Thursday, March 02, 2017

Africa’s Long Road to Decolonization
February 24, 2017
Opinion & Analysis
Joram Nyathi Spectrum
Zimbabwe Herald

Unconventional American president Donald Trump was elected on the basis of his “America First” pitch, beating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, seen by most (through grossly biased media lenses) as more popular and appealing.

I am one of those who hate Hillary Clinton because of her role in the imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe for the sin of reclaiming back its land and other natural resources therein.

The question exercising the minds of most Zimbabweans across the political divide is whether the Republicans, more specifically, Trump, will lift those sanctions imposed on the eve of Christmas in 2001 by George W Bush on specious claims of human rights violations. (If human rights and human life for all humans, not just Europeans and Americans, were sacrosanct, Tony Blair and Bush would be serving life terms.)

Bush’s successor, one Barack Obama, had no qualms renewing the inhuman sanctions every year since 2009.

The answer therefore as to whether Trump will lift sanctions on Zimbabwe is that it is a task seemingly beyond him.

That’s regardless of whether he wants to put America first. He will be forced to maintain them, by Zimbabweans and by America itself, thanks to the evil handiwork of Barack Obama as he departed the White House this year.

The European Union is acting in tow and never wanted to disappoint Obama.

Trump has already stirred more than sufficient controversy by describing Nato as “obsolete” and demanding that it pays for American protection.

He wouldn’t want to further strain relations with the EU over Zimbabwe.

Apart from the blood ties binding this collective sanctions against a poor African nation, the real reasons for the sanctions on Zimbabwe are becoming common cause except to the victims themselves, Zimbabweans.

We still repeat the rotten lie that they were imposed because of human rights violations and rigging of elections.

American magazine Newsweek stated the truth, if by a Freudian slip, this week.

It reported that the Council of the European Union last Friday renewed sanctions on Zimbabwe as a birthday present to President Mugabe. It then stated that the sanctions have been in place since 2002.

“The EU sanctions,” reported Newsweek magazine, “were first imposed following a programme of land grabs enforced by Mugabe, where farms owned by white Zimbabweans were forcibly seized.”

Then this secondary cause, “Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has also been accused of rigging elections and cracking down on political opposition.”

Strange enough, even Zimbabweans, who should know the reasons for the liberation war and should have read the national Constitution by now, still repeat the embittered claims of “land grabs”.

In an interview ahead of his birthday anniversary this week, President Mugabe expressed the hope that President Trump might have a different take on sanctions.

He was also less judgmental about his policies, but happily remarked, “When it comes to Donald Trump . . . talking of American nationalism, well America for America, America for Americans — on that we agree. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans.”

He said Trump might relook at the issue of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe.

This might have been possible, but Obama made it impossible, regardless of how much Trump dislikes his Democratic predecessor.

A few days before he left the White House, Obama made it his business to set a foreign policy agenda on Zimbabwe. This is based on the old lie that Zimbabwe posed an unusual and extraordinary threat to US interests.

It is an open secret that the threat was about Zimbabwe repossessing its land from descendants of Britain colonisers.

It was about a refusal by Zimbabweans to honour and respect white colonial privileges in a post-colonial Zimbabwe. When Obama became US President in 2009, he resolved to maintain the status quo. This truth Trump will never know.

Trump might want to pursue the America first principle and forget about little nations such as Zimbabwe. But by renewing those sanctions on the eve of his departure from the Oval Office, Obama ensured the “intelligence community” kept Zimbabwe on the radar. And Trump has had too many run-ins with that community so far to start questioning in what respect a tiny country such as Zimbabwe could pose an extraordinary threat to a US that’s looking at positive cooperation with Russia, China even.

In any case, if he dared ask, he would be told the same old lie being repeated by the opposition and civic society here that the sanctions are all about human rights, not the inconvenient truth about Zimbabweans demanding their land back: Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans, Zimbabwe first.

That self-serving lie about human rights violations leaves Zimbabwe at the mercy of the intelligence community which is only too eager to have its sinister agenda endorsed locally in the opposition and NGOs community to protect and secure the colonial legacy.

The America establishment and its intelligence community share an abiding foreign policy agenda on Zimbabwe: the sanctions serve to teach Mugabe and his people a lesson, that blacks have no history and therefore can have no claim to land.

Pursuant to this, Americans and their European Union counterparts don’t mind inflicting injuries on thousands of fellow white Zimbabweans, who had no direct interest in the land wrangle.

They are mere collateral damage. Which sums the raison d’etre of the sanctions regime.

Without land (real estate) there can’t be real wealth and blacks should never discover the secret of the settlers’ wealth.

Mugabe is no angel; that we all know. But at the core of the whiteman’s fury with him is land ownership between black and whites. It is an unforgivable sin. No amount of human rights observance can cleanse that.

Even if Trump was to change his mind after threatening during his election campaign that he wanted to throw Presidents Mugabe and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni into jail if he won the elections, his tormented relations with both the Republican and Democratic parties are such that he would find it easier to scale up Mt Everest than convince them to repeal the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.

The House Representatives are happier listening to stories of torture, horror and mayhem from Zimbabwe. Most of which can readily be manufactured; we have seen how easy it is to misuse and abuse the social media globally.

It doesn’t help Zimbabwe’s cause that the country is preparing for harmonised elections next year and the opposition and civic society organisations are preparing their own litany of grievances to make Trump look worse than Hitler if he proposed to lift sanctions on Zimbabwe.

Some reports claim that American sanctions are costing Sudan $3 billion in lost GDP every year.

People are dying because banks can’t process payments for medicines and life-saving equipment because America’s Office for Foreign Assets Control will punish them for doing so.

I imagine Zimbabwe is in no better situation. If we are also losing $3 billion in GDP every year due to American and European sanctions, that means in 16 years we have lost roughly $64 billion.

Meanwhile our economists glibly tell us the economy of Zimbabwe has declined by a factor of more than 50 in the past 15 years, but deny the effect of sanctions in this disaster.

To them it’s all because of black ownership — indigenisation is to blame because white investors can’t do in Zimbabwe as they please. It’s all about human rights violations and the absence of white property rights.

So for now the slogan shall remain America for Americans; Africa for America and Europe. It’s a long road to decolonization Africa.

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