Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Regime Change Mission Has Failed in Zimbabwe

Dell’s departure boon for Zim

AMONG Roman emperor and conqueror Julius Caesar’s famous phrases is the dictum, "Veni, vidi, vici," Latin for "I came, I saw, I conquered" that he used whenever his armies delivered on his military objectives.

The phrase does not apply to outgoing United States ambassador Christopher Dell, who came here brimming with confidence that he would deliver Zimbabwe on a platter, as he had promised his bosses in Washington, but who now leaves with his tail between his legs.

Dell leaves Zimbabwe with his rabble-rousing legacy in tatters, his ego deflated and with the startling realisation that Zimbabwe is a different ball game altogether as indeed he admitted in his roundtable with journalists in Bulawayo.

The illegal regime change agenda has fallen flat on its face.

Progressive Zimbabweans can’t wait to see Dell’s back, because throughout his stay here, he never worked to fulfil his brief of enhancing relations between Harare and Washington, choosing instead to try and stir diplomatic rows at every opportunity.

We all remember his "absent-minded" wandering into restricted security zones at the Harare Botanical Gardens, his clandestine meetings with the MDC factions, and his undiplomatic opposition mouthing.

In fact, Dell’s itinerary that covered Bulawayo and Harare per se confirms what we have been saying all along: that the US envoy behaved like Washington’s ambassador to the MDC, and not to Zimbabwe.

Harare and Bulawayo are the two provinces that are exclusively in the hands of the MDC, with Zanu-PF, of course, holding sway in only one constituency, Harare South.

These are the provinces that Dell hoped would provide the turf for his envisaged Ukrainian-style "Orange revolution". But that was not to be.

If Dell had spent his tenure like other ambassadors, his farewell tour would cover development projects in various provinces, but alas, it was restricted to the MDC constituencies in Harare and Bulawayo, and probably the headquarters of the two-factions.

While we understand that as a representative, Dell had to be the public face of his boss George W Bush, he failed where it matters most, that is in informing Washington how badly misplaced its approach to Zimbabwe is.

As ambassador, he had the duty to inform his bosses to rethink their misguided policies on Zimbabwe.

His departure, however, is a boon for the ongoing spirit of engagement between Zanu-PF and the MDC, whose delegations were recently in South Africa trying to find common ground on how they can work together to clean the mess Dell and his bosses created with their supremacist policies.

As such, his departure, together with that of British Premier Tony Blair, could not have come at a better time.

We just hope Dell will have the decency to bid his nemesis, President Mugabe, farewell and not sneak out like Brian Donnelly, the British diplomat who also spent his tenure trying to do in Zimbabwe what he had done to Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.

We also hope he will convey to his bosses the Presidents constant refrain: Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.

Illegal regime change mission has failed: Dell

Bulawayo Bureau
Zimbabwe Herald

OUTGOING United States ambassador Mr Christopher Dell yesterday grudgingly admitted that Washington’s quest to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe had failed.

He leaves for Afghanistan at the end of next month to take up a diplomatic posting in that country’s bomb-wrecked capital city, Kabul.

Addressing journalists during a media roundtable in Bulawayo, Mr Dell said although the US and other Western countries had committed a lot of resources to supporting so-called
"democratic forces" in the opposition, civic society and churches, "the resilience of Zimbabweans was amazing" as they had not risen up against their Government.

He said while the US did not offer direct support to the opposition MDC in order to "protect them", it actively funded civil society and other pro-opposition groups to "strengthen democratic space" in Zimbabwe.

"We don’t provide direct support to the opposition because that would be self-defeating. We, however, support civil society, democratic forces and churches.

"I don’t leave here disappointed because our programmes have helped advance the cause of democratic forces seeking change in this country. We are closer to seeing change in Zimbabwe," said Mr Dell, who had vowed to help effect regime change in the country when he was posted to Zimbabwe three years ago.

The US ambassador, who has ruffled feathers due to his undiplomatic behaviour which has seen him invite the ire of the Government on more than one occasion, chided other diplomats for what he called their habit of "double speak" and said his brief in Zimbabwe was not necessarily about building good relations with the host Government.

"You hear a lot of double speak (in the diplomatic community) . . . people saying nice words. I tend to differ with that because I am here to represent what my country stands for and helping to defend its values. Whenever the Government criticises me, I draw strength from that because I know I am doing my job," he said.

Mr Dell conceded that President Mugabe had played a very important historic role and had a legacy everyone ought to be proud of.

He said he would be calling on the President before his departure for Afghanistan.

"I intend to pay a courtesy call on the President if he accords me that opportunity," he said.

Turning to the ongoing President Thabo Mbeki-mediated talks between the ruling Zanu-PF and the two factions of the MDC which began in Pretoria at the weekend, Mr Dell said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the dialogue.

However, he said if the talks led to the creation of conditions for "free and fair elections", then the US would be prepared to support the winner of such polls even if it were President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.

On the illegal sanctions which have brought untold suffering to the majority of Zimbabweans and resulted in the cutting of lines of credit to the country, Mr Dell said the US government had a right to use its vote on the boards of the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral financial institutions as it deemed fit.

The IMF has suspended Zimbabwe’s voting rights and frozen lending to the country at the behest of the US and other Western governments which have exerted undue influence on its board. This has exacerbated the economic problems affecting the country.

"As a government, we have 17 percent voting rights on the IMF board and, yes, we use it any way we deem fit. If the US government decides to use its vote to deny a government like that in Zimbabwe lines of credit until elementary reforms are undertaken, so be it," said Mr Dell.

Challenged to reveal which bank accounts and assets of senior Government officials the US had frozen under its sanctions regime, Mr Dell became evasive and claimed that they were not at liberty to disclose them since the individuals concerned had "certain rights to legal protection".

President Mugabe has always challenged the British and the American governments to reveal any assets of his that they would have seized or frozen abroad since he does not have any funds or property outside Zimbabwe.

The American ambassador, who said he was in Bulawayo to "touch base" and have a feel of the "temperature" in the region, drew gasps of surprise from reporters when he claimed that inflation would spiral to 1,5 million percent by December, a projection which he based on estimates from the "private sector".

He further claimed that this would accelerate the "endgame" and precipitate the collapse of the economy.

Asked about the foreign funding of hostile pirate radio stations like the Voice of America’s Studio 7 and SW Radio, Mr Dell confirmed that his government set up VOA’s Studio 7 which illegally broadcasts anti-Government propaganda into Zimbabwe.

"I don’t know about SW Radio but yes, about the Voice of America, we do fund that," he said.

The pirate radio stations have been accused of broadcasting anti-Government vitriol to whip up people’s emotions as part of a regime change agenda.

Mr Dell left the meeting early to attend a court hearing in Bulawayo in solidarity with the leaders of WOZA, an anti-Government body. The Woza leaders were arrested for holding an illegal demonstration.

Mr Dell, who was posted to Zimbabwe in 2004, vowed in his Senate confirmation hearing that he would work to effect regime change in Zimbabwe like he did in Yugoslavia when he helped topple Slobodan Milosevic.

He has, however, come to the end of his tenure without fulfilling that pledge.

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