Reflections on Zimbabwe: ANCToday Letters from the President, 2001 – 2007

Clamour over Zimbabwe reveals continuing racial prejudice in SA.

Volume 1 No 9 • 23 – 29 March 2001

For some time now, there has been a fairly high level of agitation among some South Africans about the issue of Zimbabwe. Indeed, some politicians took the decision some time ago to use this question to make their careers and advance the fortunes of their parties.

After a short study of our politics, a visitor from Mars might assume that Zimbabwe is a province of South Africa. With this understanding, the visitor would come to know that some South Africans are concerned that their country is wrongly handling such matters as land reform, the economy, the rule of law and the independence of the press and the judiciary in its province of Zimbabwe.

She would also come to realise that in large measure, the agitation about these questions is driven by a seemingly deep-seated concern that the misfortunes that had befallen the province of Zimbabwe were likely to spill over into or occur in the other provinces of South Africa. Naturally, given the volume of voices about these matters in the other provinces, the Martian visitor would conclude that the South African government might have to change the policies it was pursuing in the specific province of Zimbabwe. In particular, the visitor would have noted that what was demanded of the South African government was that it should denounce and take all necessary steps to crush the provincial government of Zimbabwe.

Imagine the situation, later, when the Martian visitor comes to realise that Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa but an independent state, with its own government, democratically elected by the people of Zimbabwe. The visitor would then begin to wonder about why some South Africans seemed so convinced that Zimbabwe was affected by some infectious disease that was bound to cross the Limpopo River border and infect South Africa.

Being familiar with the situation in Europe, the visitor would wonder why the same was not said about the Republic of Ireland relative to Northern Ireland, or Greece, relative to Macedonia. For example, the Republic of Ireland progressed towards the outstanding economic success it enjoys today, while Northern Ireland was immersed in an apparently unstoppable violent conflict that claimed many lives and obliged the British government to deploy large numbers of security forces to bring about peace. What has happened to the economy of the Republic of Ireland would suggest that those who invested in the Republic at the height of the ‘troubles’ in the North, were not concerned about ‘contagion’ or the ‘Northern Ireland factor’.

Looking around South Africa, the Martian visitor would see no evidence of any worrying trends about land, the economy, the rule of law and the independence of the press and the judiciary. Taking this together with her European experiences, the visitor would be most puzzled as to why some South Africans seem so convinced that the future of their country depends on what happens in Zimbabwe and what their government does about Zimbabwe, rather than what the people of Zimbabwe do about their own country.

The point that our visitor would have missed, never having been exposed to racism, is that both Zimbabwe and South Africa have black African governments. It is this that provokes fears among white South Africans about ‘contagion’ and the ‘Zimbabwe factor’. Consistent with their reading of the situation in Zimbabwe, they fear that, ‘as is the wont of black African governments’, the South African government will also act ‘as to the manner born’ with regard to such issues as property rights and the rule of law.

Last year, the leader of the New National Party, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, was honest enough to say in the National Assembly that this was the reason his party demanded of the President of South Africa that he should denounce President Mugabe and the rest of the government of Zimbabwe. He said that the white minority in South Africa feared that what was happening in Zimbabwe would happen in South Africa. This minority, which for centuries had seen itself as a European outpost surrounded by threatening and savage African hordes, wanted to be reassured that it was safe.

What was happening in South Africa, guaranteeing that safety, was not sufficient. The President had to denounce the government of Zimbabwe in the strongest terms, preach a message that South Africa was different from Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa and impose sanctions against Zimbabwe. Of course, in addition to the fact of black African governments, the other critical link between Zimbabwe and South Africa is that they both have relatively sizeable national white minorities. Thus it is not difficult for white South Africa to borrow the slogan from the trade unions, relative to the link between itself and white Zimbabwe – an injury to one is an injury to all!

Add to this the fact that the white minority in South Africa had worked itself into a frenzy of fear about and hatred of Mugabe of Zimbabwe, before that country’s independence, in much the same way that it had educated itself to fear and loathe an ANC composed of ‘terrorists and communists’. The response to the events in Zimbabwe has confirmed what many of us suspected, that the negative stereotype of black people in many white minds is firmly implanted in these minds.

Accordingly, we had thought that many of our white compatriots will entertain doubts for a long time as to whether ‘the South African miracle’, centred on the notion of a ‘rainbow nation’, will be sustained. The price they demand we pay to ensure that they continue to believe in ‘the miracle’, is that we prove, relative to Zimbabwe, that we do not conform to their stereotype of black Africans.

Accordingly, we must act to guarantee the property rights of the white Zimbabweans. We must also act to ensure that the law is upheld both to protect both the property and the freedoms of the Zimbabwe property owners. Thus will we convince them that we are committed to the guarantee of the property rights of white South Africans. And thus we will demonstrate that we are determined to protect the property and the freedoms of the white, South African property owners. Only in this way would the South African white minority be assured that in ours, they have an atypical black African government that would not behave as such governments have behaved, in the view and according to the norms of that white minority.

As the Martian visitor would have learnt more about our country by now, she would be struck by the ironies that arise from this situation. One of these, among many, is that the ANC represents the section of our population that has been by far the worst victim of the denial of and contempt for property rights. Another, among many, is that the ANC represents the section of our population that has been by far the worst victim of disregard and contempt for the rule of law.

Yet another, among many, is the fact that today South Africa has a constitution and laws that protect property rights, because members and supporters of the ANC engaged in struggle and paid the supreme price in a struggle to realise and entrench these rights for all South Africans. Another irony, among others, is the fact that today South Africa has a constitution and laws that protect the rule of law, because members and supporters of the ANC engaged in struggle and paid the supreme price in a struggle to bring into being a law-governed society, in the interest of all South Africans.

Many of our people died, suffered torture, imprisonment, banishment and exile in the course of a difficult struggle for the rule of law, the independence of the press and the judiciary, property rights, a prosperous economy that would benefit all our people, democracy and human rights. The cruel irony, among others, is that the same people against whom we waged this struggle, the people who killed, tortured, imprisoned, banished and exiled those who fought for property rights and the rule of law for all, are the most strident in demanding that we prove our democratic credentials. Those who oppressed and opposed us must, of course, be seen and accepted as the vigilant defenders of democracy, property rights and the rule of law.

Having come to understand our situation better, the visitor from Mars would begin to realise how much the negative white stereotype of black people informs the South African discourse about Zimbabwe. She would begin to see how every day we have to tolerate the insult that because we are black and African, we have to demonstrate that we are not about to seize white property, deny whites their democratic rights or violate the law, to threaten white interests.

She would see how necessary it is that we must respond to the insult in a measured way, so that we do not feed the stereotype that a vigorous response to insult, described as criticism, demonstrates a typical black African intolerance of critical views. She would come to understand that the response to the events in Zimbabwe expected of us is one that should address white South African fears rather than the interests of the people of Zimbabwe, both black and white.

She would see that what is required of us is that we must accept that some within white South African society are convinced that we are savages and that we must therefore do everything in our power to prove that we are not savages, to the satisfaction of white South Africa. The visitor would also see the utility to some, of generating fear about events in Zimbabwe to convince white South Africans of ‘the black danger/die swart gevaar’ that confronts them in South Africa, represented by the ANC.

On 5 May 2000, I spoke at the opening of the Zimbabwe Trade Fair in Bulawayo, in the presence of President Mugabe and many of his government colleagues. On that occasion I said:

“It would be best that (the land question) is dealt with in a co-operative and non-confrontational manner among all the people of this sister country, both black and white, reflecting the achievement of national consensus on this issue, encompassing all Zimbabweans.

“Accordingly, we trust that ways and means will be found to end the conflict that has erupted in some areas of Zimbabwe, occasioned by the still unresolved land question in this country. Peace, stability, democracy and social progress in Zimbabwe are as important for yourselves as they are for the rest of the region.”

Less than a week ago, a few of our Ministers met their Zimbabwe counterparts to promote this perspective. President Mugabe and I will also meet to consider the proposals of the Ministers as we pursue the objectives of peace, stability, democracy and social progress for Zimbabwe, South Africa and the rest of our region.

We will do this not because we have to prove our credentials to anybody, but because the peoples of our countries and region fought a hard and protracted struggle so that they can enjoy peace, stability, democracy and social progress. I trust that by the time our visitor from Mars takes leave of us, she would have come to understand that, in terms of political boundaries, Zimbabwe is not a province of South Africa.

She would also have come to understand that a white stereotype of black Africans has turned Zimbabwe and South Africa into one country. Accordingly, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the world markets will, on occasion, respond as though Zimbabwe was a province of South Africa.

Hopefully, because she would be unencumbered by prejudice, the visitor from Mars would also know that, in our country, the guarantors and principal beneficiaries of the rule of law, the right to property and democratic rights, are those who laid down their lives to bring about the rule of law, respect for property rights and democracy. These democrats fought against the dictatorship of white minority domination and privilege, and ensured that we are bound by a constitutional and law-governed obligation to bring about equality, non-racism, non-sexism and a united rainbow nation.

At the same time as we continue our own struggle to realise these objectives in our own country, we will do everything we can to assist the people of Zimbabwe to achieve this same outcome, regardless of contrary demands, whether they emanate from South Africa, Zimbabwe or Mars.


Region unites to support Zimbabwe’s efforts at progress.

Volume 1, No. 33  •  7 – 13 September 2001

This week, a number of Commonwealth Foreign and other Ministers have been meeting in Abuja, Nigeria to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe. Next week, a SADC delegation of Heads of State will visit Harare to meet a cross-section of the important role players of that country, including the government. As with the Commonwealth meeting, the task of the SADC delegation is to assist the people of Zimbabwe to overcome the problems that currently confront this important neighbour and country of Southern Africa.

At its last Summit Meeting in Blantyre, Malawi, the SADC took time to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe. The leaders of our region did this because they are concerned both about the country itself and its impact on the rest of the region. They considered these matters in the light of other regional matters that were discussed. Among these were important issues about the further strengthening of the institutions of the SADC so that the Development Community moves even faster towards regional integration and balanced economic development. It also considered and finalised all matters related to strengthening the capacity of the Community to deal with the critical issues of politics, security and stability in the region.

Accordingly, the Summit Meeting elected the leadership of this special organ to make certain that it could become operational without any delay. The necessary measures will also be taken to ensure that the Secretariat of the Community, based in Gaborone, Botswana, has the capacity to service the special organ, in the same way that it attends to all other elements of the work of the SADC. The Summit Meeting also reviewed the food situation in the region and expressed concern about food shortages that are expected to affect a number of countries.

In this regard, it decided to convene an urgent meeting of Ministers of Agriculture to consider this matter and make the necessary recommendations. This meeting has already taken place. It resolved that all affected countries would present more accurate information and that all efforts will be made to meet the shortfalls from surpluses within the region. As of now, all indications are that it will be possible to meet these shortfalls without any need for imports into the region. The Summit Meeting also resolved to discuss the issue of land and agrarian reform in order to evolve a common approach towards this important matter which bears on the critical issue of economic growth and development and redressing the imbalances inherited from the past.

It is clear that Zimbabwe is an important player with regard to all these matters. The Community wants this country to make its own positive contribution towards the achievement of all the objectives decided by the SADC, together with the other member states. As with these member states, the Community wants to see Zimbabwe as a stable and peaceful country with a growing economy that both serves to improve the standard of living of the people of Zimbabwe and to strengthen the regional econoMy.

In this context, the Community recognises the fact that historically, the economy of Zimbabwe has been among the biggest and strongest in the region. This was a positive factor not only with respect to the lives of the people of Zimbabwe but also with regard to the prospects for further regional growth and development. However, the Summit Meeting noted with concern that this economy is now affected by serious problems. For this reason, it decided that the Community should do everything it can to assist the sister Republic of Zimbabwe to overcome these problems. In this regard, it is important to understand some of the fundamental reasons for the emergence of these problems in an economy that was historically strong and robust, as we have said. As with the land question, this relates to the serious and difficult challenge of addressing the legacy of colonialism which, as in other African countries, condemned the indigenous population to live in conditions of underdevelopment.

From its independence in 1980, Zimbabwe worked hard to address this legacy. Accordingly, it allocated large resources to such sectors as education, health and rural development. It also did everything it could to ensure the affordability to the poor of food and other basic necessities. It is a recognised fact that, indeed, Zimbabwe succeeded to raise the general level of education in the country, with significant expansions at all levels of the educational system, from the primary to the tertiary. This was a positive development that none can question.

The attention paid to improving the health of the people also paid dividends. Infant mortality fell significantly. With reductions in the incidence of disease because of improved standards of living and better access to health facilities, life expectation also improved significantly with people living longer. Large investments were also made in the rural areas to assist especially the subsistence farmers to grow more food for their families and to generate surpluses that could be sold to enable the farmers to earn additional incomes. All this had the dramatic result of ensuring that this sector became the predominant source of all maize produced by Zimbabwe agriculture.

Here again, we can only speak of a success story of the improvement of the lives of the rural masses as a result of the allocation of significant resources from the state budget to address the important issue of rural development. As we have said, as part of the process of waging a struggle against poverty and underdevelopment, the Government of Zimbabwe subsidised various items of consumption to ensure that the poor could afford to buy these items. These included food, paraffin and other liquid fuels, transport fares and other items. To meet these objectives, the government also subsidised loss-making state corporations to ensure that they deliver goods and services to the people at affordable prices.

Needless to say, all the important work that was carried out by the government to improve the standards of living of the people and to bridge the disparities inherited from the colonial system, also meant that the civil service had to be expanded. This was so because of the greater need for such personnel as teachers, nurses, agricultural extension officers, managers and workers in the parastatal organisations and public service administrators. It is of course clear that all this important work, focused on the struggle to end poverty and underdevelopment, absorbed a large part of the state budget.

The reality was that revenues accruing to the government were not sufficient to finance all the programmes that were carried out by the public sector. To help finance these programmes rather than cut them down, the Government of Zimbabwe ran a large budget deficit which was financed by borrowing money both domestically and internationally. Among other things, this resulted in diversion of resources towards social expenditure, driven by the legitimate desire of the Government of Zimbabwe to meet the needs of a population that had suffered from oppression and impoverishment.

Accordingly, insufficient resources flowed into the productive sector of the economy reducing the creation of the new wealth without which it is impossible to raise the standard of living of the people on a sustainable basis. In addition to this, the country also experienced several periods of drought which negatively affected the growth and expansion of the economy. At the same time, it was negatively affected by adverse terms of trade to which all producers of primary products were exposed.

The net result of all these developments over the last two decades is that the budget must now address a large debt burden. The country has had to default on some of its international payments to service the accumulated debt. It is also experiencing high rates of inflation as well as high interest rates. It suffers from an extreme shortage of foreign currency, and a parallel foreign exchange market has developed, reducing the volumes of foreign currency going through the banking system. Mining and manufacturing have been severely affected, with many operations and enterprises having to close down.

Accordingly, unemployment is increasing as well as the levels of poverty. The Government of Zimbabwe has itself analysed these problems and adopted plans to address them. Clearly, many sacrifices will have to be made by everybody in Zimbabwe to pull the country out of its economic crisis. It is the resolve of our Development Community to assist Zimbabwe in this regard. SADC will also seek to interact with the rest of the international community to build a partnership with this community in an effort to ensure that a concerted drive is mounted to assist Zimbabwe to recover.

Together with all reasonable people throughout the world, our Development Community is also convinced that Zimbabwe does indeed face the urgent need to address the issue of a more equitable distribution of land. This is important from all points of view, including meeting the objectives for which an heroic independence struggle was waged, intensifying the offensive towards poverty eradication and ensuring the balanced growth and development of the economy.

SADC is also of the view that the international community should assist the people of Zimbabwe to achieve these objectives by pursuing the pledges that were made in the past to help finance a programme of land and agrarian reform. At the same time, the entire Community is convinced that this should be done in a peaceful and legal manner, taking into account the long-term interests of all the people of Zimbabwe and the need to maintain and enhance social stability.

Similarly, the Development Community is convinced that Zimbabwe, like other countries of our region, must remain a democratic country in all respects, including the observance of the rule of law, as well as ensuring the independence of such institutions as the judiciary and the press. Happily, no member state of the Community disagrees with this proposition. The Community is therefore ready to act together to ensure that we entrench democracy throughout our region.

The SADC Summit Meeting agreed that the political, economic and social challenges facing Zimbabwe are of a national character, requiring that the people of this sister country respond as one to meet these challenges. For success to be achieved, there has to be an agreed united, national response that draws in all sectors of Zimbabwe society. To work towards this goal, the Summit Meeting decided that a SADC delegation should visit Zimbabwe to talk to as many sectors of the population of Zimbabwe as possible and thus support all national efforts towards united action for stability and progress in Zimbabwe.

Given the importance of this work, it was subsequently decided that the first visit should be carried out by the Heads of State of the countries that were chosen in Blantyre to constitute the SADC delegation to Zimbabwe. These are Malawi, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Botswana and South Africa. The Heads of State of these countries will therefore spend the 10th and the 11th of this month in Harare interacting with representatives of the people of Zimbabwe, including the government.

Our region hopes that this important visit and subsequent work will assist Zimbabwe, an important member of SADC, to overcome its current problems and continue to play the leading role it has played for the further all-round development of all of Southern Africa. As this delegation visits Zimbabwe, it will be greatly encouraged by the positive results achieved at the meeting of the Committee of Commonwealth Foreign Ministers on Zimbabwe, which met in Abuja, Nigeria this week.


Southern African countries act to bring peace and stability to the region.

Volume 2, No. 3, 18 – 24 January 2002

At the beginning of this week, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) met in an Extraordinary Summit in Blantyre, Malawi, to discuss issues of peace and stability in our region of Southern Africa. These included the questions of peace and democracy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the forthcoming, March 9-10, Presidential elections in Zimbabwe and the operationalisation of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

President Chissano of Mozambique is the Chairperson of this Organ. In his report to the Summit, he said: “Our region is faced with enormous challenges. These are challenges whose solution is absolutely within our reach. However, let us not delude ourselves! Today, just like yesterday, our strength lies in our ability to act together.

We are like vital organs. We can only live or die together. Our experience of the common liberation struggle of our peoples and of safeguarding our independence, whose roots date back to the glorious experience of the Front Line States, gives us the conviction that we will be victorious. “As we have common and intertwined destinies it is required that we know how to make use of the Organ as a privileged instrument for the promotion of peace and security in our region. United, we defeated colonialism, destabilisation and Apartheid. Together, we will build a future of peace and progress in the Southern Africa region.”

This spirit inspired the Summit throughout its discussions. There is a clear understanding in our region that our peoples need and deserve peace, stability, democracy and prosperity. The region recognises this fully that these goals are interconnected and have to be pursued together, vigorously.

It is also perfectly aware of the fact that without peace, stability and democracy, it will be impossible for us to achieve the prosperity that the masses of our people need and therefore the development that is due to them. As stated by President Chissano, the Summit also proceeded from the position that the absence of peace, stability and democracy in any of our countries undermines peace, stability and democracy throughout our region. As he said, we can only live or die together.

Informed by this perspective, the Summit took important decisions with regard to the implementation of the Lusaka Agreement on the DRC. Of particular importance in this regard, was the discussion of the implementation of the military elements of the Agreement. Detailed decisions were taken on this issue, in the presence of President Museveni of Uganda and the Foreign Minister of Rwanda, Andre Bumaya.

The Final Communiqué of the Summit summarised these decisions in the following words: “Summit expressed concern at the slow progress in the implementation of the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement, and urged all parties concerned to comply fully with its provisions. Consequently, Summit tasked the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security with the responsibility to formulate a strategy for speeding up the implementation of the Agreement, in collaboration with the Joint Military Commission (JMC).”

We are convinced that the intervention of the SADC Organ, working together with the JMC and MONUC, will help to address the concern of the region about the slow progress in the achievement of the military objectives spelt out in the Lusaka Agreement on the DRC. This is especially important in the light of the fact that it is expected that the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (ICD) will resume in earnest next month. The Congolese parties to this dialogue have agreed that the ICD should conclude all the matters relating to the progress of the DRC to democracy, peace and unity in one session, lasting no longer than 45 days.

Obviously, it would be best that, certainly by the conclusion of the ICD process, there should be no foreign troops in the DRC, to give maximum space and opportunity to the people of Congo freely to determine their destiny without foreign interference. It is therefore urgent that the outstanding military questions be solved.

Motivated by the same objective to ensure that there is stability throughout our region, the Summit discussed the situation in Zimbabwe. This was a continuation of the discussion on the same question that had taken place at the Ordinary Summit Meeting of SADC in Malawi in August last year. At that meeting, SADC decided, among other things, to constitute a Ministerial Task Force on Zimbabwe to engage the Government and people of Zimbabwe as they worked to find solutions to the problems that face them. These included the questions of agrarian reform, the economy, and peace, stability and democracy.

At the Extraordinary Summit, particular attention was paid to the matter of the forthcoming Presidential Elections. The region is intensely interested that these elections should be free and fair. In the interest both of Zimbabwe and the region as a whole, the SADC wants the people of Zimbabwe to have the possibility freely to decide whom their Head of State and Government should be.

It is obvious that both within our country and in the rest of the world, there is concentrated attention on Zimbabwe, to the exclusion of other important issues. The reasons for this are not difficult to determine. Other matters of the gravest importance to the future of our region, such as the catastrophic human tragedy that afflicts the people of Angola, also discussed at the Extraordinary Summit, receive virtually no attention whatsoever.

Strangely, (a matter addressed by the Summit), it has proved difficult even to generate the relatively limited funds from the international community to finance the critically important Inter-Congolese Dialogue. Because of the focus on Zimbabwe, we will quote the whole section of the SADC Final Communiqué dealing with this question.

It says: “Summit welcomed the following actions to be undertaken by Zimbabwe:
full respect for human rights, including the right to freedom of opinion, association and peaceful assembly for all individuals;
the commitment to investigate fully and impartially all cases of alleged political violence in 2001 and action to do so;
a Zimbabwean Electoral Supervisory Commission which is adequately resourced and able to operate independently;
the accreditation and registration of national independent monitors in good time for the elections;
a timely invitation to, and accreditation of a wide range of international election observers;
commitment to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution of Zimbabwe;
reaffirmation by Zimbabwe of its practice of allowing national and international journalists to cover important national events, including elections, on the basis of its laws and regulations;
commitment by the Government of Zimbabwe to the independence of the judiciary and to the rule of law;
and, the transfer by the Government of Zimbabwe of occupiers of non-designated farms to legally acquired land. “Summit welcomed the assurances by President Mugabe that the forthcoming Presidential Elections scheduled for 9-10 March 2002, will be free and fair.

Summit noted the steps that have been taken by the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure the efficient and effective management of the elections. Summit noted with appreciation the commitment of the Government of Zimbabwe to launch a peace campaign that would include the opposition and other stakeholders.

“The Summit expressed serious concern on the statement made by the Zimbabwe army on the outcome of the election and urged the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that in accordance with the multi-party political dispensation prevalent in SADC, political statements are not made by the military, but by political leaders.

“Summit noted with concern the negative reporting by certain sections of the media on Zimbabwe, and appealed to them to be objective. Summit expressed concern over the fact that some Western countries have authorised the broadcasting from their territories by their nationals of hostile and inciting propaganda against the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Summit called upon those countries to desist from such actions.”

This preceding paragraph refers to a report given to the Summit that secret radio stations are broadcasting to Zimbabwe from two Western countries, especially to influence the outcome of the presidential elections. The Summit also agreed that the state electronic media would allocate equal time to all presidential candidates to communicate with the electorate.

The SADC Ministerial Task Force on Zimbabwe has a responsibility to follow up on the decisions taken in Blantyre at the beginning of this week. In particular, it will have to work with the Government of Zimbabwe, all the political parties and Zimbabwe society at large, to assist as much as it can in the implementation of the Blantyre decisions. The amount of time the Summit devoted to the discussion of the Zimbabwe question and the detailed decisions it adopted, reaffirmed the determination of our region to ensure that all of us abide by the democratic perspectives contained in the SADC Treaty.

This represented a continuation of the principled and continuous engagement with the Government of Zimbabwe that the Community and its individual members have been involved in for some time. This involvement has related many questions, including the approach to the land question, the elimination of political violence, free and fair elections, and the rule of law.

The SADC Summit process expressed the fundamental and strategic reality that the member states of SADC are geographic neighbours, who have no choice but to strive for peaceful coexistence, co-operation and integration within a common neighbourhood. They have no possibility to walk away from one another. They also have no possibility to insulate any of our countries from events and developments in any of the member states. None has a possibility to succeed while another fails.

All these considerations tie us to Zimbabwe in many ways. In addition, we have many Zimbabweans who live and work in our country. Our peoples across our common border see one another as brothers and sisters, linked together by history, a common suffering, united action in the struggle for liberation, the economy, language and culture. They know it as a matter of fact that we will not abandon them during their greatest hour of need, in much the same way as they did not abandon us at our greatest hour of need.

We will, therefore, continue to do everything we can, steadfastly and systematically, together with all our neighbours, to contribute to the victory of the struggle for a democratic, peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe. This is an imperative of the day that demands the united involvement of all our people, regardless of political affiliation, race and colour.


Zimbabwe: ‘two blacks and one white’

Volume 2, No. 10 •8 – 14 March 2002

Earlier this week, the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in Coolum, Australia, concluded its work. It discussed and agreed on a wide range of matters as reflected in the Coolum Declaration and the Coolum Communiqué.

Not surprisingly, the media and the general public focused on the issue of what CHOGM would say about Zimbabwe. The meeting itself devoted a significant amount of time to the discussion of this matter. At the end of its discussions, it issued a special Statement on Zimbabwe. We reproduce this below in full for the information of our readers.

Because of public interest in the matter, this Letter will be devoted exclusively to this issue. Hopefully, the occasion will arise in future when we will report on the other important matters addressed by CHOGM. These include the restructuring of the Commonwealth, the fight against poverty and underdevelopment, NEPAD, the issue of small states and the fight against terrorism.

The “Statement by the Commonwealth Heads of Government on Zimbabwe”, which was adopted unanimously, reads:

“Commonwealth Heads of Government received and discussed the Report of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare declaration (CMAG) concerning the current situation in Zimbabwe. They expressed their deep concern about incidents of violence and intimidation surrounding the election campaign, called on all parties to refrain from such violence and urged all concerned to work together to create an atmosphere in which there would be a free and fair election.

“Heads of Government expressed their full support for regional efforts aimed at encouraging a peaceful outcome to the situation in Zimbabwe, in particular the Abuja Agreement and President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ongoing mediation efforts, as well as the initiative of the Southern Africa Development Community towards a peaceful outcome to the situation in Zimbabwe.

“Heads of Government recognised that as stated in the Abuja Agreement land is at the core of the crisis in Zimbabwe and cannot be separated from other issues of concern to the Commonwealth. They took note of the interim report of the United Nations Development Programme and called on the Government of Zimbabwe and the UNDP to reach early agreement on transparent, equitable and sustainable measures for land reform. “The Commonwealth will be ready to assist Zimbabwe to address the land issue and to help in its economic recovery in co-operation with other international agencies.

“Heads of Government noted that a Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) would report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General immediately after the Zimbabwe Presidential Election of 9-10 March 2002. They agreed to mandate the CHOGM Chairman-in-Office as well as the former and next Chairmen-in-Office in close consultation with the Secretary-general and taking into account the Commonwealth Observer Group Report, to determine appropriate Commonwealth action on Zimbabwe in the event the Report is adverse, in accordance with the Harare Commonwealth Declaration and the range of options set out in the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme, which ranges from collective disapproval to suspension.”

Among other things, the Harare Declaration committed the Commonwealth to “democracy, democratic processes and institutions which reflect national circumstances, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, just and honest government.”

The Millbrook Programme says that “where a member country is perceived to be clearly in violation of the Harare Commonwealth Declaration, and particularly in the event of an unconstitutional overthrow of a democratically elected government, appropriate steps should be taken to express the collective concern of Commonwealth countries and to encourage the restoration of democracy within a reasonable time frame.”

The Programme went on to say “we have decided to establish a Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration in order to deal with serious or persistent violations of the principles contained in that Declaration. It will be the Group’s task to assess the nature of the infringement and recommend measures for collective Commonwealth action aimed at the speedy restoration of democracy and constitutional rule.”

A third factor to bear in mind in this regard, are the decisions taken at the Coolum CHOGM, with the adoption of the Report of the High Level Review Group that was set up at the Durban CHOGM. Among other things, this Report served further to streamline the work of the Commonwealth with regard to the matters dealt with in the Harare and Millbrook Declarations.

With regard to the Statement on Zimbabwe, one of the matters to which we would like to draw attention is the composition of the committee of three Heads of State and Government charged with the task to determine appropriate Commonwealth action on Zimbabwe in the event the COG Report is adverse.

The three are specifically defined as “the CHOGM Chairman-in-Office as well as the former and next Chairmen-in-Office in close consultation with the Secretary-general” This represents the application of the principle of a “troika”, as institutionalised by organisations such as the European Union, the OAU and the Non-Aligned Movement.

Unfortunately, some have chosen to describe this troika as “two blacks and one white”. This is consistent with an equally unfortunate, false and dangerous presentation of the debate on Zimbabwe at CHOGM as having been characterised by a division between a black Commonwealth and a white Commonwealth. This characterisation is factually untrue.

Of central importance, it provides a stark example of the extent to which international relations and values of good and bad, in the eyes of some, including sections of the media globally, are still defined according to the historic black-white divide. Those who have superimposed this divide on the proceedings of CHOGM have argued that:

  • CHOGM split on the basis of race and colour, with the Africans, in particular, dominating the black faction; · the white Commonwealth, represented by Australia, the UK, Canada and New Zealand, spoke as one; (interestingly nothing is said about Malta and Cyprus);
  • this white Commonwealth stood up in defence of the values of democracy, and therefore urged the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe;
  • the black Commonwealth acted in solidarity with the government of Zimbabwe, vetoed sanctions and demonstrated complete disregard and contempt for the democratic values formally proclaimed by the Commonwealth;
  • the white Commonwealth is the repository of these democratic values and practices
  • the black Commonwealth merely pays lip service to these values and practices
  • the white Commonwealth had, for some time, stood up to the undemocratic practices of President Mugabe and his colleagues;
  • the black Commonwealth had been happy to acquiesce to these mal-practices, which will continue to be expressed within the troika;
  • the “victory” of the black Commonwealth, as represented by the Statement on Zimbabwe, constituted a “cop-out” which undermined the credibility of the Commonwealth, “the lowest common denominator”, with CHOGM proving to be “a rank failure”; and,
  • to sustain its credibility, and for CHOGM to be a success, all the Commonwealth had to do at Coolum was to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.

To cite only one commentator: “Where the old dominions are, indeed, models of democracy, the same cannot be said for many of the newer Commonwealth countries. A quarter of a century ago, the Commonwealth provided a force that enabled Mugabe to take power, ending white minority rule in what was then known as Rhodesia. Today, the Commonwealth, through its leaders, has neither the will nor the power to end an even more brutal regime.”

It is precisely these deeply entrenched sentiments that inform the judgement of some, that the Coolum CHOGM was a dismal failure. According to this view, the white world represents the best in human civilisation. The black world does not.

Whereas the white Rhodesian Smith regime killed thousands of black people, it was nevertheless less offensive and more acceptable than the elected Mugabe government, because all that it did, after all, was merely to kill black people.

In this situation, according to this stubborn and arrogant mind-set, at all times the white world must lead. Its demands must determine what everybody does. Where it does not get its way in open democratic discussion, the decisions taken turn into the vilest expression of everything that is bad. The simple principle that the view of the majority should prevail is thrown out, lock, stock and barrel.

The assertion is made that the view of the minority is both intrinsically and obviously correct and should prevail, simply because the minority is white. In the Commonwealth context, its defeat should never be ascribed to the vagaries of a rational debate. Rather, it should be attributed to a primitive black and African generic tendency towards dictatorship.

If the decision-making process within the Commonwealth is going to be informed by this kind of thinking, then obviously it is not worth maintaining the association. It cannot operate on the basis of the humiliation of and the inflicting of insult on some members by others. Alternatively, those inspired by notions of white supremacy are free to depart if they feel that membership of the association reduces them to a repugnant position imposed by inferior blacks.

The final decision on Zimbabwe was, in large measure, proposed by a member of the “white Commonwealth”. This was not done to appease a “black Commonwealth”, but to contribute to a constructive approach to a just, stable and long-term resolution of the situation in Zimbabwe.

The Chairperson of the meeting, a member of the “white Commonwealth”, played an outstanding role in reconciling the views that were properly expressed by the members of the Commonwealth, who spoke without regard to their colour. It is principally to him that we owe the consensus that emerged.

The Commonwealth should be proud of the role played by its black members, over a considerable period of time, to confront the challenges posed by the situation in Zimbabwe. I am certain these members will not shirk their responsibilities to ensure the faithful implementation of the Coolum Statement on Zimbabwe, in the interest of the people of that country, of black people everywhere and the democratic project.

We have done what we could and must continue to do what we can to assist the people of Zimbabwe to ensure that theirs is a country of democracy, peace, stability and prosperity. The mere fact that we are neighbours demands that we stay firmly on this road.

Once more, we appeal to all our brothers and sisters beyond the Limpopo river and province to reaffirm their commitment to democracy during this weekend, when they choose their President. The decision is theirs to take. We trust that all those who have the right to vote will do so and vote as their consciences and convictions dictate

Chance for Zimbabwe to turn over a new leaf

Volume 2, No. 12•22 – 28 March 2002

Earlier this week, the Commonwealth Committee of Chairpersons met in London and took a number of important decisions on Zimbabwe. In keeping with the mandate given at the Australia Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, the Committee considered the Report of the Commonwealth Observers who observed the recent Zimbabwe Presidential elections. Basing itself solely on this Report, the Committee decided that Zimbabwe should be suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth for a period of 12 months.

Consistent with the recommendations of the Commonwealth Observers, the Committee also committed the Commonwealth to support the Zimbabwe process of reconciliation, facilitated by South Africa and Nigeria. The association would also help to improve the electoral process in Zimbabwe. It also agreed to three other critically important initiatives, these being: urgent assistance to Zimbabwe to address the current food shortage; help to resolve the land question; and, support to achieve economic recovery.

These decisions were informed both by commitment to the Commonwealth objectives of democracy and good governance and a deep-seated friendship for the people of Zimbabwe. They lay the basis for Zimbabwe to extricate itself from the political and economic crisis it confronts, with the support of the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. Zimbabwe and South Africa are immediate neighbours. We are tied together by history, language, culture and a similar legacy. Our peoples cross our common border at will. Being inextricably linked to each other, we share a common destiny.

For these reasons, we have been deeply concerned about the problems that have afflicted Zimbabwe. Of particular importance, we have sought to contribute everything we could to help the sister people of Zimbabwe to find solutions to these problems, to avoid a further worsening of the situation. This spirit also informed the approach of the South African Observer Missions during the recent presidential elections. At the request of the Government of Zimbabwe, these Missions worked both to observe the elections and to contribute to the creation of a climate that would help the people of Zimbabwe freely to express their will.

Accordingly, they interacted with the Zimbabwe authorities at various levels to address all instances that came to their attention, which they believed would impact negatively on this objective. Because of the effective work they did in this regard, both the major political parties formally thanked the Missions for the contribution they made.

In the period since 1998, various sectors of our society have intervened in Zimbabwe in a similar spirit to lend a hand to the people of Zimbabwe to help them meet the challenges facing them. These have included the Government, political parties, and the ANC in particular, the farmers, business people and our religious leaders. The interventions made covered various areas. These included the electoral process and other political matters, the land question and the economy. In all instances these interventions were made with a view to assisting the people of Zimbabwe without favouring any particular political formation in that country.

As early as 1998, with the agreement of the Government of Zimbabwe, our government communicated with the rest of the international community to request that the rest of the world should assist the people of Zimbabwe to find the necessary resources to address the land question in that country. This was done because it was clear that unless this matter was dealt with urgently, it could provoke a crisis within Zimbabwe.

Having accepted the necessity to give the assistance we requested, the international community agreed with the Government of Zimbabwe on various measures to be taken to help resolve the land question. This was done during the 1998 International Conference on the land question that was held in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, very little happened to implement the decisions taken at this Conference. At a later stage, our government secured financial commitments internationally to purchase over 100 farms, which would be used to resettle people who had illegally occupied a number of commercial farms.

Unfortunately, again, nothing came of this initiative. Before the 2000 parliamentary elections, the ANC interacted both with ZANU-PF and the MDC to encourage them to co-operate in an effort to create the best conditions possible for the holding of elections that would express the will of the people. Once more, during these elections, our country did what it could to contribute to the creation of the necessary climate for the holding of democratic elections. In the aftermath of the rejection of the Draft Constitution during a referendum, we facilitated communication between the MDC and the government focussed on bringing about constitutional changes desired by both parties, some of which had, in fact, been part of the constitution that was rejected.

These included, for example, the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission. Similar interventions were made with regard to the economy. These initiatives sought to help end the further decline of the economy in order to avoid a situation of the further impoverishment of the people and the social unrest that might result from this situation. These interventions included interaction with international financial institutions.

The Commonwealth has now spelt out a programme of action that seeks to help the people of Zimbabwe to address exactly the same matters with which we have been engaged. Once more, as has been the case with us, this intervention does not seek to favour any political party in Zimbabwe. It is intended to benefit the country and the people of Zimbabwe as a whole. It is our duty to continue to work diligently to contribute whatever we can to the realisation of the goals set by the Commonwealth.

As before, this calls for a co-operative effort among all sectors of our society. Again as before, we will have to approach our collective task in an honest and principled manner, without being driven by any desire to create a situation of confrontation. Undoubtedly, the Commonwealth will also adopt a similar posture. We are pleased that various leading countries in the world have also indicated their readiness to participate in this programme directed at Zimbabwe’s national reconciliation and economic recovery.

An important responsibility rests on the shoulders of the people of Zimbabwe and their political leaders in particular, to create the climate and circumstances that will enable us, our region, the Commonwealth and the rest of the world to help implement this programme of national reconciliation and economic recovery. In this regard, we extend our best wishes to the ANC Secretary-General, Kgalema Motlanthe and his colleague, Professor Adebayo Adedeji of Nigeria, as they work with ZANU-PF and the MDC to assist these leading political formations to address issues that of critical importance to the future of their country and people.

However, the matter cannot be over-emphasised that the future of Zimbabwe must and will be decided by the people of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and its people have every right to insist on their right to determine their destiny. In any case, no stable solution can be found unless it is a product of an agreement among the people of Zimbabwe themselves.

To be productive, our interventions in this regard can only be as friends who act to support democracy, peace, stability and prosperity for all the people of that country. It is however also true, as we have already indicated, that the future of Zimbabwe is of direct relevance to the future of our own country and our region. We are therefore materially and directly interested in a Zimbabwe that is democratic, peaceful, stable and prosperous.

Accordingly, none of us should do anything, which, for partisan reasons, encourages any tendency or process in Zimbabwe that is inimical to the attainment of these objectives. We have to persist in this approach without fear or favour. The evolution of the situation in Zimbabwe holds important lessons for us. These relate, among others, to the challenges of building a non-racial society and issues of social transformation.

The fact that Zimbabwe has been independent for 22 years’ points both to the fact that these are not easy matters to deal with and that, nevertheless, they have to be approached consciously, vigorously and systematically. As a country we must learn everything we can from the experiences of our neighbour, so that we do not repeat mistakes that have been made by those who have gone before us. At the same time, we have to continue to strive to ensure that the negative consequences of such mistakes do not spill over to any of the countries of our region, including ourselves.

Our approach to any adverse matter that might arise in Zimbabwe must ensure that we do not encourage the emergence of similar adverse responses in our countries. What we have to share is best and not worst practice. The people of Zimbabwe have a common task to identify for themselves what is in the national interest, the common challenges that face the country, regardless of race, ethnicity and gender. The political and other leaders of that country have a responsibility to work together to confront these common challenges. We must encourage such an outcome.

The people of Zimbabwe have a common task to build on the foundations of the process of national reconciliation that was proclaimed by the leaders of Zimbabwe even as she gained her independence in 1980. This requires that the objective of the creation of a truly non-racial society should be pursued by all the people of that country, both black and white, in a co-operative spirit, informed by a common patriotism and the full acceptance that Zimbabwe belongs to all who live in it.

Together, they have an obligation to eradicate the legacy of colonialism and racism. We must support such an outcome. The people of Zimbabwe have a common task to work to end any ethnic tensions that may exist, once more informed by the conviction that all Zimbabweans are entitled to equal rights in a common motherland. The people of Zimbabwe have a common task to rebuild their economy, to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment and to ensure an equitable distribution of wealth, income and opportunity. This must be driven by the understanding that any other approach can only bring about insecurity and instability, affecting all Zimbabweans, both black and white. This is an outcome we cannot support.

The people of Zimbabwe have a common responsibility to ensure that theirs is a peaceful and democratic country, in which the people enjoy human rights and protection under the rule of law. This is an outcome we must support.

An historical moment has arisen giving the people of Zimbabwe the possibility to turn over a new leaf. It is our responsibility as neighbours, as Africans, as human beings to contribute to the success of Zimbabwe and her people. We trust that the rest of the world will join as partners in the common effort to assist the people of Zimbabwe to attain a better life for themselves.


The people of Zimbabwe must decide their own future

Volume 3, No. 18 •9—15 May 2003

Earlier this week, we were in Zimbabwe together with Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Bakili Muluzi of Nigeria and Malawi respectively. We went to Harare to discuss with the Government of Zimbabwe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), what we might do to contribute to the resolution of the problems facing this sister African country.

Even as we publicly communicated this simple message about the purpose of our visit, there were some in our country who insisted on imposing their own agendas on us. Accordingly, they pretended to know everything about what we would say to the political leadership of Zimbabwe, raising unjustified expectations that reflected their wishes.

This manner of proceeding has bedevilled the general understanding of the situation in Zimbabwe, as well as our response to this situation.

These same detractors, who have their own partisan agendas, which they dress in the language of high-sounding principles, are firm in their conviction that we have some divine right to dictate to the people of Zimbabwe what they should do about their country. They seem to believe that if we issued some instructions to the political leaders of Zimbabwe, as determined by themselves, this leadership would meekly obey what the baas across the Limpopo would have told them. Precisely because we are South African, we know the reasons why.

Our own experience as a movement tells us unequivocally, that no lasting solution to the challenges that face Zimbabwe can be found, unless that solution comes from the people of Zimbabwe themselves. It tells us that no Zimbabweans with any pride in their country, and respect for themselves, will accept that another should determine their destiny.

We remain convinced that the people of Zimbabwe must decide their future, together with their entire leadership. For our part, we will never treat Zimbabwe as the tenth province of South Africa.

To ensure that we are best positioned to give such assistance as may be required by the Zimbabweans, we will continue to follow developments in Zimbabwe with great care, and make our own assessments without fear or favour.

We will continue to interact with the entire political and other sectors of the leadership of the people of Zimbabwe, excluding no one.

As we did before and immediately after the 2002 Presidential elections in Zimbabwe, we will continue to encourage both ZANU-PF and the MDC to sit together to agree on a common response to the pressing challenges their country faces, as we did again earlier this week.

We were pleased and inspired that the leadership of Zimbabwe itself holds the same view. Accordingly, we hope that all obstacles to the resumption of the dialogue between ZANU-PF and the MDC, if any exist, will be removed, so that the talks can begin.

Certainly more than we, the Zimbabwe leaders understand the very difficult situation imposed on their people by the economic crisis that is gripping their country.

Zimbabwe can only extricate herself from this crisis in conditions of political stability. She would be best placed to take the difficult decisions she has to take, if her political leadership acted together, responding to a common national emergency, in the interest of all the people of Zimbabwe. Fortunately, the leadership of our neighbouring country is sensitive to this requirement, for all to act in unity to achieve the common good.

In the heated atmosphere that surrounds the issue of Zimbabwe, the tendency among some of us to pose as high priests at the inquisition, hungry for the blood of the accused, as though to condemn, demonise and punish, constituted the very essence of solving the most difficult problems, has taken root. In this situation, as in war, the truth soon becomes a casualty.

From its very beginning as an independent country, Zimbabwe took the correct position that it had to address the issue of the legacy of colonialism and white minority domination in the socio-economic sphere. As we all know, this virtually quarantined the critical matter of land redistribution, because of agreements reached during the independence negotiations in London. These sought to counter-balance the principle of black liberation with the protection of white property, inserting into the political settlement the racist notions of black majority rule and white minority rights.

Beyond this, the new democratic state worked to advance the socio-economic interests of the liberated majority. This focused on meeting the needs of the people, changing the state machinery to reflect the new political reality, and encouraging black participation in the economy and society in general, so that the majority joined their white compatriots as actors for development, rather than mere consumers and employees.

To advance these objectives, the Government of Zimbabwe ploughed considerable resources into the area of education, from the primary to the tertiary levels, with dramatic and measurable successes. Similarly, significant state expenditures went into the area of health in both urban and rural areas. This resulted in such positive developments as an increase in the proportion of those immunised rising from 25% to 86%, and an increase in life expectancy from 55 to 59 years.

State expenditures on rural development, food security and nutrition, impacting on the majority in the country, resulted in the small farmers’ share of marketed maize rising from zero in 1980 to more than 70% in 1989.

During the fiscal year 1990/91, the civil service wage bill accounted for 16.5% of the GDP. This high burden on the economy was caused both by the rapid expansion of state services to the people and the drive to achieve equal pay for equal work between black and white civil servants. Central government expenditure on the social sectors during the same year amounted to about 13% of the GDP.

To meet the needs of the people and alleviate poverty, the independent state decided to adopt measures that would keep the cost of living relatively low, to ensure better mass access to essential goods and services.

In essence, this was done through a system of subsidies financed through the state budget, which has been maintained for two decades. As a result of this, during the fiscal year 1990/91, the subsidies to the public enterprises absorbed a staggering 3.7% of Zimbabwe’s GDP, since these were required to supply goods and services below cost, to guarantee a tolerable standard of living for the people.

These extraordinary expenditures could only be sustained by running a large budget deficit and through foreign borrowing. In other words, this could only mean – live now, pay later!

By the end of the first decade of liberation, total public sector debt stood at 90% of GDP. In Fiscal Year 89/90, central government interest payments comprised 6.7% of GDP. By 1987, foreign debt service payments had risen to 34% of export earnings. Capital to finance economic growth began to dry up. Private investment in an overwhelmingly capitalist economy, contrary to blatantly false assertions about a socialist Mugabe government, dropped to less than 8% of GDP in 1987, compared to an already low 12% in 1985.

By the end of the first decade of independence, it was clear that the growth path chosen by the government of Zimbabwe was unsustainable, despite the objective declared not long after independence, of growth with equity. Even as early as 1984, less than five years after independence, the government of Zimbabwe had to appeal to the IMF for assistance, resulting in a counter-productive structural adjustment programme, the belt-tightening that any banker will demand of a borrower in dire straits.

Contrary to what some in our country now claim, the economic crisis currently affecting Zimbabwe did not originate from the desperate actions of a reckless political leadership, or from corruption. It arose from a genuine concern to meet the needs of the black poor, without taking into account the harsh economic reality that, in the end, we must pay for what we consume.

Persisting ideological blindness to this reality is evident in our own country, where some who call themselves the unique representatives of the poor, have been seeking to oblige us to follow the same policies that led to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe. We have refused to do this. We will continue to do so.

To come out of this crisis, the people of Zimbabwe will have to make serious sacrifices and take a lot of pain. This has been demonstrated by the sharp increases in the prices of petroleum products and the resultant rises in transport costs, as the government has reduced the unaffordable fuel subsidy.

All this communicates a message that is perfectly clear. It is that the longer the problems of Zimbabwe remain unresolved; the more entrenched poverty will become. The longer this persists, the greater will be the degree of social instability, as the poor try to respond to the pains of hunger. The more protracted this instability, the greater will be the degree of polarisation and generalised social and political conflict.

To respond to this, the state will inevitably have to emphasise issues of law and order, even as it has ever fewer means to address the needs of the people. As it responds in this manner, the less will it have the possibility to address anything else other than the issue of law and order. The more it does this, the greater will be the degree of the absence of order and stability.

None of this will happen because there are demonic people in Harare harbouring evil hearts, with no concern other than the exercise of power and the personal enjoyment of its benefits. The internal logic of various processes in human society compel all of us to be carried along by events, to destinations we may not have sought.

In this regard, the people and leaders of Zimbabwe are neither more nor less human than anyone among us. As has happened with us at various times, they too will have to break the vicious cycle.

I am certain that they will sit together as Zimbabweans and Africans, to listen to and hear one another, and take the difficult decisions that will say, practically, that none among them was born to impose an intolerable burden of suffering on the people of Zimbabwe. The rest of us have an obligation to work with them as they strive to overcome their immense difficulties, faithful to the spirit of human solidarity.

As immediate neighbours we have no choice in this regard. As patriots who occupied the same trench of struggle with the people of Zimbabwe when we, together, battled to end white minority rule in our region and continent, we have no choice but to lend a hand to the effort of the people of Zimbabwe to enjoy the fruits of their hard-won liberation, of independence, freedom, democracy, peace and stability, and prosperity. Righteous and self-serving indignation, and the attitude of superior rectitude will not give us this outcome.

Our greatest and most enduring strengths as a movement and a people derive from our humility, our respect for others, our commitment to principle, our love of Africa, our commitment to serve the interests of the poor of the world, as best we can, our refusal to abandon what we believe in because of battle fatigue. These we must never lose, simply because some among us tell us to act in an arrogant and superior manner towards another human being who lies by the roadside in pain, bleeding.

We will resist the upside-down view of Africa

Volume 3, No. 49•12—18 December 2003

The 2003 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) opened in Abuja, Nigeria at the close of this past week. Its substantial agenda included the controversial issue of Zimbabwe. Contrary to false reports peddled by some, CHOGM dealt with all matters on its agenda, including Zimbabwe.

Its longest session considered a Report entitled “Making Democracy work for Pro-poor Development”, prepared by a Commonwealth High-Level Expert Group on Development and Democracy. This Report was commissioned pursuant to the Fancourt Declaration adopted by CHOGM when it met in our country in 1999.

By the time the Abuja CHOGM concluded, it had continued the suspension of Zimbabwe from the councils of the Commonwealth. Zimbabwe had left the Commonwealth, rendering this decision meaningless. The SADC countries, supported by Uganda, had decided to express their strong disagreement with the CHOGM decision. Time will tell what impact all of this will have on the Commonwealth. But it is necessary to recall some of the history that has led us to this situation.

When it met in Coolum, Australia in 2002, CHOGM charged a Troika made up of the Chair of the Commonwealth, the Prime Minister of Australia, and the Presidents of Nigeria and South Africa, to take action on Zimbabwe, in the event that the Commonwealth Elections Observer Team made a negative finding about the 2002 Zimbabwe Presidential elections. This was the full extent of the mandate given to the Troika.

This Observer Team concluded that “the conditions in Zimbabwe did not adequately allow for a free expression of will by the electors.” On this basis, the Troika decided to suspend Zimbabwe from the councils of the Commonwealth for one year, which should have meant the conclusion of its mandated mission.

However, the Troika also decided that it would meet again in a year’s time to consider the evolution of the situation in Zimbabwe, in the context of various policy decisions taken earlier by the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, later, the then Chair of the Commonwealth, Australian Prime Minister Howard, insisted that the Troika should meet six months earlier than it had decided, which it did out of respect for his position as Chair of the Commonwealth.

The reason he insisted on this otherwise unscheduled meeting was that he wanted the Troika to impose additional sanctions on Zimbabwe, for which it had no mandate. The two other members of the Troika told him as much and argued that the Troika should meet at the end of the one-year, as originally agreed. Nevertheless, the Chair was determined to have his way.

Accordingly, contrary to all normal practice, he decided to announce to the world at a press conference, that he disagreed with his colleagues in the Troika and wanted more Commonwealth sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. At one stroke, this both destroyed the Troika and put in question the democratic principle of decisions by majority.

The majority on the Troika then advised the Chair that if he wanted additional sanctions, he, and not the Troika, would have to get a mandate from all the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth. They also indicated their opposition to the continuation of the suspension beyond the one-year that had been agreed earlier. Nevertheless, the Chair requested the Secretary General to consult these Heads.

In his report, after this process of consultation, the Secretary General said: “Some member governments take the view that it is time to lift Zimbabwe’s suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth when the one-year period expires on March 19 2003. Some others feel that there is no justification for such a step and that there is in fact reason to impose stronger measures. However, the broadly held view is that Heads of Government wish to review matters at CHOGM in Nigeria in December 2003 and that the suspension of Zimbabwe.should remain in place pending discussions on the matter at CHOGM. The members of the Troika have now concluded that the most appropriate approach in the circumstances is for Zimbabwe’s remain in place until CHOGM in December 2003.”

Unfortunately, the Secretary General has never explained what he meant by “the broadly held view”, especially in the light of the fact that some Heads of Government were not consulted, and others were wrongly led to believe that we supported the continuation of the suspension. The statement that we had expressed ourselves in favour of the continuation of the suspension was false.

We must also make the point that the Zimbabwe government has never been given the possibility to respond to the report of the Commonwealth Observers, contrary both to the principles of natural justice and the rules of the Commonwealth itself.

This is especially important in the light of the fact that other Election Observer Groups, such as our own, made determinations about the Zimbabwe Presidential elections that differ from the finding of the Commonwealth Observers. For instance, the largest of our Observer Teams, made up essentially of representatives of civil society found as follows:

“It appears that the will of the people was demonstrated to a degree reflected by the number of people who came out to vote and who did get an opportunity to vote. The turnout at the polls and the number of people who voted was second only to the first election following the liberation of Zimbabwe. This view must be seen in the context of the obstacles and problems that characterised the pre-election period that is described boldly and frankly in the body of this report. The (Observer) Mission is, therefore, of the view that the outcome of the elections represents the legitimate voice of the people of Zimbabwe.”

We accepted this determination and have no reason to conclude that the eminent South Africans who came to this conclusion were wrong, whereas the Commonwealth Observers were correct. This is particularly so given the fact that they spent a longer period of time in Zimbabwe than the Commonwealth Observers, and did more than any other group to help ensure that the elections were free and fair.

In addition, to ensure the continuous coverage of all parts of Zimbabwe, it worked together with the other South African Observer Teams, as well as the Cabinet Ministers we sent to Harare to ensure the effective access of our Observer Teams to the Zimbabwe government to deal quickly with any problems that could arise.

We have also studied and taken seriously the observations and recommendations contained in the 42-page Report of our Observer Mission. These observations include issues of political violence, legislation and state institutions relevant to the elections, the role of the media, and the general political situation. Those who present themselves to the public as experts would do well to study this Report.

When we met in London as the Commonwealth Troika, we were restricted solely and exclusively to the findings of the Commonwealth Observer Report. We also had no mandate to consider the substance of this Report and never did. Neither did the Abuja CHOGM, though it decided to continue the suspension of Zimbabwe, on the untested assumption that the Commonwealth Observer Report was correct in its conclusion.

At its March 19, 2002 meeting in London, at which it suspended Zimbabwe for a year, the Troika reiterated a critically important statement made by the Coolum CHOGM. It said that the land question was at the core of the crisis in Zimbabwe and could not be separated from other issues of concern.

At the Abuja CHOGM, the land question in Zimbabwe was not discussed. Indeed, the land question has disappeared from the global discourse about Zimbabwe, except when it is mentioned to highlight the plight of the former white landowners, and to attribute food shortages in Zimbabwe to the land redistribution programme.

The current Zimbabwe crisis started in 1965 when the then British Labour Government, under Prime Minister Harold Wilson, refused to suppress the rebellion against the British Crown led by Ian Smith. This was because the British Government felt that it could not act against its white “kith and kin”, in favour of the African majority.

At the constitutional negotiations in 1979, the British Conservative Government insisted that the property and other rights and privileges of this “kith and kin” had to be protected. It therefore ensured that Zimbabwe’ s independence constitution had entrenched clauses, valid for ten years, which, among other things, protected the property rights of the white settler colonial “kith and kin”, including the landowners.

The large sums of money promised by both the British and US governments to enable the new government to buy land for African settlement never materialised. The land dispossession carried out by the settler colonial “kith and kin” through the barrel of the gun had to be sustained, despite the fact that even in 1979, the British government recognised the fact that land was at the core of the conflict in Zimbabwe, as did the 2002 Coolum CHOGM.

In 1998 we intervened to help mediate the growing tension between Zimbabwe and the UK on the land question. This, and other factors, led to the international conference on the land question held in Zimbabwe that year.

At that conference, the international community, including the UK, the UN, the EU and others agreed to help finance the programme of land redistribution that had been an essential part of the negotiated settlement of 1979, which, in return for introducing majority rule, guaranteed the privileges of the white settler colonial “kith and kin”. Nothing came of these commitments.

Later, the British government could not find a mere £9 million to buy 118 farms, which purchase had been agreed at the international conference. These would have been used to resettle the war veterans who had begun to occupy farms owned by the white “kith and kin”, continuing a struggle for the return of the land to the indigenous majority, which had started at the end of the 19th century.

Again we intervened to help solve the Zimbabwe land question. We managed to get pledges from various countries, other than the UK, to provide this £9 million. Having handed this matter over to the UN, it collapsed in the intricacies of the UN bureaucracy. Though there were willing sellers and willing buyers, and the necessary funds, the 118 farms were not bought.

With everything having failed to restore the land to its original owners in a peaceful manner, a forcible process of land redistribution perhaps became inevitable. Though we were conscious of the frustration that had built up in Zimbabwe, we urged the government of Zimbabwe both privately and publicly to act against the forcible seizure of white farms and other violence in the country. On one of these occasions, at Victoria Falls and in the presence of President Mugabe, I told the world press that, together with Presidents Nujoma and Chissano, we had raised this matter with President Mugabe.

For the record, we must mention that our national broadcaster did not record my comments on this matter. The SABC television team that covered this press conference later explained that at that point it did not have the necessary cassette to record these comments. Soon after this press conference, the BBC interviewed me to confirm the remarks I had made. And yet afterwards, many worked hard to propagate the blatant untruth that we had said nothing about any of the contentious issues in Zimbabwe.

In his book, “Decolonising the Mind”, the Kenyan writer, Ngugi wa Thiongo, writes about the consternation among some Europeans that he had started writing in his native language, Gikuyu. He says:

“It was almost as if, in choosing to write in Gikuyu, I was doing something abnormal.The very fact that what common sense dictates in the literary practice of other cultures is questioned in an African writer is a measure of how far imperialism has distorted the view of African realities. It has turned reality upside down: the abnormal is viewed as normal and the normal is viewed as abnormal. Africa actually enriches Europe: but Africa is made to believe that it needs Europe to rescue it from poverty. Africa’s natural and human resources continue to develop Europe and America: but Africa is made to feel grateful for aid from the same quarters that still sit on the back of the continent. Africa even produces intellectuals who now rationalise this upside-down way of looking at Africa.”

For example, those who fought for a democratic Zimbabwe, with thousands paying the supreme price during the struggle, and forgave their oppressors and torturers in a spirit of national reconciliation, have been turned into repugnant enemies of democracy. Those who, in the interest of their “kith and kin”, did what they could to deny the people of Zimbabwe their liberty, for as long as they could, have become the eminent defenders of the democratic rights of the people of Zimbabwe.

During the Abuja CHOGM, those accustomed to the practice of disinformation, described as “spin”, did everything to communicate false reports to the media. They campaigned and lobbied to ensure the continued suspension of Zimbabwe. We deliberately avoided engaging in any of these activities. We fed no stories to the media. We did not campaign. We lobbied nobody. Yet the story is put out that we lobbied, blocked agreements, and dismally failed to achieve our objectives.

We are not, and should not be surprised at this kind of behaviour and the turning of reality upside down on the part of those that Ngugi wa Thiongo described as those “that still sit on the back of the continent.” The tragedy is that there are some among us, those that have the possibility to occupy the media spaces, who claim that they are Africans, among them intellectuals, “who now rationalise this upside-down way of looking at Africa”, according to which “the abnormal is viewed as normal and the normal is viewed as abnormal”.

In his book “Diplomacy”, Dr Henry Kissinger discusses the place of the issue of human rights in the East-West struggle during the Cold War. He writes that:

“Reagan and his advisers invoked (human rights) to try to undermine the Soviet system. To be sure, his immediate predecessors had also affirmed the importance of human rights.Reagan and his advisers went a step further by treating human rights as a tool for overthrowing communism and democratising the Soviet Union.At Westminster in 1982, Reagan, hailing the tide of democracy around the world, called on free nations ‘to foster the infrastructure of democracy, the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way, to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means’.America would not wait passively for free institutions to evolve.”

In time, and in the interest of “kith and kin”, the core of the challenge facing the people of Zimbabwe, as identified by the Coolum CHOGM, has disappeared from public view. Its place has been taken by the issue of human rights. Those who have achieved this miracle are not waiting passively for free institutions to evolve.

It is clear that some within Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the world, including our country, are following the example set by “Reagan and his advisers”, to “treat human rights as a tool” for overthrowing the government of Zimbabwe and rebuilding Zimbabwe as they wish. In modern parlance, this is called regime change.

In its statement after the Abuja CHOGM, SADC and Uganda said: “We also wish to express our displeasure and deep concern with the dismissive, intolerant and rigid attitude displayed by some members of the Commonwealth during the deliberations. The Commonwealth has always operated on the basis of consensus. We fear that this attitude is destined to undermine the spirit that makes the Commonwealth a unique family of nations. This development does not augur well for the future of the Commonwealth.”

But, once more, some Africans have turned things upside down. They argue that, internationally, we face some trouble or other because we confirmed positions at the Abuja CHOGM that we have explained before, publicly. They will not say that the Commonwealth is faced with an impending crisis because of the positions it took, which have very little to do with the urgent task to encourage the entire political leadership of Zimbabwe to act together to resolve the political, economic and social problems facing the people of this sister country.

In its Report, having made its determination about the 2002 Zimbabwe Presidential elections, the Commonwealth Observer Team said: “We call on all Zimbabweans to put aside their differences and to work together for the future of their country. We believe national reconciliation is a priority and that the Commonwealth should assist in this process.”

Our own Observer Mission said: “The Mission recommends an urgent programme of political reconciliation and economic restructuring and transformation that places the people and country of Zimbabwe first and transcends the differences that were demonstrated in the election process.”

This is also what the Heads of Government from Uganda and the SADC countries said to their colleagues at the Abuja CHOGM, arguing that the continued isolation of Zimbabwe would not facilitate the achievement of this goal. Unfortunately, others had already made public statements that one of the principal outcomes of this meeting would be, not a Commonwealth commitment to this goal, but the continuing suspension of Zimbabwe from the councils of the Commonwealth. For them, it was important that this objective should be achieved, to maintain their credibility especially with the media, whatever else was decided that might actually relate to the future of the people of Zimbabwe.

Many things have gone wrong in Zimbabwe leading, among other things, to a high degree of polarisation in the country and a serious economic crisis. Together with the rest of the SADC countries, we have discussed these negative developments with the government and people of Zimbabwe, and will continue to do so. At the same time, we have made a commitment to work with the people of Zimbabwe, represented by both the ruling party and the opposition, to arrive at the situation in which “all Zimbabweans put aside their differences and work together for the future of their country”.

Whatever happened at the Abuja CHOGM, and perhaps because of what happened at the Abuja CHOGM, the outcome visualised by the Commonwealth and South African Election Observers will be realised, regardless of the negative speculations made by some that so-called quiet diplomacy has failed. This outcome demands of us that, regardless of the fact that we are poor and need the support of others richer than ourselves to overcome our problems, we should always refuse to “rationalise the upside-down way of looking at Africa.”

Our poverty and underdevelopment will never serve as reason for us to abandon our dignity as human beings, turning ourselves into grateful and subservient recipients of alms, happy to submit to a dismissive, intolerant and rigid attitude of some in our country and the rest of the world, towards what we believe and know is right, who are richer and more powerful than we are.

SADC returns to Lusaka

Volume 7, No. 33 • 24—30 August 2007

On August 16-17, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which incorporates 14 (and potentially 15) countries, held its 27th Ordinary Summit Meeting of Heads of State and Government in Lusaka, Zambia. To emphasise its importance, the Summit Meeting was attended by all the SADC Heads of State and Government.

(Seychelles, a member of SADC for many years, was not represented because of a continuing discussion about the membership dues it must pay. The Lusaka Summit, fully sympathetic to the concerns of Seychelles, expressed its determination to do everything possible to ensure that this island-state, geographically and otherwise part of Southern Africa, resumes its rightful place as a fully-fledged Member of the Development Community.)

The SADC Brigade

Undoubtedly, one of the high points of the Summit Meeting was the launch of the SADC Regional Peace-keeping Brigade. This military-police-civilian brigade is made up of personnel drawn from 11 of the member states of SADC. It has been constituted to respond to the challenges of peace, security and stability that face our region.

At the same time, it constitutes a component part of the African Union (AU) Standby Force which Africa is forming to ensure that it has the organised and multi-skilled force to enable it to respond expeditiously to all situations of conflict on our Continent. Thus the launch of the SADC Peace-keeping Brigade represented, in concrete terms, the resolve of our region and continent to rely on its resources effectively to ensure peace and security throughout Africa.

It was indeed very moving to see the 11 mixed formations, each behind its national flag for purposes of identification, assembled on the parade grounds at the Lusaka City Airport. Nobody present at the launch ceremony could have avoided being moved by the fact that despite the variety of the national flags that led and identified the various formations, all the members of the Brigade marched and drilled with great precision, responding to the commands of one Commanding Officer.

Clearly, here, at the Lusaka City Airport, the combined political leaders of our region were presented with a palpable example of the readiness of our region of Southern Africa to act together, to promote African unity, to bind all countries of our region to the cause of peace, to guarantee peace, security and stability on our Continent, and to create the necessary conditions for the defeat of poverty and underdevelopment in Africa.

For us, as South Africans, the ceremony to launch the SADC Brigade had a special significance. We were very happy and proud to see members of our National Defence Force and our Police Service parade together with their comrades from the rest of our region. We felt immensely proud when Colonel Botman, of the SANDF, was called upon to assume the position of the bearer of the flag of the Brigade on the very day that the SADC Brigade was born.

Armed and peaceful

In earlier years, the apartheid armed forces, organised in the SADF, had brought death and destruction throughout our region. They had acted as an instrument of destabilisation, destruction, subversion and regime change in the service of the apartheid regime. Their presence, operations and incursions into virtually all the SADC countries had brought death, suffering and misery to thousands of people throughout our region.

Undoubtedly, among the officers from the rest of our region present on the parade ground at Lusaka City Airport, were nationals of various countries who had had to take up arms to defend the independence of their countries, which was under armed attack by forces of aggression that falsely claimed to represent our interests as South Africans.

At the same time, there were officers from the rest of our region who had worked with the commanders and cadres of Umkhonto we Sizwe, and the rest of our movement, out of the public eye even in their own countries, to contribute to the intensification of the struggle to defeat the apartheid crime against humanity. They did this knowing that inevitably, the apartheid regime, with a benign nod from the major Western capitals, would carry out terrorist acts in their countries, targeting both unarmed members and supporters of our movement, and the civilians of our host countries.

Recalling all these painful circumstances, during which the apartheid regime supported the LLA in Lesotho, Super-ZAPU in Zimbabwe, RENAMO in Moçambique, and UNITA in Angola, and various political formations, we could not but be moved to tears by the concrete representation of the fact that democratic South Africa has dedicated all our military capabilities to the cause of peace, friendship, solidarity and development in our region and Continent.

We were moved that men and women of the military, police and associated civilian forces from our region, and their political leaders, openly and unreservedly expressed confidence in our security forces as reliable partners in the common struggle to consolidate our region as an African perimeter of peace, democracy and development.

As President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia said at the opening session of the SADC Summit Meeting, it was indeed an important matter of note that SADC was meeting in Lusaka for the first time since its formation in the same city in 1980 as the SADCC. As was correctly observed, this was only possible because since 1980, following the independence of Zimbabwe, both Namibia and South Africa had been liberated, ending the long period of colonialism and white minority rule on our Continent.

Regional solidarity

This statement was significant not only as a celebration of victory, but also as a signal of what Southern Africa must do to accelerate its advance towards the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment throughout our region, in the interest of the masses of the people of our region, who had carried the burden of the struggle finally to end colonialism and apartheid in Africa and the world.

Accordingly, and correctly, the Lusaka Summit Meeting focused on the urgent task to transform the economies of our region, to ensure that as an integrated whole, they meet the aspirations of the masses of the people of Southern Africa.

In this regard, the Lusaka Summit Meeting was exposed to what can be done. President Bingu wa Mutharika announced that Malawi would donate 5 000 metric tons of maize each to Lesotho and Swaziland, in the light of their food shortages, caused by drought. President Mwanawasa also announced that Zambia had donated 10 000 metric tons of maize to the World Food Programme (WFP) to be made available to any SADC country in need.

The Zimbabwe economy

The Summit Meeting also approved the urgent initiation of a process that would identify the measures that the SADC region should take to assist in the economic recovery of Zimbabwe. The report prepared by the SADC Secretariat in this regard says:

“The restoration of the country’s foreign exchange generating capacity through Balance of Payments support is crucial: however, the most urgent action that is needed to start this process is to establish lines of credit to enable Zimbabwe to import inputs for its productive sectors, particularly for agriculture and foreign currency generating sectors.

“SADC should do all it can to help Zimbabwe address the issue of sanctions, which is not only hurting the economy through failure to get BoP support and lines of credit, but also through reduced markets for its products. Sanctions also damage the image of Zimbabwe, causing a severe blow to her tourist sector.

“Zimbabwe on her part must continue to implement robust policies to reduce the overvaluation of the exchange rate, to reduce the budget deficit and to control the growth of domestic credit and money supply which fuel inflation, and to reduce price distortions in the economy. Equally important is the need to avoid frequent changes in policy initiatives, which have caused uncertainties and led to the view that the policy environment is unpredictable.”

In this regard, on Monday, August 20, the Business Day newspaper published a wholly fabricated story alleging that the SADC leaders were divided over this report, describing a discussion at the Summit Meeting that never took place. This is consistent with an unethical practice in sections of our media in terms of which they manufacture news and information and communicate complete fiction as the truth.

The newspaper manufactured an unbridgeable “rift” resulting in a non-existent paralysis among the leaders, arising out of the discussion that never took place. The fact of the matter is that, acting on the recommendation of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, (the Organ), the SADC Summit Meeting accepted the report on the Zimbabwe economy, as well as the proposal of the Organ that our Finance Ministers, in consultation with the Government of Zimbabwe, should use the report to elaborate specific interventions that could be made by our region.

The hostile allegation that our countries have recklessly turned their eyes away from the problems of Zimbabwe, because of the imperatives of solidarity, has always been nothing more than a product of propaganda, which all thinking persons would recognise as such. The reality is that in a very real sense the problems of Zimbabwe are our problems, in the same way that the problems of the rest of Southern Africa are problems for Zimbabwe as well. Our entire region stands to benefit most directly from the recovery of Zimbabwe, in much the same way as Zimbabwe benefits from the progress of the region of Southern Africa, of which it is an integral and inalienable part.

The Lusaka Summit Meeting reconfirmed these fundamental positions, which include unqualified respect for the sovereignty of Zimbabwe and the right of its people to determine their destiny. At no point will SADC and its member states act as a super-power that has the right to expropriate the people of Zimbabwe of their right to self-determination, as imperial Britain did.

African unity & regional economic integration

The Lusaka Summit Meeting agreed that the 2008 normal SADC Summit Meeting, which will be held in our country, will launch our regional Free Trade Area. This Summit Meeting will also discuss the decision to transform the SADC region into a Customs Union by 2010. Before then, detailed work will also be done to prepare the basis for the radical improvement of all elements of the regional infrastructure. All this indicates the serious commitment of SADC rapidly to advance the critically important objective of mutually beneficial regional integration.

As we have reported before, the July 2007 AU Summit Meeting decided that the African Regional Economic Communities must serve as the driving force towards the political and economic unity of Africa. This important decision adds an important dimension to the historic obligation SADC has, seriously to attend to the issue of our region’s integration, and its cooperation with other regions of our Continent.

This is particularly important in the light of the fact that our region conveyed a united view at the Accra AU Summit Meeting, insisting that the only rational and possible way to proceed towards the realisation of the objective of a United States of Africa is “from the bottom up”, with the RECs, such as SADC, serving as the critical building blocks of the architecture out of which will be realised the age-old continental dream of African unity.

The 27th Ordinary Summit Meeting of SADC confirmed the determination of our region to respond to this challenge. The launch of the SADC Brigade, the first component of the African Union Standby Force, represented a practical demonstration of the commitment of the peoples of Southern Africa to help give meaning to the resolve of the peoples of Africa to take their destiny into their hands. This is confirmed by the fact that the entirety of the AU/UN “hybrid force” for Darfur, which will include SANDF and SAPS personnel, will be composed of African personnel.

As we knew and said during the difficult years when Lusaka served as the Headquarters of the ANC, Africa will be free!

South Africa’s Policy Towards Zimbabwe – A Synopsis.

February 22, 2016

Historically, with regard to the Zimbabwe liberation struggle, the ANC had good relations with ZAPU and none with ZANU when it broke away from ZAPU. This was a product of a continuous process in Zimbabwe which had started with the establishment of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress in that country and the membership in the South African ANC of Zimbabwe students and workers while they were studying and working in South Africa.

ANC relations with ZANU

Despite this history, in 1978 ZANU sent a delegation from Mozambique to Lusaka, led by the late former Vice President of Zimbabwe, Simon Muzenda, to meet the ANC. The delegation had come to propose that the ANC should send Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) cadres to Mozambique to join the units of ZANLA, the ZANU military wing, which were operating along the Limpopo River.

The delegation suggested that this would give MK the possibility to infiltrate its cadres and materiel into and through the then Northern Transvaal.

Though the political leadership of the ANC warmly supported this proposal, the MK leadership opposed it on the basis that there were already MK cadres embedded in units of ZIPRA, the military wing of ZAPU, which were also operating along the Limpopo. These might end up fighting their comrades in the ZANLA units as there were occasional skirmishes between ZIPRA and ZANLA. Consequently, we did not take up the ZANU offer.

However, we interacted warmly with the ZANU delegates at the 1979 Commonwealth Conference in Lusaka which decided on the Lancaster Conference on Zimbabwe.

ANC relations with the Zimbabwe Government

On the very day that Zimbabwe achieved its independence in 1980, the President of the ANC, the late O.R. Tambo, met then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in Salisbury, later Harare, to discuss the possibility of the ANC opening an office in Harare and using Zimbabwe as a base to carry out underground political and military work in South Africa.

Prime Minister Mugabe suggested that the ANC should assess whether it could operate from Zimbabwe, given that the new Zimbabwe administration would include many people it would inherit from the Smith regime. These included General Peter Walls who led the Zimbabwe Defence Force and Mr Ken Flower who headed the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

A few weeks thereafter, President Tambo informed Prime Minister Mugabe that we had conducted our on-the-spot assessment within Zimbabwe and thought that we could indeed operate from Zimbabwe despite the presence in various Zimbabwe state organs of people inherited from the Smith regime.

Prime Minister Mugabe immediately agreed that we could then operate in Zimbabwe as President Tambo had proposed. I was therefore directed to interact with then Minister of Security, and now Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to work out all the details for our ‘underground’ work and open representation in Zimbabwe, which was done.

The late Chris Hani was then put in charge of our ‘underground’ operations in Zimbabwe, while the late Joe Gqabi, who was later murdered in Harare by agents of the apartheid regime, served as our public Chief Representative, with Geraldine Fraser, now Fraser-Moleketi, as one of his assistants.

Zimbabwe land reform and South Africa

In 1990 as we began our negotiations to end the system of apartheid, the then Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, engaged President Mugabe to persuade him that the Government of Zimbabwe should not proceed with any programme to implement a radical land reform, given that the Lancaster House Constitutional 10-year prohibition of this had expired.

Chief Anyaoku and the Commonwealth Secretariat feared that any radical land redistribution in Zimbabwe at that stage would frighten white South Africa and thus significantly complicate our own process of negotiations.

President Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Government agreed to Chief Anyaoku’s suggestion and therefore delayed for almost a decade the needed agrarian reform, which had been a central objective of the political and armed struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe.

ANC intervention in Zimbabwe

All the foregoing resulted in the establishment of firm fraternal relations between the ANC and now ZANU-PF, which created the possibility for the two organisations to interact with each other openly and frankly.

During these years of our interaction and working together with President Mugabe, the Government of Zimbabwe and ZANU-PF, we came to understand that all these were committed to such objectives as improving the lives of the people of Zimbabwe, defending the independence of our countries and advancing Pan Africanist goals.

We supported all these objectives. However, their achievement required that as a country Zimbabwe should remain a democratic and peaceful country with a growing economy of shared wealth, and a country which would continue to do everything possible to eradicate the legacy of colonialism.

When the ANC felt that problems were arising with regard to these objectives, it did what nobody else in the world had done. It prepared and shared a document with ZANU-PF which was a comprehensive critique of developments in Zimbabwe, with suggestions about what ZANU-PF should do to correct what was wrong.

Done in 2001, the document was entitled “How Will Zimbabwe Defeat Its Enemies!” It dealt with a whole variety of issues, including the political and economic.

Though the then planned ANC/ZANU-PF meeting to discuss the document did not take place, ZANU-PF never raised any objection to the fact that the ANC prepared the document to assist Zimbabwe to overcome some of its challenges.

We probably made a mistake when we did not insist that this meeting should be held.

The South African Government and the Zimbabwe land question

When the war veterans and others began to occupy white-owned farms, we intervened first of all with Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998 to encourage the UK Government to honour the commitment that had been made at Lancaster House in 1979 to give the Government of Zimbabwe the financial means to carry out the required land redistribution in a non-confrontational manner.

This led to the September 1998 International Donors’ Conference on Land Reform and Resettlement held in Harare, which the British Government attended, but whose very positive decisions were not implemented, thanks to the negative attitude adopted by the very same British Government.

Unfortunately, contrary to what the Conservative Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major had agreed, Tony Blair’s Secretary of State for International Development, Claire Short, repudiated the commitment to honour the undertaking made at Lancaster House.

In a November 1997 letter to Zimbabwe Minister of Agriculture and Land, Kumbirai Kangai, she wrote: “I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know, we were colonised not colonisers.”

In a February 22, 2015 article in The Telegraph, the Conservative Party Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, commented about the parlous state of Zimbabwe and said:

“But it is vital to recognise that Zimbabwe was not always like this, and did not have to be like this…And Britain played a shameful part in the disaster. Readers will remember the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, by which Margaret Thatcher granted independence to Rhodesia…So it was crucial that the Lancaster House Agreement protected the interests of these white farmers. They could, of course, be bought out, but their land could not be simply seized.

There had to be a “willing buyer, willing seller”. The British government agreed to fund the arrangement, compensating the former colonial farmers for land that they gave up… And then in 1997, along came Tony Blair and New Labour, and in a fit of avowed anti-colonialist fervour they unilaterally scrapped the arrangement…It was Labour’s betrayal of the Lancaster House Agreement – driven by political correctness and cowardice – that gave Mugabe the pretext for the despotic (land) confiscations by which he has rewarded his supporters.”

Later, Prime Minister Blair told me that the British Governments he led never formally took this decision to repudiate the Lancaster House Agreement and regretted that in the end, his Government had to accept it because Claire Short had succeeded to convince the UK public that it was indeed Government policy!

Further to help resolve the conflict on the land question, at some point we also got commitments from three (3) other Governments to finance land acquisition by the Zimbabwe Government which would then distribute the land to those who had started to occupy some farms. The Zimbabwe Government welcomed this initiative.

At the suggestion of the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the UNDP assumed the responsibility to work with the Zimbabwe Government to implement this land acquisition and redistribution. Unfortunately, the UNDP acted in a manner which led to the failure of this initiative.

The South African Government and Zimbabwe politics

Our Government started to work more intensely with the opposition MDC after the 2000 Zimbabwe Constitutional Referendum, which rejected the Constitution that had been put to the nation by the Government.

The MDC approached us to help secure the agreement of ZANU-PF to amend the extant Constitution by including in it various matters, many of which had been included in the Constitution which had been rejected.

From then onwards we did our best to encourage ZANU-PF and the MDC to work together to find solutions to the constitutional, political, economic, security and social challenges which faced Zimbabwe.

It was exactly this same approach we took which resulted in the conclusion in 2008 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) by the Zimbabwe political parties.

Though we acted as a Facilitator, the fact of the matter is that the GPA was negotiated and elaborated by the three Zimbabwe Political Parties which had been democratically chosen by the people in the 2008 elections. No part of the Agreement was imposed on the Parties by the Facilitator.

This approach was informed by our unwavering determination to respect the right of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their future, firmly opposed to any foreign, including South African, intervention to impose solutions on the people of Zimbabwe.

Writing in the privately-owned Zimbabwe Independent on September 25 last year, Wilbert Mukori said: “The best chance the nation has had to end Mugabe’s dictatorship was by far during the Government of National Unity (GNU) when all the nation had to do was implement the raft of democratic reforms already agreed in the 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA).

“However, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition parties, who were tasked with implementing the reforms, sold out and joined Mugabe’s gravy train. So after four or five years of the GNU, no meaningful reforms were implemented…The people of Zimbabwe failed to recognise the importance of the 2008 GPA reforms and so they did not pressure GNU leaders to implement the reforms.”

Regime change in Zimbabwe

There were others in the world, led particularly by the UK, who opposed our approach of encouraging the Zimbabweans to decide their future. These preferred regime change – the forcible removal of President Mugabe and his replacement by people approved by the UK and its allies.

This is what explained the sustained campaign to condemn us for conducting the so-called ‘quiet diplomacy’. What was wrong with ‘quiet diplomacy’, which led to the adoption of the GPA discussed by Mukori, was that it defended the right of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their future, as opposed to the desire by some in the West to carry out regime change in Zimbabwe and impose their will on the country!

In the period preceding the 2002 Zimbabwe Elections, the UK and the US in particular were very keen to effect this regime change and failing which to impose various conditions to shorten the period of any Mugabe Presidency.

Our then Minister of Intelligence, Lindiwe Sisulu, had to make a number of trips to London and Washington to engage the UK and US governments on their plans for Zimbabwe, with strict instructions from our Government to resist all plans to impose anything on the people of Zimbabwe, including by military means.

Accordingly, it was not from hearsay or third parties that we acquired the knowledge about Western plans to overthrow President Mugabe, but directly from what they communicated to a representative of our Government.

In its 11 November, 2007 edition, the UK newspaper, the Independent on Sunday, reported that during its interview of Lord Guthrie, former Chief of Defence Staff of the UK armed forces, it learnt that “Astonishingly, the subjects discussed (with Prime Minister Tony Blair) included invading Zimbabwe, “which people were always trying to get me (Guthrie) to look at. My advice was, ‘Hold hard, you’ll make it worse.’”

According to John Kampfner in his book, “Blair’s Wars”, Blair once told Claire Short that “if it were down to me, I’d do Zimbabwe as well – that is send troops.” In his Memoir “A Journey”, Blair explained that the reason he could not “get rid of Mugabe” which he “would have loved to” was because “it wasn’t practical (since…the surrounding African nations maintained a lingering support for him and would have opposed any action strenuously).”
South Africa and the Zimbabwe elections

The 2002 elections in Zimbabwe were observed by two South African Observer Missions among others. One of these was a multi-party Mission deployed by our Parliament, not Government. The second was composed of people seconded by civil society organisations. The Government contributed to this latter Mission by appointing Ambassador Sam Motsuenyane as its leader.

With no intervention by Government, these two Observer Missions, like all others, determined that the declared outcome of the elections reflected the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

The same thing happened with regard to the 2008 elections which resulted in the MDC (Tsvangirai) gaining 100 House of Assembly seats as opposed to 99 for ZANU-PF and 10 for MDC (Mutambara). None of the two leading Presidential candidates, Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, got the required 50%+1 to emerge as the outright winner.

The second round of the Presidential election was marked by a lot of violence, resulting in the withdrawal of Tsvangirai. Our view was that the level of violence had made it impossible for the people of Zimbabwe freely to exercise their right to choose their President.

I therefore met President Mugabe in Bulawayo to propose that the election should be called off and conducted afresh in conditions of the total absence of any violence. President Mugabe did not accept our suggestion, arguing that the action we were proposing would be in violation of the Constitution.

During the 2013 Harmonised Elections, ZANU-PF won 196 of the House of Assembly seats as opposed to 70 for the MDC (Tsvangirai), and President Mugabe was elected during the first round. All the Observer Missions which actually observed these elections agreed that the announced results ‘reflected the will of the people of Zimbabwe’.

Over the years ZAPU, ZANU and, later, ZANU-PF saw it as part of their responsibility to contribute to the victory of our struggle against the apartheid regime and system and the building of the democratic South Africa, and acted accordingly. The ANC took the same position with regard to the struggles of the people of Zimbabwe to defeat colonialism and reconstruct the new Zimbabwe, and acted accordingly.

 Throughout these years we defended the right of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their destiny, including deciding on who should govern the country. This included resisting all efforts to impose other people’s solutions on Zimbabwe, which, if this had succeeded, would have served as a precursor for a similar intervention in our country!

 Consciously we took the position that democratic South Africa should at all costs avoid acting as a new home-grown African imperial power which would have given itself the right unilaterally to determine the destiny of the peoples of Africa!

Propaganda and the pursuit of hegemonic goals – the Myanmar and Zimbabwe experience.

February 29, 2016

Much has been written about how much the so-called international community expected the new South Africa born in 1994 to lead the campaign for respect of human rights especially in Africa. The first major test which faced our late President Mandela in this regard was at the 1995 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in New Zealand.

Here President Mandela came under great pressure publicly to condemn the Nigerian Abacha military government, especially for its continued detention of M.K.O. Abiola who had won the 1993 Presidential elections, and agree to the imposition of some sanctions against Nigeria.

President Mandela resisted all this until news came through that on the very first day of the CHOGM, the Nigerian Government had executed Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his Ogoni colleagues. He then immediately joined others strongly to condemn the Abacha Government and approved the suspension of Nigeria from the Commonwealth.

Thereafter, despite strong presentations about human rights, South Africa’s strenuous efforts to get SADC and the OAU to impose sanctions against Nigeria produced a negative response throughout the Continent, leaving South Africa isolated on this matter.

President Mandela had visited Nigeria in 1994 and engaged General Abacha on the matter of the release of Mr Abiola.

In July 1995 I led a small delegation of our Government to Nigeria to meet General Abacha. This time our focus was on the two matters of persuading General Abacha and his Government to release the Ogoni leader, Ken Saro-Wiwa, and his co-accused, as well as to release Generals Olusegun Obasanjo and Shehu Yar’ Adua, who were detained for allegedly having been involved in a planned coup d’etat.

We met General Abacha at 02.00 hrs (2 a.m.) at his offices. Having heard us out, he told us that he would reflect on what we had said and would respond to us before we left Nigeria.

A day or so later, then Chief of Defence Staff and effective Deputy to Abacha, Lt Gen Oladipo Diya, invited us to lunch. During this lunch he gave us General Abacha’s response to the issues we had raised.

This response was that with regard to the matter of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his co-accused, Gen Abacha could not intervene to stop a legal judicial process which involved murder charges. However, if the accused were to be found guilty and sentenced to death, he would use his prerogative as Head of State to reprieve the accused so that they would not be executed.

Gen Diya also reported that Gen Abacha had said that there was a military tribunal which was considering the matter relating to Generals Obasanjo and Yar’Adua. It was necessary that he should allow the tribunal to complete its work. His view was that the tribunal would recommend the release of the two Generals, failing which he would again intervene to release them.

After asking Gen Diya to convey our thanks to Gen Abacha for the commitments he had made, we suggested to him that it would be best that the Nigerian Government makes the necessary announcements when the time came, rather than that we should do this. Diya agreed to this and said that Gen Abacha would issue the necessary orders at the appropriate moments.

Our delegation still had a small challenge to address. We had travelled from South Africa with a journalist. Treated by our Nigerian hosts as a member of our delegation, she was present at the lunch where Gen Diya gave us Gen Abacha’s response.

She therefore had a real “scoop”! Together with her we agreed that if she were to publish what we had been told by Gen Diya, the likelihood was that not only would the Nigerians deny the story, but this would also inevitably condemn Ken Saro-Wiwa and others and Generals Obasanjo and Yar’Adua to death.

A principled person, she kept her word not to publish her “scoop”, convinced as all us were that Gen Abacha had made a commitment to President Mandela and South Africa which he would honour.

It was with this knowledge that President Mandela left South Africa to attend the New Zealand CHOGM meeting. When Ken Saro-Wiwa and others were executed, President Mandela was truly surprised and genuinely outraged that Gen Abacha could evidently so easily betray his solemn undertaking in this regard.

Undoubtedly our Government drew its own conclusions from this painful experience with regard to the complexities of the construction of inter-state relations, including as this relates to the effective promotion of human rights.

In his 1994 book “Diplomacy”, the well-known former US National Security Adviser and Secretary of State, Dr Henry Kissinger, wrote:

“From the time of Reagan’s inauguration, (he and his advisers) pursued two objectives simultaneously…(to achieve supremacy over the USSR with regard to geo-political influence and strategic armaments.) The ideological vehicle for this reversal of roles was the issue of human rights, which Reagan and his advisers invoked to try to undermine the Soviet system…Reagan and his advisers went a step further by treating human rights as a tool for overthrowing communism and democratising the Soviet Union…”

“In fact, Reagan took Wilsonianism to its ultimate conclusion. America would not wait passively for free institutions to evolve, nor would it confine itself to resisting direct threats to its security. Instead, it would actively promote democracy, rewarding those countries which fulfilled its ideals and punishing those which fell short – even if they presented no other visible challenge or threat to America.”

Thus, according to Dr Kissinger, the issue of “human rights” was used by the Reagan Administration not because these rights were important in themselves but because their projection was “a tool for overthrowing communism…(and) undermin(ing) the Soviet system”.

In the end the Soviet Union collapsed, the European socialist countries disappeared and the US emerged as the sole world super-power.

Practically the reality is that since the Reagan years, the successive US Administrations have followed the policy explained by Kissinger, that “America would not wait passively for free institutions to evolve…Instead, it would actively promote democracy…”

Indeed, when the false argument collapsed that the US and the UK had attacked Iraq because of the threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), both President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair elevated the argument that they had gone to war against Iraq to bring democracy and human rights to the country and the Middle East.

Essentially, given its privileged position as the sole world super-power, the US had the power and the general outlook, informed by ideas of ‘US exceptionalism and its manifest destiny’, to impose its will especially on the developing countries, to “fulfil its ideals”, as Kissinger put it.

As late as August 28, 2015 former US Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that, “It was up to us then (to defeat the Soviet Union) – as it is now (to preserve peace and freedom) – because we are the exceptional nation. America has guaranteed freedom, security and peace for a larger share of humanity than any other nation in all of history. There is no other like us. There never has been.”

On April 7, 2003, shortly after the invasion of Iraq by the US-led forces, I addressed a Conference of the SADC Independent Electoral Commissions held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and said:

“The prospect facing the people of Iraq should serve as sufficient warning that in future, we too might have others descend on us, guns in hand, to force-feed us with jollof rice…If the United Nations does not matter and should be destroyed, why should we, the little countries of Africa that make up the African Union, think that we matter and will not be punished if we get out of line!”

This was to argue that in the light of the naked abuse of power by a major world power, as exemplified by the invasion of Iraq against the express opposition of the UN Security Council, our best protective shield as the developing countries was:

  • a strong United Nations respected by all countries, big and small;
  • respect by all for the UN Security Council as the world guarantor of international peace and security;
  • a reformed UN Security Council to make it truly representative of the world community of nations;
  • a binding law-governed system of international relations, including as defined by the UN Charter; and,
  • respect for the rights of regions to maintain international peace and security in their areas, as spelt out in the UN Charter.

UN Secretaries General Dag Hammarskjöld and Boutros Boutros-Ghali had taken the same position, especially as this relates to respect for international law as contained in the UN Charter.

The Swedish scholar, Henning Melber, has written that “For Hammarskjöld, the UN was there to serve especially the countries without global leverage instead of being an instrument of the big powers.”

Melber writes that “On 15 September 1961, two days before the fatal crash of the plane in which he and 15 others lost their lives, he (Hammarskjöld) cabled to Ralph Bunche: “It is better for the UN to lose the support of the US because it is faithful to law and principles than to survive as an agent whose activities are geared to political purposes never avowed or laid down by the major organs of the UN.”

Melber writes that in 1996 one Stanley Meister characterized Boutros-Ghali as “probably the most fiercely independent Secretary-General since Dag Hammarskjöld”, who became a useful scapegoat for covering up the failures of US American foreign policies.”

Hammarskjold died in a plane crash which has still not been explained. Boutros-Ghali is the only UN Secretary General who served only one term, having been pushed out by the US Government.

It was in the context of the struggle to respect international law that while we served as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council we voted against resolutions tabled by the US and its allies proposing sanctions against Myanmar and Zimbabwe on the basis that these had violated human rights in multiple instances.

The West and its allies in our country strongly condemned our Government for voting against these resolutions, accusing us that we had betrayed the human rights posture in foreign affairs it was claimed our country had taken under President Mandela.

For our part, like UN Secretaries General Hammarskjöld and Boutros-Ghali, we insisted that all countries had an obligation to respect international law, and therefore the rule of law on which the West insists whenever this suits its interests.

That international law, as laid down by the UN Charter, prescribes that the UN Security Council (UNSC) should take action against countries in the event that they present a threat to international peace and security.

Despite their many problems and challenges, neither Myanmar nor Zimbabwe posed any threat to international peace and security. Indeed, the day before the Security Council met to consider the draft resolution on Myanmar, the ASEAN countries, of which Myanmar is a member, had met and formally stated that the situation in Myanmar did not constitute any threat to international peace and security.

Chapter VIII of the UN Charter makes specific provision for Regional State Organisations to intervene in defence of international peace and security in their regions, with a directive that they should report to the UNSC.

While both ASEAN and SADC were engaging Myanmar and Zimbabwe respectively, having determined that the situation in both countries did not constitute a threat to international peace and security, the Western countries in the UNSC were determined to ignore their views and impose their own solutions on both countries concerned.

Fortunately, both the Russian Federation and China vetoed the Western inspired resolutions on Myanmar and Zimbabwe, fully supportive of the then current alternative initiatives to help these countries to resolve their problems.

At the same time our then Permanent Representative at the UN, Ambassador Dumisani Khumalo, explained to the UNSC that contrary to any view that we were opposed to international action on Myanmar and Zimbabwe:

  • South Africa fully supported the intervention of the UN Human Rights Council in Myanmar, as well as the use of the good offices of the UN SG, through his representative, Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari, to address the challenges in Myanmar; and,
  • South Africa, supported by SADC and the AU, was directly involved in engaging the Zimbabwe Parties to address all the problems in that country.

In 2011 the Western countries persuaded the UNSC to approve its Resolution 1973 to impose a “no-fly-zone” over Libya on the basis of the false assertion that the Gaddafi regime intended to massacre large numbers of civilians, in much the same way that the 2003 invasion of Iraq had been justified on the basis of the fabrication that the country possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) which threatened international peace and security.

In the Libyan case, rather than present an argument about a non-existent threat to international peace and security, these Western countries used the instrument of the controversial “right to protect”.

Again in this instance the UNSC deliberately violated the UN Charter, specifically Chapter VIII, by contemptuously ignoring the submission of the African Union to the UNSC concerning the steps it had taken and would take to achieve the peaceful resolution of the internal conflict in one of its Member States, Libya.

During the 2008 Hokkaido, Japan G8 Summit Meeting we engaged Presidents Medvedev and Hu Jintao of Russia and China respectively and advised them of our view that the UNSC had neither any legal authority nor any need to intervene in Zimbabwe as the country did not present any threat to international peace and security, and that SADC was engaging the Zimbabweans to help them solve their problems.

They expressed their respect for our positions by voting against the resolution on Zimbabwe when this was later presented to the UNSC.

In essence we were accused of betraying the cause of human rights because:

  • we insisted that all countries, including the most powerful, should respect international law;
  • we sought to encourage all countries to respect the legitimate decisions of the world multilateral organisations, especially the UN;
  • we opposed the unilateral abuse of power by some countries to impose their will on the peoples of the world;
  • we opposed the misuse of globally well accepted values, such as promotion of human rights, to disguise the pursuit of selfish hegemonic goals; and,
  • we sought to defend the right of all nations to self-determination, supported by the rest of the international community, without compromising this right.

Betrayal of these rules has resulted both in transforming Libya into a failed State engulfed in protracted violent conflict, and the export of weapons from this country, causing enormous problems in the African Sahel and Syria.

To the contrary, by exercising their right to self-determination, in 2008, and with our facilitation, the democratically elected representatives of the people of Zimbabwe adopted the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Writing on October 23, 2015 in the Zimbabwe privately owned and opposition-supporting newspaper, the “Zimbabwe Independent”, Wilbert Mukori said:

“We had the opportunity to end tyranny during the Government of National Unity (GNU), but once again, we failed to realise Tsvangirai and his MDC were too incompetent to implement all the 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA) democratic reforms. These were a necessary prerequisite for meaningful change, which would end ZANU PF’s octopus dictatorial reach and control of state institutions…”

“The only legal and peaceful way to force ZANU PF out is by demanding the implementation of all the 2008 GPA democratic reforms.”

I have never heard those who accuse us of betraying the cause of human rights denounce those who have abused this cause as in the case of the 2003 Iraq war, consistent with what Henry Kissinger said, with disastrous consequences. Neither have these condemned the abuse of power which has plunged Libya into the most serious crisis.

The accusation that we have betrayed the cause of human rights derived from the fact that, by asserting the rule of international law in the interest of ‘countries without global leverage’, we opposed the pernicious global diktat of those who, in their interest, see themselves and act as the universal benevolent hegemon!

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