Monday, September 24, 2007

Southern African Development Community Threatens EU Summit Boycott Over Zimbabwe Policy

Sadc warns EU of summit boycott

News Editor Farai Dzirutwe
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

ZAMBIAN President and Southern African Development Community (Sadc) chair Mr Levy Mwanawasa has warned that the regional bloc will boycott the European Union/Africa summit if President Mugabe is excluded from the meeting to be held in Portugal this December.

Mr Mwanawasa reportedly made the remarks in the Zambian capital on Friday afternoon just before departure for New York where he will join other global heads of state who will be attending the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly that opens next Tuesday.

The Sadc chairman was reacting to British Prime Minister Mr Gordon Brown’s announcement that he would not attend the summit if Cde Mugabe was invited.

Speaking to journalists at Lusaka International Airport, Mr Mwanawasa said President Mugabe’s exclusion would not be in the interests of dialogue, adding that he would lead a Sadc boycott of the meeting in the event that the Zimbabwean leader was barred from attending.

In threatening to boycott the Lisbon summit, Mr Brown last week claimed that Cde Mugabe’s presence in Portugal would divert attention from important issues such as poverty, climate change and health.

However, President Mwanawasa shot back by saying: "As Sadc chair, I have always said dialogue is important to resolve any problems and unless you meet that person you perceive as a wrongdoer, you cannot resolve anything."

"Those who have a bone to chew with President Mugabe have to meet with him to find a solution."

He was further quoted by Zambian newspapers as saying that it would be unfortunate for Britain not to attend the summit because of President Mugabe’s presence.

"As far as the region is concerned, in this case the AU/EU summit hangs in the balance.

"I will not go to Portugal if President Mugabe is not allowed to attend because it will be a waste of time," he told the Times of Zambia.

Mr Mwanawasa said there was need for dialogue between Britain and Zimbabwe for the two parties to iron out their differences.

Prime Minister Brown was last week quoted in the British media as having reaffirmed his position that he would stay away from Lisbon if President Mugabe was invited, citing what he claimed to be a "tragic situation" in Zimbabwe.

Mr Brown further claimed that he was taking this action in the interests of Zimbabwean people, adding that he was working with other interest groups to effect regime change in Zimbabwe. He also threatened last Thursday to toughen sanctions against Zimbabwe and to ban more people from travelling to the 27-nation EU.

"Working with our international partners, we must do more to
press the Zimbabwean Government to change," he said.

Mr Brown has, however, been widely condemned by the African lobby for his stance with the African Union and now Sadc declaring that they will boycott the meeting if Cde Mugabe does not attend.

Summit host Portugal has said the potential rewards of closer ties between the two continents outweigh the antagonism between the leaders of Britain and Zimbabwe. The EU, most of whose members are former colonial powers in Africa, is keen to regain control on the continent, especially on the back of growing Sino-African ties which have seen China’s influence soaring in recent years.

The Asian giant has poured billions of euros in aid and investment into Africa over the last few years and this has ruffled the feathers of the EU and the US whose grip on the continent is slowly slipping away. Analysts have said although Africa is the world's poorest continent, it still offers plenty of potential business and important natural resources, hence the desire by the West to maintain close ties.

Zanu-PF, MDC to discuss sanctions

By Morris Mkwate

THE ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition MDC parties have agreed to debate the effects of the sanctions that some Western governments have imposed on Zimbabwe in the on-going Sadc-brokered dialogue.

Although both parties have confirmed that the issue has been placed on the agenda, details of the talks were not available by yesterday.

Justice Minister and Zanu-PF negotiator Cde Patrick Chinamasa told the House of Assembly during debate on the Constitutional Amendment (No. 18) Bill last Tuesday that the two parties would also discuss the land reform programme. He said the two items were among several others on the agenda.

Cde Chinamasa indicated that the issues would be attended to after Parliament’s passing of the Bill. The proposed Constitutional amendments have gone through the House of Assembly and now await transmission to the Senate.

"An agenda composed of a broad range of issues, including discussion on the principle of coming up with a new Constitution, and, if agreed, the modalities by which this can be handled, was agreed upon," said Cde Chinamasa.

"Other issues on this agenda are the land question and sanctions," he added.

The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Cde Nicholas Goche, who is also a negotiator for the ruling party, told The Sunday Mail in an interview last week that the agreement to debate the sanctions had been reached at the Sadc talks’ first meeting held at the end of May.

He said the MDC wanted the two parties to discuss provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which they deemed to be repressive.

"On our side, of course, we wanted to make sure that we discussed the land issue and that we are one as far as that issue is concerned. We also wanted to discuss the illegal sanctions.

"As far as we are concerned, the opposition has also been involved in campaigning for sanctions to be imposed against this country.

"We also wanted to discuss the pirate radio stations that are demonising the Government of Zimbabwe and seemed in favour of the opposition. So that was the basis upon which the agenda was agreed upon," said Cde Goche.

In March this year, an extraordinary Sadc heads of state summit in Tanzania passed a resolution advocating dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC.

South African President Mr Thabo Mbeki was appointed mediator under the initiative whose main objective is to iron out stark political differences between the two parties.

So far about 20 meetings have been convened, with a three-member team led by South Africa’s Local Government Minister Mr Sydney Mufamadi facilitating the deliberations.

Cde Chinamasa and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Cde Nicholas Goche form the Zanu-PF negotiating team while that of the MDC comprises Professor Welshman Ncube and Mr Tendai Biti, who belong to the Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai factions of the party respectively.

Several matters will be discussed in the second half of the dialogue, but deliberations on sanctions have in the meantime caught instant attention. For the past seven years, the matter has been at the centre of Zimbabwean politics as the sanctions are widely seen to be having debilitating effects on the economy.

Government says the sanctions are a direct retaliation to the country’s land reform programme, which sought to address imbalances in land distribution.

The West denies this notion, but analysts say the economy-crippling measures are at the centre of the socio-economic problems that Zimbabwe is facing.

Cde Chinamasa said the dialogue was progressing in terms of a two-track process. The first track is the expeditious passing of the Bill while the second entails discussing outstanding issues, including sanctions and the land question.

"The parties agreed that upon resolution of these issues, the total package can be referred to our respective constituencies for approval and endorsement," said Cde Chinamasa.

"Of the two parallel tracks referred to above, the first is the more urgent and Zanu-PF and the MDC’s negotiating teams agreed on a raft of amendments to the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill (No. 18) subject to approval from their principals."

Prof Ncube confirmed that the negotiating parties would, among other concessions, deliberate on the sanctions.

"They (sanctions) are on the agenda and we will deal with them," he said.

"We hope that we will find each other in all these issues. When we come back to this House we will come back with a package which includes resolutions on all the issues that have divided us over the last eight years or so."

The revelation that the sanctions will now be debated by the two parties come in the wake of threats by British Prime Minister Mr Gordon Brown that he was looking at toughening sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"We are prepared to consider further sanctions. There are, in fact, 130 people or so (in Zimbabwe) who are subject to these sanctions. I believe that these sanctions could be extended to the families of people so more people could be under sanctions," he said.

"We will be prepared to extend these sanctions and we will do so with proposals to the European Union in the next few days," Mr Brown told ITV News on Thursday.

Developments in Harare are thus expected to rile the British who are banking on sanctions in their regime change strategy.

Meanwhile, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has emerged among the few voices that have condemned the agreement between Zanu-PF and the MDC to amend the Constitution.

In a statement last week, the NCA claimed the MDC’s approval of the amendment was "treacherous". The organisation also advocated the complete overhaul of the Constitution.

"As a matter of principle, the NCA rejects piece-meal amendments to the current Constitution," read the statement.

Debating the amendments in the House of Assembly, MDC (Tsvangirai faction) deputy leader and Makokoba legislator Ms Thokozani Khupe said her party was committed to the on-going dialogue.

Reacting to news of the agreement, most analysts last week commended the two parties saying the move was a demonstration of political maturity and unity of purpose.

President arrives in Cairo

From Caesar Zvayi in CAIRO, Egypt

PRESIDENT Mugabe arrived here yesterday morning en route to New York to attend the 62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly that opens next Tuesday.

The President, who is accompanied by First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and senior Government officials, was met at Cairo International Airport by Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Egypt, Cde Aaron Mabhoyi Ncube, and embassy staff.

This year’s session, running under the theme "Responding to Climate Change", focuses on five key issues advocating multi-lateral solutions to global challenges.

The five topics include climate change, financing for development, implementation of the counter-terrorism strategy, management reform, and follow-up measures to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Climate change is set to take centre stage as evidenced by the motif chosen for the general debate, "Responding to Climate Change".

The world’s peace and security situation, that has been compounded by the unilateralism and militarism of the United States and its allies, is also up for discussion, particularly the situation in the Middle East as the UN is keen to play a key role in rebuilding Iraq.

Also on the agenda is the elimination of unilateral extraterritorial coercive measures as a means of political and economic compulsion, a pressing item in light of the illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the US and its allies in retaliation for the land reform programme.

UN Security Council reform is also up for discussion as almost all member states agree that the Security Council, as currently constituted, does not reflect the world of today but that of 1945 that was dominated by the victorious allies of the Second World War.

There have been increasing calls for the reform of the UN system particularly the Security Council, the only UN organ that makes substantive decisions binding on all member states but which is dominated by five permanent members, all of whom were the victorious allied forces of the Second World War.

The five permanent members are Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States. These are joined by 10 temporary members elected for two-year terms.

The 10, however, do not have the veto power wielded by the five permanent members who can shoot down any decision.

Africa wants the Security Council increased from the present 15 to 25 members with two veto-wielding seats for the continent. Alternatively the seats may not have the veto as long as no other member wields it.

The General Assembly is the only UN organ in which all 192 member states are represented. It meets annually or in special sessions, usually on the third Tuesday of September every year and its work is suspended in late December, only to resume as required the following year.

President Mugabe resumes his journey to New York today.

Importance of collective memory

AFRICAN FOCUS By Tafataona Mahoso

The recent agreement between ruling Zanu-PF Members of Parliament and their opposition MDC colleagues to co-sponsor and approve Constitutional Amendment No. Bill 18 on September 19 2007 has opened the opportunity for Zimbabweans to reclaim and reconfigure their collective memory, which was being assaulted and contaminated by the British and their North American and Australian cousins since the early 1990s.

The assaults on Zimbabwe’s collective memory were so intense and so relentless that, when the agreement between Zanu-PF and the MDC was announced, it came as a shock to the "regime change" forces and made news on BBC, CNN, Sky News and throughout the imperial conveyer belt of lies.

The agreement made shocking or surprising news because since 1997-1999, a significant minority among Zimbabweans had succumbed to the Euro-American assaults and had suffered a disabling memory loss or disorientation, making it difficult to imagine that our Parliament could ever reach a unanimous decision on an issue of strategic importance for all the people. Some had come to treat the disorientation or memory lapse of the MDC-affiliated minority as something so permanent and so contagious as to be irreversible.

Perhaps the strategic value of collective memory in the life of a people can be understood by appreciating what happens when that capacity for collective cohesion has been scrambled, compromised or wiped out. In her article called "The Culture of Lies", Debravka Ugresic called the opposite or scrambling of national collective memory "terror by forgetting".

In other words, she described the scrambling of national memory as a form of terror; and she called the result of such scrambling "The Culture of Lies". A collective memory lapse allows imperialists to cultivate a culture of lies throughout our society.

In other words, a people who allow outsiders to assault, scramble and reconfigure their collective memory will not only live a culture of lies but also suffer a form of collective madness. Ugresic was describing what happened to the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia when the collective memory and cohesion of its people were assaulted by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), the major states of the European Union (EU) and their various spy agencies.

Ugresic was not speculating. The dismantling of Yugoslavia was carefully and strategically planned. For example, the US government under President Ronald Reagan issued two directives which included ways to effect "regime change" in Yugoslavia.

The first one, National Security Decision Directive 54 (NSDD54), was issued in 1982 and dealt with Yugoslavia as part of a whole East European region which required "regime change". The second one, NSDD133, was issued two years later in 1984, focusing specifically on Yugoslavia.

While the underlying reasons for these directives was to capture Eastern Europe and Yugoslavia for corporate benefit, the means to be used had to include the scrambling of the collective memory of each of the nations involved. The collective memory of the people, the basis for national cohesion and self-determination, had to be stolen or at least disoriented enough to allow the looting of resources and markets. The culture of lies, employing intellectual and spiritual "terror by forgetting" had to be cultivated first.

This is what happened in Zimbabwe in 1890. This is what happened again especially in the 1990s, through the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) and the creation of the foreign-sponsored Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Vapambepfungwa always preceded vapambepfumi. The so-called NGO sector or civil society sector attacking the passage of Constitutional Amendment No. 18 Bill today are the present successors to Cecil John Rhodes’ vapambepfungwa of the 1890s. Collective memory is important for any people together to be able to define and recognise their national interest, to defend their national sovereignty and to anticipate any threat to the same.

Before defining what this memory is, we may start by describing what it is used for: to facilitate collective strategic thinking, planning and decision-making.

In order for people to plan effectively for their survival, solidarity, autonomy and prosperity, they and their leaders must be able to read the world.

Reading the world means deciphering more than just papers and books. For a people to prevail, they must read and understand complex situations, that is, be able to perceive and decipher their own situational texts based on original strategic observation. For example, the situation created by the 1979 Lancaster House Constitution with its myth of "willing-buyer-willing seller" was not sustainable for Zimbabwe.

A people and their leaders must also be able to read and understand complex relationships among themselves and between themselves and other people: They must be able to perceive and decipher relational texts, based on their strategic observations. Can the relations be sustained, adjusted, condemned or abandoned?

In the modern world, a people must be able to read and understand the character or characters of other societies, other people’s leaders, other people’s institutions and parties and what they portend for the future. This means they must be able to perceive and understand dispositional texts.

They must also be able to recall past events and facts in order to place them in the context of the present and the future, that is, remember and use recalled texts.

They must be able to read and share written evidence and documents or books which also contribute to or facilitate their collective memory, that is to read and understand what are called scripto-centric texts.

In the digital age, they must also be able to scan and make use of electronic texts, putting them into their proper context and using them strategically.

A people must also be able to use what they have experienced or what others have reported in order to imagine and project what they have not yet encountered themselves, that is, they must be able to create or read imagined texts, while placing them also in their proper place.

Now, what enables people to do all these things is memory. Memories or the products of recall are a very small part of memory. Memories may facilitate memory but they do not make memory.

Memory is a collective web which connects a people together so that individual groups or families or persons can go to sleep or go to church or to a picnic and expect that, when they come out, society and the neighbours will still understand them, work with them and continue to live with them, ready to defend one another against recognisable threats if necessary. This memory is, therefore, more concerned with a collective future than with the past, even though the inputs or data it uses to do so definitely come from the past.

This collective memory is, therefore, the capacity to mobilise for mutual survival and fulfilment; the capacity to create and keep a dynamic and comprehensible relationship between past, present and future; the capacity to develop and maintain a dynamic and comprehensible relationship between the individual and the family, the family and the community, the community and the rest of society.

There are many resources that help to build and sustain memory. But in the unhu or ubuntu philosophy, there are three fundamental bases: the body which contains and carries ancient DNA; the social institution, which can be the family, the school, the temple, the church, the Parliament or the liberation movement. The job of this social institution is to foster solidarity. The land, the ground, the space within which autonomy, expression, work and identity are made possible is the third base. These bases form a triad of memory and they are linked to three basic values, which in Euro-centric thinking are called "rights".

The body (whether it is the individual body, or the family or the movement or the nation or the community) will strive for its survival and prosperity. The social institution strives to foster solidarity as the basis for civilisation, for work, for mutual protection and advancement.

The land, the ground, one’s own space, is the arena within which to create, to celebrate and defend autonomy. Therefore, in most languages, the loss of memory is defined in terms of one’s relationship to ground and space. If a person or a people are described as fleeting, unrooted, baseless, shifting or clutching at straws, they are assumed to be suffering a memory lapse or loss of memory, even though they may be tormented by too many disjointed memories.

The idea of memory as an invisible web which makes it possible for a people to feel connected is not just imaginary.

We determine our ages by using linear dating, using the date of birth from which the date of conception can be roughly determined also.

But the voice of Nehanda telling the youths of the 1970s to go and take up the gun to free Zimbabwe is not just a voice from two thousand years back which now occupies new spirit mediums. No. The very genes, the very blood constituting the bodies of the youths are also as ancient as Nehanda. The linear births of these youths may have taken place in the 1950s and 1960s, that is under colonial occupation.

But the memory births of the very same youths, as defined by genetic science, are ancient and, therefore, capable of remembering freedom, remembering a time when there were no settlers, no slavery and no colonialism, even if the person is now in jail.

Now, white imperialists and colonists have always feared African memory. So the first objective of imperialism and colonialism in Zimbabwe was to dissect and chop up the web of African memory and to replace it with the "separate but equal" memories of apartheid, tribalism and sectarianism.

Imperialism dissects the web of African memory in order to replace it with tribes, uprooted tribes, denominations, congregations, sects and single-interest NGOs such as the Girl Child Network.

How does imperialism do all this? If we take the example of Zimbabwe, imperialism sent a Pioneer Column of thugs, thieves and liars to instigate the culture of lies similar to what Ugresic wrote about in the case of Yugoslavia. The people who helped Cecil John Rhodes to steal Zimbabwe were liars cultivating a culture of lies. Liar number one was Sir Hercules Robinson, Governor of Cape Colony in South Africa. He forged the imperial seal on the letters given to Cecil Rhodes to deceive King Lobengula.

When Rhodes’ team of liars reached Lobengula in Zimbabwe they found the king already surrounded by 30 other speculators, liars and fortune hunters also seeking to deceive the same king.

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