The Herald (Harare)

20 September 2008

Zimbabwe: SADC Must Not Lose Focus

opinion

Harare — AFTER the historic signing of the Sadc-facilitated political pact in Zimbabwe last Monday, the regional block must not get excited and lose focus.

Western hawks with briefcases full of money are still hovering over the region like hungry vultures scouting for prey, as they try to find another subtle way of splitting Sadc and expose the region's natural resources to Western exploitation.

While helping Zimbabwe forget its past and forge ahead, Sadc should put in place mechanisms that enable it to project into the future and maintain hegemony on its resources- human and material.

The challenge now facing Zimbabwe is to get over its recent past - a past characterised by divisions that were sponsored by the West.

Similarly, Sadc has to look at the manner in which the Zimbabwe issue threatened to corrode the harmonious and beneficial relations that have traditionally existed among member states from the time of the anti-colonial struggle.

However, there is another serious challenge facing the entire region and that is of the United States of America targeting Southern Africa for the setting up of permanent military base for Africa: an animal they call Africom.

Britain and America have lost to Sadc's unity and Pan Africanist outlook on the issue of Zimbabwe but they will not rest.

They would have wished the political stand-off to continue as this would give them the platform to continue to interfere and eventually get the necessary reach and hegemony to the country's enviable resources.

Love him or hate him, President Mugabe has proved to be a political grandmaster, whose vision, artistry and sheer force of personality continue to send his detractors scampering for cover with both shame and disbelief.

The British have lost to him when they thought they had cornered him by trying to internationalise the bilateral dispute with Zimbabwe over land reform in order to penetrate the region.

Now that there is no longer any political crisis to talk about in Zimbabwe, the think tanks have gone back to the drawing board to create another illusory crisis in the region to use as a smokescreen behind which to hide the establishment of Africom.

The challenge facing Sadc is to keep the Zimbabwean spirit of all-inclusive governance intact, while at the same time fostering regional integration, propping up diplomacy and checking on member states to ensure that none are used or abused by the West at the expense of the general citizenry.

Britain and the United States in particular have a tendency of establishing regimes that it uses in protecting its interests in every region.

They never stop committing immense resources to toppling 'errant' governments and replacing them with compliant regimes.

Once the American army settles in the Sadc region under the guise of Africom, it will have a negative effect on the whole of Southern Africa and open us to exploitation of and plunder natural resources at will.

Remember the diamonds, gold, platinum, coal and chrome that are aplenty.

Remember the land itself and the industries that will be at the mercy of Anglo-Saxon interests.

And it should also be remembered that the presence of the US military in the region will attract the wrath of terrorist networks that have vowed to deal with Washington and Southern Africa will never be safe again.

America should keep its terror and its 'war on terror' to itself and as far away from our people as possible.

At this stage it is important to take a recent example of the Georgian aggression against South Ossetia.

Georgia's aggression is a clear show of the manner in which the US and its allies and proxies seek to create a crisis thereby creating room for greater intervention.

These countries tried to manoeuvre their way into South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a bid to revise the spheres of influence in the Caucasus and Caspian regions as well as the Black Sea and consequently create a new security infrastructure under US and Nato control.

Washington simply wants to gain control of the sources of energy and the major transportation routes in the region for their own economic benefit.

American activities and aggression against Russian troops in Georgia are largely connected to the fact that Moscow's forces during "the military action for compulsion" had seriously damaged the military infrastructure earmarked for fulfilling air strikes on Iran as deployed by Washington and Tel Aviv on the Georgian territory.

The infrastructure concerned here involves special radio equipment that would be used for , establishing an air corridor for the US airforce in the event that they decide to attack Iran.

According to the military experts, the equipment mentioned above was delivered by an American transport plane from the Rammstein Military Base in Germany to Georgia on August 20 2008 under the guise of humanitarian aid.

Those responsible for the escalation of this conflict should be held to account in accordance with international human rights law and also by means of special tribunal (like was done with the International Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia).

And even in the face of such evidence of war-mongering, the US still tries to shield itself and Georgia from facing justice.

It is for this reason, if for any, that African countries, Sadc included, should strongly oppose any interference of the US and their allies in the internal affairs of the countries in the world and the continent.

In this regard, the establishment of America's Africom is a threat to all African countries.

Washington's activities in South Ossetia through Georgia were aimed at raising new challenges for Russia.

It was hoped that the military action would lead to Russia's isolation and would seriously dent its economic standing within that region and across the rest of the globe.

The manner in which Russia dealt with this aggression is an example for other countries in the world whenever they are faced by such displays of arrogance by the United States or any country for that matter.

The people of Third World countries understandably support Russia for the way it faced off the threats and they will no doubt wonder why their own governments are not as assertive when their sovereignty and territorial integrity are challenged so blatantly.

Latin America has over the decades also proved to be a good example of the kind of fortitude that should characterise our relations with the West.

Countries like Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and others have been resolute in the belief of their sovereignty and its indivisibility.

If we choose to keep silent and allow Washington to interfere in the affairs of small countries in Europe and Africa we should be ready that one of these days they will be interfering in our own country and this is what should be on the mind of every Third World inhabitant.

What is left now is for Sadc to use the Zimbabwean experience to cement its position and assert itself in the world as the vanguard of democracy, diplomacy and pragmatic governance and solutions to its problems.

The Zimbabwean political development should, therefore shift Sadc's attention towards practical benefits from its resources while closing the windows for any interference from the west.

It is better to stop US from establishing Africom than allowing it to establish the base and then attempting to stop its operations later on.

Once established, the base will be difficult to remove.

While Russia managed to stop the US, Sadc does not have the military mighty to stop America once the base is established so the best is to close out the US at all costs.

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