Sunday, August 24, 2008

An Open Letter to Senator Barack Obama on Zimbabwe From Obi Egbuna of the Pan-African Liberation Organization


Dear Senator and Big Brother,

I sincerely hope my letter finds you at the peak of your resistance and in the very best of health and good spirits; the purpose of this correspondence is to engage you and your campaign staff on the issue of Zimbabwe. While the strategic focus of your campaign may differ from previous candidates who were products of the African (African-American) community i.e. Shirley Chisholm, Eldridge Cleaver, Dick Gregory, Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton and Senator Carol Moseley Braun; the obligation to raise and magnify contradictions that directly affect our people all over the world, remains a historical obligation that daughters and sons of the African soil do not have the luxury of abandoning. Mr. Senator I have to confess that my motivations for raising this issue with you and your staff are not only political but social as well; even though I have lived in the United States since 1976 my father was born in Nigeria and my mother in Singapore. Mr. Senator because our biological Fathers were born and raised in African countries that were colonized by the British Empire, it is only fitting that we intensify a no holds barred discussion about the People and Government of Zimbabwe. Mr. Senator while you successfully defeated Senator Clinton in the Democratic Primary the current status of your candidacy for the US Presidency is to convince voters aligned to the Democratic Party that you are more electable than Senator Hillary Clinton; the positions you take on issues of national and international character must reflect this. I hate to tell you, however failure to distinguish yourself especially on issues concerning developments on our mother continent of Africa expose that your campaign, and everything it appears to symbolize on the surface, is only a continuation of US Imperialism's unyielding commitment to dominate and exploit every corner of the planet earth.

Mr. Senator your Statement on Zimbabwe addressed to President George W. Bush was published on Thursday March 15, 2007; you then went on to submit a joint resolution with the now deceased Congressman Tom Lantos on March 29Th, 2007, before the US Senate and Congress expressing your displeasures with the Government of President Robert Mugabe (S.Con.Res 25).These are the following remarks from both documents that need to be questioned and challenged. I will begin with your statement on March 15Th 2007

1. The True Cause of Strife: President Mugabe's disastrous rule remains unaddressed.

2. For years it has been increasingly apparent that the Mugabe Government is interested in its own survival and enrichment, not the welfare of the people of

3. International Observers including the US concluded that the Presidential elections of 2002 and Parliamentary elections were not free and fair.

4. Within Zimbabwe the opposition to Mugabe has shown resiliency and courage.

5. Zimbabwe's economy is shrinking faster than any country in the world that is not at war.

6. Mr. President the US must continue to stand strongly against the Mugabe government's abuses of power in Zimbabwe. We must join our European allies, the UN, and most importantly the countries and institutions of the region to press for positive change in Zimbabwe; that means a peaceful democratic transition in 2008, and support for economic growth and opportunity, including the lifting of sanctions once the dark cloud of Mugabe's rule is lifted, and Zimbabweans are able again to reach for the new horizon they deserve.

7. I call on President Mugabe to release all political detainees, and repeal the ban on political rallies, to end the use of violence and torture in jails, permit a free media and abide by the rule of the law.

I will address and challenge the points of reference from the resolution submitted 14 days after your initial statement. They are the following:

1. Whereas US Ambassador Christopher Dell warned that opposition to President Robert Mugabe had reached a tipping point because the people no longer feared the regime and believed they had nothing to lose.

2. Whereas the staggering suffering brought about by the misrule of Zimbabwe has created a large scale humanitarian crisis in which 3,500 people die each week from a combination of disease, hunger, neglect and despair.

Responses to March 15Th, 2007 statement:

1. Mr. Senator to use a term like disastrous to describe what President Mugabe means to Zimbabwe, the Southern Region of Africa, and the entire African continent for that matter, demonstrates that blinded political ambition which makes you feel like you must keep a safe distance from President Mugabe similar in the manner you claim not to identify with Nation Of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan. I believe it was Minister Louis Farrakhan who endorsed your US Presidential bid in February, as well as, more recently, your former Pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Mr. Senator, since Zimbabwe was not on the list of African countries you visited almost two years ago, so what makes you feel you are qualified to recommend what is in the best interest of the people and its government?

2. Mr. Senator since you have in the past claimed your entry into politics was a reaction to the injustice of Apartheid, maybe you perhaps forgot that Apartheid did not just take place in what is commonly referred to as South Africa. This reality meant that the people of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique had to engage in protracted armed struggles to liberate both their land and people due to the fact that Apartheid in Southern Africa was perhaps the most fascist manifestation of Settler Colonialism Africa's children have ever experienced. While 83% of South Africa's land remains in the hands of Whites, President Mugabe and ZANU-PF have reclaimed 12 million acres of land and awarded it to 350,000 families in a country where the average family comprises of six people. This hardly can be interpreted as the enrichment of a few people. Mr. Senator, you are also guilty of ignoring the 94% literacy rate of Zimbabwe and the appointment of Modern Africa's first Woman Vice President Amai Joyce Mujuru, and the fact that Zimbabwe remains the only country in the world that has a National AIDS Levy/Council that has resulted in the most significant decline in any Southern African Country. (The Southern Region remains Africa's most vulnerable region to the HIV-AIDS pandemic).

3. Mr. Senator you should have one of you staff members pick up the NAACP's report on Zimbabwe's 2002 Presidential elections, and raise the question why the US State Department felt it necessary to request this report not be published in the first place. Mr. Senator, you obviously did not receive the following reports of the 2005 parliamentary elections: African Union, Southern African Development Community, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Catholic Coalition of Peace and Justice of Zimbabwe. You give the impression because of both your religious convictions and humble beginnings honesty guides your decisions, however perhaps absorbing the crucial points of these documents will spell out the obvious: on the issue of Zimbabwe you and your fellow Congressional Black Caucus members are, at best, genuinely misinformed.

4. Mr. Senator, there is absolutely nothing courageous about either faction of the Movement for Democratic Change nor its leaders Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, or Professor Arthur Mutambara. This statement is extremely troubling because it infers that you would have supported the CIA trained mercenary outfits of UNITA in Angola or RENAMO in Mozambique instead of MPLA and FRELIMO. If running around Zimbabwe with pockets full of British Pounds and US Dollars is your definition of bravery; this means that you support civilian neo-colonialism there, and are willing to help the Bush and Brown administrations accomplish this objective at all costs. Mr. Senator, please try to remember The Movement for Democratic Change has the distinction of not just being financed by Britain and Washington, but it is also the brainchild of Britain's three main political parties.

5. Mr. Senator in a debate with Senator Clinton shortly before the Ohio primary, you assertively said that the current foreign policy of the US Government is in complete shambles. When it comes to Zimbabwe it appears that you, Senator Clinton (whom is one of the co-sponsors of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001), and Senator McCain, who shares the exact sentiments of Mr. Bush, are all joined at the hip. Mr. Senator, you appear to be extremely naive about the impact sanctions can have on a country's economy and morale for that matter; this is ironic because the War on Iraq has been the main battle cry of your campaign where 2 million Iraqi people have died because of these same types of vindictive and cowardly sanctions. Mr. Senator, while your political superior, Mr. Bush as well as his British counterpart Mr. Brown, have not yet declared war on President Mugabe and ZANU-PF; their use of sanctions, as an instrument to isolate and starve the people of Zimbabwe until they have successfully imposed their will on them politically, is certainly a step in that direction.

6. Mr. Senator your appeal to Mr. Bush to only lift the sanctions on Zimbabwe once the illegal racist regime change has been forced, illustrates the type of hatred and contempt for President Mugabe and ZANU-PF which is predictable when articulated by the Imperialists themselves. However, it is absolutely shocking to hear when it comes from an African whose family knows British colonialism and domination up close and personal. Mr. Senator you and your colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus appear more comfortable with using US State Department briefings, reports from British based Amnesty International and US Human Rights Watch to justify supporting Mr. Bush's policy on Zimbabwe, as opposed to increasing correspondence with the SADC countries. Mr. Senator if the SADC countries are telling the west that the conversation must begin with honoring the diplomatic negotiations at Lancaster House in 1979, as well as lifting of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, how can someone in your position continue to ignore the writing on the wall? Mr. Senator your statement condemning President Mugabe and ZANU-PF completely ignore the Land Reclamation program. How do you look your Kenyan relatives in the face when you know they, like the Zimbabweans, had to wage a protracted armed struggle against these same British who you call an ally concerning this urgent matter? Mr. Senator you obviously either missed or ignored the recommendation of the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who defined the conflict in Zimbabwe as a bilateral dispute between an independent country and its former colonial master and felt Tanzania's former President Benjamin Mkapa should serve as a negotiator between Britain and Zimbabwe.

7. Mr. Senator out of all the bold and inaccurate proclamations being made by President Mugabe and ZANU-PF's detractors in the west, the absence of free media in the country is the most ridiculous. When you decide to visit Zimbabwe you will have absolutely no difficulty whatsoever purchasing any of the newspapers that openly condemn the Government (the Standard, the Financial Gazette, the Mail and Guardian, the Zimbabwean and the Zimbabwean Independent). Mr. Senator the irony of this claim is that the Herald and Daily Mirror are the only papers which present and defend the position of President Mugabe and the ruling party. Mr. Senator, until you and your CBC colleagues are willing to engage President Mugabe and ZANU-PF officials, face to face, about whether the current prisoners are security risks to peace and sovereignty; you should refrain from making demands that you are not properly informed about to discuss at length with substance and detail.

Responses to March 29Th, 2007 resolution

1. Mr. Senator the diplomatic tenure of Mr. Christopher Dell was a complete failure. Mr. Dell might as well have become a card carrying member of MDC. Mr. Dell behaved more like an intelligence agent of the CIA or the Homeland Security apparatus. Mr. Senator a Senate investigation should be held concerning Mr. Dell's activities in Zimbabwe; Mr. Dell's main objective before his term expired was to make Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Mutambara kiss and make up because the west expects total obedience from the political opposition they finance and create. Mr. Senator, replacing Mr. Dell with an African, Mr. James McGee, means nothing if he will have flashbacks to the Vietnam War when he earned his stripes by dropping bombs on a colonized people who couldn't enjoy the fruits of independence, because US Imperialism felt it wasn't their time yet.

2. Mr. Senator while you were in South Africa openly condemning their Government's commitment towards eradicating HIV-AIDS, the Government you take pride in representing is guilty of depriving Zimbabwe access to global fund resources; at a time when they are responsible for the most significant decline in Southern Africa since the beginning of the 21st century. Mr. Senator the Global Fund under the leadership of former US Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson and his British counterpart Richard Feacham denied Zimbabwe's applications for the second, third, fourth and sixth rounds. Mr. Senator you should raise this issue with the former UNICEF director Carol Bellamy who called this measure persecution of the poor. As a father of two little Girls it would be interesting to get you and Sister Michelle Obama on record to discuss how the Bush and Brown administration used humanitarian aid as a political weapon against an African country in the region most vulnerable to the HIV-AIDS pandemic. Mr. Senator, Zimbabwe has over 1.6 million HIV-Aids orphans. Despite their (Zimbabwe’s) success in this fight, they have exposed NGO's under the auspices of fighting HIV-AIDS that are calling for a regime change, and publishing statistics that were conflicting to those of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare whom they are supposedly there to help.

Mr. Senator, in conclusion, Africans all over the world have the same appreciation for President Mugabe that you have for Abraham Lincoln; and as a matter of fact, the history of President Mugabe and his biggest influence, Ghana's first Prime Minister Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, dispel and override the claim that only in America is your story possible. Mr. Senator, in the spirit of true democracy, you and your colleagues should hold a special town meeting in New York City during the next UN General Assembly for President Mugabe to address any concerns the collective body of the CBC has concerning Zimbabwe. During this venue all of you can answer why nine white conservative Republicans and two white Democrats voted against the Sanctions and none of you had the courage to do the same. Mr. Senator, while you have politically distanced yourself from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the people of Zimbabwe can only hope you remember two phases from the church’s mission: A congregation with a non negotiable commitment to Africa, a congregation committed to the historical education of African people in the Diaspora.

Obi Egbuna
Pan African Liberation Organization
Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association

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