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Why Africa finds it hard to support Chamisa's MDC

04 Feb 2019 at 07:56hrs | Views
On the 11th of March 2007 the world woke up to shocking images of the bashed faces of Morgan Tsvangirai, Lovemore Madhuku and others after the police had forcibly dispersed an opposition organised gathering in Highfields.

Nelson Chamisa says he has written to both SADC and the AU over the "political crisis" in Zimbabwe and nobody has yet bothered to reply him. We have to interrogate this situation in its context. SADC gathered for its 27th Summit in Lusaka after Tsvangirai's images had shocked the world, and it also had a special meeting on Zimbabwe on March 31 2007 in Dar-es Salaam.

In July the same year, the AU held a conference in Accra Ghana, and Zimbabwe was topping the agenda. All the three gatherings issued concurring communiqués in solidarity with the then Mugabe-led government; and this obviously shocked the MDC and its sympathisers in and outside Zimbabwe, and understandably so. How could they? Did they not see the police brutality in the images of the clearly bashed Morgan Tsvangirai?

Three times in a row within five months Africa expressed solidarity with "the people of Zimbabwe," on three issues; namely the illegal sanctions regime on Zimbabwe, the legitimacy of the land reform programme, as well as the validity of the 2000, 2002 and 2005 elections.

Africa continues to condemn the Western-administered economic sanctions as led by South Africa and other continental leaders, continues to support the land reform programme, and validates the July 2018 election result as a true reflection of the will of Zimbabwean people. Clearly neither SADC nor the AU seems interested in Nelson Chamisa's dramatisation of his views on the election result.

In 2007 we had proposals of economic packages to rescue the faltering economy of Zimbabwe, especially the proposal made on 31 March in Dar-es-Salaam. Not much materialised from the promised package from fellow African countries, and we are exactly in the same kind of scenario today.

Zimbabwe badly needs an economic rescue package and we are not in short supply of proposals and velvety promises. After the August 1 Harare skirmishes that saw the killing of 6 people in a violent demonstration organised by the opposition MDC Alliance, there has been fervent expectation that a hardline stance must be taken against the Mnangagwa Government, especially from the West and the opposition itself. The expectation is even stronger now, after another deadly conflict between violent demonstrators and the security forces on January 14.

The question to be asked is why Africa finds it so hard to support a party that claims to be a champion of democracy, or better still; why have these African leaders seemingly failed to see the alleged excesses and inhumane nature of the Zimbabwean Government; from the days of Robert Mugabe to the current Mnangagwa administration? The simplistic answer that has often been put forward is that all these African leaders supporting or failing to condemn Zimbabwe are either equal "dictators," or simply too impressed by ZANU-PF's history as a liberation movement that fell the British colonial empire.

Some have even inferred that it is all because all Africans are inherently corrupt and genetically incapable of handling complex matters related to things like economic policies. To this end Africans vote for corrupt politicians that only care about looting and enriching themselves.

This, of course, is not only simplistic and reductionist thinking but also smacks of gross inferiority complex on the part of Africans who embrace such warped thinking; and there are many.

The MDC has expressed its disappointment with South Africa, Sadc, Comesa and the AU so many times since its formation in 1999. What is never mentioned is the fact that these institutions have been there way longer than the MDC, and they see in the opposition outfit a replica of organisations they have dealt with in the past, the likes of RENAMO and UNITA in Angola.

Every time a position is taken on Zimbabwe, it turns out that the position falls short of MDC expectations and is subsequently lampooned as "unfree and unfair."

Now SADC and the AU seem to have just decided to ignore Nelson Chamisa, and that is from what Chamisa himself is telling the world. If there is one thing the MDC has always gotten right, it is the assertion that the problems in Zimbabwe need a political solution. However, that political solution does not necessarily lie in regime change, nor does it lie in the prospect of an MDC government.

It does not lie in dialogue between ZANU-PF and the MDC Alliance. The solution lies in resolving the bilateral conflict between Harare and London, a conflict that has been given a semblance of multi-lateralism when Britain lobbied the EU to back its position, and the United States to enact a sanctions law meant to stifle economic development in Zimbabwe. This is the real political crisis Zimbabwe has to deal with, not its ever electioneering politicians.

As the 19th century Prussian conflict theorist, Carl von Clausewitz put it; conflict or war "is politics continued by other means." Marx and Engels regarded conflict as the continuation politics of the powers concerned. In this context it is more than important to analyse all the political aspects of a conflict or a crisis as the Zimbabwean situation is often termed.

Here, there is need to find the real policies (not the stated ones) of which a conflict is a continuation, and the policies of the players involved in that conflict. There is need to examine all the belligerent powers, not just one. If one agrees with the policies that have led to the conflict from one side of the conflict, then they agree with the politics of that particular side, even when such policies are pursued through the means of a struggle, revolution or force.

Conversely, if one is a political opponent of the policies from another side, then they do not put aside their political opposition simply because the side they agree with has decided to confront the conflict by forceful or revolutionary means. What happens is that one remains an opponent of the policies and politics that led to the conflict itself and not necessarily to the means by which the conflict has been pursued.

Only pacifists are opposed to conflict just for the sake of attaining peace through maintaining the status quo; and those politicians heading African states are most certainly not a bunch of moralistic pacifists bent on turning the other cheek each time an imperialist blow is thrown at them. They are like every other politician worthy the name; visionaries some of whom are sworn to fight for emancipation and a legacy of positive social change.

They support Zimbabwe's land reform programme, not necessarily because they agree with the modalities of how the policy was implemented, but primarily because they support the politics behind the land reform programme. They support Harare's position with regard to the Western-administered sanctions regime, not necessarily because Harare is home to fellow Africans, but because they fundamentally agree with the politics that led to those sanctions being imposed; or conversely, they disagree with the politics that motivated the Western allies to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe, to most of us illegally.

The stated politics behind the sanctions are that they are firstly not economic sanctions but mere travel bans, a fact disputed even by the US State Department itself, if one looks at their March 2007 announcement that they were actually stepping up the anti-Zimbabwe programme through the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.

The only reason people like Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa are begging the United States to keep sanctions in place is to make sure that Zimbabwe's economy does not positively recover under a ZANU-PF Government, not because they stand against some ZANU-PF politicians jumping on a plane and travelling to Europe or the United States.

The other stated politics behind the sanctions states that Zimbabwe is pursuing "unsound policies", that Zimbabwe is governed by a tyrannical regime, that there is a culture of human rights violations, that the political playing field is uneven, that the declining wealth of the country is a result of gross looting by those in power, that elections after the formation of the MDC have all been fraudulent; and that President Mnangagwa is an inept leader making everybody in Zimbabwe suffer.

The Government, with apparent support from the African family, disputes the stated politics and asserts that the real politics is nothing more than the bitterness of the Americans and their western allies over the seizure of white-held, not owned, farms for onward distribution to landless black people.

This is the history of the conflict, much as this new dispensation is committed to address matters of justice and fairness over the land reform program itself. No imperialist army, of course, has ever marched off to war under the slogans "Higher Corporate Profits!" or "Blood for Oil!" on its banners.

No, the army marches behind the massive power of the imperialist rulers' ideological agents – its politicians and the mass media. These work overtime to create a pretext that can convince the ordinary people that the Western rulers are fighting against tyranny, for democracy, for the defence of their families, against terrorism, for freedom and human rights, or for any "noble" cause that can be conveniently stated.

So our young people have bought into the idea of freedoms in such a way that some of them now want to fight for freedom to overthrow a democratically elected government – to be left untouched while they bar everyone from going to work, force businesses to shut down, and ensure the entire country shuts down.

For 90 years, Zimbabweans were made servile citizens in their own homeland under brutal apartheid British rule and that yoke was broken on April 18 1980. We have to cherish the achievement of our independence always.

In 1992, Noam Chomsky, a prolific and renowned intellectual, was asked by Heinz Dieterich why some Latin Americans had turned themselves into "Ibero-Americans" (after 150 years as Latin Americans) and how a bit of Spanish money could make such a change possible after such a long time of a solid identity. Noam Chomsky replied, "People have a price, some will sell themselves for five cents, others will demand a million dollars."

When a Zimbabwean supports a senile British MP calling for the re-colonisation of Zimbabwe, it is tempting to say such a Zimbabwean has given himself for two cents. It is because of this perceived cheap price that Africa finds it hard to support our opposition. The opposition must stop posturing as a cheap outfit of donor mongers ready to sell the African birth right for a cup of soup.

Africa, through South Africa, Sadc, Comesa or the AU, has simply refused to support the western politics behind the problems in Zimbabwe. To the contrary, they have openly supported the Zimbabwean politics behind the Harare-London bilateral conflict.

To this end they have refused to be mere pacifists blinded by the unfortunate bruises of fellow Africans caught up in domestic conflicts emanating from the greater political crisis.

They rather choose to view the conflict in the context of its politics, regretting what are clearly the excesses of the conflict, but never losing sight of the just cause for which Zimbabwean politics stands.

It is unfortunate that the improving relations between Harare and London under ED Mnangagwa seem to be eroding, as the later seems to shift towards the polarised position of the United States. The MDC needs to stand against economic sanctions on Zimbabwe alongside all other Africans on the continent. This is the primary political solution needed to recover our economy.

Arthur Mutambara has a long-standing reputation of rehearsing vibrant narrations whenever Western media houses are having an onslaught on Zimbabwe's human rights rating. He did that in 2007, and even made a surprise appearance alongside Morgan Tsvangirai.

Let opportunist do their thing, but as Zimbabweans we need to find each other in re-engaging this country to the rest of the world. We differ politically but we do not differ nationally. To me the necessity of national dialogue has nothing to do with the legitimacy of ED Mnangagwa or the alleged lack of it. If we are going to have national dialogue that dialogue must define the national interest. It must define our rallying point s a nation.

We cannot use the national economy to fight down one single politician we do not like. We cannot burn the country down to rid ourselves of one political party. We cannot burn down the entire village in pursuit of an irritant intruding rat.

We cannot burn down an entire house to kill an intruding snake. We cannot sacrifice the entire future of the country in pursuit of helping the ambitions of one single politician. We have to start taking ourselves seriously as a country if we are going to redeem our pride as a nation. Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!

 Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney, Australia.

Source - the herald
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