The Cricket Saga and A Colonial Legacy
Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2003
OPEN LETTER ON ZIMBABWE
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6th January 2003
Minister for African and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
King Charles Street
London SWIA 2AH
Dear Baroness Amos,
REF: THE CRICKET SAGA AND A COLONIAL LEGACY
THAT HAUNTSBRITAIN AFTER 22 YEARS INDEPENDENCE.
Will the British Labour government compensate most of the British nationals and other people worldwide who have already bought air tickets and booked their accommodation using their credit cards for the Zimbabwe trip if the cancellation and change of venue of the cricket in March 2003 is effected by your pressure on ECB and ICC? If so can you give the nation the guidelines on how one can start a claim since the legal system in Britain takes five years for such a dispute to be resolved and payment is got?
Africa Strategy has read your contribution of 206 pages in the House of Lords on Zimbabwe starting from 2001 -2002 and as Lobby group on African affairs in UK we felt it was high time we replied you on behalf of the people of Zimbabwe whom you have demonised for the last two years. More so the recent comments on the cricket saga has forced us to stand up and be counted on behalf of the masses of Zimbabwe and Africa at large. The double standard strategy in your foreign policy on Uganda with a one party state and the hate campaign you have waged on President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has left us with no option but to pump some sense in your political career and neutralise your dirty toxins that you issue against Zimbabwe. We have therefore delivered this letter by hand to your office today 7th January 2003.
My fellow party member of the Labour Party we have just come back from Zimbabwe on 25th December 2002 having led a private delegation of business investors and cricket lovers to that country. We have seen for our selves the democracy that has been demonised by the BBC, CNN, and some section of Prime Minister Tony Blair's besieged government. The facts that we saw for ourselves on ground, the prevailing peace and the tranquillity witnessed during our three weeks in Zimbabwe made us conclude that your government has a hidden agenda on this nation. We have come to a conclusion that compared to the type of media reports about Zimbabwe there is a big difference between the BBC, your government's version and our experience on Zimbabwe. The equivalent in terms of distance to the truth is like the journey between Mars and the Earth.
This has prompted Africa Strategy as lobby group that privately and voluntarily led this delegation to write to you and to the whole world about the dangers of relying on reports of an immature opposition that collaborates with racists who worked with Ian Smith to murder many millions of whites and blacks in the 1960s and 1970s. The same struggle some of you in the present Labour government helped to succeed. The prolonged agony and anguish the people of Zimbabwe have gone through as a result of the short sighted and myopic policies of the Labour Government has brought a calamity to once a peaceful country united under the good leadership of President Mugabe. Despite the brutality of Ian Smith on the local blacks in 1960s and 1970s, President Mugabe has shown the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation in Zimbabwe compared to other countries like Uganda where the war has been the order of the day due to the lack of good leadership and the word "reconciliation".
Allow us therefore, to write to you at this hour of need before your meeting with ECB to warn you on the dangers of fabricating lies and trumping up charges about President Mugabe and Zimbabwe so us to stop the cricket being played in that nation. Africa Strategy will also take this opportunity to alert the whole international community about the political malaise the Labour government has caused to the people of Zimbabwe in the last two years. Africa Strategy Independently observed and monitored the elections of Zimbabwe of March 2002.Our report, which was published worldwide, speaks volumes. We have also been following all your political manoeuvres of trying to destroy Zimbabwe. The world and the African people have watched with keen interest the way you have handled the situation in Zimbabwe. But before we go further, we would like through you to thank the Honourable Prime Minister for the reply on Zimbabwe and Uganda dated 4th April 2002, which speaks volumes.
Despite the bad reception given to most of us Independent Organizations that have spoken the truth about Zimbabwe and exposed the Uganda political saga, we shall not be shy to point out the shortcomings of your " double standard" and warped foreign policy that has caused political hardships in Zimbabwe and encouraged a one party state else where in Uganda under President Museveni. We are drawing examples of these two African Commonwealth countries as a test case of bad politics and decayed foreign policy that only breeds violence and anarchy in many parts of the world. When I read the poet laureate works of John Donne who wrote and extolled us " not to ask for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." I did discover and I now know what it means. I see Zimbabwe demonised and Uganda given the red carpet treatment even when it has a one party state status.
This is not the occasion to address you on the problems of Uganda but to let you know that soon the wind of change will blow over Uganda like what has happened in Kenya and some of us will be in power in that nation then it will be difficult for the brain washed conduits of imperialism like you to use your double standards on any African nation. One factor in Zimbabwean politics, which you Ministers of Tony Blair's cabinet should note is that the opposition in Zimbabwe, is immature, immoral, prudish, comic, melodramatic and ignorant on many historical issues that unite the people of Zimbabwe That is why most Zimbabweans have refused to be used by MDC to cause political chaos on their soil.
The same racists who used nerve gas to maim millions of the people of Zimbabwe during the struggle for political independence are the same ones using school drop outs in Zimbabwe to try to disrupt the peace and harmony President Mugabe has brought to this nation. Our research in Zimbabwe has revealed that most of the opposition MDC members in Parliament have never had experience of running a government leave alone debating in Parliament. They actually act like lost sheep without a Shepard. This is a nation with the highest number of intelligent and educated people than else where in Africa. This has made the opposition in Zimbabwe bankrupt and not able to survive on its own. Without the "hidden hands" of the likes of you Baroness Amos and the likes of Hon. Peter Haines, Zimbabwe's MDC would have been history like other opposition parties in Africa. This explains why the MDC as party is now moribund with no new ideas, no new policies and lacks political direction.
EMBARGOS AND SANCTIONS ON ZIMBABWE.
It is deplorable and shocking to hear that the same members of the cabinet of Tony Blair including yourself are asking the cricketers to reflect on the same basis of moral, humanitarian and political crisis that the Labour government has caused on Zimbabwe not go to play cricket in this nation that still has over 1000, 000 British linked nationals. The break down in moral behaviour in the Labour government has culminated into a political nightmare. Most of the whites and blacks in Zimbabwe we interviewed told us that "the cricket series will bring a hub of economic activities to Zimbabwe and will boost the economy" It would also help to expose the nation to more balanced world opinion than your "kitchen opinion" in the House of Lords.
It will help to show to the world that despite the bad publicity on Zimbabwe and Mugabe there are still over 100.000 British linked families living there peacefully. "May be this is the worry of the Labour government and that is why you want to stop the truth from being known"? Said one white farmer we met in Mazowe some 40 miles away from the capital Harare. The worst case of humanity is ignorance and being less informed or being fed on concocted lies by a childish and impulsive opposition like the MDC of Zimbabwe. The government of Britain allowed Zimbabwe Commonwealth team to come to UK. The officials and the team members were and are still under the same President and Ministers the British government has targeted with smart sanctions. Why didn't the British Government bar the team from coming to the Commonwealth Games in Manchester? Is this not a case of double standard?
There are over British 400 Companies that have business dealings with the British government and notably the British Airways whose staff we interviewed in Sheraton Hotel in Harare and whose response we have recorded for the government of Britain to listen to when it comes to exposure of the Tony Blair's double standards. Why doesn't the British Government stop flights to Harare if it feels that there is insecurity and lawlessness in Zimbabwe? We were able to collect all the data in the Hotels in Zimbabwe's main cities of Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, which indicate that 70% of the occupants in the last 4 weeks of December 2002 were British nationals. This number was confirmed with empirical data from the Visa section at the Zimbabwe High Commission near 10 Downing Street in London. This is not fiction. Ministers of Tony Blair are able to check these facts. Why do we want to change the venue of the cricket to South Africa yet on some of the streets of the South African cities it is impossible to use a Nokia 7650 and come back with all your limbs?
Baroness Amos, our survey indicates that almost 80% of the Fresh Produce that we buy in the big Super Markets is from Zimbabwe. We have interviewed the owners of the companies that export the vegetables who are white Zimbabwean businessmen and they told us "despite all the bad talk about Zimbabwe our business of fresh produce has not been affected". It therefore shows that if Zimbabwe government diversified their markets to the East Asia, as the case might be in the near future the Tesco, Sainsbury's and other stores will run dry. That is why we have always stated that sanctions and embargos work or affect a nation, which is divided and has no general consensus on political matters. The land in Zimbabwe acts as cushion to all your sanctions and both the government and opposition accept that it had to be redistributed.
DEMOCRACY AND SECURITY IN ZIMBABWE.
Most of your colleagues like Clare Short who have been misled on Zimbabwe and on the other hand have allowed Uganda to grow a British sponsored one party state have no shame to openly come out and condemn the democracy in Zimbabwe. In one of the letters that we obtained from the government of Zimbabwe written by Clare Short in 2001 when the land crisis was looming states "I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not the colonisers" (emphasis added) Such strange ultra-nationalistic views have caused a mockery on the phrase of good governance in Zimbabwe and else where in the world. Out bursts like this one only add to a state of despondence in Zimbabwe and shows the naivety of the Labour government that is supposed to deal with the Zimbabwe issue in an impartial manner.
This letter is to let the world know how the British system has brought a catastrophe and political tragedy on Zimbabwe. The imaginary insecurity which the British Labour government is mentioning on BBC and in their so-called dossier on Zimbabwe is completely fake and if you visit Zimbabwe on a monthly basis like some of us have done you are left with no alternative but to call the actions of some of the Labour Party Ministers as racially biased and shameful to intellectual world.
During our last three weeks stay in Zimbabwe in December 2002 we managed to research on the so- called insecurity and we did not find any trace of the British version even when there were temporary shortages of fuel in the city of Harare. Zimbabweans could queue peacefully for fuel without any fight or any violence. Where do you ministers get your facts? We went out with the British Airways Crew to sample the so-called insecurity in several social places like nightclubs, sports clubs, shopping centres, markets, Bus stations around Harare and several other towns and we were very surprised that people danced with patriotism, drank and ate with joy in all their hearts and there was no cause for alarm or insecurity. Is there any other way of testing the peace of Zimbabwe apart from three black men walking back at 2.am to Hotel Sheraton with a group of nine British nationals? The South African scenario is even more complicated because even the police there tell you not to use a mobile phone on the streets, as it is dangerous.
What then is democracy to you people? Is it to allow every body to walk naked in the streets of London or is democracy not the freedom of press, media courts, and the freedom to allow people to associate, assemble and organise, which President Mugabe has done? President Mugabe of Zimbabwe has guaranteed all these tenets of freedom and they do appear in the polity of Zimbabwe. Why cant you Baroness Amos as black person ask the government of President Museveni to do the same way President Mugabe has done in Zimbabwe by allowing parties to compete? Why do you as a black person whose African roots are very strong in your blood fail to see the truth about African values in politics and advise the British government to "constructively engage" the Zimbabwean government to resolve matters that are very minor and considered by mature school of politics as family matters not of international material.
Democracy in Zimbabwe is in plenty BUT there is no constructive and intelligent opposition. There is an opposition full of violent men who stab their wives eight times in the hearts and kill them, an opposition which is full of sleaze and infighting, an opposition in Zimbabwe which is bordered on criminality and impulsive in nature. Whether you take it or leave it the story of Idi Amin in Uganda will repeat itself in Zimbabwe once Mugabe is forcefully removed as you are advocating for such a forceful change. We believe that the malcontents of the MDC will be worse than Amin's rule, which the British supported in 1970s. So watch out for your actions as they might backfire on Zimbabwe.
The cricket saga that has again exposed your ignorance on what you call good governance is a straightforward issue that does not need to waste taxpayer's money in Britain to compensate to the ECB or to the ICC in case the British team does not go to Zimbabwe. This open letter will be published widely in the world and you will see how many people in Africa will support Zimbabwe. You can only confuse those in Europe who have not travelled to Zimbabwe but those who have spoken with your British Airways crew will want you or Clare Short to resign for misleading the whole nation on Zimbabwe. The comments of the Welsh Secretary Peter Haines on BBC Breakfast with David Frost on 5th January 2003 are an insult to those who have tried to moderate the actions against Zimbabwe. These are comments of a Minister with a dangerous "political hangover" which, if not treated quickly could degenerate into a terrible disaster for the Labour government. This same friend of yours was the same minister who caused the standoff between Zimbabwe and HM government and I think he will continue to cause political mayhem in the Labour Party until we lose majority in Parliament. Every department Hon. Peter Haines has worked in has been left in political doldrums. How long shall we as Labour Party voters in this country wait to see those entrusted with power erode the principles of humanity?
The findings of the security committee set up by the ICC are very clear and well written on the walls of 10 Downing Street. One does not an extra pair of glasses to read them. The security in Zimbabwe is the best compared to those other African countries where the other matches are going to be played. The worst shooting incident in Birmingham last week has reminded most of us who live in Britain that it better to live in Zimbabwe or Uganda than this part of the world where trans-Atlantic crime is being imported here by terrible off-springs of crime that have led to cold blooded murderous acts in UK cities. Would you compare that with a Zimbabwe where all guns are in the hands of those with a licence? No shooting like this can happen in the City of Harare and go uncontrolled as it is happening to most cities of UK. Is this not insecurity in the so-called older democracy? Who has told tourists not to come to UK because of the gang wars similar to those in Jamaica? Who is calling for sanctions or boycott of Britain as result of the two murdered black teenagers in Birmingham? I think all answers to these questions will deliver a good verdict on Zimbabwe when you meet the ECB and ICC this week to discuss this issue.
Many of your fellow cabinet Ministers have hidden themselves in a veil of the word "moral" which is being used to persuade the cricket team not go to Zimbabwe. One wonders where morality was when 80% of arable land was in the hands of only 2500 white commercial farmers? And where was morality when Ian Smith used nerve gas to kill Zimbabweans during the struggle for Independence in Zimbabwe? The ECB has asked one cardinal question which must be answered by you Baroness Amos. Why target the soft cricket sport when there are many companies still doing business with Zimbabwe? This is the question that you people must answer in clear terms to avoid the whole of Africa from boycotting the cricket.
We believe that with this independent facts which we have also sent copies to ECB and ICC whose report on the security of Zimbabwe was received by your office three weeks ago will form a basis of proper judgment. We have also sent a copy to the Sports and Heritage Secretary who will be in this meeting. There are more British nationals and other cricket lovers who have volunteered to go to Zimbabwe in the next few weeks to find out the truth. The cost of such a cancellation will be enormous to us taxpayers and to those cricket lovers who have bought their air tickets to Zimbabwe.
Hoping that this letter will give an insight and alert you that in this country there are people who see President Mugabe's approach on land redistribution as the only right solution that he was left with. By the way even if your so called MDC forcefully gained power in Zimbabwe they will not reverse the land programme which is now concluded without the help of the British government. In short the Labour government lost chance to engage peacefully the Zimbabwe authorities and there are no slim chances that you will ever win that diplomatic front. The Labour government lost the moral ground and failed to assist in the process.
Dr. David Nyekarach-Matsanga.
For and on behalf of Africa Strategy.
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