Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mzembi Defends Zimabwe's Diplomatic Position

Mzembi defends Zim’s diplomatic position

Monday, 30 May 2011 22:25
From Obi Egbuna in Washington DC.
Zimbabwe Herald

On Friday May 20 2011, Zimbabwe's Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Walter Mzembi gave a keynote address at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy's International Symposium in Washington DC.

The theme was, "The Role and Responsibilities of the US and Europe in a Changing World Order: Evaluating the Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions".
It was Minister Mzembi's first visit to the United States since the summer of 2009 when he was the only member of Zimbabwe's inclusive Government delegation, who was singled out and barred by US President Barack Obama from entering the White House.

The group came to Washington in pursuit of a fully fledged political re-engagement with the US Government. That delegation was led by Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. This gesture sent a bold statement to President Mugabe and Zanu-PF, that regardless of the outcome of Zimbabwe's GPA/inclusive Government, the Obama administration would stand firmly in the corner of the MDC faction, led by Prime Tsvangirai.

This was made abundantly clear when during the photo-op with the delegation, President Obama said absolutely nothing about Zimbabwe's decision to form an inclusive Government, and referred to Prime Minister Tsvangirai as his partner in relation to political and economic developments in Zimbabwe.

The timing of Minister Mzembi's visit to Washington comes only two months after President Obama, for the third year in a row used the Presidential executive order to extend US-EU sanctions against Zimbabwe, and one year after Prime Minister Tsvangirai received the National Democratic Institute's Herriman award from former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy was founded in 1999 and has headquarters in Washington DC and Berlin, Germany. Their main objectives are successful inter-cultural interaction, and also to enable and enhance inter and intra-cultural dialogue between different cultures.

It is also important to note that Minister Mzembi has been offered a seat on ICD's advisory board, which puts him shoulder to shoulder with the former US Secretary of Homeland Security Mr Michael Chertoff, Ms Katherine Marshall, the senior advisor to the World Bank and the 22nd President of the Australian Senate Mr Alan Ferguson, who currently serve on ICD's board.

The Minister used this opportunity to remind the audience that President Mugabe has always functioned from the intellectual and political premise, that Westerners cannot teach Zimbabwe anything about democracy and soft power.

Because President Mugabe and Zanu-PF pardoned the Rhodesians for the war crimes they committed against the Zimbabwean people, any attempts to lecture him are almost as outlandish as the missionaries coming to Africa to teach religious and spiritual values.

The Minister followed this up by notifying the gathering that Zimbabweans are just as passionate about Zanu-PF's land reclamation programme, as US citizens are about the fight against terrorism, as the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks steadily approaches.

The Minister also noted the inability of the US Government to discuss its Africa policy on moral ground, citing the unconditional support of Mobutu Sese Seko and mercenary groups - Renamo in Mozambique along with Unita in Angola.

He also condemned the US Government's decision in the past to allow US companies to import Rhodesian chrome, at a moment in history when they were supposedly in favour of iron-clad sanctions against Rhodesia's UDI under the leadership of its Prime Minister Ian Smith, that maneuver also coincided with the clandestine measure to deploy 1 000 Vietnam veterans to fight alongside Rhodesians during the Second Chimurenga.

A very important issue for Zimbabwe to monitor will be how the US-EU alliance will strategically respond to ICD's decision to offer Minister Mzembi a position on its board, especially when we take into consideration how they attempted to prevent his predecessor (Minister) Francis Nhema from chairing the UN Committee for Sustainable Development in 2007.

This was in conjunction with their feeble attempts to prevent President Mugabe from addressing the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome twice in the 21st century. Because ICD puts strong emphasis on conducting research and running programmes, when it comes to developing their methodology and activity, Zimbabwe finally has a platform in the Western think tank community to effectively challenge Ronald Reagan's brainchild - the National Endowment for Democracy.

The strategic value of this overture by ICD moving into the future helps Zimbabwe immensely, because NED's director, Carl Gershman takes pride in telling anyone who will listen what their organisation does out in the open, and what the CIA does behind closed doors.

That statement by Mr Gershman is definitely on Zimbabwe's radar, since we are only two years removed from Gershman, revealing to the world that NED is financing 14 civil society groups on the ground in Zimbabwe.

While Gershman's position on the NED is correct, the CIA has undergone a facelift that supposedly represents a tactical shift due to the end of the Cold War.

The CIA on its fact-book makes the claim that Zimbabwe is now a point of narcotics distribution into South Africa, and that prostitution and forced farm labour on land acquired through the land reclamation programme are quite prevalent on the ground throughout the country.

Because reckless propaganda of this sort is used to blatantly peddle falsehoods of this magnitude, the Minister has a stage to convince the international community that Zimbabwe is entitled to the last word on what goes on within its borders.

The irony is that Gershman's point was not exposed, courtesy of a WikiLeaks file. On the contrary, he was testifying at a Zimbabwe hearing organised by the US Sub-committee for Africa and Global Health, chaired by Congressman Donald Payne.

The key point to be extrapolated from Gershman's remarks was that Congressman Payne, a lifetime Democrat, served on NED's board for nine years, and that Payne's fellow CBC member Congressman Gregory Meeks replaced him in that capacity.

This makes it difficult for Congressman Meeks to convince anyone that his visits to Zimbabwe are aimed at fighting to have US-EU sanctions lifted once and for all.

This was followed up by Senator Russell Feingold in a hearing he organised, informing the world in September 2009 that the US Government was going to finance the office of Prime Minister Tsvangirai, shortly after President Obama said US funding would be channelled through NGOs.

The news was delivered with US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, who gave testimony at the hearing, standing by his side. The Zimbabwean people will be pleased to learn Minister Mzembi received a cordial welcome from Ambassador Carson, when he visited the US State Department.

From a diplomatic point of view, this was promising as we are one year removed from Ambassador Carson's public clash with Zimbabwe's Ambassador to the US Dr Machivenyika Mapuranga at the African Ambassador's Africa day celebration in Washington DC.

This means that ICD, providing Minister Mzembi a platform to challenge the merit of US-EU policy on Zimbabwe, is not only a unique opportunity but potentially an invaluable tool, because Zimbabwe's colonial language happens to be English.

Minister Mzembi also discussed the status of the petition being circulated inside Zimbabwean borders, aimed at escalating the fight on the grassroots level to lift US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The audience was surprised that the petition now has 3 million active and verifiable signatures. The Minister also challenged the audience to contextualise the ramifications of the concept of soft diplomacy, which was vital because President Obama's statement, "We must understand the might of our military must be matched by the strength of our diplomacy", which justifies pro-war diplomats like Christopher Dell and James McGee pursuing a regime change in the name of democracy and human rights.

The Minister however, did mention that the current US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ambassador Charles Ray, has displayed a level of objectivity and decency, that Zimbabwe views as promising in comparison to the abrasive style of Mr Dell and Mr McGee.

The presence of Minister Mzembi on ICD's board helps Zimbabwe raise the question: how long will President Obama and his cabinet continue to turn a deaf ear to the wishes of Sadc and the AU concerning the lifting of US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe?

This capacity also helps Minister Mzembi to challenge the international community to analyse President Obama's decision to deploy his National Security Council Africa desk director Michelle Gavin, to serve as the Ambassador to Botswana, who the US Government considers a diamond in the rough, because of their pro US-EU stance on Zimbabwe.

It was President Khama who volunteered Botswana's space for a military invasion of Zimbabwe, and stated the only reason he wants US-EU sanctions lifted on Zimbabwe is because President Mugabe and Zanu-PF are exploiting the sanctions for leverage. The first order of business for Ambassador Gavin could potentially be giving President Khama a pop quiz, on her paper, "Planning for Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe", which she wrote as a fellow for the Council of Foreign Relations in 2007.

The Minister reminded the crowd that as Zimbabwe enters the 10th year of confronting the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, we are also approaching the 50th anniversary of the US blockade on Cuba, a policy the US Government has gotten away with maintaining, even when it is diametrically opposed by the entire planet. The Cuban delegation at the UN General Assembly in 2009 were extremely pleased, as they witnessed President Mugabe mention how the US blockade on Cuba has cost the country roughly 96 billion dollars.

The Minister also raised the point that the US Government only recently removed former South African President and global icon Nelson Mandela, from their list of terrorists, which exposed President Mugabe will not lose one ounce of sleep for being labelled the world's worst dictator by the Washington Post's parade magazine in 2010.


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