Zimbabwe's undemocratic 'democrats'
Posted: Friday, October 10, 2008
By Reason Wafawarova
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October 10, 2008
THE Western-sponsored political running by Zimbabwe's opposition is in many ways a replay of Washington's mindless and reckless games that started soon after the US declared the American century just after the Second World War.
There is nothing new in the sponsorship of client political parties and the regime change doctrine was actually overplayed in Latin America during the peak of the Cold War.
There is nothing new in the role of sanctions as a form of pressure to coerce compliant political behaviour and as a tool to force the public into submission and to create conditions that may lead to an uprising.
This writer will revisit Nicaragua in the 1980s and draw the attention of the readers to some glaring similarities between what was happening then and what we have seen happen in Zimbabwe in this first decade of the 21st century.
Nicaragua held an election in November 1984 and the United States clarified their subversive aims towards Nicaragua by an outstandingly hysterical reaction to this election.
It was a reaction not very different from what we saw in the run-up to Zimbabwe's March 29 harmonised elections and the subsequent June 27 presidential run-off.
The US carried out a classical well-crafted propaganda coup over the Nicaraguan election by deflecting attention from the voting itself through regular diatribes that were seriously reported as news in all Western media.
Equally, the Zimbabwean election was tactfully deprived of objective coverage as the Western media went into overdrive to paint the picture of an election contested by a ruthless military junta on behalf of the ruling Zanu-PF (or vice versa) and against a well-meaning and most civilised team of democrats in the opposition MDC, particularly the faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
In the run-up to the June presidential election run-off, the Western media and the South African media raved hysterical about a Chinese ship carrying military supplies destined for Zimbabwe in much the same way the US national Press went hysterical about a concocted story over Russian MIGs in Nicaragua, also in the run-up to the 1984 election.
The Chinese ship story was abandoned after it had served its function of eliminating potential allies to the Zimbabwe Government, especially those from Sadc. The Nicaragua MIG story was similarly abandoned quickly as soon as Washington realised that it had served its purpose of eliminating honest coverage of the election.
In fact, the concocted story elicited some highly emotional outrage by some dovish senators in the US, well exemplified by Massachusetts Democrat Paul Tsongas, who warned that the US would have to bomb Nicaragua to eliminate the MIGs because "they are also capable against the United States". It is obviously ludicrous for any sane person to ever imagine that Nicaragua would even for once consider the possibility of attacking the United States, but such is the mentality of US elites.
Well, the Chinese ship story ended up with suggestions for military intervention in the UK House of Lords and revelations that Tony Blair had long mooted the idea of military engagement over Zimbabwe. This time the ludicrous reasoning was that Zimbabweans needed protection from their own "monstrous government" and that Britain was too good to stand aside and watch the people of Zimbabwe suffer. There is nothing sweeter than rhetoric in politics.
The US Latin American Studies Association carried a study of the Nicaraguan election and its largely objective report was virtually ignored by the national Press in the US, as were the elections themselves.
The report rejected that Arturo Cruz, the official "democrat" according to Washington, was excluded from the elections. Rather, his business backed political grouping made an ill-advised decision to exclude themselves from the election despite the fair playing field, the report said.
The report submitted the "observers' doubts" that Cruz's group had a broad following in Nicaragua.
This LASA report resonates well with the view that Tsvangirai made an ill-advised decision to exclude himself from the presidential election run-off, just five days before voting day. He was not excluded from the process by anyone but himself, of course under instruction issued at a golf course.
The report noted that Cruz's agenda was "more attuned to the policy debate in Washington than to the hardships of life in Nicaragua". There is this perpetual argument that the MDC-T agenda is more attuned to policy debates in the UK House of Lords and to Washington's foreign policy than it is to the hardships of life in Zimbabwe — and the argument makes perfect sense when one considers the elusiveness of the MDC-T position whenever Africa comes in the open condemning the illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe.
Cruz's call for talks with the US-sponsored Contras was reported as failing to "strike a popular chord in Managua". Even Cruz's own sister, Lilian, opposed her brother's treacherous call by penning an open letter to two pro-government newspapers to remind her brother that her son, Sandinista army officer David Baez, had been slain battling the Contras.
Similarly, the July call by Zimbabwe's opposition for more sanctions against their own country through the UN Security Council was an embarrassment that was widely condemned by the African Union minus Burkina Faso and by Sadc minus Botswana.
China and Russia stood in defence of international law and the United Nations Charter by blocking the ruinous move by the West to effect a fatal punishment on the people of Zimbabwe for their "disappointing" failure to engage in an uprising against their own Government.
The LASA report made a very revealing observation saying: "We know of no election in Latin America or elsewhere, in which groups advocating the violent overthrow of an incumbent government have themselves been incorporated into the electoral process; particularly when these groups have been openly supported by a foreign power."
Well, in Zimbabwe we have now known of at least five such elections in just eight years. Not only that, the groups advocating the violent overthrow of the incumbent government have actually been offered an agreement that seeks to incorporate them in an inclusive government. Then we have the amazing reality that one of the groups has the temerity to declare the offer to be not good enough.
Surely, nothing of this sort would be tolerated for an instant in the US and in the West in general.
The LASA report noted that the Nicaragua elections were indeed "manipulated", but by the Reagan administration, which did everything in its power to block and discredit them, including the inducement of Cruz and others to abstain.
Wasn't Zimbabwe's March election manipulated through politicised food aid that was given campaign-style by Western-sponsored NGOs? We have heard such reports and surely we cannot just conveniently ignore them as Zanu-PF propaganda, not when the ban on such food distribution actually resulted in Tsvangirai chickening out of the subsequent run-off.
Were there no attempts to block and discredit the presidential run-off and did we not see the West inducing Tsvangirai to boycott? It is all part of the same old strategy and for sure we are going to see more of history repeating itself.
Anyone who will demand evidence for these assertions has no idea what four-hour golf sessions between a US-backed opposition leader and a US ambassador mean and this writer will excuse them.
Cruz was later busted as being on the CIA payroll and he defended himself saying he had only "received assistance for a short period from an institution that was dedicated to support the struggle for liberty".
Pressed to name the institution, Cruz went mute while his mate, Alfonso Robelo, admitted that Cruz "had been given money in the past by the Central Intelligence Agency to carry out what the (CIA) official called 'political work'."
It is this writer's hope that someone is not going to be busted too soon. If this so-called deal either fails or leaves out some over-ambitious novice out there, then we may in reality have our own Alfonso Robelo telling it like it is.
After all, we saw a bit of that with the 2006 split of the MDC-T branch based in the UK, didn't we? Remember Job Sikhala going berserk about a "donated" couple of million US dollars the other year?
Christopher Hitchens commented on the democratic credentials of Arturo Cruz. He said: "He would not take part in an election that he felt to be insufficiently democratic, but he will take part in a war of sabotage and attrition that has no democratic pretences at all."
Have we not seen in Zimbabwe, someone refusing to take part in a "sham" election but showing religious commitment to the perpetuation of the illegal sanctions under the so-called "Tongai Tione" slogan? There is obviously no semblance of democracy in calling for sanctions against one's own country and it is not surprising that the advocates are too ashamed to stand openly and publicly withdraw their call.
Arturo Cruz and his colleagues were labelled "democrats" by US commentators not on the basis of any credible information about such commitment, but because their concept of democracy rejected the logic of the majority, which meant that Nicaragua's poor majority would have access to, and be the primary beneficiaries of their country's resources and its public programmes.
This stance, much similar to the position of the Zimbabwe opposition in relation to the popular land reclamation policy of 2000, is what suffices to confer democratic credentials by Washington and London. It is the crowning of the undemocratic democrats.
The Managua correspondent for the London Guardian, Tony Jenkins, summed up what was happening in Nicaragua by saying: "The political opposition in Nicaragua has never really committed itself to trying to win power by democratic means."
Challenged to respond to this assertion, one of the leaders of the opposition Democratic Co-ordinating Committee, a group proudly named "democratic" by Washington, which abstained from the elections, explained this posture.
He said: "It is true that we have never really tried to build up a big membership or tried to show our strength by organising regular demonstrations. Perhaps it is a mistake, but we prefer to get European and Latin American governments to put pressure on the Sandinistas."
Do we know who is playing around with the idea of running away from the negotiating table in the hope of getting European and African governments to put pressure on Zanu-PF?
While some of the reasons advanced by the MDC-T for "boycotting" the run-off might have received a degree of plausibility, there is a more fundamental reason for "the true democrats" to refuse to condemn sanctions and to rely on outsiders more than they do on political mobilisation.
We have learnt the lessons from the "democratic opposition" of Nicaragua, Miami-based Cubans, Honduras, Venezuela and our very own Zimbabwe.
In Nicaragua, Tony Jenkins noted that the opposition "never accepted the basic Sandinista precept of the revolution; that society must be reorganised to the benefit of the workers and the peasants".
Did the Zimbabwean opposition ever accept the basic precept of the Chimurenga revolution and did they ever accept that Zimbabwean society must be reorganised in terms of the distribution of land for the benefit of the landless masses?
In the absence of such acceptances the only route is to bank on pressure from outside forces and this is the only logic behind ZDERA and the shameful support for the so-called targeted sanctions. The idea is to render conditions of life intolerable, forcing the Government to tougher measures, and reinforcing the true allies of the West by presenting them as the only "democratic hope" to end the people's suffering.
That idea has largely done its cycle in Zimbabwe although the opposition still runs a clear risk of overplaying its hand posturing as a party with a popular appeal among the masses.
After all, they just agreed and accepted that the ruling Zanu-PF commanded the most popular vote in March 2008, and accordingly conceded the majority Cabinet posts in the proposed inclusive government to the ruling party.
These comparisons have been made in light of the influences that are at play in the political process in Zimbabwe and this writer's position is that whatever negotiations might still be pending between the three political parties involved; such negotiations must be in the context of Zimbabwe's national interest and must be driven by a desire to build Zimbabwe and not to build on its ruins.
There must be no room for foreign influence in the running of Zimbabwe's affairs and any deviation from this commitment cannot be rewarded or honoured. Indeed, we all seek a solution to the biting problems bedevilling the country but none of us has a right to look for slavery and servitude.
We owe it to posterity to build a solid future for Zimbabwe and any weakness now will be a crack to be mended for many years to come.
Zimbabweans we are always one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or reason@rwafawarova. com or visit www.rwafawarova.com
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