Zimbabwe against the Political Storm
Molefi Kete Asante
July 28, 2008
On July 21, 2008 the South African government under the leadership of President Thabo Mbeki brokered an agreement between Robert Mugabe of Zanu-Pf and Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change and Arthur Mutambara of the MDC-Mutambara. This will be one of Mbeki’s proudest moments when his history is written because he refused to be pushed and shoved around by Britain and the United States. This step was taken without the coercion of the West and with the direct input of SADC and the African Union. Africa showed itself to be self-consciously involved in the process of seeking a resolution to the artificially contrived conflict in the Republic of Zimbabwe.
What the Memorandum of Understanding suggested in its Preamble was that the parties were concerned about the recent challenges that have faced the country and the multiple threats to the well-being of the citizens of Zimbabwe.
This in itself was a remarkable achievement for the three leaders. However, the Memorandum took note that the leaders would dedicate themselves to putting an end to the divisions in the country. The leaders pledged that they would work out a solution to the problems of Zimbabwe that would build a society free of fear, intimidation, hate, patronage, and violence. They also spoke of an inclusive government and of being desirous of dialogue. These decisive actions were blows to the heart of the British and American project to undermine the Mugabe administration because of the land distribution act. They had sought to disrupt the functioning of the government by using the MDC as an instrument of the international interest in the country. It had failed even with millions of dollars spent to overturn the popularity of ZANU-PF. They could not have been happy with the Memorandum of
I am sure this is not what the West wanted because the government of the United States under Bush and Rice immediately imposed further sanctions on the Zimbabwe people. On July 25, 2008, in a fierce reactive stance the American president said that he would make it more difficult for the leaders of Zimbabwe to use their money in Western banks, create roadblocks for Zimbabwean companies doing business, and would impose travel restrictions on additional leaders of that country. Nothing could be any sillier than this politicallyinspired action against a legitimately elected government. It, too, will not change the political equation in the country. The white minority will not continue to dominate the nation and will not be the only source of foreign currency by selling cash crops harvested from stolen lands.
What the United States did was to further erode international confidence in the American State Department. This smacks of petty politics unbefitting a serious nation. So the Zimbabwean government will take its money out of Western banks and put it in Chinese or Russian banks. So the Zimbabwe leaders will travel to the beautiful capitals on the African continent and not go to the UK or the USA. So President Mugabe will ignore any insulting demands from the British or American governments about the internal politics of his country. Why interfere with the Zimbabweans who are sitting with each other, discussing their matters, and reaching consensus?
What the West wants, of course, is for the MDC, trying not to seem like a puppet, to attack Zimbabwe’s government. This is what they have been doing since 2002. Unfortunately, this is what has created the impasse today. MDC negotiators want their man, the West’s man, to be president. They have essentially demanded that Tsvangirai be made president although he was not elected. He pulled himself out of the race for president five days before the election when he saw that he would not win. Now with the American president tightening the sanctions on Zimbabwe he seems to think that he should renege on the agreement signed in Harare on July 21st. This is a mistake on his part and on the part of the MDC. No one forgets that the core to this problem is that President Mugabe moved to redistribute land controlled by white farmers. They had stolen this land in the 19th and 20th centuries and it was time to give it back to the legitimate caretakers of the ancestors. By doing this very wonderful deed, Mugabe incurred the wrath of the Western media. Other African leaders who have punished their people in the interests of France, England, and the United States by robbing them of their liberty and resources have gone relatively
unspoken about in the Western media.
Whatever economic issues exist in Zimbabwe can be tied to the meddling of the West in the internal affairs and external interests of the nation. If one does not understand this then it will be difficult to appreciate the complexity of the lies told about the Zimbabwean people. Sanctions against the country amount to penalties on the masses of Zimbabwean people and no peaceful people can be supportive of sanctions against the people of Zimbabwe. It is to be regretted that the MDC did not negotiate in good faith but once again looked to their American and British right-wing supporters for advice and rejected the government’s proposals. Once again, in the face of President Bush’s attempt to persecute the Zimbabwean people, in the face of Prime Minister Brown’s provocative statement against the Mugabe government, and in the face of Tsvangirai’s willingness to be used by the West, I remain proud to say, "Long live Mugabe and the Zimbabwean Chimurenga!”
Molefi Kete Asante is the author of The History of Africa and An Afrocentric
Manifesto. His website is www.asante.net