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Mugabe: When a cheer jars the West, rings farthest
Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Herald

Exactly as one would have ever wished it! After the historic Dar Summit held towards the end of March this year, I made it clear Southern Africa had reached a turning point, and with it, the Zimbabwean situation. I made it clear the significance of the resultant communiqué was the fact of the 14-member grouping had for the first time taken a collective stance against illegal sanctions imposed by the West, led of course by Britain and America.

I made it clear that from that day on, the fight would achieve exactly what Britain had always wished, namely the internationalisation of its fight with Zimbabwe, but only in ways not so palatable to Britain and her bankrupt foreign policy. I argued that from that historic day, Britain, America and the pro-sanctions segment of the EU would have to confront Sadc as a block, itself quite an escalation in the situation.

The fight would become sub-regional, indeed would pit a sub-region against its historical adversary. I suppose many thought Manheru was politicking.

I know that those who mistakenly thought so are beginning to wake up to this hard-hitting fact. But grant it to the British. Correctly, they panicked, and used their man in Gaberone to express this panic. Much later, they also used their Ghanaian-turned Briton, one Boateng who is their man in South Africa, to express the same disquiet.

This shameful man from the womb of so respectable a people, did not mind being foolish on behalf of the Empire.

The Zim migrant peril

As already indicated in previous installments, from that month of March, the British were peddling frantically, hoping a big TB (Tony Blair) bang would visit and demolish Mugabe before a change of guard at No. 10, indeed before the next Sadc Summit.

They enlisted the support of the Americans, an assignment made easier by America’s man here – Dell – so gifted with a long mouth, so backed by a stub of intellect. The whole hype on illegal immigrants was meant to use the people-to-people magnitude as a subtle instrument for British foreign policy goals.

Repeated claims of a Zimbabwean migrant peril, edified by a Parliamentary Committee, the white opposition Democratic Alliance and much else, would have not only nudged Mbeki out of the "slumber" of "quiet diplomacy"; it would have generated violent xenophobia which would have forced the South African government to act. Or better still, create refugee camps, in which case the Sadc Summit would have had no choice but to deal with a supposedly ever snowballing Zimbabwe situation. The connection with the price madness which should have provided the trigger both at home and abroad, is too obvious to be missed.

Re-editing Dar

Meanwhile the West’s captive media, especially their beachhead in South Africa, kept harping on the dim prospects of the political dialogue the Dar Summit had assigned President Mbeki to mind. Regardless of the progress on the ground, everything had to read dim, very dim, to warrant a hard-ball which Sadc was supposed to play against Zimbabwe.

It is this hard-ball scenario which the daft Muleya writing on the eve of the Summit harped wild, to look very foolish a little later. Under such a scenario, Sadc did not have to do much: It only needed to acknowledge that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe, a crisis solely caused by its "mis-governors". That would have re-edited Dar. That would have also provided a pretext for intervention at a higher level, including the UN, itself the dignified plate Britain badly needs to legitimise an armed pursuit and enforcement of its interests in Zimbabwe. Needless to say all this crumbled and nothing dramatic happened, both inside and outside Zimbabwe.

Pawning aid pound for politics

Faced with a consuming implosion of the supposedly delivering scenario, the British and Americans grew even more desperate, and therefore more open and unguarded in their political subterfuges.

They have been lobbying some governments within Sadc, hoping to turn their aid pound into a pawn for foreign policy support. They won two or three states, and staked it all on these leaders’ readiness to tackle Zimbabwe and its President.

Beyond an embarrassing blip and blunder, nothing much happened. The British did much more. They generously mobilised their puppet NGOs here, all under the rubric of the so-called "social forum", to generate a din that would drown and hopefully move heads at the Summit.

There was an attempt to bus "demos" from Zimbabwe, and from two other neighbouring countries, so these would mount demonstrations in Lusaka. Imperialism had mobilised its askaris, many of them literate but not conscious enough to be anything nationally helpful.

These schooled lumpens, many affiliated to the NCA and external chapters of Crisis, never made it to the venue, leaving their hapless linkman already in Lusaka, quite angry and frustrated. Of course the limping MDC was deployed by both the British and Americans, led by Khupe, to perform so dismally that one within their ranks – Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshure, sorry, -weshuro - ended up breaking ranks. He traded his tattered MDC cap for a more dignified one as an academic on regional integration.

Simply put, Khupe was an unremitting disaster on Zambia’s FM stations, ungainly confirming that her party brought sanctions on Zimbabwe. It was not a helpful message to a politically mature society that Zambia is.

From carnival to the carnal

The NGO rubble which had flown ahead, was characteristically in sixes and sevens, redirecting its frustrated political ardour into open and unmitigated debauchery: A sure sign that the billed Lusaka opposition carnival had degenerated to bare carnality.

As always, their pockets are always sound for such base pursuits. They lived in mortal fear of a security crackdown that none in Lusaka had heart or reason for. Clear juvenile politics, much of it quixotic to win girlish hearts.

Changing tack

In the world of high politics, the British deployed their most hardened propagandists, including the usually suave Tony Hawkins. A "Zimbabwe-unmasked" media psyche had to be evoked. Not quite new; not quite news.

The real news was a piece in the British Guardian by one Simon Tisdall, titled "Mbeki’s backing for Mugabe may make west change tack". The article vicariously expressed British consternation at Mbeki’s liberation rhetoric on Zimbabwe, particularly his identifying Britain as "a principal protagonist in the Zimbabwean issue.

The writer then brings in the American angle by way of a right wing James Kirchick of the New Republican magazine who attacks Mbeki for playing "heir" to "anti-imperialist intellectual tradition heroically opposed to the western democracies".

The gist of the article is to warn that the just-ended Sadc Summit could deepen the West’s misgivings about a radical South Africa’s role in safeguarding "wider US and western interests", presumably in Southern Africa, forcing a disenchanted West to adopt a military strategy against Harare. "A detachment of US marines could do the job on its lunch break", adds Boston Globe columnist, Jeff Jacoby, seemingly well beyond any learning from the shock and awe America is getting from post-Saddam Iraq.

At another level, Michael Evans and Fred Bridgland (remember apartheid South Africa in Angola?) were busy recycling the British military evacuation plan story for 22 000 Britons who are said to be in Zimbabwe. It is a weary story, but one indexical to British propaganda designs.

Paradox of impoverishing growth

Lusaka has consolidated Dar es Salaam. Lusaka has thoroughly upset the British and Americans, forcing both into a Southern African foreign policy posture sure to upset and alienate Southern Africa, in the process reinforcing the already strong pro-Zimbabwe sentiment which is showing no sign of abating.

And if any had any doubts, the wild cheers that President Mugabe drew in Zambia, rammed the message home, much to their utter disbelief and disappointment. It is clear the Mugabe sentiment is strong as ever, making him intractable. And of course these envoys think Mugabe is a talisman. He does not need to be. The material circumstances for deep resonance to Mugabe’s politics are both abundant and ubiquitous in Southern Africa.

After all, is it not a fact that the principal paradox of Southern Africa lies in a regional economy which makes its people poorer and poorer each time it registers bigger and bigger growth?

What politics does the West expect in a mining economy which attracts well over US$3bn in new investments but rewarding its citizens a mere 0.006% by way of royalties? In such a despicable environment, would a Mugabe who preaches indigenisation in the mining sector, be a reviled loner, a leper? When back is futuristic And that is the essence of Mugabe-ism in regional politics: politics validated by deepening poverty. Increasingly, the West is waking up to the fact that the politics they blamed for dragging Zimbabwe back to the stone age, are in fact a compelling peep into the future politics of Southern Africa.

In the so-called Zimbabwe crisis is read the future politics of a new Southern Africa in which the West has no place. Which is what makes the Guardian reporter dead right; which is what makes British and American wiles here quite deadly.

Cheering Lisbon

But one more point. Sadc has re-stoked the African sentiment ahead of Portugal, itself the setting for the EU-Africa Summit. And it’s not accidental that the western envoys who expressed shock at Mugabe’s popularity are from Lisbon. They know what they will be up against should they ever buckle to British fears of the potential hazard of a Brown accidental hand-shake with the "coarse" Mugabe in a dimly lit Lisbon corner.

And Lusaka is the tonic which shall get Lisbon to get EU to come to terms with their illegal sanctions against Harare, in the process heading the call of Dar. Something in me tells me we are close - very close – to a resolution. Something gotta give in, and looking at the sinewy muscles that prop the Great Zimbabwe, I have not the slightest doubt what shall!

Gobbling Zanu (PF)’s reformersIs anyone getting what is reaching my ears? Strange reconfiguration of national politics is taking place, seemingly without a din. I hear Tsvangirai – which means the British – is extracting his pound of flesh. Apart from tackling Mutambara - which is not quite the same thing as tackling Welshman Ncube and his trenchantly loyal urban Ndebele vote – Tsvangirai has turned on the so-called Zanu (PF) reformers he has been courting for a broad and miscegenated anti-Mugabe front.

The so-called Zanu (PF) reformers were supposed to cause a rapture from within – relying both on political dissidence and a military putsch. The former would have enabled a palace coup; the later a real one. The former would have delivered Zanu (PF) structures to a re-made MDC; the latter would have pacified and cowed a post-Mugabe Zimbabwe. Neither happened and Tsvangirai, speaking the frustration of the British and the always skeptical Americans, is now accusing these reformers of having neither the nerve nor the mob to make change happen.

He is charging they wield no power enough to influence both the military and the structures of Zanu (PF). If anything, he further charges, they are actually struggling to retain influence in their little constituencies, let alone wielding the muscle to decisively project their influence at national level.

Then, the bombshell. Tsvangirai is telling them that if they want anything to do with his faction, they must join it as humble individuals who hold nothing for the table. This side of intrigue which Mukonoweshuro was leading, is set to founder, and with it, his own political career. Biti should be happy, very happy I tell you! Now, Tsvangirai is expecting big egos to swallow humble pie. Ane chokwadi? Great perturbations. Watch this column. Icho!

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