By Reason Wafawarova
President ED Mnangagwa’s reconciliatory gesture with the West must be viewed in the context of progressive thinking, not as a sign of capitulation.
The mantra and rhetoric about Zimbabwe being open for business, or being keen to re-engage the Western side of the family of nations must not be seen as an opportunity to exercise imperial strength by those we seek to re-engage.
Todd J. Moss, a Senior Fellow with the Centre for Global Development, gave a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on Africa and Global Health Policy on December 6; and the topic under discussion was “US Policy Responses to Zimbabwe’s Illusory Reforms”.
It is not illusory that we carried out the most peaceful election campaign in the history of independent Zimbabwe in 2018. The tragic event of August 1 tainted a historically peaceful, free and fair pre-election campaign ever witnessed in the country. Most observers will concur with this view, as would the Zimbabwean opposition in general.
Moss started off by thanking Senator Jeff Flake, who chairs a Senate committee, and he hailed Jeff’s “leadership” for “protecting the rule of law both abroad and here at home, for standing up for American values, and for being an example for dignity and integrity”.
Senator Flake is retiring and he has had a go at Donald Trump’s authoritarianism, saying the US leader was a threat to democracy. His personal beliefs and morals hardly stand to question.
However, this dignity and integrity extends only to individuals, not the US governance system, as Moss seemed to imply.
We saw what the United States did when the rule of law was violated through the callous murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi right inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
In refusing to impose any form of punishment on Saudi Arabia, Donald Trump said: “It is what it is; but the US interest always come first.” The United States is hardly an example of dignity and integrity as a country, and there is no belabouring this basic fact.
Moss has spent 30 years of his life “working on Zimbabwe”, and he considers former president Robert Mugabe’s tenure in office “a long nightmare of misrule”.
While we Zimbabweans saw factional problems within ZANU-PF that led to the downfall of Robert Mugabe on November 18 2017, we cannot agree with this Moss historical distortion that dismisses all of Mugabe’s efforts at governance as a “long nightmare of misrule”.
We know the nightmare started with land repossession from white commercial farmers who benefited from the colonial legacy.
Moss visited Zimbabwe prior to the July 30 election in the company of former US diplomats, and he left the country “pessimistic about the prospect of a free, fair and credible election”.
He describes as “a poorly-disguised charade”, the intentions of both President Emmerson Mnangagwa and those of ZANU-PF.
He does not really hide the source of his pessimism. He met Tendai Biti and other members of the MDC Alliance leadership when he came, and they left him “unconvinced that economic reforms were real”.
The question is why Moss takes Biti and the opposition so seriously that he does not question the views they give.
The answer lies in the fact that Moss is a long-serving member of the regime change agenda in Zimbabwe. He has been on the job for 30 years, starting 10 years before the MDC was even formed.
To Moss true political and economic reforms for Zimbabwe mean the rise of the opposition and the fall of ZANU-PF, otherwise everything else is a “poorly disguised charade”.
Moss dismisses whatever progress has been made under Mnangagwa as “a few token gestures of change”.
He says there is next to nothing happening below the surface, saying he does not see any “structural change”.
ZANU-PF is an ideological outfit whose ideology is unwanted in Washington. This ideology emanates from the liberation struggle, and Moss is unhappy that people hailing from the liberation legacy are in charge of this new dispensation.
While ZANU-PF is facing serious economic challenges after winning this election, I think it is unfair to say the party is in denial of these challenges.
President Mnangagwa has acknowledged the cash crisis, challenges in industry, and a lot other challenges. He has called on every one of us to come together and rebuild this shattered economy, to fight corruption as one front, and so on and so forth.
Without naming any such observers, Moss told the Flake committee: “It was clear to independent domestic and international observers months prior to the election that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was far from independent and wholly incapable of delivering a fair poll that would reflect the will of the people.”
This is rather unfounded, given that most of the observer groups hailed the pre-election period as a great departure from the past. That included the group led by the now late UN Chief Koffi Annan, the AU mission, the SADC mission and many others, including the domestic ones.
Moss went on to baselessly blame the security services for “using intimidation and violence to sway votes”. There was no documentation of any such violence prior to the disturbances of August 1, which came at the counting stage of the process.
He said an unnamed opinion poll had revealed that half the electorate believed the military would refuse to accept an opposition victory. Clearly borrowing from the Biti script, Moss says ZANU-PF “weaponised food aid for electoral purposes”. Once again this was a generalised allegation that was not backed by evidence, specificity or examples.
Moss does not say ZEC provided the voters’ register to all stakeholders before the July 30 election: but he rather points out that the unproven and alleged flaws in the 2013 election were perpetuated one more time.
In Moss’s view the “lack of good faith” on the part of opposition leaders “undermined the credibility of the election”.
By Moss’s own admission only the American mission concluded that the election “did not meet the mark”.
Based on that alone Moss told the committee “the chance for a free, fair and credible election was missed”.
Moss totally disregards our National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and tells the committee there is no “accountability for violence and abuses” that happened in the past.
The politicisation of the Gukurahundi madness is not new at all, and it is people like Moss that will keep the fires of pain, sorrow and hate burning until a political end of their choice is attained. That is really sad.
Where and when did the US show the world accountability for violence and abuses of the massacred Amerindians? When and where did the US show accountability for the continued police violence and abuses on black Americans? Has there been any genuine attempt by the United States to deal with its own historical atrocities?
These are innumerable. Amerindians, Panama, Nicaragua, Vietnam, El Salvador, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and many other places where millions of innocent civilians perished at the firepower either administered or supplied by Washington.
In total disregard to the Motlanthe Commission of Inquiry this is what Moss said: “Even the August 1 murder of six civilians in full view of the international press and international election observers has been whitewashed.” A commission was set up, and its findings will be published. Yet Moss pretends no such thing ever happened.
Witnesses to the commission implicated the opposition as being responsible for inciting the violence that led to the death of six people, and the Government cannot be blamed for what these witnesses said, much as the opposition must not be blamed for those witnesses that exonerated the leadership of the opposition from any wrong doing, or those that blamed the Government.
Moving to the economy, Moss says there are shortages for food, fuel and the US dollar. That is largely the fact, but Moss does not say exactly why we have these shortages, or at least part of the reason.
We have a confidence warfare affecting our currency regime and supply of essential goods and services.
We have seen hoarding, panic buying, suspected sabotage and so on and so forth. The wheels of any economy are production. Supply addresses demand, and that is how economies operate. But Moss borrows from Biti and Chamisa that our economic crisis has nothing to do with the production crisis we face as a country. Rather “the roots of the economic crisis are political”. The next argument is the solutions are also pol- itical.
The political problem was settled with the July 30 election, and now it is time to address the economic problem. Moss was obviously lobbied by Tendai Biti and Nelson Chamisa to push in the US Senate their desperate bid for inclusion in the Mnangagwa Government, and they want to call this backdoor bid “a political solution” to an economic crisis.
Moss accuses Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube of not tackling “structural problems” of the economy. Well, why don’t we start by removing the 120 economic entities listed on US sanctions law, never mind the 141 individuals also listed?
After saying the United States had no say on what international creditors decide on Zimbabwe’s borrowing, here is what Moss said:
“The United States should be extremely cautious in its re-engagement with the Government of Zimbabwe. It is far too early for the United States or other international creditors to give the Government any benefit of the doubt on economic reform or to provide debt relief or new loans.” Moss easily speaks on behalf of “other international creditors”. He is American.
Moss talks a lot about our “militarised economy”. This is the script he is getting from Tendai Biti in particular. We have heard Biti repeat this over and over gain.
Turning aggressively political, Moss parroted the Biti/Chamisa script at the Motlanthe Commission, and also Tendai Biti’s script on the state of the economy. Here is what Moss said:
“We can see the Government’s state of denial in their passive language. The Government says people died on August 1. No, civilians were murdered by the military, in plain sight of the world. The Government says we are suffering from food and fuel shortages.
“No, Government mismanagement and profiteering elites have destroyed the markets for food and fuel. The Government says that hard currency is unavailable. No, the country has no US dollars because they have been lying to the population about what’s really in the bank.”
Tendai Biti is a good lawyer, but he is nowhere near “the most important legal scholar” in Zimbabwe, whatever that means. He is hardly a “patriot”. Patriots do not mobilise stifling economic sanctions against their own people and countries. Certainly he is not the “most effective finance minister the country has ever had”.
We never saw our economic best under Tendai Biti’s tenure as a finance minister. Our economic growth rates starting 1980 are there on record, and we know exactly when we scored best, and who was in charge of finance at the time.
So why did Moss shower us all with all these Biti velvety accolades and superlatives? Answer is very simple. He sat there before the Flake Committee to do the bidding of Biti. He was playing the opposition script before the Senate so as to influence US policy on the Mnangagwa Government.
So he tried to plead sympathy for Biti from the senators by narrating Biti’s bail conditions where his passport was surrendered to the court.
He also said Biti was a heroic survivor of many “abductions”. He went on to blame the Zambians for “forcibly and illegally” repatriating Biti from Zambia back into the country.
He pushed for the dropping of charges against Biti, clearly interfering with a matter before the courts. One can imagine a policy expert from Zimbabwe urging the Zimbabwean Government to demand the dropping of Edward Snowden’s charges by the FBI — arguing Zimbabwe supports Snowden’s idea of exposing the deadly and dirty works of the CIA. How would that be received in Washington?
Moss concluded his testimony by hailing the draconian ZDERA, adding that it be the basis of treating the Mnangagwa Government.
He clearly says the idea of ZDERA is to ensure regime change, not to reform ZANU-PF. The status quo must be demolished.
Here is what Moss said to that effect: “ZDERA provides a roadmap to sustainable economic recovery that does not make the US or other donors complicit in preserving the status quo.”
Moss once again puts across the vainglorious argument that US sanctions are merely decorative and symbolic — that they are totally benign and of no harm to the Zimbabwean economy. After all, they only cover 141 people and a bunch of companies.
We cannot borrow because we owe $5 billion to the World Bank and IMF combined, and the US has no say whatsoever over the issue of these credit lines, so we are told by this US expert.
So ZDERA must stay, and the civic society in Zimbabwe must be funded to fight the ZANU-PF Government. This is what Moss said, and brazenly too.
As Thomas Sankara said many times, you cannot successfully make friends with imperialists. Imperialism has fangs, and the fangs bite.
ED Mnangagwa must understand that ZANU-PF is on the wanted list of Washington. ZANU-PF must fall.
It would be futile for ZANU-PF to confront Washington armed with meekness and apologies over Mugabe’s perceived wrongdoings. We must of necessity stand on principle and defend our own policies, including some of Mugabe’s policies, like our land reforms.
Yes, we will open the democratic space and treat every Zimbabwean as equal, but that does not mean equality of Zimbabweans must come at the expense of what the voters of Zimbabwe want, or prefer to vote for. Imperialism demands that electoral outcomes in weaker countries must coincide with Washington’s political preferences in the said countries. But we are Zimbabweans, not Americans.
Our election was legitimate and valid, and we stand by the outcome as declared by ZEC and confirmed by the Constitutional Court.
We sincerely hope that the United States will realise that the efforts of this Government are genuine and well intended for a better Zimbabwe, not necessarily of Washington’s bidding or preference, but of the making of the people of Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.
Source : The Herald