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Zimbabwe: Latest media hype well timed, calculated
Posted: Friday, September 21, 2007

By Simon Khaya Moyo
September 21, 2007

AS we draw closer to the opening of the 62nd Regular Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, we are again observing intense media focus to draw international attention on Zimbabwe.

Coincidentally, anti-Government elements and their allies in the non-governmental and trade union movement with ties to certain opposition political formations are lining up activities at home and abroad to play their respectively assigned roles in a circus that repeats itself before and during international conferences.

In the run-up to a number of recent international conferences, desperate and misguided anti-Zimbabwean activists have predictably descended on the venues of these conferences in order to stir discord. These include the Sadc Heads of State and Government Summit held in Maseru in August 2006, the Sadc Extraordinary Summit held in March 2007 in Dar-es-Salaam, the Pan African Parliament Session held in Johannesburg in May 2007, the African Union Summit held in July 2007 in Accra, Ghana, and the 27th Sadc Summit held in Lusaka last month.

The same faces that showed up in Maseru showed up in Dar-es-Salaam, Accra and recently in Lusaka. This is done at the behest of governments in well-known capitals outside Africa. And soon after making the now familiar noises, the hype fizzles out only to re-emerge at a future conference: it is patently a pattern designed and deliberately contrived to cause maximum damage to the image of Zimbabwe and its leaders.

At the international conferences so far held this year, the heavy presence of officials from opposition political factions and a host of like-minded NGOs was an embarrassing and unwelcome detraction. The fact is that Sadc and the AU are one in their total rejection of unpatriotic sell-outs.

This is not to suggest that there is anything wrong with political opposition in Zimbabwe as elsewhere. What we find abhorrent and objectionable is when such opposition is firmly rooted in, directed by and funded from Western capitals to peddle external agendas. Indeed, it is not only normal, but welcome to have healthy contradictions and well-meaning opposition in society: a homogenous and monolithic society is neither feasible nor desirable.

This well-orchestrated campaign to demonise Zimbabwe and its leadership is inspired by the Western agenda of regime change; it is directly from the very top political echelons in London, Washington, Canberra etc, and it is funded by taxpayers in those countries.

This discernible pattern in which sections of the political opposition and the media seek to contrive non-existent scenarios is deplorable as it is utterly distasteful, and must be condemned by all pan-Africanists and those beyond our borders who share with us the common vision of a progressive and peaceful co-existence of sovereign nations, big and small.

While our detractors are busy plotting our long-predicted but ever-receding demise, the Government and people of Zimbabwe remain focused and are romping in the home stretch of our victorious march against Western imperialist machinations. As a responsible nation, our people, and not outsiders, will remain the active agents of change within their own political frontiers.

We are the authors and masters of our own destiny, and, therefore, need to secure our common future through a purposive alliance of patriots from all walks of life across the broad spectrum of our society. In this regard, we applaud and support the mediation efforts of His Excellency, President Thabo Mbeki. There is no turning back whatsoever.

What is abundantly clear is that a lasting solution to Zimbabwe's challenges does not lie in Canberra, or in the media for that matter, but is domiciled within our political frontiers and among our people. There has been remarkable progress in the talks being mediated by President Mbeki.

On September 18, 2007, the Parliament of Zimbabwe reached agreement by consensus on Constitutional Amendment Number 18 Bill which seeks, inter alia, to harmonise presidential and parliamentary elections with effect from next year.

Even in the face of this bipartisanship and consensus among the Zimbabwean people, mainstream South African and Western media (both print and electronic) are awash with misleading news bulletins that suggest that the Amendment seeks to give His Excellency President Robert Mugabe powers to appoint his successor.

The Amendment provides that in the event of the President being unable to continue in office for whatever reason and before his/her elective term comes to an end, Parliament will sit as an Electoral College and elect the successor.

The patronising and paternalistic stance of the Western media smacks of second guessing the people of Zimbabwe and casting aspersions on the dignity and integrity of our institutions and elected leadership.

Surely if the people of Zimbabwe, through their elected representatives, make a sovereign decision to amend their Constitution as they see fit, who can question their action? This is totally disgraceful.

The latest media hype is well timed and calculated to coincide with the opening of the 62nd regular session of the United Nations General Assembly next week. Some unsubstantiated reports now allege an "alarming" exodus of Zimbabweans to neighbouring countries.

Over recent months the media have elevated fiction, rumour and cheap gossip to the level of fact regarding the number of Zimbabwean citizens in neighbouring countries.

Earlier this month, a study conducted by the Forced Migration Studies Programme and Musina Legal Aid concluded that the media have grossly exaggerated the number of people migrating from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

Recent reports of another so-called "human tsunami" overwhelming Mozambique are calculated to raise tension with our neighbour, and draw unwarranted international attention and focus towards Zimbabwe just before the opening of the General Assembly.

Similar false reports about an influx of Zimbabweans into Zambia were orchestrated just before the Sadc Summit held in Lusaka last August, only to evaporate soon after the summit.

These have become familiar noises that we expect before every international conference. We expect these noises to get louder in the week ahead as the army of paid anti-Zimbabwe activists troop into New York at the bidding of their masters, comfortably ensconced in London. The mischievous report on Zimbabwe released this week in Brussels by the so-called International Crisis Group (ICG) is another case in point. We must remain vigilant.

Finally, I wish to appeal to our misguided sisters and brothers, and to their Western handlers, to rise from their deep slumber, and realise that Zimbabwe is not for sale. While we will never apologise to these Western handlers for the historic land reform we embarked on in the year 2000, we will not disown those of our people who have been hoodwinked to sell their birthright.

We have a responsibility to all our people irrespective of race, creed or political affiliation.

In unity we shall triumph.

Simon Khaya Moyo is Zimbabwe's High Commissioner to South Africa.

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