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Africa will never abandon Zimbabwe
Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2008

By Dr Obediah Mazombwe
July 16, 2008

THE Western governments must stop being dismissive of African sentiment. It was most rude, undiplomatic, and even uncouth, for the French-led EU to announce, in the face of an AU-considered and published decision to conduct unity talks between rival Zimbabwean political parties, that the EU would only recognise a Mr Morgan Tsvangirai-led Zimbabwe government.

We fervently hope that Mr Tsvangirai, in his approach to the on-going talks, will not be unduly influenced by this irresponsible declaration by the French government and the EU. Neither the USA nor the EU has the moral or legal authority to declare who should rule a sovereign country like Zimbabwe.

This is a country that attained its independence and sovereignty through an armed struggle that the greater part of the US and EU establishments did not support, in fact, in some way undermined.

The unity talks under way in South Africa must proceed without any undue delay or hindrance, and without any preconditions. Both negotiating parties should realise that the Zimbabwean masses are suffering intensively under the current conditions. Indeed it is incumbent upon the negotiating parties to reach an agreement within the following week and establish a ruling authority in Zimbabwe to take immediate responsibility for the welfare of the suffering Zimbabweans.

The MDC leader in particular needs to start behaving like a true national leader and take full responsibility for his decisions rather than allow himself to be prompted by external forces, who do not have the interest of the Zimbabwean people at heart.

Zimbabwe and Africa are eagerly awaiting a positive outcome from these negotiations, and whilst Western governments can observe the process, they have no business interfering with and trying to direct the process.

In searching for future global peace and security, one does not want to endlessly refer to past ills, but Anglo-American policymakers need to be reminded that the cut inflicted by 500 years of slavery and colonialism was a most heinous crime. It was so deep and so close to the jugular that Africans are easily reminded of it. They will forgive but not forget.

Western, particularly American, policymakers need also to be reminded that African nationalism is well entrenched on the continent. It is very deep rooted in countries like Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

It cannot be wiped away through a wild mixture of cajoling, persuasion, threats and bribery. This was demonstrated by the steadfast position adopted by the likes of President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, and its foreign minister, Mrs Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma, over the issue of Zimbabwe.

It is very clear that in spite of their own weaknesses, especially those pertaining to corruption and economic mismanagement, the majority of African leaders are very clear about their quest for a pan-Africanist destiny for Africa. America and Europe need to respect this.

More serious for the rich Western nations to note is the fact that African leaders are now very aware that the rich West are not yet serious about assisting Africa resolve her problems with abject poverty and the associated suffering of its people. They are also aware, thanks to the constant reminders by the West's behaviour, that most of Africa's problems are still attributable to the colonial legacy.

Worse still, African leaders know that current Western policies of unfair trade and economic relations, the instigation of conflict and sale of arms to the continent, are all major causal and sustaining factors of Africa's woes.

It is in this context that Africa will not abandon Zimbabwe and see President Mugabe as an African hero. It surely could not have escaped the notice of Western analysts that in spite of the massive media onslaught on President Mugabe, not a single African head of state has actually condemned the Zimbabwean Government and President Mugabe as such.

Only the rogue Prime Minister of Kenya, Raila Odinga, in clear contrast to the stance adopted by that country's deputy president and foreign minister, has directly attacked President Mugabe and called for his expulsion from Sadc and the AU. In his case it might only be a matter of time before the West drags him to The Hague for genocide related to the killing of thousands of Kenyans in the just ended Kenyan elections. The West has not hesitated to do so with Charles Taylor of Liberia, Pierre Bemba of the DRC, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, who they first supported when it was politically expedient but discarded when they were no longer useful for the West's own purposes.

The only other country that has formally condemned Zimbabwe is Botswana. That country has decided, in spite of its massive diamond wealth, to become America's client state in the region. This should perhaps be "understandable" given that its current head of state is the son of a British knight, Sir Seretse Khama. Unless it changes direction, that country could yet become an anomaly and anachronism on the African political landscape.

However, in differing with the rich countries over Zimbabwe, African nationalist leaders have not been confrontational. Both South Africa's Mbeki and Tanzania's Kikwete have literally said to the West: "We agree with you on a lot of issues, including the fact that there are critical problems in Zimbabwe, but we differ with you on the way forward. We think our way is better and we will, with respect, stick to that, irrespective of your stance, sirs".

The African nationalist leaders have maintained this composed mature African stance even in the face of provocative and insulting behaviour on the part of the West.

That way the African nationalists have won this round of their diplomatic war with the West and have enlisted world opinion to their side.

The re-emerging Russian power has on its part been firm but accommodating in its dealings with the leading global power that America has become. In the case of Zimbabwe, the Russians have clearly and politely explained their reasons for vetoing the draft US resolution on Zimbabwe.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, in addressing their approach to dealing with other countries, who he refers to as "partners", recently wrote:

"There is no reason to conceal or dramatise the existing contradictions with our partners. We have a great deal to do together in the future. This includes co-operation with the UN and the G8, Russia-EU partnership, and the Nato-Russia council, settlement of crises and bilateral agendas."

The Western establishments need to note the difference between their approach to global issues and that adopted by the African nationalists and Russia.

Iran last week went ahead and tested its war missiles even as America protested and its Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned that America would not hesitate to deploy its military might to subdue the world to its will and that of its allies.

The Americans should exercise their power more responsibly. Should other races and peoples of the world decide that a US-dominated globe is not fit for humanity, no one but no one, is going to be safe.

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