Sunday, March 01, 2009

Political Settlement Show of Imperialist Defiance in SADC

Political settlement show of imperialist defiance in Sadc

AFRICAN FOCUS by Tafataona P. Mahoso

In our February 15 instalment we described the Sadc-Pan African contribution to a political settlement in Zimbabwe as an example of successful defiance of the intrusive imperialist Anglo-Saxon agenda.

But we needed to go further to ask the people of Zimbabwe and all of Sadc some critical questions about our collective understanding of what happened, how it happened and why. As their way of coping with the declining influence and power of the former Soviet Union and its final collapse in 1989-1991, the Anglo-Saxon powers began to substitute "democratisation" and "multipartyism" for the old fight to "roll back communism" in the South. They therefore financed and celebrated the proliferation of multiple political parties in the countries of the South while retaining, insisting on, and celebrating "bipartisanship" for themselves, especially in the case of the US.

The result for Zimbabwe was that by 1998, according to the late Professor Masipula Sithole, there were more than 12 opposition political parties and the number rose to more than 21 at election times.

The external interest to invest in multipartyism became so intense that by 1997 the New Labour Secretary for International Development Clare Short did not just renege on Britain’s prior commitment to compensate Zimbabwe for land stolen by British settlers here – she in fact removed the British commitment to help in Zimbabwe’s post-war reconstruction and instead focused on investing in prospects for the multilateral Anglo-Saxon funding of opposition politics for regime change against the liberation movement in government. The external interest to invest in multipartyism was so intense that both academics and editors in Zimbabwe were instigated to focus on the multiparty project as part and parcel of the economic structural adjustment programme. For example, The Financial Gazette and Professor Masipula Sithole published the following articles on the single issue of opposition politics and multipartyism: The Unfairness of Party Financing, October 31 1997; Collapse of Zanu-PF’s Authoritarianism, December 11 1997; The Tasks of Democratic Opposition, December 18 1997; Creating a Democratic Alternative, January 8 1998; Prospects for a Viable Opposition, part one, April 30 1998; Prospects for Viable Opposition, part two, May 14 1998; Unity Accord of Opposition Parties?, July 30 1998; and Opposition Parties and the Problem of Infiltration, August 7 1998.

That was a remarkable pattern for a weekly newspaper.

And in September 1999 the proposed "unity accord" of opposition parties was launched in the form of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), with generous funding from the white Rhodesian lobby, the white Commercial Farmers’ Union, the Scandinavian countries, the Westminster Foundation (UK), the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust (UK), the International Republican Institute (US), the National Democratic Institute (US) and many other Anglo-Saxon agencies.

It was this MDC which was used to ask for economic sanctions to be imposed upon the people and the nation. Those sanctions created the catastrophic economic and social conditions which the Sadc intervention and the resultant inclusive Government of Zimbabwe were meant to reverse in order to rescue the people. Sadc launched its initiative to mediate in Zimbabwe and to fight the illegal sanctions in Tanzania in March 2007.

And in order for the catastrophic effects of the illegal sanctions to be tackled, the people of Zimbabwe together with Sadc are demanding that all the three parties in the inclusive Government should speak with one voice, work with the same purpose and treat the need to defeat sanctions or have them lifted as the need of one people against its foreign Anglo-Saxon enemies.

As a result, it is Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who has left his former Dutch Embassy hideout and come to Munhumutapa. It is Prime Minister Tsvangirai and his colleagues who have now began to confirm the same things which President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF had been saying in the last 10 years:

That the sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are not targeted on individuals but on the whole economy and all of the people;

That the main challenge facing the economy of Zimbabwe and causing the catastrophic hardships, including cholera, against the people, is lack of investment and lack of lines of credit as a result of the same illegal sanctions. That in US dollar terms, the lack of credit is about $5 billion, which is another way of saying the damage to Zimbabwe’s economy as a result of illegal sanctions is at a minimum more than US$5 billion; and

That the damage to Zimbabwe caused by illegal sanctions will take a long time, much longer than three years, to repair.

However, President Mugabe is not going to do or say in turn those things about Zimbabwe which the Prime Minister used to do and say before joining the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe. Therefore the people must welcome this change in the Prime Minister’s stance and thank President Mugabe for remaining honest and steadfast in his defence and articulation of the common interests of all Zimbabweans. For a long time it was said any talk of sanctions was an excuse for Mugabe’s mismanagement of the economy which was supposed to be the sole cause of all our economic problems.

Now, there is one question in the minds of the people which the media may not ask because our journalists have been taught, since the late 1980s, that having many political parties is one of the key indicators of a "flourishing and mature democracy". This is what Professor Noam Chomsky calls the creation costly of "misimpressions".

The United Kingdom, the United States and their allies took a decision to sponsor "multiparty democracy" in Zimbabwe. The most successful product of that sponsorship was a political formation which was used to invite and justify illegal sanctions. The illegal sanctions destroyed the economy, the health sector, the education sector, and the manufacturing sector. The illegal sanctions almost succeeded in defeating the African land reclamation movement and the people’s agrarian reform.

In order to deal with this national catastrophe, the multiple parties have now been forced by the people, by Sadc, and by commonsense, to form a coalition which once again is being asked by the people to work for them as if it were one movement and one party in Government.

Two questions arise. What did the people and the nation benefit from the proliferation of sponsored political formations, if when it came to tackling real primary and fundamental challenges the same parties needed to work as one? For to say they must now work as one means they have not been working for a common purpose.

Second, is multipartyism a true benchmark for "democracy?" Why is it that the biggest external sponsor of multipartyism in fact celebrates and insists on "bipartisanship" in which two internally funded twin-parties are also required by national interests to work as one?

The stable and almost permanent dominance of just two similar political parties in the United States does not mean that there are no people or groups who want multipartyism. The ruling classes of the United States, representing the corporate elite, the political elite and the media elite, made a decision to set up a national structure which has in-built financial, legal and communication barriers against any political formations beyond the two-party system.

According to Allvin Toffler:

In the period 1960-72, the number of "independents" unaffiliated with any party in the United States shot up 400 percent, making 1972 the first time in more than a century that the number of independents (across the country) equalled the membership of one of the (two) major parties.

In other words, there is nothing God-given or natural about the dominant and permanent-looking twin-party structure of the US system. The people are there who could trigger the proliferation of thousands of political parties. But the rulers of North America decided long ago that such a proliferation would not be in the national interest and might be a mockery of the real purposes of democracy.

Toffler makes it clear that the rulers of North America created political system which operates like "a batch processor" which allows only two serious national presidential candidates and which is switched off after the election, so that people’s energies are directed toward production and consumption for profit making most of the time.

"The public is allowed to choose between (millionaire) candidates at stipulated times, after which the formal democracy machine is switched off again.

The reason why the US insists on a streamlined and entrenched twin-party system are quite clear when one studies the society. As Toffler documents in The Third Wave:

"The electorate is not merely breaking into splinters. The splinter groups themselves are increasingly transitory . . . So diverse are these interests at both the national and local levels that politicians and officials can no longer keep track of them.

"Mobile-home owners organise to fight zoning changes. Farmers battle power transmission companies. Retired people mobilise against school taxes. Feminists, Chicanos, strip miners and anti-strip miners organise, as do single parents and anti-porn crusaders. A Midwest magazine even reports formation of an organisation of ‘Gay Nazis’ — an embarrassment, no doubt, to both heterosexual Nazis and the Gay Liberation Movement."

In this mayhem, it is no wonder the US system is hostile to the type of multiparty politics which the US State Department foists on other countries. What this means is that the US directs the energies of its population away from national politics and toward private and civil pursuits, except when the political activities can be owned and controlled within the twin-party system.

Yet when the same powers deal with countries such as Zimbabwe, they cultivate and fund multi-partyism as a weapon of destabilisation. At present, Africa is watching one example of such destabilisation, Madagascar, where the current US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, boasted of sponsoring the mass action which brought regime change in 2004. The administration set up by the forces which took power through unconstitutional regime change in 2004 are today victims of their opponents who have also used the same tactics against the 2004 regime.

In his Black Book of American Intervention in Chile, Armando Uribe concluded that the political supremacy of US-led imperialism depended both on military control and economic control. Security and military control was the main objective of the empire’s public institutions while economic control was the main objective of its private and corporate institutions. Uribe concluded, thus: "dividing and bringing internal confusion to all the structures of the dominated country, beginning with the political and administrative, is a deliberate activity of the public and private agents of imperialism."

Further, the same Anglo-Saxon powers destabilising Zimbabwe through the instruments of sponsored "civil society" and multipartyism are determined to prevent and outlaw the external funding of political organisations and activists within their own countries. Such intrusive or illicit funding from abroad is condemned and associated with money-laundering, espionage, treason and terrorism, with the US Patriot Act declaring that the flow of illegal funds is the fuel for terrorism. So Africa must ask itself why it should tolerate foreign-funded political parties and NGOs used to launder illicit funds for them?

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