assist
the MDC to organize a women’s and youth conference in 2001 in the run-up
to the Presidential election;
MDC Production of Materials: £12 649.00 to fund the Labour Party to assist
the MDC to produce materials in preparation for the Presidential election.
The Westminster Foundation for Democracy also funded NGOs such as the
Foundation for Democracy in Zimbabwe, (FODEZI), which received £3000.00
to carry out a range of activities, including voter education, radio and TV
programmes, training seminars for young potential political leaders and
public meetings, and ZimRights, which received £10 000.00 towards the
purchase of offices, and £110 368.00 to support its activities for the period
The British government has also masterminded the formation and funding of
subversive organisations such as the Amani Trust, and provided financial
support, through European Union channels, to numerous other “non –
governmental organisations” whose sole purpose appears to be to agitate for the
unconstitutional overthrow of President Mugabe through the abuse of
humanitarian assistance. These organisations have already sowed discord in
communities where they are operating by distributing food aid on the basis of
political affiliation, as well as giving aid stocks to the opposition for distribution as
part of its campaign.
Again through the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the British
Government sought to use the media to distort the democratic process in
Zimbabwe. £9 800.00 was provided to enable “Horizon” magazine (described
by WFD as an independent political journal) to gain full benefit from new
equipment, and £9 400.00 for the magazine to undertake a six - month
marketing campaign to increase its sales and revenue from advertising. A
further £13 999.00 was disbursed to purchase office equipment, cover a
percentage of overheads and pay the salary for a full-time business
manager during 1999.
When the premises of The Daily News, a British-funded opposition paper, were
bombed by unknown criminals, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy
disbursed £20 000.00 to cover the costs of sending two “experts” to Zimbabwe to
assess the damage. At that stage, the British High Commissioner openly
acknowledged “British interest” in the opposition newspaper.
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A “Media Reform Campaign” was also funded by the WFD to the tune of £5
000.00 to enable the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe to
produce a range of materials to be used in its media law reform campaign.
The materials were distributed in 2000, the year of the parliamentary elections.
In spite of this massive array of interventionist measures in support of the MDC,
the British government was still not confident about the MDC’s ability to remove
President Mugabe from power by legitimate means and sought to achieve that
outcome by trying to rig the March 2002 Presidential elections through
underhand tactics such as the foiled attempt to suspend Zimbabwe from the
Commonwealth at Coolum a few days before the elections; assertions by Tony
Blair at Coolum, which were later parroted by Prime Minister Helen Clark of New
Zealand, that the elections would only be judged to have been free and fair if the
MDC won; and sponsorship of fake opinion polls by the Financial Gazette just
before the elections, which predicted a “crushing defeat” for President Mugabe in
the elections. Earlier in February 2002, the British government’s media allies at
the National Post in Canada, had, in an editorial on 22 February 2002,
attempted to incite the Zimbabwean people to overthrow President Mugabe or
even kill him, saying:
“But Zimbabwe is not a totalitarian state such as North Korea: When it
becomes plain to almost all Zimbabweans that Mr Mugabe is at the root of
their problems, he will be overthrown or killed. Either outcome would
lessen the country’s miseries and open the door for the nation’s diplomatic
and economic rehabilitation.”
To vent their ire after the people of Zimbabwe resoundingly voted to retain
Robert Mugabe as President in a massive show of confidence in his land reform
policies, the British Government and its allies refused to recognise the outcome
of the elections and vowed to intensify their efforts to topple him from power. This
has seen the UK, which broke off diplomatic relations with Libya over the
Lockerbie bombing in 1988, making overtures to the Libyan government in order
to wreck the friendship between that country and Zimbabwe. The assessment
was that Libya would be prepared to dump Zimbabwe in exchange for
normalised relations with the West. A message was subsequently put out for the
obvious consumption of UK watchers in Tripoli when Jack Straw told the House
of Commons on 25 June 2002 that:
“Libya’s route back into the international community partly depends on its
showing a responsible attitude towards Zimbabwe and in respect of Sierra
Leone. We are aware of that, and it is a point that has repeatedly been
made to Libya in the dialogue that is taking place.”
Furthermore, junior Foreign Minister Mike O’Brien, in an apparent attempt to woo
Libya towards Britain’s campaign to dent Zimbabwe’s international image, raised
the ante when he told reporters in South Africa on 3 August 2002 that:
Page 19
“We have decided that Gaddafi no longer wants to be involved in
international terrorism. Gaddafi has condemned al – Qaeda and expressed
outrage over the September 11 attacks. We’ve been seeking to engage
Libya across a number of issues following a hard headed assessment of
Libya’s position. We hope Libya will engage seriously with the West and
indeed other countries --- and that will mean a country that has a fairly
large degree of influence in the Arab world and Africa will move away from
being a pariah state towards helping the international community and
preserving peace.”
In what is a logical step in the script to complete the international isolation of
Zimbabwe as well as consolidate and broaden declared and non–declared
sanctions already imposed by the EU, the US and white Commonwealth
countries, the British government has now shifted the focus of its attack to the
United Nations Security Council, where it recently demanded that Zimbabwe be
required to respond to the report of the UN Panel on the Illegal Plunder of DRC
Resources, the only country required to do so. The recent appeal by Morgan
Tsvangirai to the Security Council for UN intervention to stop “state sponsored
violence against the defenceless people of Zimbabwe” was obviously
orchestrated, at the instigation of the British government, to create justification for
making Zimbabwe a Security Council issue.
4. President Mugabe’s response to British hostility to the Land Reform
In spite of the intense British hostility to the land reform programme in Zimbabwe,
President Mugabe has remained resolute in his efforts to redistribute land to the
landless indigenous black majority and has eloquently and courageously told
Blair to end his government’s colonial policies on Zimbabwe and to mind his own
business and that of his country and keep his “pink nose out of our affairs”. He
has also maintained that Britain has a continuing obligation to pay compensation
to the white farmers whom successive British governments have encouraged to
forcibly occupy Zimbabwean land. In September 2002, he took Zimbabwe’s case
to the international community, telling delegates at the World Summit on
Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg that landlessness is at the
root of the endemic poverty and underdevelopment which black Zimbabweans
have endured through the full century of British occupation of their land. Judging
by the thunderous applause which punctuated his now famous speech at
Johannesburg, President Mugabe spoke for the poor, dispossessed and
downtrodden in all parts of the world and struck a resonant code in the hearts of
many Heads of State, business leaders and civic society groups attending the
WSSD, when he said that:
“ --- we in Zimbabwe understand only too well that sustainable
development is not possible without agrarian reforms that acknowledge in
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our case, that land comes first before all else, and that all else grows from
and off the land. This is the one asset that not only defines the
Zimbabwean personality and demarcates sovereignty but also an asset that
has a direct bearing on the fortunes of the poor and prospects for their
immediate empowerment and sustainable development. Indeed, ours is an
agrarian economy, an imperative that renders the issue of access to land
paramount. --- But we say this as Zimbabweans, we have fought for our
land. We have fought for our sovereignty. Small as we are, we have won
our independence and we are prepared to shed our blood in sustenance
and maintenance and protection of that independence. ---We don’t mind
having and bearing sanctions, banning us from Europe. We are not
Europeans. We have not asked for an inch of Europe, any square inch of
that territory. So Blair, keep your England and let me keep my Zimbabwe. ”
Through the Fast Track Land Reform Programme, President Mugabe and his
government have accorded the majority black Zimbabwean people’s grievances
the urgency they deserved and exposed the folly and futility of Britain’s gradualist
policies towards the eradication of poverty among his landless compatriots. As a
result, over 1.6 million people have benefited from the land reform programme
between July 2000 and August 2002, ending a century of landlessness and
poverty for the Zimbabwean people.
Having waged a bitter and protracted armed struggle to bring democracy to
Zimbabwe, President Mugabe and his government have relentlessly stuck to the
principle of democracy, facing the opposition five times in parliamentary elections
and twice in Presidential elections, which he and his party, ZANU (PF), won
convincingly. The people of Zimbabwe have hailed these elections as free and
fair, while the progressive world, including governments and civil societies, have
similarly hailed the elections as free, fair and legitimate and recognised the
verdict of the national electorate. At the same time, the international community
has applauded the fact that there is not a single political prisoner in Zimbabwe,
showing that Zimbabweans enjoy freedoms of speech and association.
President Mugabe and his government have also exposed the neo–colonial
agenda of the British government and warned the EU, the Commonwealth and
the United Nations not to join Britain’s attacks on Zimbabwe. Hence, he won the
sympathy and support of many nations, both big and small, when he appealed to
the 57
Session of the UN General Assembly to:
“ --- convey to Britain and especially to its current Prime Minister, Mr Tony
Blair, that Zimbabwe ceased to be a British colony in 1980 after Prince
Charles had gracefully lowered the British flag called the Union Jack. He
should also please be informed that the people of Zimbabwe waged an
armed revolutionary struggle for their independence and stand ready to
defend it in the same way. We want to be left in peace to carryout our just
reforms and developmental plans as we peacefully interact and cooperate
Page 21
with other countries within the region, the African continent and the
international community. We refuse to be an extension of Europe.”
Although the EU, the UN and white Commonwealth countries are quick to deny
that they are pursuing a British agenda in Zimbabwe, it is an undeniable fact that
the UK has been on a crusade to entice and conscript the EU and the
Commonwealth to take sides in its bilateral differences with Zimbabwe and has
succeeded in doing so. In several instances, Britain itself has taken no direct
actions on Zimbabwe, but by ruse and stratagem made the EU and the
Commonwealth fight it out with Zimbabwe using declared and undeclared
economic sanctions.
By leading the struggle for economic liberation on the side of black
Zimbabweans, President Mugabe has inspired the poor and dispossessed blacks
in Africa and the Diaspora to assume their individual and collective dignity and to
struggle continuously for economic emancipation, for their land rights and for
reparations against slavery and colonial subjugation. His call for just land reforms
in Zimbabwe has therefore, been echoed by the landless in Kenya, Namibia,
South Africa and among dispossessed indigenous communities in countries such
as Australia and Canada.
Leading a weakened small country, which refuses to bow down to international
pressure in the conviction that right is on its side, President Mugabe has assured
the weak nations of the world, especially those of Africa, the Caribbean and the
Pacific, that there can be equal sovereignty between big and small nations and
that principle, honesty and determination can be the bases of strength for leaders
of both small and big nations who respect human rights and human dignity and
subject themselves to international laws and conventions. President Mugabe and
his government have always and continue to subject themselves to the values,
conventions, protocols and resolutions of the United Nations, the African Union
and SADC and join them in condemning attempts of some countries to interfere
in the internal affairs of others, especially the actions of those who seek to
impose their will upon others through military processes.
And yet, President Mugabe is the leader and Zimbabwe is the country Mr Blair
and Britain want to demonise, and condemn. We urge the progressive
international community to see through all this British hypocrisy and duplicity and
relate with Zimbabwe in a mutually supportive way, and with respect.
12 December 2002

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