Monday, November 12, 2007

Towards A Strong Pan-Africanist Zimbabwe

Towards a Strong Pan-Africanist Zimbabwe

By Dr Obediah Mazombwe
Zimbabwe Sunday Mail

EVEN as Zimbabwe groans under the current severe economic hardships, there is clear evidence that this country will not only survive but thrive. This is in spite of our "powerful" detractors and the real internal problems that inflict us.

We have the natural resources, the human resources, the resourcefulness, time is on our side and, most importantly, we fear God. The difficulties characterising the current phase of our history are occasioned by two factors.

The first is our own internal weaknesses and shortcomings. The second is the desire and determination by the Anglo-American establishments to maintain a perpetual hegemony over us and subjugate our vital interests and rights to theirs, even the rights to our God-given natural resources, and the right to life itself.

With enough will on our part we have enough capacity, and indeed a surplus, to overcome both factors. The ultimate philosophical and historic truth is that no one, except God himself, can stop us.

However, our dominant media, both print and electronic, including the new computer-based digital media, dominated by the West, are not eager to highlight these truths. It is not in their interest to do so, precisely because that defeats the major aim of their most singular and persistent global project since time immemorial, that is to subdue all peoples of the world, indeed all creation, and put them at their service.

The Western establishments would therefore be god unto themselves and unto others, and we reject that. We should do so without reservation and without apology. Our belief is that they are bound to fail dismally in that project and are, in fact, already failing. But as is the case with anything else they find unpalatable, they will not accept that truth, until it overwhelms them.

Thus Western media would not want to highlight anything that even remotely suggests that Zimbabwe is capable of overcoming its challenges, except if that is with the blessing of the Western establishments themselves. Not only will Western media insist that Zimbabwe will surely die without them, they will actually take measures and work very hard to ensure that it happens that way.

Hence the behaviour of Western media like the BBC and its local surrogates and proxies; hence the so-called targeted sanctions; and the "away-with-Mugabe-no-matter-what-he-does-or-does-not-do" campaigns. There are two recent developments on the Zimbabwean scenario, which the Western media has glossed over or ignored, but which informed people the world over must have noted, and which history, in due course, will surely give due prominence to. These are truths that all Zimbabweans of goodwill should not only take note of, but should also derive deserved pride from.

The first is that there is a re-awakening of African nationalism and pan-Africanism, around the issue of Zimbabwe. The second is that Zimbabweans have, in the coming together of the ruling and opposition parties, demonstrated immense political maturity. Their agreement on the constitutional provisions and other related laws to govern the forthcoming elections must have confounded Anglo-American foreign policy drivers.

Countrymen, these are the kinds of developments that the Western media would rather not dwell on, but the fact is that history is being made over Zimbabwe and in Zimbabwe. African nationalism is being reaffirmed over the issue of Zimbabwe. Both African nationalism and pan-Africanism have been well defined by various African writers. African nationalism is essentially anti-imperialism. It arose as a counter to the West’s imperialism. It arose as a result of African rebellion against racial humiliation, economic exploitation, political oppression and cultural domination under European and American slavery and colonialism. African nationalism, which led to independence, was a great political achievement.

Achievement of total African unity and integration must be the aim of our current and future generations. We must train our children accordingly. To do so is not narrow or racist, as our detractors would have us believe. Nor is it to deny the brotherhood of all mankind and the universality of humanity. On the contrary, it is to strengthen them. Claims that African nationalism is old-fashioned and anachronistic are false.

Amilcar Cabral has been very clear and succinct for us on these matters: Nationalism is constituted by the struggle against imperialism, thus anti-imperialism defines African nationalism. It follows that nationalism, as an expression of struggle, continues so long as imperialism exists. As long as imperialism is in existence, an independent African state must be a liberation movement in power, or it will not be independent. Some amongst us will argue that the age of imperialism is over. It was over with the attainment of independence. It is now the age of the "global village" and universal principles and values.

This is not true. Western imperialism still thrives in various forms today, the most dominant of which are neo-colonialism and neo-liberalism. The latter is popularly referred to as the Washington Consensus, which is a set of policies promulgated by neo-liberal economists for promoting economic growth in the developing world.

In 2006 Christian Aid, a non-governmental organisation, established that Britain alone absorbed far more money from sub-Saharan Africa than it gave in aid and debt during the preceding year, despite neo-liberal pledges to help the region.

The charity calculated that almost £17 billion flowed from Britain to sub-Saharan Africa during the period, including donations, remittances from salaries earned by Africans in Britain and foreign direct investment.

At the same time, more than £27 billion went in the opposite direction for debt repayments, profits made by British companies in Africa and imports of British goods and capital flight.

So the British economy gained a net profit of more than £11 billion from the region in the period.

These findings came after the then British prime minister had put tackling African poverty at the heart of the previous year’s G8 summit attended by Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Through its massive wealth and control of the world’s technology the West has insisted that the developing countries follow its recommended models for economic development. African nationalists and pan-Africanists throughout the continent and in the diaspora have always resisted this, and continue to do so unto this day.

However, Zimbabweans must note with satisfaction that from the turn of the century or the beginning of the new millennium, year 2000, history has by design and default thrust Zimbabwe into a central role in Africa’s fight against Western imperialism.

Never before in history have Africans stood up to imperialists as they have done over the issue of Zimbabwe since the year 2000. The African countries, ably led by South Africa (in spite of its own problems), have since year 2000 stood by Zimbabwe in international forum after forum and fought off attempts to snuff out whatever life might be left in the struggling African country, after years of sanctions.

In 2003 Sadc countries rejected a US$20 million aid package offered by the US government after the Americans indicated that Zimbabwe was not one of the beneficiaries.

Britain has for several years now tried literally every trick in the book to get Zimbabwe tabled as a problem state deserving some form of sanctions by the UN, but to no avail. Thanks mainly to the strong and growing pan-Africanist/nationalist sentiment in Africa.

Both Britain and the US have claimed to be working with "friendly" countries in the region to achieve regime change in Zimbabwe, but to no avail. Thanks to pan-Africanism and African nationalism.

At one time President Bush, on a visit to some selected African countries, was going to pressure and compel the South African President to get "tougher" with Zimbabwe and its President. Former British prime minister Tony Blair went through the same motions. He came, but Africans stood firm. He left, saying that he was going to follow and support South Africa’s effort to resolve the Zimbabwe issue.

The Europeans with the assistance of their American cousins went out of their way to mount a massive media campaign rubbishing the Government of Zimbabwe and the President of Zimbabwe.

They turned their high-powered sound-producing machines to the highest volume possible, turned the speakers towards Africa and bellowed, "Isolate the Government of the President of Zimbabwe, shame them, they are horrible Africans, unlike you!"

The British Prime Minister added in a shrill voice: "If he comes to the next EU summit, I am not coming."

The Sadc and African Union have now responded in an even louder voice: "If Zimbabwe cannot be represented by its duly elected President, forget about us coming." Thanks to the insurrection of pan Africanism and nationalism in Africa. Does that mean that the Sadc sees no wrong at all with the Government of Zimbabwe and its President? No, it does not. What they are all saying is simple and clear. They are saying they will not support "regime change" in Zimbabwe driven and directed by the imperialist West.

Nor is this column saying there is nothing wrong with our Government and President. This column and indeed this writer, has written very highly critical opinions and analyses on both the Government and President Mugabe himself.

We have been critical of what we have perceived as unacceptably high levels of corruption in Government, mismanagement of the national economy, and other ills. We believe that all citizens of Zimbabwe have the right to challenge Government and indeed to change Government. However, we have repeatedly stated regime change, as driven by imperialists for their own purposes and designs, cannot be acceptable.

There is a second development, which we believe all Zimbabweans should be proud of, and historians will take note of. This is the political maturity shown by the Zimbabwean ruling party and Government critics and some leading members of the opposition for making the necessary concessions at a most critical juncture of our history.

Of late some Western think-tanks actually strategised to demonise African liberation movements and engineer regime change wherever they remained in power. Some Western media, and their local proxies and surrogates amongst us, have even gone as far as suggesting that the armed struggle might not even have been necessary. Other former colonies, they say, achieved their independence without shedding nowhere near as much blood as Zimbabwe did.

Those of us who were around at that time know very well why the armed struggle was necessary and who made it necessary.

It is important that we remain mindful and observant of the values, principles and issues that drove Zimbabwean freedom fighters. These included ownership of the land and the rights of the people of Zimbabwe as free men amongst other nations.

The Western media has tended, in fact worked hard, to portray these issues as unimportant as compared to others. Indeed they have tended to refer to anyone who refers to them as guilty of some form of shallow "Mugabeism" or "Zanuism". Nothing could be further from the truth.

Zimbabweans need to recognise that as a nation we have certain values and principles that became our inescapable legacy simply by virtue of being born Zimbabwean. Part of that legacy is the fact that our country was born out of a liberation war in which our people died in order to regain possession of our plundered land and all the resources in it.

That is why we regard the following three developments as a source of pride and as historically notable developments, signifying the maturity of the Zimbabwe politics, even though the Western dominated global media has glossed over them.

The first is the remarks attributed to Arthur Mutambara, president of one of the MDC formations. He wrote in "Liberation War Legacy":

"We are a Zimbabwean and an African political party. We are freedom fighters. We are soldiers for social justice and democracy. We come in the tradition of the liberation war. We stand on the shoulders of the founding fathers of this nation; such as Nikita Mangena, Josiah Tongogara, Herbert Chitepo, Leopold Takawira and Robert Mugabe.

"Oh yes, the pre-1980 Robert Mugabe is part of the revolutionary tradition that defines us."

These were remarks by an opposition leader of a party which the British prime minister, Tony Blair, had earlier claimed the Labour Party was working with to dislodge the Zimbabwean Government, and presumably all it stands for. The liberation war and what that war stood for are clearly issues the British would rather not be reminded of.

The second are remarks by Trevor Ncube, a writer and critic of the Government, who, struggling with trying to determine the right disposition for an appropriate future leadership of Zimbabwe, yearned for "a new progressive opposition with nationalist (emphasis mine) and progressive roots".

Clearly the two quotes cited above show that Zimbabwean Government critics and opposition leaders are able to transcend the polarities set by the Western media.

These are "pro-liberation movement thrust" versus "anti-liberation movement thrust". The Western establishments are clearly anti the liberation war legacy and expect Western-supported opposition to be the same. Sorry, Mr Blair, not with Zimbabweans.

Again the Western neo-liberal thrust is to rubbish African nationalism. They would not expect a critic of the sitting Zimbabwean nationalist government, like Trevor Ncube, to opt for "nationalist" opposition. Again we are sorry, Zimbabwean critics know what is good for Zimbabwe in the current Anglo American-dominated environment. This is so whether they support the current government or not.

We are Zimbabweans.

The third and perhaps best evidence of the maturing politics of Zimbabwe is the decision by the two opposition factions to first sit down with Government under the auspices of a Sadc "pro-Mugabe" head of state. Secondly to go further and agree on constitutional and other legal amendments to facilitate internationally acceptable elections next year!

If the reaction of the Western media and their local proxies are anything to go by, these MDC people are clearly not following the script. The direction they are following is opposite to the known preferred strategy for "regime change" through mass action. "What’s wrong with these Africans?"

We are sorry, but they are Zimbabweans!

There are some elements within "civil" society who accuse the opposition of losing the plot and weakening themselves, giving in to the ruling party. They think the opposition has sold out.

On the contrary the decision by opposition will more than strengthen them, it serves to legitimise the opposition in the face of fence-sitting Zimbabwean voters, and equally importantly, in the face of Sadc and the African Union. It somewhat delinks them from the Western imperialist agenda. It puts the opposition in a stronger position to give the ruling party a run for what they are worth. They have not joined the ruling party. They are going to fight for the presidency and for parliamentary seats as opposition.

However, that linkage to the imperialist agenda will somehow remain in place until the opposition joins the generality of Zimbabweans, the Sadc and the AU in calling for the scrapping of the so-called "targeted sanctions" against Zimbabwe. Yes, they are indeed targeted, but not against Government, against Zimbabwean voters.

Admittedly the opposition does not have the power to lift the sanctions. However, the fact is that once the ruling and opposition parties both call for the dropping of sanctions, the West will have no basis for maintaining them.

However, the West should not be worried about that. They can always claim that they supported President Mbeki’s efforts and therefore accept the end result.

The people who will be left with a lot of egg on their faces are some members of some local NGOs and civil society.

These maintain that the talks will not work. Anything that involves the Government cannot work, according to them. It is them who will be left in limbo.

Yes! I can see Zimbabweans proudly marching forward as a strong united democratic pan Africanist republic before the end of year 2008.

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