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
complex.
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
population?
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
Britain:
“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”.
[http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9707] 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
perspective:
“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
there?
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
Gray:
“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
up!’”
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
hypocrisy!
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
country.
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
outsiders.”

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You seem a little sad and confused Jordan, twisting reality with lies, propaganda will not help your case

Anonymous said...

50000 people were killed? pfffffft where is your proof, you polical obsessed baboon, it is so typicle of Africans to exagerate colonialism to their advantage, especially without any facts, and yes the white world commited crimes, like in 19 footsek, but so did the black world. No race is free of crimes. But deliberate destruction of something that was working is the most terrible crime of all. Zimbabwe was working, before 2000 and now lay in ruins. Nelson Mandela was considered a terrorist because he did kill innocent civilians in a train, but even terrorists can redeem themselves which mandela had done by the revolution of a country uniting both black and white. As much as terrorists can redeem themselves is it easy for Heroes to become tyrants like Mugabe. Nobody supports Mugabe, because no matter what anti-imperial justification he has, his failed policies hasnt worked at all for Zimbabwe and for his people.