Saturday, July 22, 2006

Why Annan Stood Behind Zimbabwe

Why Annan Stood Behind Zimbabwe

The Herald (Harare)
OPINION
Posted to the web July 18, 2006

By Obi Egbuna
Harare

THE Blair and Bush administrations suffered a major political defeat three weeks ago, when UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced his support for former Tanzanian president Mr Benjamin Mkapa, to mediate in talks between Zimbabwe and Britain.

Mr Annan went on to say that he would not be visiting Zimbabwe as planned because there was no need for two mediators in the talks.

In their quest to impose their political will on Zimbabwe, both Tony Blair and George Bush appear to have run out of creative strategies and ideas. Since the beginning of the 21st century, when Britain and the US experienced stagnation in their diplomatic and military manoeuvring, they turned to Mr Annan.

This approach sent two messages to the rest of the world, the first was that Mr Annan was totally aligned with Britain and the US because they masterminded the veto of previous Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali which paved the way for him to get the position.

The second was that when Bush and Blair are in hot water politically, for negligence on domestic issues, they target countries they feel it is their destiny to rule. In terms of diplomatic qualifications, it is hard to dismiss Mr Annan's credentials, when his term expires at the end of this year; he will have completed a 44-year career in UN service.

Mr Annan first joined the UN in 1962 and has served as High
Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, on the UN Economic
Commission for Africa and headed the UN peacekeeping division from 1993 to 1995. Mr Annan is also a Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

The Blair and Bush administrations sought to put Zimbabwe under intense scrutiny, since Mr Annan's special envoy, Ms Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, submitted her controversial report on Operation Murambatsvina/Restore Order and its sequel Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle after visiting Zimbabwe last year.

In her report, Ms Tibaijuka claimed that over 700 000 people were affected by the clean-up exercise; according to Zimbabwe's Ambassador to the UN Cde Boniface Chidyausiku, this clearly contradicted the verbal report Ms Tibaijuka shared with him, in the meeting they had, to discuss the issue.

The late Minister of Information and Publicity, Ambassador Tichaona Jokonya, also said when he worked in Geneva as Zimbabwe's permanent representative to the UN, Ms Tibaijuka always praised Zimbabwe for having sub-Saharan Africa's lowest slum condition rate of 3 percent.

The inconsistency concerning information around this matter is what led President Mugabe and Zanu-PF to invite Mr Annan to Zimbabwe to see for himself, the situation on the ground.

Even though an entire year has passed since Mr Annan was asked to visit Zimbabwe, it is only when the US and British governments urged him to visit before his term expires, that he went on record saying he would come in the near future.

When Mr Annan analyses Zimbabwe, it must be like looking in the mirror, because just like Ghana, Annan's birthplace, Zimbabwe was a British colony.

The only difference in the history of the two countries is that Ghana won its independence through the 'Positive Action Campaign' led by Dr Kwame Nkrumah's Convention People's Party, while Zimbabwe attained freedom through a protracted armed struggle.

The struggle was waged by President Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
National Liberation Army (Zanla) and the Zimbabwe African People's Revolutionary Army (Zipra) led by the late Dr Joshua Nkomo.

These two revolutionary movements formed the Patriotic Front to oust the settler regime of Ian Smith.

Mr Annan was born in 1938 which made him exactly 19 years old when his country's founding president Dr Nkrumah came to power, and around 28 years old, when he was overthrown by a military coup orchestrated by British and US intelligence services.

Dr Nkrumah was out of the country participating in a summit
to prevent the imperialist war on Vietnam from continuing when the Western-sponsored sacrilege was carried out.

Mr Annan knows that Dr Nkrumah was President Mugabe's biggest
political influence and just like Osagyefo, who held a (honary) PhD in Philosophy, Cde Mugabe has mastered the English language because of his teaching background which makes him an extremely difficult challenge for both Bush and Blair in their propaganda war.

This is why -- when one pays attention to the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe -- there is special emphasis on travel restrictions to prevent President Mugabe from coming to Britain and the US to respond directly to the barrage of attacks from these two figures of western hegemony.

The US Ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, Tony Hall, was even arrogant enough to try to prevent President Mugabe from addressing the body in Rome last October.

Mr Annan clearly understood that the sons and daughters of Africa at home and abroad were watching how he would handle Zimbabwe, especially as his 1999 statement that "humanitarian intervention was the way to approach countries that use national sovereignty as a shield to hide their human rights abuses" was quoted out of context.

All the NGOs supported by Western governments make their living propagating this negative notion; President Mugabe and Zanu-PF were more than prepared to engage their African brother on this issue.

It would have been nice to know if Mr Annan would have considered a former colonial master creating and financing subversive political opposition in pursuit of illegal regime change in cahoots with Uncle Sam who has supported some of the most wicked governments the world has known, a humanitarian mission.

Mr Annan calls the HIV-pandemic in Africa his personal priority; his wife has also received international recognition for her passion concerning this problem.

This gives us hope that he will support the views of the former Unicef director Carol Bellamy, who said she felt that on the question of HIV/Aids in Zimbabwe, Bush and Blair were allowing their anti-Mugabe politics to cloud their better judgment.

Ms Bellamy went on to call the efforts by the US and British
governments to deny Zimbabwe access to resources to fight the deadly disease persecution of the poor. In the name of the family legacy on this issue, Mr Annan should publicly praise the Government of Zimbabwe for being the first nation in the world to come up with an Aids levy, which arranges for 3 percent of workers' taxes to go towards a National Aids Fund.

Mr Annan also knows that one thing the US and Britain agreed on was that out of all the prominent figures in the liberation war, President Mugabe was the one they least wanted to see emerge as leader of the nation as they had sensed his resoluteness.

Mr Annan also feels that there is growing recognition among Africans that they must look past their colonial past for the causes of current conflicts. The first thing President Mugabe did at independence was proclaiming the policy of reconciliation that effectively absolved the British/ Rhodesians of all the war crimes committed against his people.

This is the reason Ian Smith still lives in Zimbabwe and wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night without having to fear for his life. President Mugabe's historic overture gave the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa the idea for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that won him the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ironically, instead of thanking President Mugabe for being
the architect of the idea that made him (Tutu) politically relevant, he too attacks the President at every opportunity.

The attitude displayed by the UN boss, in terms of getting over the wrongs of settler colonialism, explains why, under his leadership, the UN has never taken the British to task for failing to honour the promises they made at the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference.

Their disregard for their pledges is what forced President Mugabe to respond to the call by the war veterans to reclaim the land stolen from their ancestors by the settler regime.

It was not surprising to hear Mr Annan saying he would use his good offices to have the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe lifted. This is because he has some interesting views on sanctions that need to be highlighted:

The first is that he says sanctions only succeed if there is genuine co-operation and support of such measures by the sub-region.

That position means we can look forward to a UN resolution declaring that the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe be lifted immediately because no country in the Sadc region supports Blair and Bush's position on this question.

Mr Annan also said the hardships imposed by economic sanctions, on civilians are disproportionate to the likely impact of the protagonists.

This suggests that Mr Annan feels the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, put in motion by the Bush administration was an absolute sham.

The strategy of sanctions was used against colonial regimes but surprisingly is now being used by imperialist nations to pound their enemies into submission.

This could be seen in Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Palestine,
and Venezuela.

The most well known example is the 44-year blockade on Cuba, yet the UN vote has consistently been 178 countries against this measure and only three in favour (the USA, the Marshall Islands and Israel. --which in fact comes down to the USA as these are more like American states!).

The late Pope John Paul II and Jimmy Carter also declared the
blockade unnecessary and inhumane. The world is rallying around the call that sanctions are the biggest weapon of mass destruction and Mr Annan has read the writing on the wall that many are dying through this form of diplomatic terrorism.

Mr Annan has also discussed anti-government forces in Africa, he says they are willing to employ any and all means to advance their end, for those who follow the developments in Zimbabwe this sounds like the biography of Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC.

The actions of the MDC must remind Annan of Unita in Angola and Renamo in Mozambique. While Tsvangirai is not killing people with guns and bombs, every minute he encourages the US and Britain along with their fraternal order of the European Union to intensify the sanctions on Zimbabwe, the suffering of all Zimbabwean citizens is on his hands.

Zimbabwe has given Mr Annan the opportunity to define diplomatic parameters, what should happen to US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell over the meetings he held with the MDC leadership in his office or private residence -- what to do with US Assistant Secretary of State Jendaye Frazier for calling for an invasion of Zimbabwe while she was US Ambassador to South Africa.

Can the UN launch an investigation into the three major parties in Britain that created the Westminster Fund for Democracy for the purpose of creating the MDC?

Mr Annan would go a long way in cementing his credentials as a man of peace if he confronts Britain and the US on these issues, especially since the US was afraid to run as a candidate of the recently formed Human Rights Council in Geneva.

In conclusion, all human beings depend on two forms of analysis to understand political trends; experience and study.

Mr Annan is a career diplomat, though he has never fought in an armed struggle for independence, he must know that with the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, President Mugabe has emerged as the spokesperson for land reclamation and land rights worldwide.

A group of Ghanaians planning a conference on reparations invited the President, hoping he would discuss the role of land reclamation.

Another group called the Global African Congress is planning
a similar meeting to take place in Zimbabwe, as a way of showing respect to the Government and President for their stand on this issue. Mr Annan has also heard Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez say the agrarian reforms in his country were inspired by Zimbabwe.

The people of Zimbabwe deserve to know why the Committee on
Development Policy which consists of 22 UN hand-picked
experts recommended that Zimbabwe follow the path 34 other African countries have chosen, accepting LDC (least developed country status) which admits failure as governments.

This recommendation came right after the US approached the United Nations Economic and Social Commission with this request.

This also followed latest attempts by Britain and the US to demonise Zimbabwe with the publishing of reports by the International Crisis Group of the EU and the John F Kennedy Strategic Studies Program at Harvard University.

Mr Annan's endorsing of Cde Mkapa as mediator sent a statement to Africa's scattered and suffering people that he stood with President Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe.
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The writer is a member of the US-based Pan African Liberation
Organisation.
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