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Zimbabwe: Brown's Tyranny of Words on Zim
Posted: Tuesday, April 15, 2008

By Stephen T. Maimbodei
April 15, 2008
The Herald (Harare)


The blurb in Stuart Chase's 1938 book, "The tyranny of words" reads: "This eminently useful analysis of language continues to exert a forceful influence, directing our choice and employment of words toward accurate, complete, and readily understood communication."

This writer wondered over the implication of this statement after reading what could be considered one of the most bigoted statements made by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the BBC, regarding what he conveniently called "the Zimbabwe crisis".

For it is a statement that made the British leader forget about diplomatic etiquette as he used all the epithets in the English language to show his disregard not only of President Mugabe's leadership, but also the entire Zimbabwean population. It also displayed the arrogance we have witnessed from our former colonial master since 1890.

As usual, the British premier spoke from that high moral pedestal where they see, hear nor smell no evil about themselves, for they are always "right", especially when it comes to Zimbabwe.

The world watched and listened in amazement when Brown, on the eve of the so-called Sadc Extraordinary Summit (on Zimbabwe), was allegedly quoted by the BBC as having "warned the Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe that he was 'appalled' at the latest developments in Zimbabwe".

Brown is also alleged to have said, "the world was running out of patience in President Mugabe with results still not released almost two weeks after the election".

In a statement that showed total disregard for Zimbabwe's electoral laws as enshrined in the Constitution, Brown was not only "amazed", but he could not understand why (the Zimbabwean Government) was taking so long to announce the result of the presidential election.

And, speaking on behalf of "Zimbabweans", he said that they (the people) had "demonstrated their commitment to democracy", (while) we and the leaders of the region strongly shared their commitment".

Remarked Brown, "I am appalled by the signs that the regime is once again resorting to intimidation and violence".

He added: "We will be vigilant. The international community will remain careful to do nothing to undermine efforts to secure an outcome that reflects the democratic will of the people of Zimbabwe. But the international community's patience with the regime is wearing thin."

The following excerpts from Brown's statement are worthy paying special attention to, for in these words, the British prime minister employed words that do not only reveal his attitude towards Zimbabwe, but they were words meant to directly and indirectly influence the outcome of the summit.

"The world was running out of patience in President Mugabe

"We and the leaders of the region strongly shared their commitment

"I am appalled.

"We will be vigilant

"The international community will remain careful to do nothing to undermine efforts to secure an outcome that reflects the democratic will of the people of Zimbabwe.

"But the international community's patience with the regime is wearing thin."

These were very strong words from someone who knows fully well that he is abdicating his responsibility, and wants to hoodwink the world that when he speaks with the likes of South African and Ugandan presidents Thabo Mbeki and Yoweri Museveni, he is not only playing his part, but that he has the welfare of the Zimbabwean people at heart.

For didn't the media report last weekend that Brown actually held private talks with President Mbeki, spending more than two hours trying to persuade President Mbeki to use his influence to end the Zimbabwe "crisis".

The questions that beg an answer, who are the "we" being referred to by Brown? Is Brown not talking about the major British corporations in Zimbabwe that have put this country under a state of attempted siege?

Conveniently they have managed to make some sections of the Zimbabwean population believe that the food security situation the country has been facing for the past few years is due to mismanagement by Government of the land reform programme.

We have also been blinded to the fact that British big business interests that own the means of production in this country, have actually used food as a major political weapon in their quest to recolonise Zimbabwe through the illegal regime change agenda?

Why does the British government believe it can use the likes of presidents Mbeki and Museveni, to do their dirty work in Zimbabwe when we all know that the central issue in the equation is land?

Why does Brown also not come clean on what exactly he wishes African presidents to do on his behalf, since he has sworn that he will never sit in the same room with President Mugabe?

Is Brown also not aware that their facilitation role can only go up to a certain point, but after that whether Britain likes it or not, it has to talk to the Government of Zimbabwe?

Brown's statements should also not just be looked at as coming from a powerful member of the Western world which claims that they want to see due process of an electoral system prevail, but they are coming from the leader of a country that once colonised Zimbabwe.

They are also coming from the leader of a political party (New Labour), who upon assuming office in 1997 blatantly and unashamedly told the Government that they were not shackled to their history, and they were going to conduct their business with former colonies in a different manner.

They also told the Government that they would not be bound by agreements made by prior British governments, which would have seen a "smooth" resolution of the land issue (where all the property rights issues are tied therein).

The Blair government suddenly had selective amnesia and conveniently made Zimbabwe's liberation struggle and fight to reclaim its stolen land a non-issue and a non-event.

This writer thinks that it is high time that we earnestly revisit the contents and implications of the Claire Short letter of November 5 1997 to the Government of Zimbabwe, which the Government has made much reference to several times.

NewAfrican magazine in their May 2007 issue described the Claire Short letter as "one bad letter with long-lasting consequences".

They also wrote: "Britain's then secretary of state for international development, Claire Short, wrote what has become one of the most defining landmarks in Zimbabwe's recent history --- her letter to Zimbabwe's then Minister of Agriculture and Land, Kumbirai Kangai, repudiating Britain's colonial responsibility for land reform in Zimbabwe."

This letter is now one of the most crucial historical documents in post-independent Zimbabwe. For it was this letter, written by a New Labour government, which was sprucing up its image after several electoral defeats at the hands of the Conservatives which set the tone of where Zimbabwe is right now.

It was the implication of Claire Short's letter, which made the Zimbabwean Government declare in no uncertain terms that "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again".

It was also Claire Short's letter, which made the Government declare that the asset that is called land is a major economic resource and that Zimbabwe's economy is locked in a resource called land.

When the message did not seem to sink after several illegal regime change attempts were made through the stooges they have been propping up, it is clear that Claire Short's letter had a bearing when President Mugabe and Zanu-PF chose to fight the March 29 poll under the banner, "Defending our land and sovereignty".

It was also against the backdrop of this letter that the Government had to announce to the international community that as a way of consolidating its liberation struggle gains through land reform, it would embark on a policy of "building prosperity through (black) empowerment".

Brown's weekend utterances are therefore not surprising for he openly and obdurately told the world after getting into power last year that he was spoiling for a fight with President Mugabe, a fight that the Lancaster House Constitution had ended in 1979.

The world remembers Brown's utterances when he declared against all common sense that he would not sit in the same room with President Mugabe, a statement that set into additional motion a diplomatic hocus pocus of unprecedented proportions.

However, reading between the lines it was and is still very clear that these ploys employed by the British are a way of buying time, hoping against hope that they will wish away the land reform programme.

However, while Brown was busy worrying about Zimbabwean elections, he forgets that he is in a leadership position that was not decided by the will of the British populace through the ballot box.

For his was a premiership that was decided through a constitutional arrangement, and the so-called international community, Zimbabwe included never questioned this, for Britain's sovereignty is not Zimbabwe's business.

In addition when there was every indication that Brown's leadership should be tested through the ballot box, he chickened out, and postponed the elections.

It is therefore Claire Short's letter, initially represented by Blair, and now Brown which is revealing the deep-seated racist tendencies in former colonialist governments, systems which show their arrogance and patronising attitude towards former colonies, who are forever supposed to be told how to organise their affairs.

When Brown refused to listen to the voices of reason to attend the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon last year, the so-called international community was silent.

However, they did not realise that by so doing, Britain was diverting world attention regarding its unfinished business, not only in Zimbabwe but in all former colonies.

The West has been so engrossed in its quest to see President Mugabe leave office at all costs, that they actually forget that unless London and Harare resolve the land issue, they can bring in one puppet government after another, but land will forever remain an issue that needs to be decisively resolved.

It is also common knowledge that land is still an issue in the United States between the settlers and the native Americans.

It is also an unfinished business in Australia between the British and the Aborigines.

It is an issue, whether talked about or not in places like South America, and the entire African region. It is also an issue between the English monarchy and the Scottish in the United Kingdom.

The Judaeo-Christian world taught us that land was the first major asset that the Lord gave to the people of Israel: "And the Lord said to Abraham after Lot had parted from him, 'Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north, south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever ... Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you'." (Genesis 13: 14-17).

This part of the international community would also like to know what has happened to Brown's request to President Museveni at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Kampala last December?

Notwithstanding, how long does the British government think this mediation by second and third parties should take before they can take the bull by the horns and come to the negotiating table to talk to the Government of Zimbabwe in order to resolve this impasse?

How many emissaries will the British government send before they realise that all they need to do is to sit down with the Government of Zimbabwe to resolve the outstanding issue: Land?

We also wonder why this second and third party tactic is being used. By asking leaders of former colonies where the land issue also has to be resolved, one way or the other, isn't the British government not only playing a divide and rule game, but also trying to make these leaders negate a problem that they should be resolving right now?

An analysis of Brown's weekend comments shows very clearly who the instigators and masterminds of the Lusaka Summit and why.

The British government and their Western allies had expected a quick fix result after the March 29 poll, and they could not contain themselves as we see Brown using the most undiplomatic language to show their impatience.

The zeal and anger with which he descended on the Zimbabwean Government makes us wonder whether the West is only too happy to see people in Africa forever embroiled in conflicts, fighting and hacking each other to death, and being eventual recipients of humanitarian aid.

For how else does one explain Brown's headmaster-like attitude towards the Zimbabwean leader when he did not do the same in Kenya? Four months down the line, the Kenyan crisis is still to be resolved.

And, aren't skewed property rights created by the British as the former colonial master one of the major sources of the Kenyan conflict?

Does one need to have a super IQ to realise that Zimbabwe's detractors are eating humble pie because of the prevailing peace and tranquillity, before, during and after the March 29 poll?

And finally, Brown's reactions revealed one important element: how issues and agendas are framed, and who calls the shots.

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