MY piece last week on Libya has elicited quite a volume of responses, including, surprisingly, one from Costa Rica.
I thank the writer for hearing me from so far away. Indeed, we must continue to build solidarities across continents so one day we become one huge avalanche which imperialism cannot contain.
By the way, it is also possible to have mass action against imperialism - jasmine or worse.
At present the tendency is read history and contemporary occurrences from the viewpoint of Western interests. The tendency is to weigh the likelihood of the North African ferment in the rest of the continent.
It is never to see what opportunities such fermentation provides to forces ranged against imperialism.
Let us not forget that the first IT-mediated popular revolution ever to take place in our world happened in Iran; to win power in 1979. The gadget of revolution then was the cassette.
Fetal William Hague
As I write, the Benghazi rebels so critical to Western objectives in Libya, are being rolled back in ways that provide some comic relief to the dire drama of Africa.S
Gaddafi appears to have adapted his strategies against the bombing West and the makeshift rebels, all with some measure of success.
Whether this amounts to a turning point in the conflict, I cannot say, given the forces ranged against him, given claims of fissures within his own ruling edifice which we obviously must take, not with a pinch of salt, but with a shovel of sh*t.
It gets worse when the information comes from the British Foreign Office which appears to have fallen back on the "black" propaganda tactics of the British during the Second World War, but seemingly with little finesse. I mean, how does a right-thinking office lie at its highest level?
I am referring to the fetal William Hague - its Secretary - telling the world Gaddafi has fled to Venezuela.
This is the same man who has to lead the British drive for a UN resolution against Gaddafi, the man he says has already fled!
In propaganda one is always taught to check where the exit door is, just in case. . .
Little country called Qatar
The point must be made that whatever Western pretences and constructs, the war in Libya is as much a war of the West as it is a war for oil, never a war of, or against Gaddafi.
The West had better reasons to declare war against Gaddafi in the past - such a Lockerbie with its wonderful ethnocentric angle - but did not.
How do you convince me today and in this age that the welfare of civilians of Benghazi do fire Western planes of war than couldn't those precious white lives lost in the Lockerbie crash?
How do you convince me today and in this age that Qatar - that small entrepot of imperialism into the Arab world - can play righteous dominion over Libya's oil assets?
Or you have not heard that invading Western countries are working on resuming sales of Libyan oil to themselves from rebel held territory using Qatar as both the clearing house and trustee?
I thought Qatar is among the combatants, albeit feebly, both in cause and contribution? How then does it become a business arbiter in Libya's oil affairs? What worse cynicism can one expect from the West?
Obama, America's anaconda
But the West's worst is coming. Now that Gaddafi has rolled back the rebels, and now that even Allah's rage is manifesting itself against the invaders (reports of mist and sandstorms which are keeping Western planes grounded), the veil of hypocritical decency is about to be perforated, and with it, Resolution 1973.
Increasingly, the invaders now see the need for ground troops to shore up their rag-tag rebels now in remarkable chaotic retreat.
Gaddafi needs only to stretch it a little longer for the world to see the real motives driving those monsters.
Obama? Well, his Afro-Arab skin is sloughing off, much like the spent skin of a giant American anaconda about to be born anew.
He has signed an order authorising covert CIA operations against Gaddafi and his regime. Watch this column for the worst. Those keen to speak on Gaddafi's funeral might as well start composing graveside speeches.
Obama's new contras for Libya
Obama has signed an assassination order and it might not be long before Gaddafi is rested, all for Afro-Arab democracy.
And let us not be gullible. The CIA has been in Libya well before current hostilities. The order, which Obama signed can never be about authorising anything.
It is about raising stakes in CIA operations in Libya.
If the assassination operation fails - one hopes it does - Libya is then poised for an elongated cruel fate.
Last week, I drew parallels between Benghazi and Taiwan.
I maintain the validity of that parallel, should matters come to a stalemate.
Today, I add another parallel: that between the phase Libya is about to enter into - thanks to Obama, the first African-African American man in White House - and what Ortega's Nicaragua went through in the eighties, until the early nineties when the Sandinistas lost power to the American-backed Chamorro.
Nicaragua had gone through a vicious war provoked and sponsored by the US, a war that pitted the left-wing Sandinistas against a Renamo-like rebel movement called the contras.
At the heart of contra firepower was the CIA.
If I am not mistaken, at that time the Republicans were in power in the US, under Ronald Reagan.
Now, that strategy of covert intervention has now been dusted off Republican America's sinister shelf by none other than Barak Obama the Democrat.
This African look-alike
I hope someone in the reading community remembers my first instalment marking Obama's fluke rise to White House, a rise he shall not be able to extend to a second term.
I will repeat what I wrote then: a black man was going into White House, not the other way; he was likely to do white bidding; with Barak Obama in White House, America would now be free to pursue its expansionist policy into resource-rich Africa without suffering the reflexive charge of anti-African racism.
We did not have to give this African look-alike two cheers.
He has become the proverbial witch doctor invited into the home to lift a curse, but ends up convicting one's mother. And we will soon feel like revoking our congratulations!
That dark Wednesday in Parly
I am angry with my party, Zanu-PF. Very angry.
See what mess it now finds itself in.
Just a bit of short history.
The challenge to parliamentary processes leading to the enthronement of Lovemore Moyo as Speaker of the Zimbabwe Parliament came from Professor Jonathan Moyo, then an Independent, Moses Mzila Ndlovu, Patrick Dube and Siyabonga Ncube, all from Matabeleland South and all from MDC-M.
MDC-M's losing candidate during the first vote came from Matabeleland South and had been nominated by Moses Mzila Ndlovu, to be seconded by Professor Jonathan Moyo.
Zanu (PF) also threw its weight behind Paul Themba Nyathi, the MDC-M candidate then pitted against Lovemore Moyo of MDC-T.
Beyond statuses conferred on the four litigants by parliamentary voting processes, and possibly by geography, it is fair to describe the four men as united in the court action but motivated by variegated impulses and motives. That is to say politically, they shared no common cause beyond what this legal action amounted to in political terms.
Similarly, Zanu (PF) threw its weight behind the MDC-M losing candidate for its own reasons. Different and even contradictory needs and motives converged on common action, triggered by a malfeasance done in broad daylight. To make the point about different interests is not to diminish the actors' consciences which were obviously disturbed and activated by what amounted to the raping of the ballot by MDC-T through its officials, ironically led by that party's secretary general, Tendai Biti, himself a lawyer. Clearly remedial action was as necessary as it was urgent.
Judgment of awesome depth
Zimbabwe owes it to the four litigants and their lawyer, Terence Hussein, for enabling the highest court in the land an opportunity not just to set this particular matter right, but also to make one giant step in jurisprudence. I have read and re-read the majority judgment. You cannot miss its awesome depth. You read the dissenting opinions of Justices Malaba and Sandura and you see what huge minds we have on the Bench. The division on the Bench on this matter took the Bench right up there... to its apogee and I see this case looming very large in law development, whether here or beyond. It is quite telling that Biti himself has acknowledged that we have before us a judgment which is set to instruct other jurisdictions. Indeed, it was his appraisal of the judgment which partly caused his impulsive principal to publicly apologize for his thoughtless slur on the Bench. Until this counsel, the awesome profundity of the judgment made no impression on our Prime Minister.
Balance of weakness
Beyond this, my bitterness with my party begins. I should add that by the way, Professor Jonathan Moyo is now Zanu (PF), which is what made this judgment claimable by Zanu (PF), never mind the circumstances of the origins of the litigation. And speaking to the professor, it was clear he sought to donate this legal victory to his party. And a huge, stunning victory it was, so huge that even juxtaposing it with the acquittal of one Bennett by the same court, did not mitigate MDC-T grief. Much was at stake. The demographics of the lower House had changed over the two years that the action had subsisted in the courts. Virtually all the three parties had their numbers degraded by nature or some other mishaps in a way that triggered angst. I submit that the moratorium on by-elections we have currently in the country - a moratorium that has held longer than was provided for in the GPA - owe more to this evenly distributed angst which has now doubled the live-and-let-live inertia. The GPA stands and survives by a unique balance of weaknesses, never by a commitment to its principles.
When the judgment itself was victory
If much was a stake, arguably most of it had been discharged by the Supreme Court judgment. By voiding the MDC-T Speakership, the Supreme Court judgment had created a situation which both Zanu (PF) and the other MDC could use and abuse to stick lasting mud on MDC-T as a party that defiles the ballot, a party that rigs the ballot both through prior intimidation and through misconduct during the actual voting process. What made it necessary for those MPs from the MDC-T to display their choice was intimidation that had begun well outside of the Parliament. They could not be trusted to vote for their party, which is why they were required to prove their loyalty. That breached both the veil of secrecy which dignifies voting, and peremptory procedural requirements which the Clerk of Parliament was supposed to uphold during the voting exercise. Just establishing these misbehaviours on the part of the MDC-T - with its pretences to democratic punctiliousness - was itself a huge propaganda coup which had the additional virtue of creating a culture and expectation of scrutiny around the ballot. This is so, so important ahead of future elections and against the background of anomalies of 2008.
Possible without being probable
For quite a while both before and after the Wednesday vote, my view was that Zanu (PF) should have stopped at that stage both to fully relish its court victory and to keep this precautionary weapon pristine and unsullied. What reinforced this view in my mind were two considerations. Firstly, the mathematics of party representation in the lower House made it pretty clear that while a Zanu (PF) victory was possible, it could hardly pass for the probable. What made it even more improbable to my mind was the aggravated relations between Zanu (PF) and Ncube's MDC, over Professor Mutambara. It had become very clear that MDC was not going to raise its own candidate, what with Nyathi not too keen for another possible defeat. Much worse, the first round had shown that MDC had tenuous control over its votes in Parliament, which is what made these votes "purchasable", as indeed had happened during the first vote. Taking into consideration deeper divisions that had set in after MDC congress, Ncube's control over MDC vote could only have become even more doubtful.
Taken differently, the sheer weight of what was at stake over speakership meant the MDC-T and its sponsors would be ready to "go beyond Botswana" to make sure MDC's floating vote was corralled. Indeed, information reaching me indicate some Western embassies worked through an MDC MP to force MDC to shift from abstaining to voting with the MDC-T. The MP threatened to resign if MDC had refused to vote with MDC-T. I actually doubt whether such action was even necessary. Well before the voiding of the MDC-T speaker, MDC-T had long secured the loyalty of most MDC MPs, certainly many enough to protect its interests in Parliament. I will always read Ncube's shift from abstaining to voting with MDC-T as a courtesy bow by a woman whose lower garment has accidentally snapped. With such a mishap, she cannot stand akimbo, can she? Instructing his MPs to abstain would have invited an insurrection which he ill-affords presently, which MDC-T or Mutambara could easily appropriate for own ends. Under all those circumstances I could not see Zanu (PF) needing or wanting to court MDC for its unknowable votes. Even with real control over those votes, Ncube could have easily asked Zanu (PF) emissaries to go tell President Mugabe that "angifuni", by way of evening out a past slur.
Knowing when to stop
Secondly, I feared that fielding a candidate could itself divide my party. More names than one would emerge, thereby creating cliques in Parliament. Going by what we do during primaries, I am not so sure that we have arrived at that stage in consciousness at which an MP is willing to sacrifice his or her prospects - real or imagined - for a greater good. Or submit ourselves to party decisions or rules. Quite the contrary, our instinct is devising ways of subverting these rules to satisfy our own little ambitions. A sample of this we had seen in a bitter fight which pitted two women MPs for chair of women's Parliamentary caucus. Ugly things happened, including creating a situation where the management of votes went beyond party parameters and rules. The caucus meeting held at Party Headquarters had done pretty little to buoy my sagging doubts in the efficacy of fielding a candidate. After all, the 2008 disaster for Zanu (PF) had come primarily from its own members who had chosen to "kick the ball into the wild". My conclusion was that Zanu (PF) should not field a candidate, even if it meant MDC-T retaining the speakership, unopposed. Far from confirming MDC-T electoral supremacy, such an action of voluntary withdrawal would have shown the emptiness of the vote, while keeping a concentrated focus on what Zanu (PF) had successfully challenged in the Supreme Court. Such was my persuasion.
If gold rusts, what will iron do?
But all this is now academic. Zanu (PF) fielded a candidate and lost. The fact of losing is not itself earth-shaking. Few expected Zanu (PF) to win, given the numbers in parliament and the nasty fallout with MDC. What has sent waves is the Pandora opened by the sheer statistics of its defeat. It got less votes than its worth in Parliament. The ringing message is that of a badly divided party. Mind you, we are talking of the vote of both the representatives and office bearers of the Party who command significant following in the countryside. That cannot be a smaller matter, more so for a party which has come to grief before because of disloyalty. Wednesday is that day when Zanu (PF)'s gold rusted. I have heard some people saying that even with that below par performance, Zanu (PF) still garnered support from both MDC formations. That could very well be true, which is in fact what adds to the importance of my point. If Zanu (PF) gained votes from either or both of the MDC formations, that means it lost far more of its own. The foreboding is as frightening as it is angering.
I see MDC-T has gone rhapsodic about its victory. With its shallowness, that is expected. The truth of the matter is that by way of pointers, MDC is no better than Zanu (PF), much as it carried the numerical day. What may be at issue is not the overall numerical outcome; rather it is the composition of that overall result and what it says about loyalties of MPs to own parties. Chances are that both contestants gained from each other's parties, and possibly from the MDC. This was a secret ballot, by the way. It hardly allows for easy conclusions such as we are getting from the MDC-T. Much worse, this is a synthetic vote, a vote by those who were voted in slightly over three years ago. The ground is another terrain, another domain, another country. Chances are that this vote could very well claim victims from the present House in future elections. By being suspected, some MPs may have ruined their chances in given parties. The Wednesday outcome merely protected a fading status quo; it does not perpetuate it or guarantee it in future.
Era of small affinities
But the vote does two clear things. It casts doubts and suspicions in all parties. This provides a fecund setting for bloody primaries and ever criss-crossing defections and loyalties. It is worse for MDC-T which is set to hold its congress next month. We must budget for ruptures which can spill over to elections. In any case MPs now know that the secret ballot gives them awesome power over their parties, rules and decisions, while providing them with opportunities for exercising disloyalty without attracting consequences. In such an environment, even a fickle emotion like love - whether of your own or of a relative - will prove a stronger impulse than indigenisation, change or sovereignty. The era of small causes and petty feelings was opened in Zimbabwe's politics that Wednesday afternoon of March. Party affinities no longer rule days to come.
Era for private bills?
Secondly, between elections, Parliament has now been inaugurated as a setting for potentially veritable outcomes. We must brace up for more and greater mischief springing from ad seeking resolution in Parliament. The era of Chief Whips could either be over or could be strengthened, depending on what individual parties will seek to do to induce greater accountability and hold over their members. Equally, the era of party agendas that come to or even make it in Parliament as "private members' bills", is now come. What will probably deter or dampen this is the fact of Zanu (PF)'s lead in the Senate. Even this too is not insurance enough given the new ethic of voting by frivolity, as opposed to voting by party association.
Gentle reader, you might be wondering why I should be angry with Zanu (PF) when the implications of the Wednesday vote seem to apply to all parties. I am angry, very. Prior to all this, Zanu (PF) was pushing a clear and well focused agenda. It was pursuing the anti-sanctions agenda by which it focused the whole nation. It was pushing the indigenisation agenda by which it seeks to empower this nation. It was pushing the election agenda by which it seeks to rid itself of this monstrosity we call the Inclusive Government. Three definite thrusts that had got its enemies and opponents well pinned down. The Wednesday vote was a distraction to all that in my view. It did not yield the desired result. Quite the contrary, it gave MDC-T the much needed fillip. See how that miserable party now struts about because of this lame outcome. Parliament has now become an escape hole for it, thereby providing it with some resource for regrouping and regaining little hope.
Killing sanctions campaign
Wednesday dented the psychosis of an unstoppable Zanu (PF) which the massive anti-sanctions crowd had created. Wednesday tucked out, albeit temporarily, the anti-sanctions theme that had encompassed public thinking. For the poignancy of this one theme, we should have sacrificed everything except indigenisation and empowerment, the only other main idea in town. Zanu (PF) must quickly restore both ideas to poignancy.
Wednesday did worse things for internal politics. An MDC which votes for a candidate of MDC-T does actually justify its own folding up. Welshman Ncube can no longer tell voters anywhere in this country to vote for his party, let alone to vote against MDC-T. To vote against Zanu (PF), yes, but not MDC-T. How can he, when his party votes for MDC-T? Wednesday clearly gave compelling reasons for dissolving MDC by rejoining MDC-T. Zanu (PF) now has to trim itself to fight a re-united MDC. After all, the theatrical absurdity emerging from a schismatic MDC so clearly shown in Livingstone, Zambia, on Thursday clearly showed the non-viability of a small MDC, whether at home or abroad.
Denting the Troika
Thursday - just one day after the vote - became the day SADC met in Livingstone, Zambia, to discuss Zimbabwe and Madagascar. The Wednesday vote created an inauspicious backdrop to that meeting for Zanu (PF). It sent a completely wrong signal to the Troika.
Know thy self
I said I was of the view that Zanu (PF) should not have fielded a candidate. Well, I have shifted slightly. There has been a silver lining to the cloudy decision to field a candidate. Zanu (PF) now knows itself better, well before crucial polls it is agitating for. It needs to clean its house, itself. The vote gave it an opportunity to be bitten once. Now it must twice shy. And to do so it must not wring despair out of Wednesday. The message is stark: Zanu (PF) has learnt little or nothing from 2008. Nor has it built any insurance against that. Hence the recurrence of a smaller 2008 tsunami in parliament this last Wednesday. It must re-invent itself quickly.
And to reinvent itself means to remain firmly focused on issues that matter, while avoiding squandering buoyancy through low-value contests, which is what speakership contest was. It must focus on anti-sanctions; it must focus on indigenisation and empowerment; it must focus on restructuring; it must focus on mobilizing urban voters while ensuring it is not outflanked on constitutional issues and diplomatically. I pay particular attention on the last. We have seen how the MDC-T does not even hesitate to parade its British handlers. The link between MDC-T and the West is going to be more and more open from now on. Not because the MDC-T is braver, the West any virtuous. This is because the MDC-T reads that the international climate now conduces more and more to interventionism, western interventionism. We saw blatant brands of this in Tunisia and Egypt. We are seeing the ugly armed side of intervention in Libya and Ivory Coast (by proxy).
None but ourselves
Much worse, all these situations show that such interventions can in fact be blest by sub-regional organization and/or their symbolic representation. In our case, South Africa voted with the West for the profanation of Libya. I notice that now South Africa is associated with a SADC Troika decision against intervention in Libya, as if to suggest she is beginning to develop misgivings about her vote in the Security Council. But the issue is that South Africa's action alone indicates a sea-change on the politics of non-interference. While Zanu (PF) has all along depended on SADC support in its fight against imperialism, it should remember that in the final analysis, it may have to confront imperialism alone. This urges for a none-but-ourselves stance.
New ethic in SADC?
And there is a lot to recommend such a stance. While SADC has been helpful in brokering peace between and among parties in our country, it has been most reluctant to lock horns with the West over sanctions. Arguably, its overemphasis (almost to a point of intrusiveness) on the so-called GPA issues seems meant to avoid or dodge the issue of sanctions which from the Thursday Troika communiqué, now appears a non-GPA issue. That kind of approach gives the west a feeling of righteousness, itself always a precursor to western adventurism. Matters which are being raised by MDC formations are slowly nudging SADC towards the zone of real national sensitivities. It is telling that President Mugabe had to tell his colleagues that facilitation and dictation are quite distinct and apart. The tact of former President Mbeki seems now lacking, let alone a recognition that the issue of security organs can never be tabled for discussion with neighbouring countries, no matter how friendly they may be for now. The style of facilitation through selective contacts and requests for submission, is unlikely to take SADC very far on Zimbabwe. Equally, reports which concern Zimbabwe cannot be kept away from one of the concerned parties, more so when such a party wields sizeable executive authority. All the more so when such a report proposes structures that are set to mediate and re-organise power, processes and institutions in the country. I hope these are mere failings, not pointers to a new way of doing things.
The return of a New Labour Britain?
So much has been written about events in North Africa and the Middle East in relation to sub-Saharan Africa, Zimbabwe included. The focus has been on how replicable the mayhem in North Africa is on non-Arab Africa, with Zimbabwe looming large as a test case. I have no time for such a debate. It is inane. What I have time for is to forewarn how events in North Africa have emboldened opposition politics on the continent. I sound like I am addressing the same matter I have just dismissed. No I am not. North Africa has made collaborative actions between local politics and former colonialist look righteous. That means we might as well kiss goodbye to national opposition oriented towards internal discourse and resolution. There is a new found role for opposition on the continent, a role as the reason for western intrusion. Such intrusion will come about not because a country is ripe for North-Africa style uprising, but because a ruling party and a sitting Government has upset a so-called mother country. We already see this with the Conservative-led Government of Cameroon. All along suave, this Government has now gone back to rattling the saber the new Labour way. I suspect that owes to the threatening talk on indigenisation and economic empowerment. British interests are threatened. Once this becomes the issue, it is not difficult to find or construct an opposition which complains against existing governance. Increasingly, MDC formations will grow intractable and provocative, while working more openly with hostile governments of the West. And where the sub-region is beginning to falter on collective leadership, a revolution must learn to stand on its own, to defend itself. This is why the latest show of fissures in Zanu (PF) are not helpful at all. Icho!