Sunday, September 27, 2009

Zimbabwe News Update: President Mugabe Addresses Africa-South America Summit in Venezuela

‘Fight for economic uhuru’

From Caesar Zvayi on MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mugabe has urged the developing world to complete the fight for holistic independence by taking ownership of their resources, saying political freedom without economic power is not only hollow but is also fertile ground for future conflicts.

In his address to the Second Africa-South America Summit here, President Mugabe chronicled the history of Zimbabwe’s land question and how the West bought into the British government’s flagrant violation of the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement.

The British and their American allies, the President said, proceeded to impose economic sanctions on Zimbabwe for embarking on the land reform programme as agreed on at Lancaster House.

"Political freedom or political power is absolutely hollow without the input of economic power, and economic power derives naturally from your natural resources. And these resources have got to be exploited and it is here that our liberation struggle, perhaps, did not go to fruition.

"It did not get to fruition because we left the very (colonising) countries with their very paraphernalia in control of our countries. So we had the economy still in the hands of Britain, in our country, and this was also the phenomenon in other countries, although the powers might not have been British all the time.

"And once you have that imbalance of power, political power in your hand and economic power in someone else’s hands, then you have seeds or a seed for real dispute and conflict in the future.

"In our case we had negotiated, we thought we had done our best, negotiated with the British so that the land reform programme could be undertaken in a manner which would see land being moved, ownership being moved from white settlers to blacks."

Despite this agreement, the President said, the Labour government of former British premier Tony Blair proceeded to renege with impunity and mobilised its allies to impose illegal economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

"So we still have sanctions imposed by the European Union, asked for by Britain and the United States of America. That withstanding, we are going ahead, we continue to argue against the sanctions and to ask you to support us in that regard.

"We continue to look at ways and means of associating with our neighbours in the economic field, trying to get their help.

"And so when Africa associates with Latin America, and we are part of that association, we do hope that, that association will yield benefits on a reciprocal basis."

The President said South America, which had a head-start on Africa on the economic front, should come in with investments.

"We have had agricultural machinery from Brazil, and we also have definite cultural ties. There are areas where we can work together on a reciprocally beneficial basis. Our countries are still largely agricultural in Africa.

"The qualitative transformation through industrialisation has been very difficult, difficult because there has been greater reliance on the very powers that colonised us yesterday, and they have not wanted to see us really become self-reliant otherwise we will cease to be their source of raw materials.

"But we can’t continue to be sources of raw materials for others forever," he said.

Africa, the President said, should move from the primary to the secondary stage of economic production.

"We have to qualitatively improve our economies, and it means we have got to beneficiate some of the products we get from agriculture, and it is in that area of beneficiation where we are finding lots of problems.

"Africa produces lots of coffee, lots of cocoa, lots of tea, tobacco. In Zimbabwe, we are only number two to Brazil in producing tobacco, and there are other countries that have taken to producing tobacco, our neighbours, Zambia and Malawi.

"But it’s raw tobacco all the time, our cigarettes for domestic consumption only, but we export the raw tobacco to countries even to America where they make cigarettes.

"So we appreciate the efforts we are doing and the result is that we establish ways and means of how we can improve our economies.

"And improving our economies means, as I have said, is naturally industrialising them from the primary levels where they are to secondary levels of production. It requires money, it requires capital and it is in this area of capital and technology that we fall short . . . We are happy, happy that there is the proposal to establish an investment bank (of South America), and I am sure Africa will support it."

The President urged African countries to ensure that existing institutions like the African Development Bank and the African Export-Import Bank buy into efforts to set up the investment bank.

Africa and South America, the Zimbabwean leader said, should build on the existing cultural, economic and social ties to ensure that ASA becomes a success.

The integration, he said, could be at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

To this end he proposed integration — even in the sporting arena — through the setting up of an ASA soccer tournament instead of having the two continents look only at meeting in the Fifa World Cup.

The President yesterday held talks with Bolivian President Evo Morales, whose country is facing problems in trying to get affluent land owners of colonial extraction to share land with the historically disadvantaged indigenous Bolivians.

Summit vital for South-South co-operation

From Caesar Zvayi in MARGARITA ISLAND, Venezuela

HISTORY was made in November 2006 when African and South American leaders converged in Abuja, Nigeria for the inaugural Africa-South America Summit.

The gathering, which completed the missing link in South-South co-operation in light of other Summits like the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation, and South America-Arab Summits, could not have come at a better time as the expansionist agenda of the global bully, the United States, gathered momentum.

The need to close ranks in the developing world could, therefore, not be over-emphasised.

The host of ASA 2009, President Hugo Chavez, tested the depredations of that expansionist agenda first hand when he was deposed in a CIA-backed coup before being restored by a tide of national popular support.

Chavez was illegally detained, the constitution declared a nullity and the legislature and judiciary dissolved on April 11, 2002 in an attempt at illegal regime change that lasted 47 hours, during which then Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce president — one Pedro Carmona — was installed as interim president. Though the blatant coup was publicly condemned worldwide, the US government tipped its hand by immediately recognising the Carmona regime, only to backtrack after a popular uprising against Carmona led to the re-installation of Chavez.

The historic inaugural ASA Summit came just four years after the launch of the Sino-Africa Summit, and a year after the South America-Arab Summit as the developing world searched for answers to protect its interests in a world skewed in favour of the industrialised north.

The inaugural Summit, obviously, sent shock waves through the Western corridors of power that continue to view South America’s growing shift to the left with trepidation, and that have been investing a lot to cultivate right-leaning leaders on both continents.

The right wingers in the West know the potency of such co-operation, having been sent scampering during the 1960s when some South American countries provided invaluable support to Africa’s liberation movements.

Given the arrogant sabre-rattling by the US and its allies, the South can ill-afford aloofness, especially in light of the intensification of poverty from the institutions of global capitalism — the World Bank, IMF and the WTO — that advocate policies at variance with the developmental aspirations of people in the South.

Coincidentally the southern Hemisphere, which is the richer half of the globe, continues to hold the short-end of the stick while the resource-poor West wallows in ill-gotten affluence, feasting off the misery of the developing world.

To make matters worse the Westerners have ensured that wealth continues flowing to them through the Structural Adjustment Programmes that are now being rejected en masse in South America and, to a certain extent, in Africa.

These neo-liberal economic prescriptions trap developing countries in unending debt spirals that make them perpetual dependants.

This is why there is greater need for South-South synergies that would see Africa and South America help each other develop in a sustainable manner, without the spectre of ruinous conditions.

The message that was sent to the West through the inaugural ASA Summit was quite clear, "we in the South are organising ourselves, and will not take anymore nonsense."

That the game has changed was evident in the phenomenon of leftist winners of elections in Uruguay, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador, all of whom share utter revulsion for the Western free-market policies backed by their predecessors.

Yet the Bretton Woods institutions continue advocating these policies despite the fact that their present and erstwhile chief economists — among them Dr Nicholas Stern — have since admitted that the neo-liberal prescriptions detract from development by entrenching poverty.

The SAPs have failed to bring stability, alleviate poverty or curb unemployment in the developing world.

A case in point is Zambia, a country that religiously applied SAPs for decades but which, instead of developing, regressed to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries category that made it eligible for debt relief. Sadly some in Zimbabwe do not appear to have learnt from the Zambian case given that they are proposing that Zimbabwe should accept HIPC status to get debt relief.

This is why the Africa-South America Summit, which drew over 60 Heads of State and Government and 900 delegates from the 53 African and 12 South American Community of Nations states — namely Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname; rapped SAPs for entrenching poverty.

The Summit reviewed and sought ways of consolidating co-operation in various areas including peace and security, democracy and governance, agriculture, water resources, trade and investment, infrastructure development, energy, social and cultural co-operation, health and gender.

The summit also discussed ways of enhancing co-operation in international trade so as to increase Africa and South America’s leverage in international politics and trade negotiations.

The leaders — among them firebrands like Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales of Bolivia — were unanimous in their condemnation of western economic prescriptions and imperialist overtures.

The Final Summit Declaration outlined plans to promote greater co-operation between the African Union and the South American Community of Nations in the economic sector, and to enlarge co-operation in the political and cultural spheres, that face continued threats from the scourge of globalisation. Among plans to stimulate South-South co-operation was the setting up of an Africa-South America Bank and the adoption of common positions in the WTO, which has continued holding the South to ransom through unfair trade practices. The Declaration also created the Abuja Resolution, aimed at setting up a Forum for Co-operation, based in Nigeria that will meet once every two years to debate bilateral relations. It was also decided that the Second Africa-South America Summit would take place in Caracas, Venezuela, in 2009. Africa, which has lost most of its liberation era leaders, and is currently facing the looming threat of right-leaning leaders has a lot to learn from the SACN, which is why the Abuja Summit was central to the continent’s quest for holistic independence, and the Venezuela edition is invaluable to the same.

Through Summits like these, the developing world — which ironically sustains the so-called rich North through human and material resources contrary to common thinking — would dictate terms on the international scene instead of being perpetually at the mercy of resource-poor Western nations.

Many hope the forthcoming Summit will not just be another talk shop. The leaders have to move quickly to ensure that the resolutions reached in Abuja, and those to be adopted here, are translated into tangible results.

Understandably some of the resolutions need time to see the light of day but there are others that can be implemented in the short-term.

One of these is manpower development where inter-continental co-operation has seen many African students getting scholarships to study in South America. What is needed are more scholarships, research and student exchange programmes to replace the skills drain the two regions have undergone. With the vast mineral and human resource bases in the two regions, the fight against poverty can be easily taken to another level with increased trade, investment and exploitation of natural resources for the benefit of indigenous people.

There is also need to develop support and consensus on multilateral political and economic questions on which the North speaks with one voice.

This year’s summit, no doubt, will strengthen South-South synergies, and it is incumbent on the leaders of the two continents to exploit the vast potential for effective co-operation.

The time has come for the South to claim its pound of flesh.

CNN’s Amanpour sings for her supper

EDITOR — Regarding President Mugabe’s CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour, our fears were confirmed.

Amanpour sang too much for her supper. But then again, she has to. Just look at who owns CNN and it explains itself.

Also, just as many feared, Amanpour regurgitated all the misinformation about President Mugabe and the land issue and other substantive Zimbabwean concerns, showing little inclination to do a meaningful and objective interview with this warrior and lawyer.

Unless I missed something, I do not recall a question about the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, which is one of the key agreements underpinning the land question in Zimbabwe.

Wouldn’t anyone expect a so-called reporter to cover so important a matter in the name of objective reporting? It is interesting also to note that by comparison, the African American did not become a citizen of the United States based on birth, but by the advice and consent of the United States Congress.

The 14th Amendment, enacted in 1868, provided that citizenship.

So there is the question then whether being born in Zimbabwe one is automatically Zimbabwean. Would we argue that missionaries born on Chinese soil are Chinese? Certainly not.

Overall, the interview with so scholarly a warrior would have been better staged on public broadcasting with someone of the stature of Gwen Ifill doing the interviewing.

The Amanpour interview just didn’t cover the ground the substantive issue of land reform demands. She’s less of a reporter and more of a propagandist.

John West.

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