Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Zimbabwe News Update: AU Shuns Debate; Illegal Regime Change Takes Internet by Storm; Mugabe Hailed as Hero in Sharm el-Sheik

AU shuns debate on Zim

From Itai Musengeyi in SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt

THE two-day African Union summit began here yesterday with Zimbabwe not on the agenda of the summit as had been wished by its detractors who predicted African leaders would put pressure on Harare following last Friday’s presidential run-off won by President Mugabe.

Although speakers at the opening did mention Zimbabwe, their comments were not hostile but encouraged dialogue between the major political parties in the country.

At his swearing-in ceremony in Harare on Sunday just before he flew here, Cde Mugabe said Government was prepared for dialogue with the opposition MDC-T, but only if it came into the talks with its own agenda and not a Western-foisted stance.

AU chairman President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania said while the people of Zimbabwe should be congratulated on the just-ended election, the country needed assistance to move ahead because it was facing serious challenges.

The economic malaise bedevelling Zimbabwe has been a result of the British, American and European Union-imposed illegal sanctions that the West are threatening to deepen following Cde Mugabe’s landslide victory over their favoured MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

In his speech, AU Commission chairman Mr Jean Ping said Africa must help Zimbabwe’s parties to work together in the interest of their country to overcome the present challenges.

"I would like, here, to commend the efforts of the leaders of the region (Sadc) and their commitment to assist the Zimbabwean parties in the search for a lasting solution to the problems in that country," said Mr Ping.

Host President Hosni Mubarak made no direct mention of Zimbabwe although the Western media, which is openly anti-Harare, tried to spin a part of his speech that peace and security were of paramount importance on the continent to mean that it was directed at Zimbabwe.

The AU Peace and Security Council, which met on Sunday, also did not make Zimbabwe a matter for the body expressing worry on real security trouble spots on the continent such as Somalia.

The anti-Zimbabwe media had frantically predicted that the AU Peace and Security Council would discuss Zimbabwe and come up with a resolution.

Speculation was, however, rife that the summit would discuss Zimbabwe in the closed session. However, it has always been the AU tradition that certain matters are discussed behind closed doors where countries explain their situation vis-à-vis concerns that may have been raised by fellow member countries.

Details of the closed session or whether had it discussed Zimbabwe were not immediately available late last night.

When he wound up his campaign for the run-off President Mugabe made it clear he was prepared to face any leader at the summit over the elections because some of them had worse election records.

President Mugabe arrived here early yesterday morning. He was met at the Sharm el-Sheik Airport by Foreign Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, the Minister of Industry and International Trade Cde Obert Mpofu, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Egypt Cde Aaron Mabhoyi-Ncube, senior embassy and Egyptian government officials.

The President is being accompanied by the First Lady, Amai Grace Mugabe; the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Cde Patrick Chinamasa; and senior Government officials.

Amai Mugabe was yesterday expected to join her colleagues at a First Ladies’ Forum to discuss a number of issues including the HIV/Aids pandemic.

Illegal regime change takes Internet by storm

By Dambudzo Mapuranga

THE British Government appoints the BBC’s entire top management. In fact, one can safely say BBC is a mouthpiece of the British Government. This being said, how then can BBC be expected to report objectively concerning the Government of Zimbabwe seeing that Zanu-PF has been labelled enemy number one by the residents of Number 10 Downing Street.

"We cannot independently verify the contents of this story as BBC is banned from reporting in Zimbabwe".

This is the disclaimer that you will find under many of the stories on Zimbabwe on the BBC’s website, TV and radio broadcasts.

The disclaimer is posted solely for the purpose of protecting BBC from being sued by the Government of Zimbabwe over its blatant false news stories.

Several questions arise when one closely examines the disclaimer and chief among them is, if the BBC has failed to verify a story why then would they report it and also post it on its website as a news article?

The only answer that there is to the actions of the BBC is that as long as any story paints a heinous picture of Zanu-PF, President Mugabe and Zimbabwe it will find itself attaining high priority on the BBC website, TV and radio. I am confident that if I were to open a fictitious story chronicling how Zanu-PF supporters have done all sorts of evil deeds on my being and on my property and even include several pictures of road accident victims it will make it on to BBC.

The game of creating news stories is not anything new; in fact the Americans perfected it a long time ago.

A classic example is seen from the American movie "Wag the Dog" starring Robert de Niro and Dustin Hoffman. The concept of the movie being that after news broke out that on the run up to the first Gulf War the Kuwaiti Lobby in Washington, DC commissioned the production of false news stories that showed Iraqi army tanks and soldiers advancing towards a supposed Iraqi/Kuwaiti border. It turns out that the entire footage was shot in the Nevada Desert with the help of the Bush administration.

The deception did not end there. These unscrupulous people went on to produce false testimony before the US Congress (the equivalent of our parliament). The daughter of the then Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States was coached into testifying and lie before the US Congress on how her entire village was razed and how she escaped being killed by pretending to be dead and covering herself with the intestines of her dead mother.

The partiality of western media houses is well known, as most of them are nothing more than public relations offices of their countries’ foreign affairs ministries.

The negative reporting of the BBC and CNN on Zimbabwe is a mockery of the same institutions their governments claim to be propagating across the globe.

Rumours make juicy stories and are very difficult to take back. The type of irresponsible journalism being witnessed on the Internet has turned BBC and CNN into some of the biggest rumour mills.

Only myopic people and racists would find such rag tag stories to be of value.

Here are two stories that highlight gross irresponsibility on the part of the BBC and CNN. Some of them leave the reader wondering whether the editors of these media houses even bother showing up for work.

Zimbabwe campaign: Secret document

The article claims that undercover BBC news correspondent Ian Pannell obtained evidence of plans by Zimbabwe’s ruling party to harass and drive out opposition supporters.

I for one would like to have whatever medication Zanu-PF legal affairs secretary Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa is drinking, because according to the secret document, Cde Mnangagwa is doing the work of ten very strong men.

One day he is reported to be in South Africa consulting with the ANC, the next day he is hailed as the man running the so called military junta that is now "ruling" Zimbabwe, and now he is heading the Zanu-PF presidential election campaign.

That being said an analysis of the secret document shows that it is a total take. Zanu-PF takes great pride in its work and anyone who is familiar with Zanu-PF’s operations would know that any correspondence or party documents would have the Zanu-PF letterhead. The so called Zanu-PF secret document contains no logo or letterhead to show its origin.

Given that the cunning legal brains of Cde Mnangagwa are said to be heading the Action Plan documented in this disgraceful and shoddily down piece of work one wonders whether there is another Mnangagwa with half a brain who would come up with such a poor strategy.

One can only conclude that this secret document came from some opposition dim-wit with nothing better to do. The poor English used in the document leaves the mouth with a sour taste. The poor fellow then adds the names of several prominent Zanu-PF figures and accredits them to be from the Zanu-PF Midlands Province.

With the exception of Cde Mnangagwa, the rest of the party functionaries are not from the Zanu-PF Midlands Province. Senator Edna Madzongwe is from Mashonaland West Province.

Both Senator Joshua Malinga and Cde Jabulani Sibanda are from the Bulawayo Province, while Cde Joseph Chinotimba is from Manicaland Province.

The BBC failed to realise this and further more it is common knowledge that Politburo members such as Cdes Madzongwe and Mnangagwa head teams in their respective provinces and are not thrown all over the country in a haphazard manner.

Death of a Zimbabwe Activist

In an ironic twist of events Tonderai Ndira became a hero in death and yet he lived the life of a thug.

Despite all her hatred for Zanu-PF, Trudy Stevenson can attest that she did not moan the death of a former MDC-T activist who was responsible for her assault in Mabvuku in 2005, an assault that resulted in head injuries and a fractured arm.

The two police officers based at ZRP Marimba who were unfortunate to be at the station when it was petrol-bombed by Ndira and his accomplices surely did not shed a tear for the man responsible for their skin burns.

None of these heinous acts were featured in the glowing obituary that BBC News posted on Tonderai Ndira. Instead the news article glorified a violent man who died a violent death. The elderly are correct when they say those who live by the gun die by the gun.

"I knew him personally, he was a youth activist who went around the country holding workshops and teaching people their rights."

That is what one unnamed ZimRights official is quoted to have said. Too bad we cannot contact the so-called official and ask him for the names of the three towns where Ndira held human rights workshops.

Ndira’s farewell should have been a true reflection of what he was. It should have said "the death of an MDC-T foot soldier".

The story then tells of how ten men came in a pick up truck to Ndira’s house in Mabvuku armed with AK-47 rifles around seven in the morning and boldly asked Ndira’s wife to inform him that they had come to collect him. The men then abducted Ndira in his underwear in front of his children.

Of all the incredible things you have ever heard this is right up there with "the dog ate my homework" story.

Anyone who has been to Mabvuku or any other high-density suburb knows that there is no way anyone can be abducted at seven in the morning.

Are we meant to believe that somehow there were no people going about their business to witness ten armed men in an open pick-up truck kidnapping Tonderai Ndira?

With the way the MDC-T loves to cry for attention should this not have been on BBC and CNN within thirty minutes of Ndira’s abduction?

Observe how the BBC and CNN seem to be able to report of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s arrests within minutes of them happening.

How then did Ndira’s abduction go unreported for days only to have the news of his death reported to coincide with Tsvangirai’s return from self-imposed exile?

As if that was not enough, Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s self-proclaimed saviour "cried" at Ndira’s funeral, to invoke emotions of the Holy Book’s shortest, "Jesus wept" before raising Lazarus from the dead.

BBC now offers to answer readers’ questions about Zimbabwe through their undercover correspondent Ian Pannell. One can only guess what lies this hack of a journalist will be peddling to those who intend to ask him about the political situation in Zimbabwe.

I sent Ian Pannell several questions which I believe to be very pertinent to the Zimbabwean situation, but he is yet to respond to. My questions were:

-Why has the BBC and CNN not reported on MDC-T perpetrated violence against Zanu-PF supporters?

-Why has the BBC failed to reveal where it got the copy of the alleged Secret Zanu-PF campaign document?

-Why has the BBC never written about the effects of the illegal sanctions on ordinary Zimbabweans?

-Why is there no reference to the US’ Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 on its website?

-Why does the BBC only quote right wing Rhodesians and MDC-T as the people representing "Zimbabweans"?

In conclusion, the long and short answer is that the Zimbabwe situation has largely been played up by the Western media and it is clear that it is an extension of their foreign relations policy on Africa.

This stark reality puts our private media poles apart with the Western media that they mimic, since our private media believes that "following the flag" is retrogressive.

The Internet, where lies, half truths and misinformation are peddled as news has internationalised the issue with pseudo experts and arm chair critics who have an axe to grind against Zanu-PF, President Mugabe and his Government always being available with "opinions and analyses" of every news item reported by the BBC and CNN and a whole host of other foreign networks.

However, the shameful thing is that the lies always come through, and the embedded journalism shows itself.

AU in the crosshairs

By Mukanya Makwira

The summit of the African union heads of state currently under way at the Egyptian resort of Sharma El Sheik presents a make-or-break situation for the organisation in light of the unprecedented pressure being put on it by the West over the Zimbabwean political situation.

For an organisation, very much in its infancy, being a product of the decades old Organisation of African Unity, their task is well cut. At the end of the summit, the organisation should be in a position to define where it stands in relation to the principles of its founding fathers.

As the summit starts, the Nkrumahs and Lumumbas must be following the proceedings of the summit together with the rest of Africans whose idea of independence has been the quest for total empowerment Article 11 of the OAU charter spells that; one of the major aims of the organisation is to eradicate all forms of colonialism in Africa.

The fall of the apartheid wall in South Africa signaled a new chapter in African politics in as much as it was a sad reality that the job for total decolonisation of the continent was only halfway through. Beyond lifting of the flags, the economy across the continent has largely remained in the hands of the former colonial masters.

"As in the rest of Africa, colonialism in Zimbabwe was a system of arbitrary, capricious power exercised by a distant colonial office and delegated to local white settlers who wielded it as agents of the imperial power". Thus the restoration of the land seized during colonialism to the indigenous people was a central plank of the quest for independence.

Far from neither being a revolution turned awry nor the lack of respect for democratic tenets, the so-called Zimbabwean political impasse is a determination by a formerly oppressed people to attain full independence through the restoration of the means of production to the indigenous people. This has been against a shrewd former colonial master who has sought to maintain his stranglehold on the economy through proxy.

Behold, the Ghost of Sharma El Sheik is likely to haunt generations of Africans to come if the continent’s leaders do not stand up to a new wave of neo colonialism disguised as some mild form of liberal interventionism by the self appointed policemen of the world.

With the equally gullible Western controlled media ratcheting up the pressure, the leaders ought to approach the issue with very clear minds. As they deliberate about Harare, a few questions need answers

Could the British, the former coloniser explain its spirited attempts to push through the United Nations security council a resolution for the recognition of Tsvangirai despite the fact that he had not won an outright majority in the first round?

Why did the UK and the USA rush back to the UN to have the run-off elections declared that they "could have no credibility or legitimacy" despite them having been carried out according to the Zimbabwean constitution?

Why has the so-called international community been eager to condemn the Zimbabwean election process and some how ignored the blood letting that characterised the Kenyan, Nigerian, Iraq and Pakistan elections that took place in the recent past.

The elections in the aforementioned countries were virtually "certified" using thousands of innocent souls’ blood.

Instead of trying to appease the neo coloniser by "bashing and vilifying" Zimbabwe, a bold statement has to be sent. They should know that the continent has the full capacity to solve its issues and would not brood any interference from the Dutch or who so ever from outside.

Sadly, there has been a growing tendency amongst some of our brothers to sing Whitehall and Whitehouse tunes as a means of maintaining the parasitic relationship and remaining perpetual beggars. Otherwise how could one explain the antics of the Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga?

Some leaders have of late been behaving like a Chihuahua, perfecting the art of parrotry in a bid to mask the Western imperialist drive with an African face.

Otherwise, how could one describe Odinga’s antics, himself a Western of Western shenanigans taking every opportunity to exude his not so diplomatic vomit at every given opportunity?

An embarrassed Kenyan foreign minister had to take the shame of trying to put straight his country’s position as opposed to that "had been taken by the Prime minister and civic organisations". What a first?

Also talk of bilateral "troikas", all in the service of the "master".

The African leadership risk becoming impotent and irrelevant in an era whereby other regions like the Asian bloc are asserting control over the control of their individual countries and the region.

Is it not that at the moment only African countries have to have their elections "certified" by an external pseudo authority in order to legitimise the process.

Talk of the dark old ages when an African was still considered to be an animal incapable of being rational.

Rather than it being a Presidnt Mugabe issue, the so-called "Zimbabwean crisis" is about asserting full control over a country’s resources as opposed to renewed colonial domination.

The Southern Africa region is especially seating on a powder keg. The unresolved burning land question in South Africa and Namibia’s fate largely rests on the summit’s way forward. The leaders cannot afford not to see behind the Western offensive to put President Mugabe on the wall.

The continent cannot turn the wheel back if it dreams of competing with the rest of the world on equal economic and political; footing.

Succumbing to the Western machinations would spell doom for the future generations.

The underlying slogan should be motherland or death.

The heightened Western calls and media frenzy in the build up to the summit has been done as a way of putting undue pressure and canvassing an "African" ultimatum to Zimbabwe.

With the mild threats of an African led military invasion, ironically being made by non-Africans, the plot even gets thicker. According to an editorial in a British tabloid "The Times" of 28 June 2008, Whitehall was just blunt of what it wants. "It is possible that a mix of international moral exhortation, and private cajolery, development aid and bribery threats could secure an apparently African initiative"

No wonder why some of the African leaders have literally sweating for media space to express "condemnation" so as to remain beneficiaries of Uncle Sam’s crumbs.

As President Thabo Mbeki has remarked, Zimbabwe’s issues are best solved by Zimbabweans for we have the internal capacity to do so.

The people of Zimbabwe would not entertain any interference by outside forces through proxy. The best the British can do would be to honour their commitment to pay compensation to the affected white farmers whose land was repossessed for the land reform exercise.

From Times Online June 30, 2008

Robert Mugabe hailed a hero at African Union summit

Sonia Verma in Sharm el-Sheikh, and Philippe Naughton

Robert Mugabe was hailed a "hero" by Africa's longest-serving head of state as he joined his fellow leaders at an African Union summit.

The 84-year-old flew to the meeting in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh only hours after being sworn in for his sixth presidential term following a one-candidate election run-off widely decried as at best a sham, at worst a travesty of democracy.

He entered the conference hall accompanied by the leaders of Egypt, Tanzania - the AU chairman - and Uganda, and his enemies' hopes that he would be disowned by his peers were quickly dashed.

"He was elected, he took an oath, and he is here with us, so he is President and we cannot ask him more," said Omar Bongo, President of Gabon since 1967. "He conducted elections and I think he won."

In London, Gordon Brown said that the AU summit had to make clear the need for change and in New York a draft resolution drawn up by the United States tightening diplomatic and economic sanctions on Zimbabwe. The draft calls on the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo in protest at the rigged election and freeze the assets of certain individuals and companies.

But, instead of heeding that message from the outside world, Mr Bongo said that African leaders were able to decide for themselves. "We have even received Mugabe as a hero," he told reporters. "We understand the attacks (by the international community) but this is not the way they should react. What they’ve done is, in our opinion, a little clumsy, and we think they could have consulted us (the AU) first."

At today's summit, Asha-Rose Migiro, the former Tanzanian foreign minister who is Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, called the situation in Zimbabwe an "extremely grave crisis". She added: "This is a moment of truth for regional leaders."

But there was no sign that Mr Mugabe's fellow leaders would break rank to question Mr Mugabe's legitimacy or ratchet up the pressure on him to negotiate some sort of political accommodation with Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwean opposition leader.

A draft summit communique obtained by the Associated Press included a general condemnation of violence and a call for dialogue, but did not include any direct criticism of the Zimbabwean leader or of the run-off vote.

The only senior African politician to attack today Mr Mugabe was Raila Odinga, the Kenyan Prime Minister, who called for Zimbabwe to be suspdended from the AU until the group could organise free and fair elections in the country. But Mr Odinga was not at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, where Kenya was represented by his rival, Presidient Kibaki.

It was not clear whether Mr Mugabe would address the conference himself. Seen by many on the continent as a liberation hero, he is accustomed to standing ovations at regional meetings but will be wary given the criticism of him after Mr Tsvangirai pulled out of last Friday's vote.

The opposition leader withdrew because of campaign of violent and intimidation violence in which he said nearly 90 of his followers were killed.

Some of the African leaders favour a power-sharing deal modelled on the one which ended a bloody post-election crisis in Kenya earlier this year in which 1,500 people died.

Mr Tsvangirai won the first round of elections on March 29 but fell short of the majority needed for outright victory. Today he called on the leaders not to recognise Mr Mugabe’s re-election. "We want them to say the June 27 election is illegitimate," he told Dutch public television. "We want them to say the March 29 election reflected the will of the people and that it should be the basis for negotiating this transition."

He also wants AU leaders to appoint another mediator to join Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, criticised for being too close to Mr Mugabe.

South Africa denied a newspaper report that Mr Mbeki had lobbied the AU to recognise Mr Mugabe, saying this was a "complete fabrication".

But Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Foreign Minister, said that Zimbabwe was deeply divided and polarised despite the election, and called for Zanu (PF) and the MDC to enter negotiations for a transitional government to unite the country.

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