Kenneth Kaunda and Martin Luther King making a joint statement against US investment in South Africa at the UN in 1965. Kaunda was the former leader of the United National Independence Party which led Zambia to independence., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Solidarity call as Sadc kangaroo is killed
Sunday, 29 May 2011 21:21
By Stephen Mpofu
The peasants of Southern Africa - now specifically those in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia and Lesotho - will have every reason to celebrate the recent dissolution by Sadc of its Namibia-based Tribunal which sought to take food out of the mouths of the poor, by nullifying existing and planned land reform programmes in those countries.
While Zimbabwe has probably been the only country in the public spotlight for its opposition to the improper constitution of the tribunal in the first place, and to its 2008 arbitrary judgments, that body was funded by the West, apparently to also waylay land reform programmes in the three other Sadc countries.
This fact will be adduced from remarks by members of the Southern Africa Commercial Farmers Alliance, a group of white farmers who at a meeting in Bulawayo recently, accused the governments of Zimbabwe, South Africa and Lesotho of ganging up against them by their unwillingness to pay compensation for farms acquired or earmarked for repossession to relocate to the landless black majority.
The white farmers deliberately omitted to mention Namibia, which also seriously has a programme planned to provide land to blacks there who need that asset the best, no doubt because they did not wish to antagonise Windhoek where the tribunal is located.
One of the tribunal's rulings against Zimbabwe three years ago ordered the country to pay compensation to white farmers whose land had been repossessed and re-distributed among needy blacks and to leave other white commercial farmers still on "their" properties untouchable - a judgment Zimbabwe contested, arguing that any compensation paid would only be for improvements made to the properties, as full compensation for the land was the responsibility of the British government, Zimbabwe's former colonial power.
The dissolution provides a golden opportunity for Sadc's ministers of justice to resurrect that "dead body" by making it people-friendly and sealing any loopholes so that a new tribunal is not again amenable to infiltration and abuse by imperialists .
That way, they would also make it more responsive to the needs of black people as a consequence of the revolutions that brought back land from captivity by white settlers to its rightful owners, the black majority.
It is a tragic irony that the European Union (EU) was, for instance, allowed at all to bankroll the entire bench of the tribunal judges.
But surely, were the Sadc leaders so blinded by their dependency syndrome as to forget that the EU is party to the regime change scheme against Zimbabwe and along with the United States and, of course, Britain, which is also an EU member?
The West imposed sanctions that are crippling the Zimbabwean economy and people, to protest against land reform, and will, as surely as the sun rises in the east, go for the same regime change campaign should South Africa and Namibia - countries that also fought revolutionary wars against white minority governments - press ahead with plans to reform land under mounting pressure from their populations and, fearful of losing power should they kow tow to the whims of Western powers who seek to keep land entrenched in the hands of farmers of European stock.
As a matter of fact, people speak glibly about "regime change" in Zimbabwe as though the West wants to overthrow the inclusive Government. Of course, that is not to be.
What the United States, Britain and their European cousins are hell bent on doing is the nullification of black oriented programmes, such as land reform, which Zanu-PF and its Government implemented while in power alone, to make independence and freedom a reality, not just a talk-show.
Once that carpet has been pulled from underneath Zanu-PF's Government record, the party's nemesis in the West apparently believe that the people will disown that party by turning against it, accusing it of "betraying" them in the first place by embarking on programmes that did not last their lifetime.
Should that happen the hoped-for regime change will have been effected, to be replicated in those other Sadc countries where white farmers are at loggerheads with governments there over repossession of farms for re-allocation to blacks eking out a living on strips of sometimes, barren land.
What this suggests is that no leader in Sadc should allow himself to be hoodwinked into ganging up with the West against Zimbabwe or any other Sadc country viewed with red eyes by the West for not dancing to the tune of imperialists.
Once the enemy is done with, a targetted country its sweet talk with a Sadc ally is wont to turn into a bitter pill for the African sellout and his people because there is no love lost between imperialists and revolutionaries.
And, come to think of it, how could the West fund the tribunal in Namibia with Sadc naively believing that the money had no strings attached to it? Surely did not the saying: "he who pays the piper calls the tune" ring a bell in any of the Sadc leaders? Just as well that Zimbabwe did not agree with the tribunal's rulings, literally reducing that body to a kangaroo court?
It is time that African leaders realised that any over-dependence on the West for money to run African institutions is fraught with risks as some unscrupulous donors will use the money to swing a recipient's political direction often in their commercial benefits.
For example, before the Sadc Tribunal, there was former South African President Thabo Mbeki's "Renaissance" philosophy and the West started rehearsing how to jump in on the renaissance bandwagon to spread its influence on the continent.
Only the "Humanism" of Dr Kenneth Kaunda, while President of Zambia in the mid-seventies failed to appetise the West to rush in on its coat-tails apparently because the philosophy was too localised for a wider spread of the foreigners' foul influence.
Perhaps, Sadc should be persuaded by the examples of the Sadc Tribunal and Renaissance to not in future hold out a begging bowl to proverbial "sleeping dogs", but dig deep into the regional organisation's own coffers, however meagre these might be, as seed money for any regional institution the organisation might wish to set up in future.
At least none but themselves will claim ownership of that body and use it to fulfill the aspirations of the people of the region.
The debate in Libya by the pugnacious Western trio of Britain, the United States and France - which hijacked a Security Council resolution on a no-fly zone meant to protect Libyan civilians from air attacks by pro-government forces to empower themselves to overthrow that country's legitimate government - should be a reminder to Sadc that the West might do the same in this part of the continent to support angry white farmers and, Western surrogates, should Sadc members not forge an impregnable alliance to ward off foreign intruders.