Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Zimbabwe Update: West Must Respect Africa; UDI Lessons From History As Last Racist Ruler Dies

West must respect Africa

By Alhassan Adam
Zimbabwe Herald

I HAVE been weeping since 2000 whenever Zimbabwe is mentioned in the news.

Yesteryear President Kwame Nkrumah was not good, today President Muammar Gadaffi is no better and President Mugabe is even worse.

Why? Why again? My question is: how long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look?

Economic challenges in Zimbabwe today are a result of illegal economic sanctions that were imposed on her by the United States and the United Kingdom.

But what the African Union fails to understand is that when two powerful Western nations oppress a weak African nation for over a century and try to frustrate her endeavours for self-determination, it becomes an all-African problem for which continent-wide action should be taken without any delay.

Take what happened between Britain and Iran early this year as a case study.

When three British marines arrogantly trespassed into Iranian waters and were arrested by the authorities there, it took the European Union just two days to organise an emergency session.

Over 17 options were considered by the EU to secure the release of the trio.

Possible military action against Iran was one of the options. But it is depressing to witness what Zimbabwe is going through, yet not even a single nation from the 53 member nations of the African Union has raised a finger to help.

How can we sit back and watch the UK and US attempt to suffocate Zimbabwe to death?

An equally important question is, after Zimbabwe which country is next?

I would not be surprised if it is Namibia, South Africa or Mozambique since all those countries still have over 80 percent of their land in the hands of the white minority.

The silent majority of Africans are deeply rooted in the belief that allegations of human rights abuses levelled against Zimbabwe do not square with the amount of pressure that the Zanu-PF Government has been put under.

Why? Because there are many countries right here in Africa and elsewhere in the world with worse human rights records than Zimbabwe.

Consider Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2007.

It states, among other things, that: "Ruthlessly repressive governments impose enormous cruelty on their people in North Korea, Burma and Turkmenistan. Closed dictatorships persist in Vietnam, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

China is slipping backwards.

Russia and Egypt are cracking down on NGOs and Peru and Venezuela are considering similar steps.

Iran and Ethiopia are silencing dissident voices.

Uzbekistan is crushing dissent with new vigour while refusing to allow independent investigation of its May 2005 massacre in its eastern city of Andijan.

In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe would rather drive his country to ruin than tolerate a political opposition."


Now the question is: why is the West not exerting the same pressure on all the countries mentioned above?

If you put all these together, it paints a very clear picture. The picture is, the West is hell-bent on removing President Mugabe from power because he has refused to maintain the Zimbabwean economy in the hands of the white minority.

But Cde Mugabe summarised it all when he said at the beginning of the crises that "if there may be trouble with the Zimbabwean land redistribution policy, let it be in my day so that future generations of Zimbabweans may live in peace".

The fact is also that no matter what we think of President Mugabe or what happens to him and Zanu-PF in the end, events in Zimbabwe today will definitely set the tone for Namibia, South Africa and Mozambique when it comes to land reforms and redistribution of resources from the white minority to the black majority.

Did I hear President George W. Bush or Prime Minister Gordon Brown say that the last election that brought President Mugabe to power was rigged by the Zanu-PF Government? It is on this point I always describe the American president and the British prime minister as the two walking contradictions of our time.

This is because the pair is always being consistently inconsistent in the way they see issues bordering on democracy in Africa. If the "rigging" of elections is enough reason for the West to ask for a regime change in Zimbabwe, then they should equally be asking for regime change in Nigeria. The election that brought President Umaru Yar’Adua to power in April was a disgrace to all the leading democratic voices in the world.

Even the EU observer mission (in which Britain is a key player) reported that not only over 200 people had died due to election-related violence, but also in that even "minimum standards for democratic election were not met". But what do we see today?

At the time most of us were still struggling to come to terms with the shameful election that brought President Yar’Adua to power, he was invited with alacrity to the G8 summit to dine and wine with the same so-called world leaders who are asking for a regime change in Zimbabwe. Shame! Shame again!

The point must be made very clear that the imperialist and neo-colonialist West does not care whether there is democracy in Zimbabwe or not. Neither do they care whether there are human rights abuses, no free Press or economic hardships.

Their main preoccupation is that their fellow brethren of European stock in Zimbabwe are losing their land to Africans.

This alone is enough to unite the British and American governments against the leadership in Zimbabwe.

Not only does it unite the American and British governments, but each and every European government joins their comrades in support too. But the problem with African leaders is that although they understand the situation in Zimbabwe far better than most of us, they still lack the courage to support Zimbabwe openly.

Why? In the light of all these, it’s now time for the AU to act and act actively.

As a first major step, the 2008 AU summit should be dedicated to Zimbabwe.

African leaders at the summit should speak with one voice in condemning the machinations of the West to impose an illegal government on the people of Zimbabwe.

African leaders should also task Nigeria, Sudan, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Libya to export oil to Zimbabwe at subsidised prices until the crisis is over.

All member states of the AU should open their borders and allow unrestricted tariff-free trade for all Zimbabwean goods until we find a lasting solution to the crisis.

Zimbabwe should also be given preferential treatment at the African Development Bank when it comes to borrowing and repayment of her loans.

Zimbabwe is a test case for all the independent states in Africa most of whom are celebrating their 40th and 50th anniversaries.

So let’s show the imperialists and neo-colonialists that the days of colonialism are gone and gone for good and any attempt to recolonise any part of Africa shall fail and fail woefully.

With this, the West would show respect to Africa and be less arrogant in its dealings with our continent and people.

Ex-Rhodesian premier Ian Smith dies

Rhodesia’s last white leader, Ian Smith, whose attempts to resist black rule dragged the country into isolation and armed struggle waged by those whose rights he denied, has died aged 88.

Smith, who recently suffered a stroke, died yesterday at a clinic near Cape Town, South Africa, according to long-time friend Sam Whaley, who was a senator in the former Rhodesia.

The man who infamously said there would never be majority rule in his lifetime lived almost a third of his life under a majority-rule elected Government.

Smith unilaterally declared independence from Britain on November 11, 1965. He then served as the rebel prime minister of Rhodesia from 1965 to 1979 in his last-ditch effort to preserve white minority rule.

"I don’t believe in black majority rule over Rhodesia," he defiantly proclaimed at the time, "not in a thousand years."

The country failed to gain international recognition, and United Nations economic sanctions were instituted.

He finally bowed to international pressure, and Cde Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party won elections in 1980.

To most blacks, Smith’s rule symbolised the worst of racial oppression.

Smith imprisoned President Mugabe in 1964 for 11 years, calling him a "terrorist".

He illegally declared independence from Britain in 1965 and his white minority government led the country for 14 years amid international scorn and sanctions. Following a bitter bush war with black nationalists, his government was overthrown by guerillas led by Cde Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and Cde Joshua Nkomo’s PF-Zapu in 1979, leading to the birth of Zimbabwe.

It was a struggle he eventually lost, paving the way for the country’s independence as Zimbabwe.

Born in the then British colony of Southern Rhodesia in 1919, the son of a Zvishavane butcher, Ian Douglas Smith was educated at Chaplin in Gweru and then Rhodes University in South Africa.

During World War II, Smith served as a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force, crashing twice and serving with Italian partisans for a time.

At the war’s end, Smith returned home and was brought into Parliament for the misnamed right-wing Liberal Party in 1948. He moved to the Federal Assembly and eventually became the Chief Whip of the governing United Federal Party.

He then broke away from this party and his splinter group was one of the elements that formed the Rhodesian Front under the leadership of Winston Field, although Smith was always considered to be the "strong man". When the RF won the December 1962 election, Smith became Minister of Finance. His one major move was to introduce sales tax.

By the early 1960s, following then British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s watershed speech on the "winds of change" in Africa which presaged Britain’s withdrawal from the continent, white Rhodesians thought their hold on the country need never loosen.

Rhodies wanted "their nation" to be granted independence, but without any promise that black leaders would take over. When Field made it clear that he would not countenance illegal action, his Cabinet under Smith revolted and sought his resignation. In April 1964, Smith came to power and pledged to fulfil their wish.

He, however, refused to consider any moves to meet the basic principles agreed by both Conservative and Labour British governments and despite a last-minute visit by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, on November 11 1965, he made his Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Rhodesia had cast itself adrift from Britain and the Commonwealth.

The British response was to dismiss the Smith and his Cabinet, but the illegal regime did not seem to care, believing wrongly that their action would be a nine-day wonder. Ever harsher economic sanctions were imposed, culminating in a series of mandatory United Nations sanctions, but these were evaded thanks to strong support from South Africa and Portugal, who still ruled Mozambique.

The British tried three times to win a settlement from Smith, each time offering him more concessions. He refused the offers made by Harold Wilson in talks on British navy ships HMS Tiger and HMS Fearless, but eventually signed a deal with British Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home in 1971 for a constitution based on his illegal 1969 Republican constitution.

However, the British insisted that the people of Zimbabwe be consulted and a commission under Justice Pearce found that the overwhelming majority of blacks were opposed to the deal.

The armed struggle moved into a higher gear in 1973 and soon the illegal regime was on the defensive with Smith’s intelligence and military leaders warning him in the late 1970s that he faced eventual defeat.

Smith tried to avoid total defeat by signing a deal with Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Rev Ndabaningi Sithole and Chief Jeremiah Chirau. This created a Parliament with a black majority but a white blocking vote, and Smith destroyed the remaining credibility of his partners by insisting on remaining in Cabinet as Minister without Portfolio, or all portfolios as the wags had it.

Eventually Bishop Muzorewa agreed to go to Lancaster House in 1979 and took Smith as part of his 10-man delegation. The deal that led to Zimbabwe’s independence was thrashed out there and the Muzorewa delegation voted 9-1 to accept it. Smith was the sole hold-out and even his erstwhile second in command, David Smith, finally abandoned him to vote with the rest for acceptance.

Smith still could not let go. He won one of the 20 white seats in the first and second Zimbabwe Parliaments and used all his old skills to ensure the defeat of the whites who were prepared to work with the new Government. He was suspended from Parliament for contempt shortly before the white seats were abolished in 1987.

From then on, he vanished from public life, occasionally being interviewed by a foreign journalist but no longer taking any part in Zimbabwean affairs.

He had married Janet, a war widow with young children whom he adopted, and the two also had their own child Alec, who was very close to his father despite several political differences. Janet died in 1994.

Besides his exemplary family life, he had a group of intensely loyal friends whom he supported through thick and thin, and was also regarded as a good and progressive farmer, leading many to wish that he should have left politics alone and concentrated on this first-class private life.

Smith has not been treated kindly by historians and analysts. He has been described as one who reacted to events, rather than trying to lead people, and as someone who could never break out of his upbringing and environment.

In other words, he was considered inadequate for the top post. As a tactical politician, he was superb at manipulating his small electorate and no less a figure than then United States Ambassador to the UN Andy Young once described him as a "great alley politician". His tragedy of being unable to break out of his own past and prejudices became a tragedy for his Rhodesian whites. — AP-Herald Reporter.

Smith’s UDI: Some lessons from history

By Stephen T. Maimbodei

IF you cannot define a problem, then you cannot solve it. History, according to Wikipedia, is the aggregate of past events; the continuum of events occurring in succession leading from the past to the present and even into the future; a record or narrative description of past events.

Is it possible to put the past behind us? What is the significance of history and historical events? Is history used unfairly to renege on one’s responsibilities? How can history be married to the present and the future, and would it be a polyandrous or polygamous relationship?

If history were not as important as some critics would like to make us believe, why do scholars and analysts devote so much of their energy recording and analysing every historical detail?

Should events that gave impetus to Zimbabwe’s armed struggle and Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in particular be forgotten or be accommodated in discussions about Zimbabwe’s nation statehood?

How do we identify ourselves with historical events such as the UDI? What are the historical roots of events such as the UDI? Who has the right and duty to interfere with our choice of what to look at in history? When one writes about UDI, are they giving it dignity?

UDI, Remembrance Day and the Mayflower Compact

When Ian Smith announced the UDI on November 11 1965, this writer was three months away from starting formal school. By the time I wrote my Grade 7 examinations, the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month was a chorus since the Grade 7 General Paper examination was always sure to have questions about the UDI.

Despite the readings and politicisation on UDI, this writer was clueless about the magical Triple 11. It remained a mystery for a long time how Smith and his compact team in the Rhodesia Front had crafted the "enchanting" figures.

This writer could not have been alone.

With a little effort, he got more than he bargained for. In spite of the rebellious nature of the UDI, Smith and his colleagues realised that their Unilateral Declaration of Independence should be anchored in the settler colonialists’ history and traditions. For, the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month was and still is a critical date in Western calendar events.

On November 11 2007, the Western world commemorated the day with added impetus since the coalition forces are fighting the ‘‘war on terror’’ in Iraq and Afghanistan, where there have been many casualties.

UDI was a declaration of independence ‘‘made by a racist minority’’, and the British Labour government under Harold Wilson deemed it ‘‘an act of treason against the United Kingdom’’.

On November 11 1965, at the 11th hour, Smith made a proclamation to the world, which read in part:

" . . . It has become abundantly clear that it is the policy of the British government to play us along with no real intention of arriving at a solution which we could possibly accept . . . There can be no happiness in this country, while the absurd situation continues to exist where people such as ourselves, who have ruled ourselves with an impressive record for over 40 years, are denied what is freely granted to other countries, who have ruled themselves in some cases for no longer than a year . . .

"We may be a small country, but we are a determined people who have been called upon to play a role of worldwide significance . . . We Rhodesians have rejected the doctrinaire philosophy of appeasement and surrender. The decision which we have taken today is a refusal by Rhodesians to sell their birthright. And, even if we were to surrender, does anyone believe that Rhodesia would be the last target of the Communists in the Afro-Asian bloc? . . .

"We have struck a blow for the preservation of justice, civilisation, and Christianity; and in the spirit of this belief we have this day assumed our sovereign independence. God bless you all."

According to the East Africa and Rhodesia Newspaper (November 18, 1965) 12 members of Smith’s cabinet signed the proclamation.

Timing and significance

Smith’s timing of the announcement of the UDI had historical significance on the British and the rest of the Western world. According to sources, Smith sent a telegram announcing the UDI to Harold Wilson at exactly 1:00pm local time, and 11:00am GMT.

The timing of the telegram was the precise moment that the UK started its Remembrance Day tradition marked by two minutes of silence to remember those who died fighting for their country and honouring their memory. Historians claim that the not-so-hidden message in this timing was to remind the British that Rhodesia had helped them in their time of need in both world wars and that the British should not forget that.

Remembrance Day connection

Every year, the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month is commemorated as Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day, in many parts of the Western globe. It is the anniversary of the end of the First World War. November 11 1918 marked the end of the bloodiest war the world had seen. Initially called Armistice Day, it is now commemorated as Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Nations, including Great Britain, Australia and Canada.

Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday in November, which is usually the Sunday nearest November 11. In France and Belgium it is still commemorated as Armistice Day, and Veterans Day in the United States where the holiday is re-geared toward all military veterans.

Social contract theory

What has The Mayflower Compact of 1620 got to do with Smith’s UDI? What parallels can be drawn between Smith’s UDI and the Compact? What is the Mayflower Compact?

Historical analysts maintain that the committee that crafted the UDI used the 1776 US Declaration of Independence document as its point of reference. The American declaration of independence was also crafted on the basis of the Mayflower Compact.

The Mayflower Compact is a written agreement composed by a consensus of new Settlers arriving at New Plymouth in November of 1620. The Mayflower’s passengers knew that the New World’s earlier settlers failed due to a lack of government. All 41 of the adult male members on the Mayflower signed the Compact. This established that the colony (mostly persecuted Separatists), was to be free of English law.

The Compact is often described as America’s first constitution. Its importance rests in the belief that government is a form of covenant, agreement, bond, pact, treaty, promise or contract. There is also the general belief that for government to be legitimate, it must derive from the consent of the governed.

The importance of the social contract theory is that it set foundation concepts that became the underpinnings of democratic government. The social contract philosophy influenced the implementation of democratic government in many countries and had particular influence on the framers of the US constitution.

An early example of this is the Mayflower Compact, which bound the signers into a "civil body politic" for the purpose of passing "just and equal Laws . . . for the general good of the Colony". The words expressed the idea of self-government for the first time in the new world (Constitutional Rights Foundation).

Historical sources also maintain that "in making this Compact, the Pilgrims drew upon two strong traditions. One was the notion of a social contract, which dated back to biblical times. Some of the earliest evidence of social contract theory is found in Judaeo-Christian scripture.

The book of Deuteronomy (Old Testament), Chapter 28, talks about a covenant between God and mankind, establishing a theocratic state in which humankind has freedom within limits set by God, in order to establish harmony in creation

The other was the belief in covenants. The Pilgrims believed that covenants existed not only between God and man, but also between man and man. The Pilgrims used covenants in establishing their congregations in the Old World. The Mayflower Compact is such a covenant in that the settlers agreed to form a government and be bound by its rules.

The following format used in the signing of the Mayflower Compact was also used in the signing of the American declaration of independence, and Smith’s UDI. The Compact read in part:

"In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, etc . . . In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.

(Source: William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647)(Samuel Eliot Morison, ed., 1952, 75-76)

Parallels can also be drawn between the UDI and the constitution of Madinah and the Mayflower Compact for the constitution of Madinah, written in 622 CE, also drew parallels with the Mayflower Compact of 1620 CE. Although the constitution of Madinah and the Mayflower Compact are two documents separated by a 1 000 years of history, they both represent religious communities establishing a charter for self-governance following an experience of persecution and migration to a new land.

In the name of Jehovah God

Many of America’s founding fathers have been quoted in regard to living by biblical values. Lest we forget, UDI was crafted on the basis of Judaeo-Christian principles, just like the American declaration of independence and the Mayflower Compact before it. Notwithstanding, it is the invocation of the name of the Father (God) to justify the creation of evil systems such as UDI, which is always a source of problem in the analysis of activities of settler colonial systems in Africa.

In a letter to The Herald published on August 8 2007, C. Zhou wrote: . . . Ian Smith rebelled against Her Majesty, the Queen of England, and nothing happened and just like what happened in the film "Hotel Rwanda" they said: "We have been sent to collect whites only", the British government did not act against their kith and kin. Our greatest "sin" [in Zimbabwe] was to take land from their kith and kin and they will not forgive us for that.

Writing about covenants and social contracts, Michael A. Clark, a regular contributor to the British-Israel-World-Federation (BIWF) makes some outrageous claims that by declaring UDI, "Ian Smith was right after all . . ."

The BIWF is an organisation that believes Christ is their personal saviour, and that the lost 10 tribes of the northern house of Israel’s descendants are found in the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic and kindred peoples of today. As the federation believes in the whole Bible, it therefore believes the covenants made between God and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) are everlasting and that the British play an important part of God’s plan.

Clark claims that "the white minority rule of Ian Smith was infinitely better than the black majority rule of President Robert Mugabe". He maintains that ‘‘when UDI was announced at 11:15am on 11th November 1965, it was exactly 47 years, or 60 displacements, from the Armistice in World War I which was announced at 11am on 11th November 1918".

He also asserts that when Smith and his cabinet took the decision to declare UDI, they appreciated that it was taking place on Armistice Day and they deliberately made the announcement 15 minutes later than the 11:00am remembrance time [for] Smith and his colleagues ‘‘knew that they were a covenant nation’’.

Clark also maintains that when the British government under Harold Wilson led the charge against Smith, it was an attack on the covenant British world order, which was under threat of displacement generally in Africa, marked in time by Macmillan’s "winds of change" speech.

Moans Clark: ‘‘How fitting therefore and supremely ironic, that after 47 years of displacement we see a New Labour government in Britain under Tony Blair witnessing the consequences of forcing black majority rule on peaceful Rhodesia. When we consider the increasingly serious situation in Zimbabwe and also in neighbouring South Africa where murderous crime is out of control, we wonder what 47 years from UDI will bring by 11th November 2012 . . .

"The severity of the winds of change and conflict against the covenant nations is increasing. That essentially was what white minority rule was about and events have now proved that not only was Ian Smith right, but that God’s great plan was and is right. Which plan is that great calling of Abraham and his descendants to remain in a leadership role among other peoples and nations, this in order to administer government in His righteousness. (The Covenant Nations, Volume 1, Number 1, 2007)

These are thought patterns that are still endemic and are entertained by some in the modern world of the 21st century globalised village set-up.

Lest we forget, the Bible has been used as a basis to support a number of actions by the Western world including slavery and colonialism. Clark’s assertions are just but one of many that you find on the Internet. It is a claim that smacks in the face of reality, but which is entertained by citizens of the virtual world (the Internet).

Will Zimbabwe’s next generation, which is likely to be the largest consumers of Internet resources, understand the game plan?

The Internet, the mother of all electronic networks where all forms of information and communication technologies converge and merge is a minefield of information and data in multimedia formats. Largely unregulated media, the rigour and authoritativeness of the information is sometimes difficult to verify.

As journalist Tawanda Kanhema remarked, ‘‘Zimbabwe still has to lay its territorial claims in cyberspace’’, for on the Internet, the Rhodesians are trying to prove that ‘‘they never die’’.

In this virtual world, Rhodesians still claim to have a state, which has diplomatic ties with a number of nations. It will not be surprising to hear that most of them are creating second personas on the medium using the Second Life software program, for it can only be on the Internet that they can boast of ‘‘democracy, human rights and good governance’’.

The authoritative nature of the information on the Internet should be a cause for concern among young people who need guidance by being directed to authoritative sources.

We could easily brush off the Rhodesian lobby’s pipe dreams of believing that they are still newsworthy, and relevant, but it is imperative that as more young people get exposed, they get proper guidance on the use of Internet resources from skilled professionals, be it teachers, librarians, parents or Internet cafes’ personnel.

Otherwise, they will run into the danger of believing that the Rhodesia that was defeated in 1979 is still alive.

Lessons learnt

What are the lessons learnt? We live in a world of duplicity. While the British government of 1965 considered Smith’s proclamation of UDI as a treasonous act, it is the same British government that is now succoring its kith and kin and denying the reality that land was the basis of taking up arms against the Smith government.

While the same British government and its people remembered and honoured their war dead on November 11 2007, at the 11th hour, the same British government makes a mockery of Zimbabwe’s fallen heroes.

When Zimbabwe commemorated Heroes Day on August 13 this year, the BBC World Services aired a week-long magazine programme critical of the Government of Zimbabwe’s domestic and foreign policies, especially the land reform programme.

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