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Funding illegal regime change in Zimbabwe at expense of Aborigines
Posted: Friday, September 7, 2007

By Peter Mavunga
September 07, 2007

NOW we have Australian Prime Minister John Howard appointing himself leader of the anti-Zimbabwe campaign. He funds the opposition while shouting loudest against Zimbabwe's democratically elected President – all in his bid to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe.

MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai is the beneficiary of Howard's hospitality.

He recently traipsed to Australia where he addressed the Institute of International Affairs and was in fulsome praise of that country's foreign minister, Alexander Downer.

"Australia, I think has moved far ahead of other countries in ensuring that at least pressure is applied through multilateral interventions than any other country so far," Tsvangirai gushed in Melbourne.

"So in my communication to him," he continued, "I am going to congratulate Australia . . . there are many measures that have been taken by Australia that I admire and that I think are in the right path."

Tsvangirai went on to say – and this probably is the main reason for his visit – that he would like financial help in the form of a package for President Mugabe.

He wants help from Australia and the "international community" to build this fund for the President together with a guarantee that when their regime change task is accomplished, President Mugabe would not be prosecuted. Without this he claimed, President Mugabe would not go.

Tsvangirai also believes this is a reasonable request for him to put to his generous hosts. He does not seem to see how odd it is that he is virtually conspiring with a foreign government to effect illegal regime change in Zimbabwe.

True, Tsvangirai thinks, as he told his hosts, that President Mugabe had "rigged elections over the past six years to maintain power" but that is only his personal view.

There are many more people in Zimbabwe and throughout the region who know Zimbabwe does not rig elections.

Even if there was any truth in Tsvangirai's claim, only a political midget finds solutions in cavorting with foreigners in trying to achieve illegal political objectives.

Politicians of substance realise that changing a leader is a matter for Zimbabweans.

Politics is the art of persuading the people. Mr T, having failed to effect regime change by violent means, now wants to do so through bribery.

Mr T's naivety in trying to put together for the President a so-called package is mind-boggling for two reasons.

The first is the shallowness of the thinking.

The second is that Mr T either has a short memory or he does not read history. For this strategy of trying to bribe President Mugabe in the tortuous history of our country was tried before.

David Caute's book, "Under the Skin – the death of White Rhodesia" records the frustration of Andrew Young, former US Ambassador to the United Nations who was given by President Jimmy Carter the task of working with David Owen, British foreign secretary, to find a solution to the Rhodesia problem.

This is what David Caute says:

"Young described both Mugabe and Nkomo as gentle fellows, incapable of firing a gun, of killing. The trouble with Mugabe was that he was 'so damned incorruptible. He's inflexible.'

Mugabe rejected the compromises that Young and Owen regarded as necessary for a settlement; he wanted everything now.

'The problem is he was educated by Jesuits and when you get the combination of a Jesuit and a Marxist kind of ideology merging in one person, you've got a hell of a guy to deal with,' explained Young."

So if Mr T had asked Andrew Young his prospects of success in bribing the President with a "package" I think he would have been told not to be silly.

But I am sure Mr T would still have gone to Australia and I'll tell you why.

Mr T loves Australia so much. He and the country's leaders have a bond so strong that nothing, not even good; rational arguments will prise them apart.

In his speech to the Institute of International Affairs, Mr T said he would like to congratulate Australia for the many but unspecified measures that country had taken that he admired "and that I think are in the right path."

When Mr T does not specify these "measures", I can only speculate that he does not want to embarrass his hosts by thanking them publicly that they robbed his black brothers – the Aborigines – to fund his own regime change back home.

For what else would he thank them for and not say publicly if it was not for the fact that his hosts had treated him so well and given so generously at the expense of the indigenous Australians?

Such hypocrisy is exposed in John Pilger's book: "The New Rulers of the World" that makes compelling reading.

Pilger, one of the leading investigative journalists of our time, is a white Australian who is angry at the way his government abuses the human rights of the Aborigines.

As Professor Colin Tatz of the Genocide Studies Centre in Sydney put it: "If there was a race between democratic nations to see who could best address the violation of the human rights (of its own people) Australia would be coming stone motherless last."

That is because there seems to be no willingness on the part of the government and the majority in Australia to recognise the rights of the Aborigines.

After all, they are treated as though they were not human beings worth anything.

Pilger begins by looking at Australia's "showcase" in the 2000 Olympics when Australians, "the chosen ones" tried to portray their country as united and happy. He describes an incident in which the wife of an IOC delegate spotted a black man playing a game to entertain tourists.

"Who's that?" she enquired.

"An Aborigine," came the reply.

"Really? Where are the rest of them?"

"Er, in the outback."

The point is that there is a large Aboriginal presence unknown to the outside world. They live in ghettos like Redfern that Pilger says are "easily distinguished from the rest of the city by an oppressive police presence."

He describes how everyone came to cheer on the Olympic torch on its way to Sydney "except the black people who could not see it, having been blinded by trachoma, a disease as old as the Bible."

He goes on: "Australia is the only developed country on a World Health Organisation 'shame list' of countries where children are still blinded by trachoma. Impoverished Sri Lanka has beaten the disease, but not rich Australia."

The Aborigines were once hunter-gatherers in their traditional society. They had exceptional vision. Yet, says Pilger, "now watch the old people stumble, many of them wearing cheap dark glasses and wiping streaming eyes."

He says according to Professor Hugh Taylor, the Director of Eye Research in Sydney; up to 80 percent of Aboriginal children have potentially blinding trachoma because of untreated cataracts. "This is inexcusable," he is quoted as saying.

Pilger accompanied an Aboriginal Medical Services team making a spot check of children in and around Kununurra. A third were found to have trachoma.

At Doon Doon school, says Pilger, half the 56 children were diagnosed with the disease. "And what if these were white children?" he asked Dr Alice Tippetts who replied with a hand over her mouth:

"Like Australian apartheid, it is the unspeakable."

The disease is of course entirely preventable. It infects the eyelids and spreads in conditions of poverty, such as overcrowding and lack of clean running water and sewerage.

Pilger says the death rate of Aborigines in the state of Western Australia is higher than that in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a developing world country; Australia is rich.

He says Dr Kim Hames, the minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Water Resources, told him he had many Aboriginal friends and believed that the problem of trachoma would be "washed away if only Aboriginal children had swimming pools".

His government was planning to build twelve swimming pools but he did not know when this would happen. In fact, in trying to explain the reasons why this, along with the provision of proper clean water and better housing had still not been done, he appeared to apportion blame among victims themselves, apparently "for cultural habits that are millions of years old."

Pilger asked the minister why basic facilities like tarred roads, decent housing, recreational facilities --- things that were provided as standard in the white Australia --- were missing in Aboriginal areas.

He was told that it was because "white people feel that if you give a swimming pool to an Aboriginal community it is a luxury, and they are fine the way they are, living in the desert, like they've always done . . ."

Dr Richard Murray of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council, whose patients are all Aboriginal, studied the cause of their suffering.

"By most measures of indigenous health," he said, "Australia is last in the world. The Aboriginal people suffer from diseases we saw the end of in the Edinburgh slums in the last century, like rheumatic fever. Here, it is the highest ever reported in the world. And Diabetes, which affects up to a quarter of the adult Aboriginal population, causing kidney failure and a diabetic blindness."

The cause, said the doctor, was "poverty and dispossession. Look at housing. Ninety percent of overcrowded households in Australia are Aboriginal, and this from two percent of the population. What it comes fundamentally down to is a lack of political will to allocate resources."

It turns out the Federal government spends about 25 percent less per capita on the health of Aboriginal people compared to the rest of the population. Aborigines have a very high suicide rate due to lack of opportunities and hope. In a community where there are, say 50 men up to the age of 25, one or two will kill themselves, the doctor said.

He complained that these were families who lived with constant grief. "They do not want to go to bed at night for fear of waking up in the morning to find someone hanging. It is a heart-wrenching truth that the world knows little about," he said.

Pilger also describes his experience in Queensland where he followed behind Paul Gribble, a church minister, who had the coffin of a two-month-old Aboriginal baby girl in the boot of his car. She was to be buried that afternoon at St Matthew's church.

Paul explained to Pilger: "The first funeral I conducted, I was irritated by the people wailing, and I screamed out for them to shut up. And they did, and all the funerals thereafter were dead quiet. Then one day I stood up and apologised to them. I told them I was wrong, just as it is wrong that people continue to die as they do. Look at this list: babies, young men. And its wrong the authorities harass them as they do. I am the chaplain at Rockhampton Prison, where a third of the prisoners are Aboriginal – from two percent of the population."

Pilger told a Federal Minister, Philip Ruddock, that his fellow Federal Cabinet colleague, Dr Michael Wooldridge, the health minister, had admitted that in his area of health he had no evidence to suggest any improvement whatsoever in the last decade. The gap between white and Aboriginal health was actually widening.

Ruddock agreed that the Aboriginal health statistics were truly appalling.

"I understand you have been a member of Amnesty International for 20 years?" enquired Pilger, to which the minister agreed.

"How do you feel receiving amnesty reports on human rights violations with 'Australia' written across the top, such as: 'Aborigines are still dying in prison and police custody at levels that may amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment'?

The minister smiled and replied: "Why do they use the word 'may'?"

Pilger says such supercilious response is quite common in political Australia and confirms that during their interview, Ruddock made no attempt to challenge the facts of Aboriginal suffering yet offered nothing that suggested a political commitment to make amends.

When John Howard came to office in 1996, his first act was to cut $A400 million from the Aboriginal affairs budget which Pilger said he referred to contemptuously as the "Aboriginal industry political correctness gone too far."

This is Australia as seen in the eyes of another Australian. This is Australia under Howard, a country that is in the business of limiting the life chances of Aborigines and breaching their human rights. Yet the same Howard has the temerity to team up with Tsvangirai to "teach" Zimbabwe human rights!

This is John Howard, splashing big money on some Zimbabwean politicians in the name of human rights, money that he should be spending on the natives of his country.

Above all, this is probably what Mr T meant when he was congratulating his hosts for "the many measures" that had enabled his hosts to give him quite a tidy sum to add not only to his regime change fund but also to a package with which to bribe the "incorruptible Mugabe."

Trouble is this money does not benefit the people of Zimbabwe neither is it intended to benefit them.

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