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.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Benn slams UK hypocrisy on Zimbabwe

Benn slams UK hypocrisy on Zim

BRITAIN has no right to lecture Zimbabwe on democracy because of a shameful colonial legacy, veteran Labour Party politician Tony Benn has said.

The former UK government minister and Labour’s second longest serving MP trained as a pilot for Britain’s World War II effort in white-ruled Southern Rhodesia.

In an interview for the BBC’s Five Minutes television programme broadcast on Saturday, the left wing grandee said criticism of the Zimbabwe government was “total hypocrisy” given the legacy of white colonial rule.

He said: “I learnt to fly in what’s now Zimbabwe. When I was there, there was no democracy at all.

“All the good land had been stolen and given to white farmers; no African had votes; it was a criminal offence to have a skilled job and now we lecture Zimbabwe on democracy … it’s totally hypocrisy!”

Benn said his heroes were “great model leaders” Mandela, Ghandi and Tutu, “none of them European and none of them white”.

He added: “I think it’s very important to remember that teaching is the key thing, history is made by teachers and movements and not by political leaders.”

Benn, currently president of the Stop the War Coalition, has met all three men, and Ghandi in particular left a mark on him – but he doesn’t remember exactly what India’s pre-eminent political and spiritual leader said to him.

Benn, who was MP in the House of Commons for almost 50 years, said: “Ghandi was sitting on the floor, and I sat down and listened to him. I can’t remember what he said but the power of the man, and the power of none violence is huge in the world.”
Published On: Monday, July 06, 2009 11:00 AM GMT
© New Zimbabwe News

Sunday, 5 July 2009

UK Policy on Zimbabwe (2002 document)

Page 1
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
Page 2
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
Page 3
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.
Page 4
• 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
Page 5
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
Page 6
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
Page 7
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
Page 8
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:
Page 9
“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
Page 10
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
Page 11
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:
Page 12
“-- 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
Page 13
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),
Page 14
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
Page 15
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 www.wfd.org. 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;
Page 16
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;
Page 17
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.
Page 18
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
Page 20
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

Friday, 3 July 2009

China: When bullets begin to flower

China: When bullets begin to flower

When goodness triumphs to ring loudest across the veld, even the dead stir back to life.

China’s decision to grant Zimbabwe a staggering US$950m credit barely a week after the Prime Minister’s dry-womb trip to the West, has sent tremors far and deep, certainly right into the sanctum of MDC-T.

His claim that his Secretary-General, now Finance Minister in the Inclusive Government, Tendai Biti, negotiated the deal, rings fatuous and ridiculous.

Why would he choose to go to the barren West when the generous East so beckoned? Why would he time the fulfilment of such a wonderful deal so close to the empty one of the West, all to invite such a damning comparison upon his all-time benefactors?

If anything, this claim confirms the tremors I refer to.

But first things first.

Let the parameters of this piece be made clear. Both the managers and hosts of the Prime Minister’s ill-fated trip undermined the trip’s claim to national status or purpose.

The trip was decidedly narrow, by composition, host preferences and by outcome.

That reality acquits me from any politeness, taking me right into the murky world of party politics.

Fate’s pace and parcel.

So, back to substance. Play the US$200-plus little the MDC leader got against the stupendous sum China has given Zimbabwe through Government, then you give the mathematical magnitude to MDC-T’s worries.

Here was a man who ventured out into the western world — first home to him — wrapped in lofty people-goals, all in the hope of what he mistook for guaranteed plenty. Politically, he hoped the trip would ram home his wish status as the only wielder of the golden key to the vaults of the "monied" West.

That way, he would have placed himself implacably high, well on the messiah pedestal, to great grief of Zanu-PF, great personal grief of President Mugabe.

But fate had its own pace and parcel for him. Instead of bagfuls of money, drums of enhanced leverage against Zanu-pf (PF), he came back limping, dragging a vast list of governance beatitudes and conditionalities the hungry and expectant could never eat.

For the face of an Inclusive Government which had risen and received embrace as "manna" from the West, all this hardly added up.

Today the MDC leader stands very short as a pathetic anti-Christ figure who dared to make a sermon on the mountain, without feeding the hungry five thousand, all of them down and to earth. It is going to be a long while before they are ready to forgive him.

Fighting the task and task-man

Zanu-pf (PF)’s propaganda mandarins did not help matters. Wrestling initiative, they framed the Prime Minister’s trip as Mugabe-initiated, as Mugabe-defined, a position Tsvangirai is still battling to shake off. They defined the trip around the twin objectives of getting the utterly illegal sanctions removed, and of securing soft loans — not grants — for the sanctions-wrecked Zimbabwe economy.

Against such a filling propaganda take by Zanu-pf (PF), the MDC leader and his acolytes were quite appropriately galled.

They frantically sought to challenge this forming and settling orthodoxy to the story, indeed to re-frame the whole trip well outside of the twin orders, twin purpose, clearly with enormous difficulties, in all attempts with ever diminishing success.

That included the wrap-up press conference given this week. For how else would one reframe the trip away from the twin objectives, away from the twin tasking executive — the Cabinet and the President — and still justify to the hungry the use of public funds? And to justify the more than three weeks this public figure was out of the country?

And if sanctions are the only outstanding reason for present penury, how would one distance the Prime Minister of this country from attacking them to enhance public weal?

You do not want propaganda which coincides with reality, much less one which leaves you rebelliously wondering directionless within its overbearing framework.

It was an unenviable bind, one spawning near desperate, multinational response by way of the Andrew Chadwick-led, USAID-funded newsletter, itself an utterly poor show which gave the MDC more headaches and fury.

The Chamisas, the Bangos, themselves real owners of the propaganda portfolio of the MDC, had been left out, and did not find this whole "white" effort exactly quite polite, exactly well-intentioned, would they?

Another second-level tribute to the efficacious Zanu-pf-PF propaganda mandarins.

In Zanu-pf-PF’s duodenum

Much worse, liberating the Prime Minister from the politically pregnant emissary status ascribed to him by unremitting media pot boilers, meant making him personally responsible for the whole trip and its disastrous outcome.

Much early in the Inclusive Government, in fact well before its constitution, the western world had warned Mugabe would suffer Tsvangirai in the power-sharing deal in order to use him to unlock the fabulously giving heart of Europe and America.

With enough silver and gold, they added, Tsvangirai would be dumped right into the chewing gut of Zanu-pf-PF, much the same way PF-Zapu went.

This propaganda by Zanu-pf-PF mandarins appeared to validate this visceral fear in the West. Had Zanu-pf-PF turned Tsvangirai into the thin end of the wedge with which to prise open Europe and America’s hitherto unyielding heart?

Was Tsvangirai and his MDC already on his way to Zanu-pf-PF’s duodenum, a deadly process whose preface was the fatal inclusive kiss of Pretoria?

Still the MDC propagandists reasoned it much better to free the Premier from emissary status and deal later with the full load of trip failure, well docked on the premier’s doorstep. Wakava mufakwose.

The trip did not convince the West the Prime Minister was his own emissary. Equally, the trip brought nothing back home, leaving him more vulnerable to swallowing.

The US$8,3 billion Biti claims Zimbabwe needs has become the shibboleth by which his boss fails the test. The US$200 million is now read against this enormous figure.

And how it falls far, far short! Jonathan Moyo, in Parliament the sole leader and member of Zimbabwe’s official opposition, was not slow to stick in the first deadly dagga.

Tsvangirai went out on an ego-trip, as a Prime Minister of NGOs, cut in the lethally persuasive Jonathan!

One liner that was such a dramatic and humiliating shrinkage for a man whose stature would have risen beyond the dust of party politics to the pinnacle of national leadership.

Diminishing leverage, stature

Now the hard facts. After a three-week sojourn in the wild Worst — sorry, West, MDC-T comes back with a hugely diminished stature and leverage in the Inclusive Government.

So does its embattled leader whose options have shrunk to a mere two: that of disappearing deeper into the smothering arms of the dictating West, or shrinking to a second-rate Mugabe through latter-day, catch-up radicalism.

Founded on claims of wielding the key to ending "isolation" and mobilising resources — re-engagement and mobilising transitional assistance in MDC lingo — the trip which saw Tsvangirai limping home on empty, simply made him and MDC party as much victims of sanctions as Mugabe and his Zanu-pf-PF.

The only and soon-to-prove decisive difference being that Tsvangirai and his MDC are viewed as careless and deserving victims who invited sanctions, again in the vain hope of plenty, while Zanu-pf-PF is seen as carrying the cross for daring assert a national good.

Across continents, across leadership temperaments and personalities, Tsvangirai was told in very clear and no uncertain tones that sanctions would not come off, with the same voices adding soto voce, unless the goals for putting them in place are met!

He seemed to agree that Zimbabwe had not done much to deserve relief. This was mildly complicit.

Thanks to McGee, the whole admission was transfigured into downright incrimination when the restless US ambassador, in a remarkable verbal miscue, put it plainly, bluntly: Tsvangirai would not seek the removal of sanctions because he knows and shares in the purpose for which the sanctions were put in place in the first place!


And precious little was left to imagination.

The sanctions had been put in place for two goals: the reversal of land reforms, and delivery of Mugabe’s head on a platter, the second being a prime enabler to the first goal.

Beneath inclusivity

And during the trip, a new word entered the political vocabulary of Zimbabwe: "incremental".

The MDC-T’s purpose in the Inclusive Government in the about four months that have gone by, has been to subtly loosen President Mugabe’s hold on levers of power, in the ultimate hope of pushing him off and out, while "incrementally" enlarging Tsvangirai’s hand on the wheel of the vessel of State.

This is what young Chamisa meant when he said — ungainly in my view — we agreed to share power in order to "take it". Victoria Falls "bonding" was a power-profiling and assessment exercise in the bureaucracy, pending a sequenced, surgical attack on carriers of the State.

Innocent STERP was the facade. After it, an observation post (OP) or sentinel disposal strategy for the bureaucracy was worked out: plaint players in the bureaucracy getting won over, brittle ones meriting a bad name — "hardliners" — before being hanged! You want to

understand the attack of the likes of Gono, Tomana, JOC and lately information leadership, in that context.

A different strategy — charm and technicality (land audit) — is being attempted for the land sector.

When angry Tapa was set on him

The burden on the MDC leader was to convince his Western funders that the strategy was working, was delivering.

Or so expected the West. Plainly, he did not. If anything, he irritated them: by denying any land invasions; re-characterising Mugabe as a big, kind heart, rare and reserved for statesmen; denying any human rights abuses, in fact making Mugabe’s and his own fate Siamese.

He made the fatal error of honesty in a world accustomed to deceptive politics.

After all the game plan had been made plain: the stage-managed Amnesty International visit and damning report; the cold reception in Holland which set the tone, the debate and subsequent more-sanctions resolution in the US Senate, the false Human Rights Watch report on diamonds, already known but to be published later.

All these efforts were to be underpinned by a Tsvangirai full of complaints against Mugabe as an untrustworthy partner in the Inclusive Government. Tsvangirai did not shore up this

political position and livid Albion set Tapa and all on him, at Southwalk.


This is the broad context within which to appreciate what China has done to the politics of Zimbabwe.

Globally embattled, globally vilified, the Zimbabwe revolution seemed orphaned, condemned both in the East and in the West. Although those in Zanu-PF knew better, China appeared hostile, or at best reticent.

Russia appeared languid. Both seemed not too keen to go beyond gestures in the Security Council, although admittedly very important at the time. Zanu-pf-PF’s Zimbabwe appeared easy to rescue, harder to nourish and defend.

But with what has happened this week, China has moved in emphatically, clearly showing the sun truly rises in the East, dies in the West. Morgan Tsvangirai’s beatitudinal West! And China has done it in such a way that even the common man in Zimbabwe visualises how foreign policy matters domestically.

China’s guns which only yesterday brought freedom to Zimbabwe, have today flowered to trigger real, unconditional welfare for the liberated. The credit touches on welfare pillars, development pillars so, so sorely lacking. What remains to be seen is whether Zanu-pf-PF can be helped. Will it have the courage to reassert the role of the central bank on the back of this credit? Indeed to end this Multilateral Donor Trust Fund, itself an economy within an economy, indeed a government within a government?

Indeed to reassert the place of the new farmer, the nationalist entrepreneur, both of them orphaned by the inclusive Government?

Or will it, as before feed the treacherously fawning managerial bourgeoisie that had so quickly abandoned it for a new suitor, a new benefactor?

Those who had taken to platforms to denounce Zanu-pf-PF and its leadership at Trade Fairs are already dusting their party regalia, sharpening their words for another round of praise poetry. For the daffodil is blossoming again.