Monday, March 23, 2009

South Africa Pressures US and Britain to Lift Sanctions on Zimbabwe

Sanctions: SA piles pressure on US, Britain

Bulawayo Bureau/Observer

SOUTH Africa has called on Britain, US and the European Union to extend their aid to Zimbabwe beyond humanitarian assistance by injecting funds directly into the treasury.

Reiterating the call for the West to lift their punitive economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, South Africa’s Finance Minister, Mr Trevor Manuel, said the Western powers who have imposed sanctions on Harare must lift them and support the inclusive Government.

Mr Manuel was quoted as telling the British media yesterday that while humanitarian assistance was welcome, it would not go anywhere in addressing the fundamental causes of the prevailing socio-economic hardships if sanctions were maintained.

"You have to support the Government," Mr Manuel said.

"Zimbabwe’s foreign friends are opposed to the notion that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his ministers are just puppets.

"But if you just have outside agencies running the show, then that notion is amplified. And people will say Tsvangirai is not even trusted by his friends."

South Africa has in recent years taken a leading role in urging the West to lift the sanctions that have caused untold suffering in the country.

Sadc and the African Union have also denounced the sanctions and called for their removal.

Speaking during the launch of the Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme (STERP) in Harare last week, President Mugabe again called for foreign aid to revive the economy and urged the EU and its partners to end the cruel sanctions.

Despite the formation of the inclusive Government by Zanu-PF and both factions of the MDC last month and continuing calls for the sanctions to be lifted, the EU and the US have renewed and further tightened their ruinous sanctions on Harare.

Last week, the US said the inclusive Government has "a long way to go" before it (US) can remove sanctions.

A US State Department spokesman, Mr Robert Wood, said in Washington DC that his government had not seen evidence of what he said was an irrevocable move towards effective governance and respect of human rights.

"We have not yet seen sufficient evidence from the Government of Zimbabwe that they are firmly and irrevocably on a path to inclusive and effective governance, and as well as respect for human rights and the rule of law," he said.

He added: "So that government has a long way to go before we will consider . . . easing sanctions with that Government. We’re not in any kind of discussion with . . . the Government of Zimbabwe on removing our targeted sanctions."

Mr Wood acknowledged that the sanctions have indeed caused terrible suffering but claimed that the US remains "very concerned about the plight of the Zimbabwean people".

Mr Manuel said the inclusive Government must be given time to work.

"There is a fundamental set of issues that needs to be addressed. But they (the Government) have to be afforded the opportunity to make a difference," he said.

On whether Sadc would provide an economic rescue package to Zimbabwe, Mr Manuel said African nations did not have the capacity to do so.

"You have to understand this is a region in poverty.

"If large hearts and deep pockets be the measure of goodwill, you couldn’t be asking at a worse time." — Bulawayo Bureau/Observer.

Western double standards exposed

By Reason Wafawarova

THE overriding principle of global politics as defined by the collective foreign policy of Western elites is centred on the vainglorious assumption that misdeeds are only performed by others while the West is only culpable for inadvertent errors or oversights.

The Western media has no problems portraying to the world the lucidity of the democracy of their own countries while they bestow upon themselves the righteous role of being the custodians of the feelings and emotions of people in far away less developed countries.

The furious denunciation of the crimes of others is but one specialty of many journalists in the mainstream Western media.

Just like Britain was the first country to acknowledge the legitimacy of Uganda’s Idi Amin when he overthrew Milton Obote in January 1971, France has been the first Western country to acknowledge the legitimacy of Andry Rajoelina in his military-backed coup against Marc Ravalomanana in Madagascar.

France has declared that it will not change its investment policy and will not review the diplomatic ties with Madagascar and has clearly ruled out sanctions against Madagascar.

Running the risk of being criticised for advocating sanctions against a fellow African country, which this writer is not doing, the irony of France’s position cannot escape common-sense driven observations.

Ravalomanana was not only a neo-liberal economic fundamentalist who was obsessed with opening floodgates for Western foreign investment but also a democratically elected leader of Madagascar whose controversial claim of victory in the December 2001 election was well atoned by his clear win for a second term in 2006.

This democratically elected leader, who was pro-West by every angle of the term, is now ousted by a 34-year-old opposition leader who is clearly scared of an election and France has no intention of going to the Security Council, no intention to reprimand anyone, no plans to review investment in Madagascar and most clearly acknowledges the legitimacy of Rajoelina.

This is the France whose President, Nicolas Sarkozy vigorously supported an EU move to expand sanctions against Zimbabwe in December 2008, regardless of the fact that the country was clearly moving towards an inclusive government endorsed by all interested parties.

Sarkozy had this to say about the man who was endorsed as the President of Zimbabwe at the negotiations that led to the formation of the inclusive Government, "President Mugabe must go. It is time to say to Mr Mugabe: ‘You have taken your people hostage; the inhabitants of Zimbabwe have the right to freedom, security and respect’."

Ravalomanana challenged his opposition leader to a referendum so that the will of the people of Madagascar could be respected and Rajoelina blatantly refused saying "the people (were) too thirsty for change" and there was no time for an election.

After Ravalomanana left office Rajoelina announced that he would organise an election in two years and when asked why that could not be earlier he said he did not want "history to repeat itself" meaning he did not want Ravalomanana to win again.

By using the military and refusing to take part in a proposed referendum, Rajoelina was taking not only the President of Madagascar hostage but also its people.

France is not worried about this military hostage that fronted a baby-faced ex-DJ against the democracy and constitution of Madagascar but was too good to detect the hostage of the inhabitants of Zimbabwe even at a time the Zimbabweans were uniting under an inclusive Government of their choice.

The fact that Zimbabweans were collectively shaping their own future and destiny did not stop France and her allies in the EU from simultaneously expanding the illegal and ruinous sanctions that have ravaged Zimbabwe into the sorry state it is in today.

If democracy and the rule of law were so important to France; surely on the basis of guiding principles only they were not supposed to embrace the leadership of Rajoelina, who by the constitutional requirements of his own country is six years too young to become the country’s president.

Now the military and Rajoelina’s supporters had the audacity to take the Madagascar Supreme Court hostage and demand a statement of legitimacy for Rajoelina and it all happened just like that. France and her Western allies are not talking Security Council or military intervention as they have become known for on matters regarding Zimbabwe in recent years.

Meanwhile the BBC quoted France’s Foreign Ministry as saying France would not stop its aid nor change its investment policy but would, "would maintain its policy of cooperation".

The message that France is sending to the world is that the guiding principles of their foreign policy, and indeed their political conscience are purely based on economic interest and not on the moralistic truisms that we are often bombarded with, and most certainly not on democratic values or the rule of law.

For as long as French investment is not threatened and for as long as French hegemony in the economic affairs of Madagascar is not upset Ravalomanana can be easily counted as collateral damage in the politics of his country.

It is unlike Zimbabwe, that country that is being ruthlessly punished for successful defiance of Western guiding principles of imperial hegemony.

If Zimbabwe had a popular ex-DJ supported by dissident soldiers taken over power while the white settler farmers remained on their properties and white businesses were not disturbed there would be no need to talk about ‘‘lawlessness’’, ‘‘hostage of inhabitants’’ or even sanctions.

Zimbabwe overturned Western hegemony through the leadership and guidance of President Mugabe and an inclusive government featuring the same man is nothing but an insult to the Western elites.

Zimbabwe reclaimed its agricultural land and it uprooted Western hegemony over its economic affairs and for that the language is sanctions, ICC, Rome Statute, The Hague and military intervention.

In the 1960s JF Kennedy’s administration backed military forces that overthrew Brazil’s parliamentary democracy acknowledging their "basically democratic and pro-United States orientation".

Kennedy’s ambassador, Lincoln Gordon hailed the assassins and torturers as having achieved "the most decisive victory for freedom in the mid-twentieth century" and he called it a "democratic rebellion".

Gordon urged Washington to "restrain left wing excesses" of the popular but ousted government of Brazil and he also directed "the democratic forces" of the military coup plotters to "create a greatly improved climate for private investment".

With this history and even worse atrocities in their cupboards the US still have the audacity and arrogance to overlook the importance of the inclusive Government to the people of Zimbabwe, and to proceed and expand the regime of the illegal sanctions even on the same day that Prime Minister Tsvangirai was appealing for the lifting of these "restrictive measures".

The guiding principle here is the US economic interest and not what is of interest to the people of Zimbabwe.

Cuba has been punished for about 50 years now for its successful defiance of imperial hegemony.

The 1975 defence of Angola by Cuban forces against South African mercenaries was remarkable in that it sparked life into the Frelimo liberation fighters of Mozambique and the Zanla and Zipra liberation fighters who were fighting to topple the Ian Smith regime in the then Rhodesia.

Gleijeses wrote of this Cuban achievement, ‘the story of a small country’s vision of defying a big power’s oppression, and, thanks to extraordinary individual heroism and self-sacrifice, changing a continent".

Henry Kissinger did his best to smash the MPLA for representing the hope and aspiration of the Angolan people.

The Unites States has this long history of international terrorism and economic warfare to overcome what Washington has called "successful defiance", "left wing excesses" and "the liberation theology".

These are the target crimes aimed at by Western hegemony and Zimbabwe is guilty of all three crimes.

Zimbabwe now features prominently in scholarly work on democracy but typically as a convict of the crime of violating the virtues of democracies, not as a victim of Western-induced political polarity and economic strangulation.

It is like Cuba featuring prominently in scholarly work on terrorism, typically as a suspect in the crime and not as a victim. In these works the Reagan-Bush Senior international terrorism in Nicaragua and elsewhere does not exist just like Bush Junior’s atrocities and terror campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan do not exist.

After the invasion of the Bay of Pigs and the bombing of the Cuban Airliner as well as a lot other acts of terror, Cuba was ironically added to the US official list of terrorist states in 1982, replacing Iraq, which had been removed so as to make Saddam Hussein eligible for US aid, mainly lethal weapons meant to obliterate Iran.

With these guidelines and the overriding principle of Western exceptionalism, Zimbabwe has no good reason to be overly optimistic about receiving free money from the West for purposes of rebuilding the battered economy.

It appears Finance Minister Tendai Biti has become alive to the reality of Zimbabwe having to go it alone in this rebuilding exercise.

We may take solace in Australia’s announcement that this writer’s host country is using part of our tax to give "developmental aid" to Zimbabwe, the homeland.

Well, Australia is well known in international relations for making very bold statements in a very small way.

They went into Iraq with a couple of thousand soldiers but still told Barrack Obama that he was a darling of terrorists when he announced the need to pull out of Iraq during the launch of his election campaign.

Obama retorted by challenging John Howard to back his commitment to war by adding "at least 20 000 more soldiers" to the battlefield.

That would have been the entire Australian Defence Forces so it would never happen.

Now Australia can equally set lofty benchmarks for Zimbabwe on the basis of the promised 10 million Australian dollars, roughly US$ 6.4 million.

The answer for Zimbabwe lies in boosting production in agriculture, mining and manufacturing, as well as in the tourism sector.

It is futile to place any hope in the hypocritical West for remedy to Zimbabwe’s economic crisis unless we can meet the benchmark of restoring Western economic hegemony over the country’s resources.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we shall overcome.

-Reason Wafawarova contact or or visit

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