In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Zimbabwe: West uses blacks against their own

Posted by alfied on June 20, 2008

By Peter Mavunga

THE Brits have turned into a fine art the very act of using others to achieve their own ends.

The trick — and they have got it just right — is to make it look as though they are helping you.

So to the uninitiated, their role in the politics of Zimbabwe is entirely honourable and they want nothing, but the best for the people of Zimbabwe.
And there are those who will readily fit the bill of being gullible while others will not.

This London Letter reflects on a few examples of how our former colonial masters continue to try divide our brothers and sisters the in the Southern African region for their own ends.

It looks at how very gently but unmistakably the former colonial bosses have made some of us feel good about siding with them.

I was reading the Sunday Times last week in which one writer agreed with another that the UN and the West were unlikely to intervene in Zimbabwe, which meant that President Mugabe, subject to the will of the people in the forthcoming presidential run-off, was likely to remain in office for some time.

But, wrote, Vincent Sinnott, “There is one way to initiate his removal.”

“The greatest living African, Nelson Mandela, is having a London birthday concert on June 27, the same date as Zimbabwe’s election. What a forum for him to publicly denounce this traitor to African ideals and also to announce all proceeds from the concert to help the poor of Zimbabwe.

“Perhaps the world and African leaders will listen.”

Notice that Nelson Mandela is sweetened up first with superlatives.

“The greatest living African”.

But this is the same man who Mrs Thatcher treated as a terrorist!

We better leave that to one side now.

It is part of history.

But the writer is expropriating Mandela to their side. He wants the greatest living African to publicly denounce “this traitor” to African ideals.

“African ideals” as defined by who, may I ask?

As defined by the Brits, of course, but therein lies the trick.

The idea is to present the denunciation of “this traitor” as being in the interest of Zimbabweans in particular and Africans in general.

Yet by implication, this greatest living African does not know how to use the proceeds of the concert and needs to be told (and he is indeed told by those who define African ideals) how to use it.

It is of course, up to Nelson Mandela how he will respond to that. What I know is that at the unveiling of the statue erected in London in his honour a couple of years or so ago, some members of the Black community here were expressing feelings of alienation from this greatest living African.

The party in his honour took place at the Dorchester Hotel.

Some in the Black community were saying then that it was all very well having the party at the Dorchester, but they did not know where the Dorchester was.

Not that they could not find it given a map, but rather it was out of their reach, being the place for the rich and famous.

The point that was being made was that they would have preferred this greatest living African to have his party and his statue erected among Black people.

If he was their hero, they would have liked to have him champion the cause of African people but it seems he was being expropriated by those who had given themselves the role of defining not only who was the best living African in the world, but also what contribution he had to make to topple President Mugabe on June 27.

It is of course up to the former South African President how he will respond to this.

Stay with South African personalities for a moment, it might, perhaps, be unkind to say that the British success in turning Archbishop Desmond Tutu to their side was total.

He has his own mind and he does not require the British to tell him what to do.

But given what he has been saying of late, it is difficult to escape that conclusion.

The British conquest of this African brother seems to have been total.

So total that he seems to want to surpass the British themselves in being anti-Zimbabwe.

He reminds me of the slave who, upon seeing his master’s house and his own burning, went to rescue the master’s property ahead of his own if only to show how loyal he was to his master.

Last week, Desmond Tutu was calling for a worldwide boycott of Zimbabwe’s cricket team ahead of the presidential run-off.

He made the call in London two Tuesdays ago at Lords’.

He said England would have to make a decision as to whether they would play with the Zimbabwean team under the current regime in Zimbabwe.

If a prominent black man can advocate regime change in Zimbabwe in this way, why should we the Brits worry, I hear them say.

They need to sit back, relax and leave the black man do it.

It is far better for the likes of Tutu and Sentamu the Archbishop of York to do the running or to show their loyalty in rescuing the burning master’s house rather than their own.

Trouble is that if Desmond Tutu was responding to the alleged violence by the ruling party led by President Mugabe, he probably forgot to extend his logic to what is happening in his own country.

I would have expected Desmond Tutu to follow his own logic by calling on Britain to ban South African cricket given the recent violence witnessed in that country.

But alas, when a man rescues another man’s house first ahead of his own as a show of great loyalty, it has no logic and Desmond Tutu’s call for a worldwide boycott of Zimbabwe’s cricket team ought to be seen in that light.

For the Brits, it may be comforting to have such loyal lieutenants.

They could now sit back and relax and see their job done by Africans.

It is far better that way. Here is what Lord Malloch-Brown, Minister of State Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said on 10 June in answer to Lord Howell of Guildford’s question.

Lord Howell was worried about the fact that “the most horrible rumours and anti-British propaganda continue to circulate throughout the whole region.”

Given that “the excellent (British) high commissioner in Zimbabwe” was having “great difficulties getting anything out in the media at all” would there be a case for allowing “our high commissioner in Pretoria being able to speak a bit more vigorously and possibly with less quiet diplomacy making the case we are trying to make which is for liberty and the rule of law and not for any sort of backward-looking ideas about colonialism?”

Replied Lord Malloch-Brown: “My Lords I think that the people of South Africa are in no doubt about the regime that immediately neighbours them. The tragic incidents involving Zimbabweans and other immigrants in South Africa is the most violent expression of a much greater unease in the country about how this issue of Zimbabwe has been handled. We are seeing in the words of the ANC president Mr Zuma and other South African leaders an increasingly robust and forceful determination to ensure that democracy does prevail next door. Certainly we as British spokesmen need to contribute to that while ensuring that we do not overstep the mark and provide evidence that somehow we are thought to be inappropriately intervening in the affairs of Zimbabwe.”

But His Lordship might have forgotten that his boss gave £3,3million to the opposition in support of, as he put it, “the democratic forces” in Zimbabwe.

That would count as inappropriately intervening in the affairs of Britain were such a donation given by Zimbabwe’s President to the Conservatives or those associated with that party with the sole purpose of toppling Labour from office in favour of the opposition.

His Lordship might also wish to be reminded that others would see it as inappropriately intervening in the affairs of Zimbabwe the visit to Bindura by a British diplomat more than forty kilometres from Harare without reference to the Zimbabwe Foreign Affairs Ministry which is part of the agreed protocol.

The Lordship might wish to reflect on the fact that still others might see it as inappropriately intervening in the affairs of Zimbabwe their support of South West Radio with the sole purpose of effecting regime change.

A more even handed approach would be one which allowed Zimbabweans to resolve their problems alone without the British campaign for illegal sanctions designed to cripple the economy of Zimbabwe and then blaming the collapse on the Government.

A more even handed approach by Her Majesty’s Government would have been for New Labour to follow the policy of its predecessor in paying for land and maintain relations with the elected government of Zimbabwe rather than repudiate Britain’s obligations as eloquently expressed in Claire Short’s letter to Zimbabwe’s Minister of Lands and Agriculture.

It was wrong and unjust just as it is inappropriate interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe that Lord Malloch-Brown said only yesterday that MDC-T will win the presidential run-off since it won 55 percent the last time round.

For one is bound to ask where His Lordship got his information?

The Lordships are worried about the horrible rumours and anti-British propaganda. Might it be possible that they were guilty of the most horrible rumours of anti-Zimbabwe propaganda?

That was wrong just as it is wrong for the British to contribute to a £71 million bonanza to Levy Mwanawasa, the President of Zambia, to use “at your discretion your Excellency” but also to bring pressure to bear on Mugabe.

We know that a hastily convened Sadc conference took place in Zambia earlier this year.

I understand the first time President Mugabe heard of it was on CNN news and this takes me back to the way Africans are used to achieve their former colonial masters’ ends. It is not good.

It does not accord with the British sense of fair play if it ever existed. But Zimbabweans will see through all this, though.

Zimbabwe Herald

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