Sunday, February 15, 2009

Zimbabwe, SADC and Defiance of the Imperialist Agenda

Zim, Sadc and defiance of imperialist agenda

AFRICAN FOCUS by Tafataona P. Mahoso

"SUCCESSFUL defiance" is a concept which MIT Professor Noam Chomsky has used to explain why imperialist powers often prosecute merciless and relentless campaigns of terror, destabilisation and sanctions to punish small nations who can never be said to pose any direct material threat to the empire.

Chomsky says the mere appearance or demonstration of "successful defiance" of an imperialist demand or order is enough to bring down the full wrath of the empire upon the small nation.

This is because the appearance or reality of successful defiance makes "borderless" the revolution in the small country, turning the revolution in the small country into an international example for others to follow or copy.

This is the context within which to understand the significance of the successful intervention in Zimbabwe by the Southern African Development Community against the Anglo-Saxon onslaught.

In terms of the illegal regime change doctrine, the Anglo-Saxon axis was supposed to install in Harare a government of their making.

Instead, it was Sadc, the successor to the former Frontline States, which defeated the Anglo-Saxon axis through diplomacy and helped Zimbabweans to install their own coalition government in terms of Sadc and AU principles, thereby reducing James McGee, Andrew Pocock and Sten Rylander to peripheral observers.

The challenge which arises for the people of Zimbabwe and for Sadc and the AU is whether what happened here has been understood and internalised enough to become repeatable the next time any of the 14 members of Sadc is similarly targeted by intrusive alien forces.

To understand the great value in what we are observing here, let us list a few countries which have been subjected to relentless and merciless punishment in order to prevent them from becoming clear demonstrations of "successful defiance".

Angola was subjected to 30 years of sponsored civil war as its punishment was also supposed to atone for the sins of Cuba, which dared to come to the rescue of Angola.

The assassination of Patrice Lumumba of Congo ushered in almost 40 years of instability, looting and dictatorship sponsored by the imperialist powers.

The full force of the entire North Atlantic Organisation (Nato) was unleashed on Serbia (former Yugoslavia) in 1999, because that country had served as a model for non-alignment and socialism.

For the same reason, Nicaragua in the 1980s suffered the destruction of its economy, the reversal of its shining gains in health and education as well as a death toll from sponsored terror "that would be comparable to 2 250 000 dead in the US, relative to population", according to Thomas Walker’s history book called Nicaragua.

The point is that some of the neighbours of Nicaragua, Yugoslavia and Angola respectively tried to shield these countries from the imperialist onslaught.

They failed. That is why we say the challenge now for Sadc and for the people of Zimbabwe is to make Sadc’s diplomatic achievement sustainable, repeatable and institutionalised.

A bit of history is necessary to underline our point. Sadc is supplanting the institutionalised tentacles of imperialism which have been embedded and entrenched in this region since Cecil John Rhodes’s vision of "Cape to Cairo" and apartheid man’s vision of the "Constellation of States".

The Christian Science Monitor on January 22 1979 published a story called "Rhodesia looks to US as ally". Ten days before that, on January 12, the New York Times published an article called "Rhodesia’s whites look to US for aid". And there were hundreds of similar articles in the US Press at the time.

In January 1979 people truly interested in democracy and human rights would have been preoccupied with the destiny of the African majority who were about to emerge as the liberated nation of Zimbabwe after 100 years of brutal colonial rule.

But, no, the European and US ruling classes and their Press were concerned about the destiny of the oppressor minority — the whites.

The 1979 US articles on Zimbabwe were no different from the 1960 articles on Congo. One by Francis B. Stevens on August 22 1960 in the magazine US News and World Report was called "The White Man’s Future in Africa", in reference to the impending independence of what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Although it was Belgium and the US who were threatening the Africans’ future by plotting to assassinate Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, the Press presented the conspiring killers as the ones who were threatened by the African leaders they planned to assassinate.

Among the 1979 articles on Zimbabwe there was one which stood out because it was written by a former US Ambassador to West Africa who was also a professor teaching at one of America’s elite universities, Columbia University.

Elliot P. Skinner was a good white liberal, so he wrote apologetically about the axis of white racism which we see now closing in on Zimbabwe and being repelled by Thabo Mbeki and Sadc.

This is what Skinner wrote in January 1979, a few weeks away from Zimbabwe’s independence.

"Our tragedy is that, whether we like it or not, the United States has inherited (from the British Empire) the role of metropole (that is the new mother country) of all whites in Southern Africa.

"This is not a role we welcomed but it is one we cannot avoid . . . We are the ones who have led the discussions about the future of these countries (of Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa)."

Even this liberal white professor and former ambassador was racist enough to believe that the US really has no choice but to always gang up against African interests and in defence of white settler interests.

This is what has outraged Zimbabweans against US, British and EU policies.

This is why Sadc, the AU and NAM want illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe lifted immediately.

When Sadc made Zimbabwe’s defiance its own so far, a picture of what agenda Zimbabwe and later Sadc defied has emerged.

At first the white empire saw the white settler populations of Southern Africa as its main proxies. So settlerist interests had to be protected at all costs. Later, there were not enough white settlers who could alone guarantee the protection of imperialist interests.

So, African political formations, NGOs headed by Africans, churches with African bishops, donor-funded commissions and even proxy governments of certain African states, had to be co-opted in order to hide the frequent reliance of imperialism on racist ideology.

But the imperialist demands on Zimbabwe had to be made much more emphatically and intrusively during the heyday of unipolarism.

One version of it appeared in The Washington Times of August 21 2002, citing US Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner’s Press conference on the question of Zimbabwe. According to that account:

"The Bush administration said yesterday it no longer considers President Robert Mugabe to be the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe and called upon the ‘body politic’ of his country ‘to go forward and correct that situation’.

"We are continuing to work on what are some of the strategies that we can use to isolate Mugabe in the sense that he has to realise that the political status quo is not acceptable . . . He said the United States and some European countries are working with the civil society in Zimbabwe, including human rights groups and independent journalists . . ."

The Washington Post story is critical as an illustration of the empire’s instruction because of its glaring and blatant publicity. The whole world needed to know what the empire wanted done in Zimbabwe: complete change of regimes and the humiliation of the symbol and leader of Zimbabwe’s liberation, President Robert Mugabe.

But the order had been made precise even before that, without the full glare of global TV cameras. It had been laid down in the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA), which elevated Zimbabwe’s defiance of the empire to the same level as Cuba’s defiance of the same empire from 1959 to date.

ZIDERA distinguishes Zimbabwe as a case of successful defiance because, like the Cuban Adjustment Act, it represents direct and internal US legislation against another country which has its own government mandated to protect the people’s sovereignty.

The Cuban Adjustment Act and the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act betray the empire’s aspiration to recolonise Cuba and Zimbabwe in order to erase the models of development which these two nations have presented to the world.

Therefore the call for an end to sanctions and the installation of an inclusive government under the auspices of Sadc represent a rebuff to imperialism which, like the defence of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, must be followed with patriotic mobilisation and vigilance.

For the proxies of imperialism among us have opted for slow-motion regime change, for an incremental cat-and-mouse game, through which Elliot P. Skinner’s agenda to reinstate and guarantee white settler interests will be smuggled piece-by-piece and drop-by-drop until the time is ripe for another attempt at "final push".

The only way to avoid this eventuality is to institutionalise the Sadc demonstration so that it can be repeated deliberately when needed in any of the member states of the community.

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