How the West has treated Zimbabwe

The following edited article by renowned author and political philosopher Chinweizu was first published in 2008. His argument on how the West has treated Zimbabwe has many lessons for Africa today.



Britain is inflicting a war of re-colonisation on Zimbabwe under the guise of promoting democracy.

For years, Britain, with its European and Diaspora allies – the EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA – have waged economic war on Zimbabwe through sanctions and sabotage: after all, these are classic weapons of economic war.

Britain has been making propaganda war on Zimbabwe through a demonisation and disinformation campaign in the global media.

Frustrated by the failure thus far to effect regime change in Zimbabwe, they are gearing up to make military war on Zimbabwe, either through a UN intervention, or through a unilateral invasion, or by prompting the MDC to start an armed struggle against the Zimbabwean government.

After Britain failed to persuade the UN Security Council to impose UN sanctions on Zimbabwe, Gordon Brown made it clear on the BBC (July 15, 2008) that he is determined to maintain “political pressure” on Zimbabwe until it “returns to democracy”.

And on that same day, in its programme “World have your say” which was broadcast from the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, South Africa, the BBC presenter openly went about inciting the MDC refugees there to go home and take up AK-47s and begin an armed struggle.

And back in 2007, there were reports, by Grands-Lacs Confidentiel, that at a camp in Rusoma on the border between Rwanda and Tanzania, British and American instructors were training mercenaries recruited from Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe itself, to invade Zimbabwe.

What is all this for?

Black Africans need to understand what exactly is going on if they are to do their duty towards their black kith and kin in Zimbabwe.

Contrary to the impression long created by British propaganda, the principals in this war or crisis are not Zanu-PF vs MDC but Zimbabwe vs Britain.

The MDC is simply the local political mercenaries that Britain is using to wage its war on the people of Zimbabwe.

Despite the assertions of the sanctioners, their sanctions do not target just Zanu-PF.

They have targeted the entire Zimbabwe population. They have done so from the start.

For example, it was reported in 2002 that “a ship carrying fuel intended for Zimbabwe was unable to offload its cargo at the port of Beira in Mozambique.

British Petroleum, which owns the fuel storage facilities at the port, refused to accept the fuel because Zimbabwe owed the firm US$3 million. “Approximately 70 percent of Zimbabwe’s fuel is shipped from Libya through the port of Beira, where it is transferred to pipelines.

The lack of foreign currency has prevented Zimbabwe from meeting its payments to British Petroleum, and (this) could mean a near-total cut-off of fuel, bringing down production in virtually all sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy.”

We are, perhaps expected to naively believe that the lack of foreign exchange which led to BP’s interdiction of fuel supplies was a result of sanctions that targeted just Zanu-PF!

Or was that the direct effect of land reform and mismanagement, as all the woes of the Zimbabwean economy are alleged to be?

Well, land redistribution does not produce fuel shortages or cause factories to shut down: when manufacturers deliberately fail to supply goods, despite being supplied with foreign and local currency by the government, that is sabotage; not land reform or mismanagement by government. When syndicates organise the smuggling to Mozambique of locally grown sugar and cattle, while acute shortages afflict the people, that is sabotage or economic warfare, not mismanagement or land reform.

Thus we must understand that the acute shortages driving the astronomical inflation are the result of regime change sanctions and sabotage rather than land reform.

And what has been the purpose of it all?

We should recall that former US Assistant Secretary of State on African Affairs, Chester Crocker said to the US Senate for the Zimbabwe Democracy Act (ie sanctions and regime change legislation): “To separate the Zimbabwean people from Zanu-PF we are going to have to make their economy scream, and I hope you senators have the stomach for what you have to do.”

And that is precisely what is happening.

The economy is indeed screaming, by enemy design.

The enemy intended to so torture the Zimbabwean people that they would reject Zanu-PF at the polls.

Having failed to do so, they are scheming to either invade Zimbabwe or to fund an armed struggle there.

All this is allegedly to return Zimbabwe to democracy; to punish its leadership for election violence, alleged election rigging and violations of “human rights”.

That can hardly be the true motive.

After all, aren’t the UK and the USA on cosy terms with other election riggers, eg Mwai Kibaki in Kenya, who happen to be obedient servants to imperialism?

Zimbabwe would become an example, terrible for imperialism and its exploitation of black Africa.

So there you have it.

It is to forestall the domino effect of the Zanu-PF example that Zimbabweans are being tortured with sanctions and threatened with war.

We must put the current crisis in the context of developments since Rhodesia declared UDI in 1965 and touched off the 15 years Zimbabwean liberation war, the Chimurenga, to recover the land.

The Lancaster House Conference was called to save the imperialists from the humiliation of an unconditional surrender by the white Rhodesians to black insurrectionists.

Something like that had not happened since Haiti’s victory over Napoleon’s army in 1803.

At Lancaster House, Zanu-PF was robbed of the fruits of its battlefield victory over the white settlers.

That agreement, which Zimbabwe was forced by other African countries to accept, delayed the takeover of the land for an initial ten years.

Then Zimbabwe was persuaded by the Commonwealth Secretariat to hold off on summary land reclamation — lest the sight of it happening in next door Zimbabwe should cause white fright and intransigence among the white settlers in South Africa and jeopardise the struggle against apartheid.

Thus for 15 years, Zanu-PF was obliged to put off any radical land reclamation process.

Then, in 1997, in the new post-Soviet global political climate, Britain was emboldened to explicitly renege on the Lancaster House Agreement.

It thereafter moved to completely reverse the battlefield defeat of its white Rhodesian kith and kin. This was true to the old Elizabethan tactic of defusing a crisis by delay and deceit.

This post-1979 saga illustrates Cabral’s dictum that “compromises with imperialism are counter-productive”.

Africa’s duty to Zim

Given these fundamentals of the Zimbabwe case, what is our correct Pan-Africanist duty?

First of all, we should not base our views on Zimbabwe on the propaganda disseminated by a Western media which serves the agenda of imperialism.

It is distressing to see African newspapers serving as megaphones for Africa’s imperialist enemies.

Pan-Africanists, including Pan-Africanist media, parties and governments, urgently need to start depending on our own sources in formulating positions on all issues.

This is in keeping with Cabral’s sacred principle that we should be absolutely independent in our way of thinking and acting; and in tackling questions and answering them.

Secondly, Pan-Africanism, to the extent that it is still an anti-imperialist movement, cannot accommodate itself to this imperialist offensive, but must mobilise support for an anti-imperialist Zimbabwe.

Its struggle for economic decolonisation should be applauded and given even more support than black Africa gave to fraternal struggles for political decolonisation.

We need, therefore, to focus on how to end, not just the foreign instigated electoral conflict, but also the underlying war between Britain and Zimbabwe over land and the decolonisation of the Zimbabwean economy.

So long as Britain persists with its sanctions and with threats of inspiring an armed struggle by MDC, so long as Britain insists on returning Zimbabwe to the colonial status where a few white settlers held half of Zimbabwe’s best land, so long as Britain insists on installing a government subservient to itself in Zimbabwe, we must realise that there will be no settlement before unconditional victory by either the British recolonisers or the Zimbabwean anti-colonialists.

For Zanu- -PF’s exemplary project of economic decolonisation to succeed, a global anti-war movement is called for to constrain Britain from fomenting armed conflict in Zimbabwe.

Fostering such a movement is our third Pan-Africanist duty to Zimbabweans. – Konch Magazine

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