Thursday, October 22, 2009

Western-backed Party Threatens to Split Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe

Western-backed Party Threatens to Split Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe

US still working for regime change to displace ZANU-PF

by Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Zimbabwe’s inclusive government was thrown into crisis in the aftermath of the arrest of the western-backed Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) Treasurer Roy Bennett on October 14. Bennett, who has been charged with possessing arms for the purpose of criminal activity, terrorism and inciting acts of insurgency, has been out on bail since March.

In response to a motion filed by his attorney, Bennett was released on October 16 pending the beginning of his trial, which was initially scheduled to begin on October 19 but has been postponed. Bennett, a white coffee farmer whose business was taken over through the land reform program in Zimbabwe, has been recommended by the MDC-T prime minister for an appointment as deputy agricultural minister.

His appointment has been held up due to the criminal charges pending against him. As a result of Bennett’s arrest, the MDC-T leader and prime minister in the inclusive government, Morgan Tsvangirai, has suspended his party’s participation in cabinet meetings with the party of President Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF).

The arrest of Bennett has drawn a sharp response from the Obama administration which immediately issued a statement criticizing President Mugabe. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) “The US has called for Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe to stop ‘harassing’ his rivals, a day after a senior politician was imprisoned.” (BBC, October 15)

This same article continues by stating that “The state department said the jailing of Roy Bennett was a ‘blatant example’ of a lack of the rule of law.” State department spokesman Robert Wood added that “Mugabe has to end the harassment of the opposition, including Mr. Bennett.”

These developments in Zimbabwe are taking place in the aftermath of United States Senate Sub-Committee on African Affairs hearings held on September 30. The United States Agency for International Development acting assistant administrator for Africa Earl Gast submitted a paper on Zimbabwe that was highly critical of President Mugabe and the ZANU-PF party.

In his paper entitled “Exploring U.S. Policy Options Towards Zimbabwe’s Transition” , Gast said that “In addition, funding has included support for civil society strengthening, support to help fulfill the terms of the Global Political Agreement (GPA); programs to demonstrate responsible governance (eg., improving the public outreach capacity of the Office of the Prime Minister); assistance to non-governmental monitoring of compliance of all parties to the GPA; and support for independent media.”

Such language indicates that the U.S. is funding separately the MDC-T party and other organizations whose goals conflict with those of President Mugabe and ZANU-PF. In addition to funding MDC-T, the U.S. is also calling for new elections in Zimbabwe, despite the fact that general elections were held in 2008 which resulted in the victory of the ZANU-PF party.

Negotiations between ZANU-PF and the two MDC factions (MDC-T and MDC-M), that were mediated by South Africa on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), resulted in the unity agreement in September 2008 which did not go into effect until February 2009.

Gast in his paper presented to the Senate Sub-Committee on African Affairs also states that “The $73 million in funding for Zimbabwe pledged by President Obama during Prime Minister Tsvangirai’s recent visit to the US includes significant inter-agency funding for HIV and Aids programs in: parliamentary strengthening, (2.4 million); elections and constitution making ($3.2 million); rule of law ($3.8); consensus-building ($2.7); media ($1.5); victims of torture ($1.9); civil society/local government capacity building ($5.8 million); maternal and child health, including tuberculosis ($4.1 million); and family planning ($1.2 million).”

The Zimbabwe Sunday Mail in response to the Senate Sub-Committee hearings, pointed out that these activities on the part of the Obama administration indicates that regime change is still the policy of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs has openly admitted that the administration is funding the MDC-T exclusively even though the Prime Minister Tsvangirai had joined the Zimbabwe in February.

On October 18, the Sunday Mail pointed out that “These revelations are set to shame the Prime Minister’s Office which has been refuting allegations that funding for its parallel government has been coming from the U.S. government through USAID. In addition to running the parallel government, the PM’s Office is publishing a newsletter that is under the charge of Andrew Chadwick and is receiving funding from the USAID.” (Sunday Mail, October 18)

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