Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mediation As Terror-Laundering: Cleansing Sanctions Story in Zimbabwe

Mediation as terror-laundering: Cleansing sanctions story in Zim.

AFRICAN FOCUS By Tafataona P. Mahoso.

The longest section in the US anti-terrorism law, called The Patriot Act, is the section on money laundering. It is called Title III: International Money Laundering Abatement and Anti-Terrorist Financing Act 2001.

Money laundering refers to the process of converting illegal funds, tainted funds, forbidden assets, into clean-looking, legitimate-looking funds or assets. The banks are targeted as the key mediating filters capable of laundering money.

Terror-laundering is the act or process of converting immoral acts or processing evil acts capable of causing terror into innocent-looking, benign-looking, moral-sounding acts or human rights-like processes.

The whole campaign by imperialist powers to rely more and more on “soft power” and the “war of ideas” — instead of overt aggression, military presence and belligerent intrusion — in fact means a great deal of reliance on terror-laundering to deceive people.

The discourse on illegal Anglo-Saxon sanctions against Zimbabwe has been characterised by this terror-laundering in which even the victims participate without knowing, just as victims of money laundering may also not know the source of the tainted money once it has been channelled through the banks.

Let me cite a few examples:

--The Financial Gazette for July 8 2010 carried a story by Professor Ken Mufuka, who is from Masvingo but writes from the US. It was entitled “Primitive mind cannot rise beyond parochial parameters” and it was based on an antiquated and racist binary theory by Levy Bruhl in his 1922 book called The Primitive Mind.

The professor’s white North American sister-in-law by the name of Jean Mufuka recently returned from Zimbabwe where she experienced with the local elites all the apparent effects of illegal sanctions. In addition to the breakdown of water and electricity supply systems, sanctions also affect daily human relations, as can be seen from the current panic being generated in South Africa against Zimbabweans who left their own country due to the sanctions-induced economic stagnation at home.

But Ken Mufuka and his Auntie Jean conclude, for instance, that: “The reason we have no electricity and water (in Zimbabwe) is the electricity and water authorities were organised for the sole purpose of providing a large pool of nepotistic sinecures for the party stalwarts.”

In other words, the daily effects of illegal sanctions as terror in Zimbabwe have been laundered and cleansed through the lenses of an antiquated white racist theory published in 1922! According to Mufuka’s application of that theory, Auntie Jean Mufuka failed to enjoy her holiday in Zimbabwe because the whole Government and the utility and tourist companies are run by Africans who are yet to become civilised, to leave behind the primitive mind. Never mind that most of the technicians and engineers in Zesa and Zinwa were driven away by illegal sanctions or killed by HIV and Aids.

Mufuka’s article and Auntie Jean’s itinerary in Zimbabwe are so totally cleansed of the realities of sanctions that the word does not appear anywhere in the half-page piece!

--On the same day, NewsDay published an editorial called “Bitter sweet truth of Zim industry”. The editorial records, in terms of apparent symptoms only, the very same things this column said were bound to happen as far back as two years ago. But unlike this column the editorial refuses to relate the apparently separate events, the apparently separate symptoms, to any systemic cause or process.

Two years ago, I said in this column that with continuing sanctions and without the Zimbabwe dollar, the economy of Zimbabwe would not recover at the rate which both industrialists and Government officials were forecasting. I said that, by refusing to confront and denounce the illegal sanctions for what they are, the CZI, ZNCC and other business associations were bound to downplay or even ignore the devastating and far-reaching impact of the same sanctions even on the business people’s own strategies and calculations.

I said restricting the entire population and all sectors to the foreign currency basket, with no local currency, meant that the costing threshold for Zimbabwean producers and manufacturers would always be higher than anywhere else in the region. It was not only the challenge of a small population. Even Zambia, Malawi and Namibia were likely to remain more competitive than Zimbabwe for a long time because of sanctions and because of lack of a national currency. The NewsDay editorial recognises the events and the symptoms which I said would be the effects of continuing illegal sanctions and the lack of a local currency. But the editorial is as completely silent on causes as it is on remedies, precisely because it is taboo to acknowledge the terror of illegal sanctions which also destroyed the Zimbabwe dollar.

NewsDay acknowledges that manufacturing capacity will not be anywhere near the once predicted 60 per cent by the end of 2010; that the skills deficit persists; that locally manufactured goods are more expensive and of poorer quality than those produced in the region; that manufacturing and mining machinery needs replacement; and that such replacement requires huge capital investments; and that the agricultural sector also remains depressed and under-skilled.

But instead of calling for national mobilisation and unity against illegal sanctions and for policies premised on the severity and pervasiveness of sanctions, the editorial concludes thus:

“The challenge for Government and the private sector is to review the industrial policy to ensure that the country becomes competitive again. At the moment we are not; we are fast losing our sweetness.” What good is a review which ignores illegal sanctions and the forces responsible for them?

--On July 4 2010, The Standard also carried a story called “Anticipated economic growth a mirage”. Much of the story is based on the views of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which was involved in asking for sanctions in 2000 and is still on record as believing that sanctions should continue. So it is not surprising that the ZCTU also restricts itself to describing the symptoms. For instance, we are told that:

“Of the projected US$810 million vote of credit from co-operating partners, only US$2,9 million has trickled in to be used for capital expenditure projects.

“Our expectation (as ZCTU) was that at least employment levels would increase and standards of living improve.

“The disposable income was supposed to increase to show the difference between the past and the present,” because of sanctions or despite sanctions?

This is incredible discourse. The effect of this is to cleanse the terror which has been inflicted on the people. Elites in Zimbabwe are engaging in terror-laundering through the use of English language euphemisms. Without going all the way to admit that the mass shock experienced by Zimbabweans from 2000 to 2005 was a result of illegal sanctions, former US ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell had this to say to Africa University students and faculty on November 2 2005: “The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 is the cornerstone of US policy toward Zimbabwe. Under the Act, the United States conditions aid and financing for Zimbabwe. . . .

Ladies and gentlemen, no issue today is more important to the future of Zimbabwe nor has the potential to harm the (Sadc) region than the growing collapse of the Zimbabwe economy . . . It was more than dismaying to read a paper published in July by the Centre for Global Development in Washington on the Costs and Causes of Zimbabwe’s Crisis. It is estimated that Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has set the country back more than half a century. The paper calculated that the purchasing power of the average Zimbabwean in 2005 had fallen back to the same level as in 1953 . . . That’s an astonishing reversal of 52 years (at 2005) of progress in only half a dozen years.”

The theory behind the diabolic use of economic terrorism is well established in the neoliberal capitalist doctrine which Naomi Klein called “the shock doctrine”. The sanctions-induced economic and social crisis in Zimbabwe had the effect of taking the country and the people back to 1953 in a short period of six years, according to former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell’s speech on November 2 2005. Such a disastrous situation has the effect of recycling the country back to a “frontier” state, a colonial state. It is unfortunate that journalists did not ask Dell what the significance of 1953 was for the forces of illegal regime change. But the education statistics coming out now show what the US ambassador was celebrating in his 2005 speech.

In 1953, colonial Rhodesia was an open frontier of fresh opportunities for white racists from all over Europe and North America; it was an open “frontier” economically speaking, territorially speaking, ideologically speaking, culturally and morally speaking. African nationalism was still in its infancy.

In 1953 colonial Rhodesia was an open frontier society where Britain resettled its white veterans of the Hitler wars with the assistance of the US Marshall Plan, the World Bank and the Rhodesian piece of racist legislation called the Native Land Husbandry Act which helped to clear African prime farmland of natives. Indeed a new “frontier” colony is always characterised by a creeping, universalised corruption, whatever name the coloniser may give it. Sanctions brought back mass corruption and the school system was not spared. We heard of teachers who needed to be “juiced” in order to teach!

The year 1953 was the frontier year of the start of the white Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Our education system was brought, through sanctions, back to the Rhodesian frontier, with teachers abandoning their classes to go and prospect for diamonds; teachers abandoning pupils to go and work on farms in South Africa and elsewhere. Those who stayed behind often demanded illegal cash payments from pupils in order to replace salaries destroyed by hyperinflation.

At the moment in Zimbabwe the location of the frontier mentality has moved to the makeshift structure called the inclusive Government and the swarming army of more than 2 500 NGOs besieging the IG.

The country has therefore undergone mass shock and there are things which those who have suffered mass shock should and should not do.

So the real purpose of terror is not just the bodily pain which victims feel from injury, hunger or deprivation. The biggest harm is the shock and “terror by forgetting” which produces “the gap between fast-moving events and the information that exists to explain them”.

“Terror by forgetting” means that people begin to experience their lives in isolation and as isolated events which are disjointed. “Terror by forgetting” first and foremost destroys relationships among people and relationships which connect events affecting people. In this sense, the ancient Greeks were like Africans. They understood “terror by forgetting” when their author Sophocles wrote the tragedies of Oedipus at Colonus and Oedipus Tyrannus. The source of the script is the legend of Oedipus who was saved and raised by foreigners.

When he was fully grown up, he began to travel and in his travels he came to the land of his ancestors without recognising it. There he fought and killed his own father Laius during a quarrel. His father's people saw him as hero, the same way some Africans may see US President Barack Obama or his ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Charles Ray, or even former US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

So Oedipus was offered his own father's crown as king, which meant that he also took over the queen, his real biological mother Jocasta, as wife!

After his own mother had borne him four children, the truth was revealed to him. In anguish, Oedipus put out his own eyes and became a wanderer in foreign lands. Anglo-Saxon powers have brought a curse (chikwambo) upon our children, the way Sophocles' Oedipus was cursed. Illegal sanctions have produced a pervasive and paralysing effect on the whole society: One effect is the laundering of economic terror through euphemisms which excuse those responsible and prevent us from finding our way out.

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