The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Country Faces Biggest Threat Since Independence

opinion

Harare — ONCE again, imperialist nations and their allied Press agencies along with other surrogate organisations have set out to destabilise the Government of President Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF.

Using circumstances surrounding the delay in the announcement of results of the March 29, 2008 poll for the Parliament and presidential elections, the chorus of calls for regime change have dominated the airwaves and print media.

US envoy Jendayi Frazer, who serves as Assistant Secretary State for African Affairs, was dispatched in late April to several countries on the continent to trumpet the idea of regime change in Zimbabwe.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has openly announced in the British parliament that Cde Mugabe must resign and hand over power to the pro-Western MDC.

The British went as far as promising the MDC leadership £1 billion annually to purportedly rebuild the economy of Zimbabwe which has been wrecked by the machinations of the former colonial power in London in co-operation with the United States and the European Union. What moral right do these imperialist nations have to interfere in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe and consequently Africa as a whole?

With specific reference to the United States, the whole idea of criticising the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission for its job inside the country represents the height of hypocrisy. Was it not the current Bush regime that came into office in 2000 as a result of the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters, many of whom were African-Americans, during the debacle in Florida that led to the ascendancy of the present administration?

Even in 2004, it was documented by the Congressional Black Caucus and other civil rights organisations that the decisive vote count in the state of Ohio gave the necessary margin to declare George W. Bush victor for a disastrous second term in Washington.

Nonetheless, when democratic elections do not suit the interests of imperialism, such as what happened in Palestine when Hamas won the majority of seats in the authority, the results were rejected not only by the State of Israel but also the United States.

Background to the situation in Zimbabwe

When Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980, it was considered a major accomplishment that would eventually lead to the triumph of the national liberation struggles in Southern Africa.

Since the late 19th century when Cecil John Rhodes, the imperialist agent of British colonialism, pressed for the seizure of the land of the Ndebele and Shona peoples which was rich in natural resources and agricultural potential, the country became a major source of cheap labour and profits for the white settler class and its international partners.

With the beginning of the Second Chimurenga (anti-colonial struggle) during the 1960s, the first taking place in 1896-1897, the masses took up arms to fight for the end of British rule and the return of their land and mineral wealth to the African peasants and workers. In order to avoid an outright military defeat by the armed forces of the Patriotic Front composed of the Zimbabwe African National Union and the Zimbabwe African People's Union, the British and the United States forced the white-settler regime of Ian Smith, which had ostensibly broken away from the UK in 1965, to negotiate a political settlement with the liberation movements. Under the Lancaster House accords of 1979-1980, the British settlers would maintain control of most of the land in Zimbabwe for a period of 10 years. The whites would be guaranteed a 20 percent bloc within the House of Parliament for a decade and the independent Government would not nationalise the mines and other business interests inside the country.

However, it was agreed that the UK and the United States would supply funding for a land reform programme within 10 years to subsidise the gradual removal of the British from the prime land in Zimbabwe and the re-emergence of self-sufficient African farmers and agricultural workers. After the conclusion of the 1980s, the debate within Zimbabwe intensified over the delayed land reform process. By the end of the 1990s, the Zanu-PF Government of President Mugabe, after patiently waiting for two decades for the unfulfilled promises of the former colonial power of Britain and their imperialist partners in the United States, the passage of constitutional amendments granted the right to seize the farms of approximately 50 percent of the white settlers for the resettlement of the African people.

With the assistance of the revolutionary war veterans from the national liberation struggle of the 1960s and 1970s, these farms were occupied and the settlers, who held both Zimbabwean and British citizenship, were forced to leave and concede ownership to the Government which developed plans for land redistribution.

Destabilisation and the neo-liberal agenda

Since 1998, when it became clear that the Zanu-PF Government would eventually embark upon a radical land reform programme, the Western imperialist countries set out to bring down the administration of President Mugabe.

In a referendum to give a electoral mandate to the constitutional reforms designed to escalate the land redistribution programme, the formation of an alliance of internal opposition forces that were backed by the settler-colonialists and their external allies in the UK and the US, were able to defeat the initiative.

Further evidence of the inroads made by the pro-Western political interests in Zimbabwe was demonstrated by the growth of the recently formed Movement for Democratic Change. In the parliamentary elections held during June of 2000, the ruling Zanu-PF party won a majority by small margin after months of a concerted and well-financed propaganda campaign targeting the land reform programme.

This was accompanied by the persistent efforts of the International Monetary Fund and other Western financial institutions to weaken the economy of Zimbabwe. The country, which is geographically landlocked, depends heavily on the transport of goods through the neighbouring Republic of South and Mozambique. By 2002, when presidential elections were held, the ruling Zanu-PF party had consolidated the land reform programme and were able to defeat the opposition MDC at the polls.

Yet the efforts of the imperialists and their collaborators inside the country among the white settlers, the oppostion MDC leadership as well as the local capitalist class, continued their efforts to destabilise the Zimbabwe Government under the leadership of Zanu-PF. When attempts to stage violent regime-change demonstrations failed, the economy came under siege.

The refusal of financial institutions to grant credit to the Government, the hoarding of consumer goods to drive up prices coupled with sanctions and the eventual suspension of the country from the British Commonwealth had a dramatic impact on the ability of the Zanu-PF Government to provide basic services to the people.

Eventually Zimbabwe would withdraw completely from the old colonially-imposed Commonwealth and develop a "Look East" policy which would emphasise greater co-operation and trade within Africa itself and between the country and Asian nations, particularly China. This policy helped provide breathing space for the Zanu-PF Government, since China also offered diplomatic support to the Mugabe administration by preventing efforts to bring the country before the United Nations Security Council to discuss supposed human rights violations.

The role of the People's Republic of China in Africa has been a cause for tremendous consternation in Western ruling circles. China has extended its economic co-operation within many countries on the African continent. In Sudan, they have provided an outlet for the distribution of petroleum resources from their growing oil industry which the United States has been prevented from participating in for over a decade.

During the month of April 2008, the United States and Britain attempted to impose an illegal arms embargo against Zimbabwe after it was discovered that a substantial shipment of weapons and military equipment was being sent to the country. First, a white-dominated dock workers union in South Africa went to court to prevent the arms shipment sent by China from being unloaded and transported to landlocked Zimbabwe.

It was recently announced that the Republic of Angola would allow the arms to be unloaded through their ports. US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer was dispatched to the continent to pressure various governments to both support Western efforts to set an embargo outside the UN Security Council and to also advance the notion of a so-called "government of national unity" where the pro-Western MDC opposition party would be in the forefront.

The problems associated with the delay in election results in Zimbabwe were utilised as an excuse to make a major push towards regime change in this Southern African nation. According to the MDC, the ruling party lost the elections held on March 29. Yet the actual figures from the first tabulation and the recount only place the MDC slightly ahead of Zanu-PF in the Lower House of Parliament. Neither the opposition or the ruling party achieved an outright majority.

Zanu-PF has speculated that the results of the presidential elections would not give a majority to either the ruling party or the opposition MDC. The Zanu-PF Politburo in a recent meeting stated that they were prepared for a run-off election, while the MDC has rejected the idea of a second round in the elections which is mandated by the Constitution if no party wins more than 51 percent in the race for head of state. All of the major Western corporate and governmentally-controlled Press agencies have come out in support of the opposition MDC. The leaders of this party are given prime coverage through interviews and the publicising of their unsubstantiated accusations related to vote rigging, alleged violence committed by the Zanu-PF Government and its neo-colonial schemes purportedly designed to restructure the economy of Zimbabwe.

Amid massive criticism from Western Press agencies and governments, President Thabo Mbeki has refused to aid in the Western destabilisation efforts aimed at toppling the Zimbabwe state and the placing of the pro-Western MDC in power.

Mbeki has rejected the notion that there is a crisis in the country requiring international intervention.

In addition, the newly-elected president of the ruling African National Congress of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, who recently visited the UK and met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, also refused to condemn the Zimbabwe Government.

Despite the convening of a special summit of the regional Southern African Development Community in early April to discuss the political situation in Zimbabwe, the grouping of 14 states in the sub-continent have not taken any action that would interfere in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe and its ruling Zanu-PF party.

The right to self-determination and sovereignty

Spokespersons for the Zimbabwe Government have rejected the statements and actions of the UK and the US as attempts to overturn their Government and impose a neo-colonial solution.

The only real programme of the opposition MDC is to carry out the political and economic designs of the Western imperialist nations and their class collaborators inside of Zimbabwe. The MDC has every intention of returning the farms seized by the Zanu-PF Government after 2000 to the white-settlers.

Also the "Look East" policy has been a specific target of the anti-Mugabe forces because a change in this foreign policy orientation would damage relations between Zimbabwe and China. China has been a staunch supporter of Zimbabwe extending back to the era of the armed struggle for national independence during the 1970s. Moreover, the United States and Britain have supplied arms and economic support to those regimes in Africa and other so-called Third World countries which carry out their policies.

In Africa, the United States supports the regime of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt which receives the second largest grant of American aid, only followed by the Israeli state in occupied Palestine. In Latin America, the US supplies massive amounts of military and economic assistance to Colombia, which is the third largest recipient of American aid behind Israel and Egypt.

This US assistance is provided to supposedly fight narco-terrorism, yet the major purveyors of violence in Colombia are those counter-revolutionary elements that have firm links to the drug trade and who serve as a surrogate military force to prevent the Revolutionary Armed Forces from coming to power inside the country.

The internal political and economic problems of the nation of Zimbabwe can best be resolved by the people themselves. It is obvious from the long history of American and UK involvement in Africa that these imperialist nations have always been the perpetuators or supporters of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism.

During the many years of brutal oppression and exploitation under colonialism, the United States never supported any genuine liberation movement in Africa. Since independence the US policies have only hampered these nations from gaining genuine liberation from the economic tentacles of international finance capital.

What has occurred in Zimbabwe over the last several years is the direct by-product of imperialist intervention and manipulation of the political economy of this Southern African country.

The Government of President Mugabe, like any other sovereign state, has the right to protect its own interests and to safeguard its people and institutions from outside forces seeking undemocratic forms of regime change.

l The writer Abayomi Azikiwe is Editor of the Pan-African News Wire, and this article first appeared on the Pan-African News Wire website. The Pan-African News Wire is an international electronic Press service designed to foster intelligent discussion on the affairs of African people throughout the continent and the world.

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