Sunday, August 24, 2008
By Obi Egbuna
Reprinted From the Zimbabwe Herald
AS the people of Zimbabwe paid homage to their fallen heroes throughout the country on Monday, there are several valuable lessons daughters and sons of Africa both at home and abroad can learn.
While the majority of people who visit Zimbabwe annually eagerly anticipate visiting Mosi-oa-Tunya (commonly referred to as Victoria Falls) or Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo because of their breathtaking beauty, it is the National Heroes Acre in Harare that will help people not only understand the people’s collective resistance spearheaded by President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
The national shrine also puts Zimbabwe’s current political and economic challenges in a proper historical context.
The first thing that stands out about the shrine should not be the beautiful architecture, but the deliberate effort to bury comrades in Zanu and Zapu right next to each other as comrades-in-arms and not political rivals.
This shows the African world the kind of unity that led to independence on April 18, 1980.
Because the West continues to deliberately overlook Zimbabwe’s positive achievements, they will never grasp the true meaning of Heroes Day and the Africans under their thumb are in danger of letting these valuable lessons pass them by.
The national shrine is arguably the strongest political statement on the lengths an oppressed people can go to when attempting to unify their resistance efforts while in pursuit of total liberation.
This has significance on both the Memorandum of Understanding and the talks between the three main political parties.
While US and British imperialism and their neo-colonialist counterparts intensify their efforts to diminish the talks and their political value, they underestimate the political culture of Zimbabweans.
It is these dynamics that made both formations of the MDC realise that the leadership of President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe is the driving force behind the bond that makes the masses in Southern Africa rejoice that they reside in the most stable and unified region of the African continent.
The African community inside US borders is light years behind Zimbabweans and our comrades in the Sadc region when it comes to the concept of unification.
It is quite contradictory that the Africans inside US borders who have decided to devote their energy to condemning President Mugabe and Zanu-PF, using the same baseless rhetoric as the Bush and Brown administrations, are unwilling to do the necessary work to create and maintain a united African front among organisations fighting inside the belly of US imperialism.
We have seen in the last 10 years the funerals of human rights icons like Kwame Toure, James Forman and Rosa Parks turn into showcases for many spokespeople who still haven’t learned how to properly pay tribute to fallen comrades.
Instead of using these platforms to showcase their oratory prowess, they should highlight the work of the fighters they would have gathered to honour instead of behaving like they are trying to earn the final spot on a debate team.
If they came to Zimbabwe for Heroes Day, the first thing that would stand out is that President Mugabe is the only speaker of the day, and others who are gifted in articulating ideas that are the cornerstone of the revolutionary process in Zimbabwe, actually have the humility to sit down and listen to someone else without itching to be the stars of the show.
The way President Mugabe uses this opportunity is both humble and brilliant. He highlights the giants of yesterday for the born-free generation and this ensures the work of comrades like Herbert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara and Joshua Nkomo will be not only remembered but continued.
He then turns to confronting Zimbabwe’s immediate challenges.
A few weeks ago at a the Press conference after the MOU was signed, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said nobody held a monopoly on patriotism.
This was perhaps his most eloquent remark since he has been on the political scene in Zimbabwe, even going back to his days as the secretary-general of ZCTU.
Tsvangirai will have to admit he has never heard President Mugabe or anyone in Zanu-PF ever declare themselves a patriot.
We can say with certainty that Tsvangirai will find it extremely difficult to find any significant historical figure in any liberation struggle, whether in Africa, Asia or Latin America, who will claim to be a super patriot.
Such a label can only bestowed upon you by your people.
So when evaluating his role in Zimbabwe’s struggle, if the majority of his compliments are coming from Britain and the United States, perhaps this will help expand his understanding and appreciation of who President Mugabe and the fallen comrades buried at the Heroes Acre are.
Tsvangirai can also travel the world and visit the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia which have a rich revolutionary tradition like Zimbabwe, and we are confident he will find that the accolade of a patriot can only be given by the people.
The climate of unity in Zimbabwe is stronger than ever and this has helped the country stave off the negative propaganda that comes from Westerners who would like to see the revolution and the talks fail.
What is becoming increasingly obvious is that the US and British governments have made their biggest foreign policy blunder in the manner in which they have chosen to engage Zimbabwe.
This is because of a combination of two dynamics: their hatred of President Mugabe and Zanu-PF and their inability to convince both formations of the MDC to merge and march to the beat of their drum.
As more accurate information is revealed about Anglo-American imperialism’s dual agenda on Zimbabwe, the African world will discover in the near future that the opposition was created to do anything to frustrate President Mugabe’s revolution.
Any means necessary were to be used in this quest.
That is why the West is worried about the present talks and it is working night and day to ensure they do not succeed.
The West has not backed Tsvangirai for all these years only for him to sit at a negotiating table with the man they want removed at all costs.
The European Union, the US and their allies do not have confidence in Tsvangirai’s negotiating skills and they thus do not want to see him talking face-to-face with President Mugabe.
The West will settle for nothing less than President Mugabe’s total capitulation and they do not see this coming out of dialogue.
Today Zimbabwe is too united for the West’s liking and the spirit of oneness, as embodied in Heroes Day, is too much for them to bear.
Arthur Mutambara was present at the Heroes Day commemorations and it is for this reason that the anti-Zimbabwe campaign will try now more than ever to try and make him look irrelevant.
Zimbabweans has resisted such attempts to divide the nation before and they will resist again.
Long live the fallen heroes! Long live President Mugabe! Long live Zimbabwe!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Whether speaking in our indigenous or colonial languages, no one can ever find the right words with which to express our gratitude for the countless lives Cuban medical personnel have saved across Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America .The commitment that the Cuban medical brigades have demonstrated is truly inspiring whether or not one supports Cuba's political and social ideology. The poorest people in the world have benefited from free treatment that has been extended by the government of the largest island of the Caribbean. This level of commitment and exemplary service has put Cuba at the forefront of intervention in containing the spread and impact of HIV and Aids on both the African continent and Diaspora. While medical advocacy groups when revealing tragic statistics in relation to this deadly disease might have created a climate of panic that many of those with HIV or Aids never psychologically overcome, several top medical experts estimate there will be 18 million Aids orphans on the African continent by 2010.Already close to a decade into the second millennium, it is time for Africa to fully appreciate a standing offer that Cuba has made to the continent to assist in dealing with the pandemic. While the United Nations and various organizations such as the Global Fund were still busy setting up the millennium fund, Cde Castro communicated to the then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that Cuba would like to lend its assistance to the cause. He told Mr. Annan that because Cuba was under a decades old blockade the country could not give any monetary aid but there was still a way in which he could give help. Cde Castro said Cuba was willing to send 4,000-that's right 4,000 of Cuba's best HIV and Aids doctors and specialists directly to Africa and they would remain on the continent until the pandemic was defeated. That offer unfortunately was not taken up because the UN apparently feared the reaction feared the reaction from the United States-Cuba's age old enemy-if it emerged that the Socialist country was doing far more than anyone else in combating HIV and AIDS. So, sadly, nothing came out of this most generous offer. It is fortunate that the region on the continent worst affected by HIV and Aids is also the same region that has the closest ties with Cuba on the continent: Southern Africa.
There are numerous Cuba friendship associations across the SADC region and is time these bodies jointly approached the African Union and make it clear that the entire continent accept Cuba's offer. People are always saying that Africa should be left to come up with solutions to its own problems and in Cuba's magnanimous offer, the continent has an opportunity to cast aside the conditional aid that comes from the West and effectively do something about HIV and AIDS. The time is more than ripe to submit a joint proposal to the AU, through the proper channels and established protocol, using the various Cuba Friendship Associations and through the offices of the SADC health ministers. The proposal should call on the AU to create a joint fund from each member of the continent wide body to finance the 4,000 strong brigade that Cuba wants to send to Africa.
This money would be used for the Cubans upkeep and necessary supplies. The AU should agree to let Cuba develop a training program that helps African countries deal with droughts, floods and other natural calamities and disasters as these have a huge impact on HIV and AIDS. We know that the immediate reaction from some in Africa will be that such a decision will place the continent on a collision course with the United States, which does not want the rest of the world to develop strong ties with Cuba. The case of Zimbabwe and its courageous leader President Mugabe has shown the world exactly the kind of onslaught the US can unleash when a third world country resists big power hegemony and makes decisions that empower its own peoples. But can the US really afford to antagonize the whole of Africa? Can it try to do to the entire continent what it has been trying to do to Zimbabwe? After all, the US needs Africa's resources and there should not be any fear of US reaction to accepting Cuba's compassionate offer, if these countries consistently vote against the US imposed blockade on Cuba at the UN every year, than embracing a measure to save the lives of everyone form the elderly to small children is just a drop in the bucket. It is also important to highlight that Africa already hosts almost 3,000 Cuban doctors dispersed throughout the continent wherever duty calls. What will make this statement even more powerful is if the Africans in the Diaspora do something equally as bold and visionary. The African community inside US borders are only three years removed from Hurricane Katrina-one of the most devastating disasters in US history.
In the midst of all the political grandstanding that characterized the Bush administration's response to the catastrophe, the most significant and genuine offer was almost totally ignored. Twenty four hours after the hurricane struck, Cde Castro contacted the US State Department in Washington and offered to send 500 environmental disaster specialists to the Gulf region within the next day. That was not all. A further 1,500 would be dispatched over the next 48 hours. The personnel would remain in place, assisting victims of the disaster until the health infrastructure was resurrected and the people were adequately cared for. In the next 48 hours, the US Health and Human Services Department declared public health emergency in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The emergency was then extended to nine other states where survivors were evacuated to but still the US would still not accept Cde Castro's offer. Later on, it is estimated that apart from the innumerable deaths and damage to property, over 500,000 people were said to have needed psychological counseling following the disaster and the government's inadequate response to it.
An interesting point to note: Louisiana supplies 30 percent of the oil and gas produced in the US but has a poverty rate of 23 percent. The poverty rates in Mississippi and Alabama are 23 and 20 percent respectively and these are the worst three states in the entire country. For some reason, the non white community, who were the worst affected by Hurricane Katrina, failed to unite and confront the Bush administration for their poor response to the tragedy and refusing to take up Cde Castro's offer. The US Department of Health was well aware of what Cuba did during the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 in Russia where they offered similar assistance. A similar offer was made by Cde Castro to the US Government shortly after the September 11th attacks. Despite this sterling humanitarian record, the US still lists Cuba as a terrorist country and little girls like Condoleezza Rice have the temerity to paint the country as an outpost of tyranny. While conventional wisdom says the reaction of US Imperialism to Cuba's offer was predictable and it would be idealistic to expect otherwise, the former Ambassador to the Cuban Interests Section Dagoberto Rodriguez, said the offer was not just rejected, but simply ignored. But at the same time, the response of the 40 million Africans living inside the belly of the US was at best mediocre. We chose to waste time on television and radio panels discussing the sound byte of hip hop star Kanye West when he said "George Bush doesn't like black people”, rather than tackle real issues affecting us. The internationally acclaimed director and filmmaker Spike Lee made the film "When The Levees Broke" which shed light on the disaster and the impact it had on the Gulf Region, however this 2 ½ hour documentary made no mention of Cde Castro's offer to the people of the Gulf Region. There was a segment in which the entertainer and activist Harry Belafonte discussed the offer of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, because Mr. Belafonte is an ardent supporter and long time friend/admirer of Cuba, three years later it is difficult to determine whether he genuinely forgot to mention Cuba or if this was another classic hatchet job by the Zionists calling the shots in Hollywood. While the cultural workers failed to shed light on Cuba's offer the medical and political sectors of our community fared no better. Neither the National Medical Association or the Black Nurses Association-out two largest medical advocacy groups failed to aggressively promote this offer. Civil Rights Organizations like the NAACP, National Council of Negro Women, National Urban League, the Children's Defense Fund and the Congressional Black Caucus whose leadership have visited and support Cuba, collectively chose to take a domestic approach to the Hurricane Katrina situation and were silent about the offer made by Cde Castro. The churches-many who have visited the Martin Luther King Center in Cuba-also did very little to expose the Bush administration's decision to ignore Cuba's act of good will to the people in the Gulf region. The National Newspaper Publishers Association and the National Association of Black Journalists in a three year time span also as a unit did close to nothing to promote this magnificent offer from Cuba, even though many of the Publishers and Editors frequently highlight the health disparity between the African(African-American) and White Communities inside the United States. While they were efforts to raise the issue, such as those by Nation Of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, these were far and between. And now three years later while Africans at home should be pushing for the Cuban medical brigade to be deployed forthwith to help us win the battle against HIV and AIDS, the Africans in America should realize we lost a similar opportunity and should be campaigning to ensure the US Government does not continue to block this offer.
We must demand that Bush not interfere because several countries who attack Cuba politically, accept help from their medical brigades, we must challenge US Presidential hopeful Senator Barack Hussein Obama raise this issue on every campaign stop he has from here to November and his opponent Senator John McCain resist the temptation to sabotage this effort in traditional US military fashion.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Dear Senator and Big Brother,
I sincerely hope my letter finds you at the peak of your resistance and in the very best of health and good spirits; the purpose of this correspondence is to engage you and your campaign staff on the issue of Zimbabwe. While the strategic focus of your campaign may differ from previous candidates who were products of the African (African-American) community i.e. Shirley Chisholm, Eldridge Cleaver, Dick Gregory, Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton and Senator Carol Moseley Braun; the obligation to raise and magnify contradictions that directly affect our people all over the world, remains a historical obligation that daughters and sons of the African soil do not have the luxury of abandoning. Mr. Senator I have to confess that my motivations for raising this issue with you and your staff are not only political but social as well; even though I have lived in the United States since 1976 my father was born in Nigeria and my mother in Singapore. Mr. Senator because our biological Fathers were born and raised in African countries that were colonized by the British Empire, it is only fitting that we intensify a no holds barred discussion about the People and Government of Zimbabwe. Mr. Senator while you successfully defeated Senator Clinton in the Democratic Primary the current status of your candidacy for the US Presidency is to convince voters aligned to the Democratic Party that you are more electable than Senator Hillary Clinton; the positions you take on issues of national and international character must reflect this. I hate to tell you, however failure to distinguish yourself especially on issues concerning developments on our mother continent of Africa expose that your campaign, and everything it appears to symbolize on the surface, is only a continuation of US Imperialism's unyielding commitment to dominate and exploit every corner of the planet earth.
Mr. Senator your Statement on Zimbabwe addressed to President George W. Bush was published on Thursday March 15, 2007; you then went on to submit a joint resolution with the now deceased Congressman Tom Lantos on March 29Th, 2007, before the US Senate and Congress expressing your displeasures with the Government of President Robert Mugabe (S.Con.Res 25).These are the following remarks from both documents that need to be questioned and challenged. I will begin with your statement on March 15Th 2007
1. The True Cause of Strife: President Mugabe's disastrous rule remains unaddressed.
2. For years it has been increasingly apparent that the Mugabe Government is interested in its own survival and enrichment, not the welfare of the people of
3. International Observers including the US concluded that the Presidential elections of 2002 and Parliamentary elections were not free and fair.
4. Within Zimbabwe the opposition to Mugabe has shown resiliency and courage.
5. Zimbabwe's economy is shrinking faster than any country in the world that is not at war.
6. Mr. President the US must continue to stand strongly against the Mugabe government's abuses of power in Zimbabwe. We must join our European allies, the UN, and most importantly the countries and institutions of the region to press for positive change in Zimbabwe; that means a peaceful democratic transition in 2008, and support for economic growth and opportunity, including the lifting of sanctions once the dark cloud of Mugabe's rule is lifted, and Zimbabweans are able again to reach for the new horizon they deserve.
7. I call on President Mugabe to release all political detainees, and repeal the ban on political rallies, to end the use of violence and torture in jails, permit a free media and abide by the rule of the law.
I will address and challenge the points of reference from the resolution submitted 14 days after your initial statement. They are the following:
1. Whereas US Ambassador Christopher Dell warned that opposition to President Robert Mugabe had reached a tipping point because the people no longer feared the regime and believed they had nothing to lose.
2. Whereas the staggering suffering brought about by the misrule of Zimbabwe has created a large scale humanitarian crisis in which 3,500 people die each week from a combination of disease, hunger, neglect and despair.
Responses to March 15Th, 2007 statement:
1. Mr. Senator to use a term like disastrous to describe what President Mugabe means to Zimbabwe, the Southern Region of Africa, and the entire African continent for that matter, demonstrates that blinded political ambition which makes you feel like you must keep a safe distance from President Mugabe similar in the manner you claim not to identify with Nation Of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan. I believe it was Minister Louis Farrakhan who endorsed your US Presidential bid in February, as well as, more recently, your former Pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Mr. Senator, since Zimbabwe was not on the list of African countries you visited almost two years ago, so what makes you feel you are qualified to recommend what is in the best interest of the people and its government?
2. Mr. Senator since you have in the past claimed your entry into politics was a reaction to the injustice of Apartheid, maybe you perhaps forgot that Apartheid did not just take place in what is commonly referred to as South Africa. This reality meant that the people of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique had to engage in protracted armed struggles to liberate both their land and people due to the fact that Apartheid in Southern Africa was perhaps the most fascist manifestation of Settler Colonialism Africa's children have ever experienced. While 83% of South Africa's land remains in the hands of Whites, President Mugabe and ZANU-PF have reclaimed 12 million acres of land and awarded it to 350,000 families in a country where the average family comprises of six people. This hardly can be interpreted as the enrichment of a few people. Mr. Senator, you are also guilty of ignoring the 94% literacy rate of Zimbabwe and the appointment of Modern Africa's first Woman Vice President Amai Joyce Mujuru, and the fact that Zimbabwe remains the only country in the world that has a National AIDS Levy/Council that has resulted in the most significant decline in any Southern African Country. (The Southern Region remains Africa's most vulnerable region to the HIV-AIDS pandemic).
3. Mr. Senator you should have one of you staff members pick up the NAACP's report on Zimbabwe's 2002 Presidential elections, and raise the question why the US State Department felt it necessary to request this report not be published in the first place. Mr. Senator, you obviously did not receive the following reports of the 2005 parliamentary elections: African Union, Southern African Development Community, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Catholic Coalition of Peace and Justice of Zimbabwe. You give the impression because of both your religious convictions and humble beginnings honesty guides your decisions, however perhaps absorbing the crucial points of these documents will spell out the obvious: on the issue of Zimbabwe you and your fellow Congressional Black Caucus members are, at best, genuinely misinformed.
4. Mr. Senator, there is absolutely nothing courageous about either faction of the Movement for Democratic Change nor its leaders Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai, or Professor Arthur Mutambara. This statement is extremely troubling because it infers that you would have supported the CIA trained mercenary outfits of UNITA in Angola or RENAMO in Mozambique instead of MPLA and FRELIMO. If running around Zimbabwe with pockets full of British Pounds and US Dollars is your definition of bravery; this means that you support civilian neo-colonialism there, and are willing to help the Bush and Brown administrations accomplish this objective at all costs. Mr. Senator, please try to remember The Movement for Democratic Change has the distinction of not just being financed by Britain and Washington, but it is also the brainchild of Britain's three main political parties.
5. Mr. Senator in a debate with Senator Clinton shortly before the Ohio primary, you assertively said that the current foreign policy of the US Government is in complete shambles. When it comes to Zimbabwe it appears that you, Senator Clinton (whom is one of the co-sponsors of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001), and Senator McCain, who shares the exact sentiments of Mr. Bush, are all joined at the hip. Mr. Senator, you appear to be extremely naive about the impact
Sanctions can have on a country's economy and morale for that matter; this is ironic because the War on Iraq has been the main battle cry of your campaign where 2 million Iraqi people have died because of these same types of vindictive and cowardly sanctions. Mr. Senator, while your political superior, Mr. Bush as well as his British counterpart Mr. Brown, have not yet declared war on President Mugabe and ZANU-PF; their use of sanctions, as an instrument to isolate and starve the people of Zimbabwe until they have successfully imposed their will on them politically, is certainly a step in that direction.
6. Mr. Senator your appeal to Mr. Bush to only lift the sanctions on Zimbabwe once the illegal racist regime change has been forced, illustrates the type of hatred and contempt for President Mugabe and ZANU-PF which is predictable when articulated by the Imperialists themselves. However, it is absolutely shocking to hear when it comes from an African whose family knows British colonialism and domination up close and personal. Mr. Senator you and your colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus appear more comfortable with using US State Department briefings, reports from British based Amnesty International and US Human Rights Watch to justify supporting Mr. Bush's policy on Zimbabwe, as opposed to increasing correspondence with the SADC countries. Mr. Senator if the SADC countries are telling the west that the conversation must begin with honoring the diplomatic negotiations at Lancaster House in 1979, as well as lifting of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, how can someone in your position continue to ignore the writing on the wall? Mr. Senator your statement condemning President Mugabe and ZANU-PF completely ignore the Land Reclamation program. How do you look your Kenyan relatives in the face when you know they, like the Zimbabweans, had to wage a protracted armed struggle against these same British who you call an ally concerning this urgent matter? Mr. Senator you obviously either missed or ignored the recommendation of the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who defined the conflict in Zimbabwe as a bilateral dispute between an independent country and its former colonial master and felt Tanzania's former President Benjamin Mkapa should serve as a negotiator between Britain and Zimbabwe.
7. Mr. Senator out of all the bold and inaccurate proclamations being made by President Mugabe and ZANU-PF's detractors in the west, the absence of free media in the country is the most ridiculous. When you decide to visit Zimbabwe you will have absolutely no difficulty whatsoever purchasing any of the newspapers that openly condemn the Government (the Standard, the Financial Gazette, the Mail and Guardian, the Zimbabwean and the Zimbabwean Independent). Mr. Senator the irony of this claim is that the Herald and Daily Mirror are the only papers which present and defend the position of President Mugabe and the ruling party. Mr. Senator, until you and your CBC colleagues are willing to engage President Mugabe and ZANU-PF officials, face to face, about whether the current prisoners are security risks to peace and sovereignty; you should refrain from making demands that you are not properly informed about to discuss at length with substance and detail.
Responses to March 29Th, 2007 resolution
1. Mr. Senator the diplomatic tenure of Mr. Christopher Dell was a complete failure. Mr. Dell might as well have become a card carrying member of MDC. Mr. Dell behaved more like an intelligence agent of the CIA or the Homeland Security apparatus. Mr. Senator a Senate investigation should be held concerning Mr. Dell's activities in Zimbabwe; Mr. Dell's main objective before his term expired was to make Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Mutambara kiss and make up because the west expects total obedience from the political opposition they finance and create. Mr. Senator, replacing Mr. Dell with an African, Mr. James McGee, means nothing if he will have flashbacks to the Vietnam War when he earned his stripes by dropping bombs on a colonized people who couldn't enjoy the fruits of independence, because US Imperialism felt it wasn't their time yet.
2. Mr. Senator while you were in South Africa openly condemning their Government's commitment towards eradicating HIV-AIDS, the Government you take pride in representing is guilty of depriving Zimbabwe access to global fund resources; at a time when they are responsible for the most significant decline in Southern Africa since the beginning of the 21st century. Mr. Senator the Global Fund under the leadership of former US Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson and his British counterpart Richard Feacham denied Zimbabwe's applications for the second, third, fourth and sixth rounds. Mr. Senator you should raise this issue with the former UNICEF director Carol Bellamy who called this measure persecution of the poor. As a father of two little Girls it would be interesting to get you and Sister Michelle Obama on record to discuss how the Bush and Brown administration used humanitarian aid as a political weapon against an African country in the region most vulnerable to the HIV-AIDS pandemic. Mr. Senator, Zimbabwe has over 1.6 million HIV-Aids orphans. Despite their (Zimbabwe’s) success in this fight, they have exposed NGO's under the auspices of fighting HIV-AIDS that are calling for a regime change, and publishing statistics that were conflicting to those of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare whom they are supposedly there to help.
Mr. Senator, in conclusion, Africans all over the world have the same appreciation for President Mugabe that you have for Abraham Lincoln; and as a matter of fact, the history of President Mugabe and his biggest influence, Ghana's first Prime Minister Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, dispel and override the claim that only in America is your story possible. Mr. Senator, in the spirit of true democracy, you and your colleagues should hold a special town meeting in New York City during the next UN General Assembly for President Mugabe to address any concerns the collective body of the CBC has concerning Zimbabwe. During this venue all of you can answer why nine white conservative Republicans and two white Democrats voted against the Sanctions and none of you had the courage to do the same. Mr. Senator, while you have politically distanced yourself from Reverend Jeremiah Wright, the people of Zimbabwe can only hope you remember two phases from the church’s mission: A congregation with a non negotiable commitment to Africa, a congregation committed to the historical education of African people in the Diaspora.
Pan African Liberation Organization
Zimbabwe Cuba Friendship Association
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
| Statement Delivered By Obi Egbuna In Ngezi/Mhondoro on the 30th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising and the Day of the African Child and the struggle against the HIV/Aids Pandemic in Zimbabwe.|
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
|BECAUSE Mother Africa's children, whether at home or abroad, are ancestral products of colonialism and slavery, we realise that fighting for democracy and human rights is an extension of our struggle for liberation and human dignity. The most intense phase of this process deals with barring our former colonial and slave masters from imposing their definitions of these concepts on us or to diminish our genuine efforts to achieve these noble objectives.|
Those among us who choose this approach are almost guaranteed to be attacked viciously and mercilessly, since Africa's past and present exploiters feel it is not our place to plan our future without their approval or validation.
While the elections in Zimbabwe that took place on March 29, 2008 focused on four different levels of government; local government, senate, House of Assembly and presidential; Zimbabwe's President Cde Mugabe and the ruling party Zanu-PF approached the process with a two-fold responsibility: Firstly, to give Zimbabweans an electoral process with the level of fairness they had become accustomed to, and secondly preventing the imperialist duo of George W. Bush and Gordon Brown from exploiting the developments for their own benefit.
The American and British governments have campaigned tirelessly to convince the world that democracy cannot flourish in Zimbabwe without their watchful eye and direct involvement. This interpretation of politics in Zimbabwe is only embraced by those who are either ignorant of the country's history or for subjective reasons, have chosen to overlook it.
The first opposition party in Zimbabwe, after the Unity Accord was signed between Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu, was formed by Zanu-PF's former secretary general Edgar Tekere who accompanied Cde Mugabe to Mozambique to direct the final phase of the Second Chimurenga (the armed struggle).
Tekere formed the Zimbabwe Unity Movement and challenged Cde Mugabe for the Sate presidency in 1990. He claimed he was opposing the proposed one-party State and was committed to a socialist driven economy.
Ex-combatant, Margaret Dongo wanted to challenge President Mugabe in the 1996 presidential election but was found to be below the minimum age required for the presidency, 40 years. Dongo contested the Harare South constituency seat as an independent, won and latter formed the Zimbabwe Union of Democrats.
Former Minister of Information and Publicity Professor Jonathan Moyo, after being expelled from Zanu-PF, was also linked to a political party called the United People's Movement. He contested the Tsholotsho constituency as an independent and won.
This is why Western media claims that Simba Makoni's departure from Zanu-PF was something monumental and unprecedented, simply do not wash.
The unwarranted attacks by Western opposition in relation to President Mugabe and Zanu-PF's efforts to maintain democratic standards during elections, have taken on a predictable character since their tactics of choice are on display for the third time this decade.
The US State Department initially persuaded the oldest civil/human rights group the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) not to publish their report of the Presidential elections in 2002, and for the 2005 parliamentary elections the reports of the (Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the Southern African Development Community, and the African Union) were ignored by Western media, NGOs, and the British-based Amnesty International and US-based Human Rights Watch who appear rather comfortable in echoing London and Washington's isolationist views of President Mugabe and Zanu-PF.
On April 2 2008, The Washington Post's express magazine published an excerpt from an interview conducted by the Associated Press with Mrs Imani Countess who is the senior policy advisor for Washington DC based TransAfrica Forum.
The article stated Mrs Countess was an observer to the elections in Zimbabwe and quoted her as saying she had a conversation with a high level Zanu-PF official, who shared with her that the ruling party would use all instruments at their disposal to remain in power.
This information raised several questions. Firstly, why would the Associated Press refer to Mrs Countess as an election observer when her organisation was not invited to observe the elections?
How does withholding the identity of the Zanu-PF senior official who made these remarks help the people of Zimbabwe? Why would any Zanu-PF official share such incriminating comments with an organisation that is its biggest critic in the African American community in the United States?
It appears the current propaganda slant President Mugabe and Zanu-PF's detractors both inside and outside Zimbabwe want to project is – corruption and intimidation are the only way Zanu-PF can hold on to power.
This explains why the convener of the Southern African Political Economy Series Dr Ibbo Mandaza and senior advisor to Makoni told The Mail and Guardian that intelligence agents representing the MOSSAD of Zionist Israel, were in Harare six months before the elections to plan vote rigging and sabotage exercises at the invitation of the ruling party.
The claim was supported further by MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti who claimed an Israeli IT company called Cogniview provided President Mugabe with technical support to "rig" the elections.
The MDC-T and Mandaza want Zimbabweans and observers throughout the world to believe that the British and US governments would allow an alliance between Zimbabwe's CIO and Israel's MOSSAD, when we know that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF have maintained the strongest ties with the Palestinian people arguably more than any party or government in the Sadc region or Africa for that matter.
This attempt to link President Mugabe and Zanu-PF to the intelligence agency of Zionist Israel, is even more absurd than US Presidential hopeful Barack Obama's reference to MDC-T as a peaceful opposition party in his resolution submitted to the US Senate and Congress attacking President Mugabe and Zanu-PF in March of 2007.
President Mugabe and Zanu-PF are teaching Africa's daughters and sons that practicing democracy is directly connected to defending your sovereignty. We must commend President Mugabe and Zanu-PF for creating a political atmosphere and demonstrating a flexible approach, in the face of Britain and American attempts to force illegal and racist regime change in the name of democracy and human rights.
Zimbabwe's elections were observed by 14 regional and sub regional organisations, all 13 countries from southern Africa, 10 other African countries, five Asian countries, four countries from the Americas, one from Europe and a Liberation Movement from the US – the December 12 Movement.
It should be noted that Nigeria and Ghana were invited to observe the elections despite the fact that President John Kufour while chairing the African Union criticised President Mugabe and Zanu-PF for the way the altercation with Tsvangirai's goons and MDC was handled on March 11, and in December shortly before the EU-Africa summit in Portugal Nigerian President Yardua attacked President Mugabe for what he called "heavy handed tactics against his opposition."
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is performing the function that was assigned to various bodies in previous elections. The dynamics and procedure were explained by Zimbabwe's Foreign Minister Cde Simbarashe Mumbengegwi and Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa to the Sadc Group of Ambassadors on April 10th 2008.
The main concerns raised by the collective groups was whether the election results of the Parliament reflect people's frustration with the sanctions and if Zimbabwe was in a position to finance run-offs in light of the current economic challenges.
The "Sadc" meeting in Lusaka chaired by Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa on April 13 2008 saw the collective body commend the Government of Zimbabwe for ensuring that elections were conducted in a peaceful environment.
The body also commended Sadc facilitator Thabo Mbeki and his facilitation team for the role they played in ensuring elections were successful, and commended the people of Zimbabwe for their peaceful demeanour they maintained before and after elections.
Because this conclusion was reached even after unofficial consultations with both opposition candidates – Tsvangirai and Makoni, President Mugabe and Zanu-PF can look forward to Washington and Britain accusing Sadc of quiet diplomacy, instead of realising their brand of diplomacy is without eyes or ears since they refuse to listen to those in the region who have the most to lose if Zimbabwe loses complete political and economic stability.
The task of reinventing Tsvangirai has truly taken its toll on London and Washington. In nine years, he has gone from a trade unionist fighting for workers, to a lobbyist who was to convince his own family sanctions against Zimbabwe were better than defending the land reclamation programme, to a civil disobedience maverick who encouraged throwing petrol bombs at police stations was an act of peaceful protest, to now becoming Zimbabwe's "new president" beginning the dawning of a new era in Southern Africa.
If Tsvangirai is given too much exposure he will become like the meteorologist that always gets the weather forecast wrong.
On February 17 2008 the Washington Post's Parade Magazine ranked President Mugabe the "sixth worst dictator" in the world, the sources for this annual ranking system comes from the US State Department, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders even though President Mugabe was ranked among the bottom half, he had the distinction of having an entire article dedicated to him entitled My Life Under a Dictator written by Jabulani Moyo who teaches at a small college in the US where he was placed by the Scholar Rescue Fund of the Institute of International Education.
If the Blair and Bush administrations believe true democracy is to let all voices be heard, when will the travel ban be lifted on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF in order for them to travel around the US and UK, with the same latitude that MDC continues to have.
This leaves us with one question who should have the last word on Democracy in Zimbabwe, those who once colonised the nation or those who liberated it?
Obi Egbuna is a member of the Pan African Liberation Organisation and Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association.
|When the average African living inside US borders is asked to list some of our most significant political gains past and present, the right to vote will be the most common answer you can expect to receive. It is more than likely that these exact sentiments will be echoed by every civil/human rights organization, church, businessman/woman, academician, etc that lives and works amongst our people today. It is because of this reality that the activities of the Congressional Black Caucus should never be ignored or accidentally overlooked by any daughter or son of Africa on the planet. The CBC was created in 1971 and had 12 original founding members (Shirley Chisholm, Louis Stokes, William Clay, George Collins, John Conyers,|
Ronald Dellums, Augustus Hawkins, Ralph Metcalfe, Parren Mitchell, Robert Mix, Charles Rangel and Walter Fauntroy)
The CBC was initially called the Democratic Select
Committee created to accommodate the increase in
African elected officials, which stemmed from the impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The first Chairman,
Charles Diggs, was placed on President Richard Nixon's master list of political opponents. One of the current members Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Democrat out of Texas, said "The CBC is a family of freedom fighters that has fought to protect the fundamentals of democracy, and its impact is recognized throughout the world". This bold proclamation made by Congresswoman Johnson would lead Africans worldwide to believe, that any policies formulated by the Bush administration aimed at undermining democracy in any African or Caribbean nation, would meet the stiffest resistance the CBC could collectively muster.
Since the beginning of their Land Reclamation Program in 2000, the Government of Zimbabwe under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe has been the main target of the Bush administration in Africa, and the CBC has been extremely supportive. Before the Zimbabwe Democracy and the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001(ZEDRA) was signed by Mr. Bush on December 21st 2001, it was passed through the US Senate August 1st 2001 and then through the US Congress December 4th 2001.This bill was initially introduced by Republican Senator William Trift, out of
Tennessee, and was co-sponsored by Senator, and Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton. ZEDRA was also sponsored by Democratic Senator Russell Feingold who currently chairs the Senate Sub Committee on Africa, Democratic Senator Joseph Biden who currently chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and Republican Senator Jesse Helms. Due to the fact that the bill was introduced by a republican, and three of its four co-sponsors were democrats, Mr. Bush was inspired to make the following statement "This act symbolizes the clear bipartisan resolve in the US towards promoting human rights, good governance and economic development in Africa". While the bill was approved unanimously through the Senate, when it reached Congress it received the support of 193 democrats and 202 republicans, there were also 26 democrats and 11 republicans who abstained from voting on this matter. There were five CBC members who abstained from voting in favor of the sanctions (Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Ohio, Carolyn Kilpatrick of Michigan, Bobby Rush of Illinois, and Corrine Brown of Florida). The rest of its membership voted in favor; this tells us out of the 11 members of congress that initially voted against the sanctions of which 9 were republican and two were democrats(the republicans were Michael Collins of Georgia, Bob Schaffer of Colorado, John Hostettler, Virgil Goode of Virginia, Nathan Deal of Georgia, Ronald Paul of Texas, W. Todd Akin of Missouri, F. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Howard Coble of North Carolina),and the two Democrats were Robert Berry of Arkansas and Gene Taylor of Mississippi.
The CBC membership commonly refers to themselves as the Conscience of Congress since 1971. However, it would be hard to convince their sisters and brothers in Zimbabwe, that voting in favor of a policy that reeks of genocide such as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 reflects their conscience. The only members that showed an indication of having a conscience were the members who abstained from the vote, but in the final analysis they failed to overcome the political demons of fear and confusion. When the former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan addressed the CBC in September of 2005 he said "it is through your voices that the story of Africa is told here in the United States". The CBC also takes pride in the diplomatic aspect of their work, which they describe as supporting non African elected officials in the US Government who champion our interests. The decision to support Mr. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon
Brown to force an illegal and racist regime change in
Zimbabwe is a clear deviation from this strategy.
While the CBC is non partisan there have only been four African republicans since 1971 have been elected to the US Congress; the irony of this is out of the 11 members of Congress that opposed the sanctions against Zimbabwe 100% of them were of European ancestry and 90% of them belong to the political party CBC members have declared were the enemies of Democracy in the United States. If the CBC took the time to study the developments in Zimbabwe beyond the surface, they would realize that assisting Mr. Bush is, in worst case scenario hypocritical, and in best case scenario inconsistent. One of the CBC's founding members Congressman John Conyers, out of Michigan, has a bill for reparations called HR 40 the commission to study reparations proposal for the African American Act. If the CBC doesn't consider the land reclamation program in Zimbabwe a practical and concrete expression of reparations, then it can be argued that this bill is another example of political grandstanding which will increase frustration and apathy at the grass roots level within our community. The CBC foundation presented South Africa's first President, Nelson Mandela, with the prestigious Millennium Award in June of 2005. This gesture was aimed at connecting the struggles against segregation in the US to Apartheid in Southern Africa. Maintaining these links are of paramount importance in helping US and British Imperialism isolate and stifle the country on the other side of the Limpopo River; however that will never be acceptable.
The driving force in the CBC's inner circle that has consistently worked for the demise of President Mugabe and ZANU-PF is Congressman Donald Payne out of New Jersey. Congressman Payne once served on the board of directors of both the National Endowment for Democracy and the TransAfrica Forum; the only logical analogy would be serving in the Parliament of Israel (Knniset) and at the same time belonging to the Central Committee of either HAMAS or the PLO. Since the beginning of the 21st century Congressman Payne has developed and maintained close ties with some of the most reactionary Zimbabweans alive today, Mr. Payne presented the chair of the Zimbabwean Electoral Support Network Reginald Machaba Hove with his award from the NED a few years ago. Congressman Payne also held audience with one of MDC's spokespeople, Grace Kwinjeh, who was accompanied by Lovemore Madhuku of the National Constitutional Assembly, as well as Jacob Mafume and Tawanda Mutarah of the Open Society Institute for Southern Africa, while they were in Washington for a State Department briefing. Due to the fact that Mr. Payne is 71 years of age and considered a pearl of wisdom on African Affairs by his CBC colleagues it is wishful thinking to believe any of the others whom consider him a mentor and icon will take him to task on his pro Bush stance on Zimbabwe. Congressman Payne was one of the few Congressional reps who accompanied the Clinton family on their six nation tour of Africa. In 2003 Bush appointed Payne to serve as a Congressional delegate to the UN and reappointed him in 2005.Congressman Payne and the rest of the CBC who march to the beat of Mr. Bush's drum in relationship to Zimbabwe, are also guilty of failure to develop any meaningful dialogue with the Zimbabwean embassy in Washington or their mission at the United Nations. This unwillingness to engage diplomats from Zimbabwe shows the western arrogance our elected officials, pick up from their European counterparts can become contagious if they are not careful, and the other painful contradiction is the CBC's negligence in engaging the Southern African Development Community who urges Africans worldwide to take their assessment of Zimbabwe into account before making any premature and untimely decisions. This concern became increasingly clear when the majority of the CBC endorsed a resolution condemning Operation Murambvistina an environmental cleanup initiative in Zimbabwe, that
President Mugabe's detractors attempted to attack to help revive the opposition party who suffered a crushing defeat in 2005 during the Parliamentary elections.
The time has come for Congressman Payne and the rest of the CBC to explain to Africans worldwide, why they never seriously challenged their beloved party or their republican counterparts on failure to honor the commitments made by then US President Jimmy Carter at Lancaster House in 1979, but at the same time have the audacity to question the authenticity of the land reclamation program launched by the indigenous people of Zimbabwe today. While the CBC has made a political ritual out of attacking the Bush administration on the war on Iraq, they support the diplomatic repression of Zimbabwe; if sanctions have killed 2 million people in Iraq, what productive measures does the CBC expect to come out supporting sanctions in Zimbabwe? Due to that fact that none of the CBC has been to Zimbabwe in the 21st century it would be difficult to get them to answer this question. This is a major reason why US Presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama had no problem whatsoever introducing a resolution in the US Senate last march attacking Zimbabwe; especially since he knew on the Congressional side 9 CBC member would co-sponsor what the late Pro-Israeli Congressman Tom Lantos submitted with jointly with his blessing. The CBC has a health care brain trust chaired by a Congressional rep out of the Virgin Islands, Donna Christensen. When she was presented with a resolution addressing the HIV-Aids pandemic in Zimbabwe last May, she immediately suggested that Congressman Payne should receive the document first since he was chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health. This meant that the groups who wanted the
CBC to review this urgent matter of humanitarian aid were being used as a political "weapon" and, therefore should be left in the hands of a Congressman that appears comfortable in sacrificing the people of Zimbabwe for continual good while standing in the halls of the US Congress.
The CBC cannot use the rationale that President Mugabe has been in office too long, because two of their founding members Charles Rangel of New York and John
Conyers of Michigan have been in office nine years longer. Reverend Walter Fauntroy, former aid to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the founding CBC member who met with the President in 2003, should be commended for attempting to convince his former colleagues that promoting Neo-Colonialism in Zimbabwe was not in their best interest. The CBC's joint stance on Zimbabwe is so repulsive, it makes Africans worldwide wonder whether their gestures towards normalizing relations between the US and Cuba, condemning the forceful removal of Aristide from Haiti, or symbolically raising genocide in Darfur, is the type of political entertainment that makes Africans sick to their stomach. The CBC had better realize that Africans in every corner of the world identify with President
Mugabe like Senator Barack Obama identifies with
Abraham Lincoln and do the following:
1. Organize a hearing on Capitol Hill around the issue of Zimbabwe.
2. Change their votes on the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001.
3. Begin a discussion to give Zimbabwe's Government the money they would have received from Global Fund if their applications for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th round were not denied by former US Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson and his British counterpart Richard Feacham, who were adhering to mandates from their Governments.
4. Call for the immediate stoppage of financial support to the MDC which has been justified, under the foreign assistance act of 1961.
5. Develop a memorandum of understanding with the
Zimbabwean embassy and their permanent mission to the
UN, in order to get regular updates and briefings from the Government, on how they can best be assisted and supported.