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Friday, 11 April 2008

Action Alert: Support Zimbabwe now!

I don't normally do this (since New Zambia is apolitical), but apparently "the evils of government are directly proportional to the tolerance of the people". So I am putting my conscience before the blog. Please could all the pro-Zimbabwe readers of New Zambia join Sokwanele in this petition to President Mwanawasa and President Mbeki. You'll find all their email addresses / contact details in the post. Thanks!

10 comments:

  1. Where does Sokwanele take responsibility for sanctions? I remember reading they were a CIA operation, one of the many that support 'regime change' and 'color revolutions'.

    From Sokwanele:

    To address this issue, a Land Commission was only appointed in 1991, reported in 1994, and then its recommendations were ignored. In spite of the problems surrounding implementation of the 1992 Act, 400 farms were acquired in the early nineties. But very little resettlement took place. Administrators and politicians blatantly abused their positions. They took the opportunity to award themselves almost rent-free leases "while a policy for distribution was being worked out".

    Why had government slept for ten years, while they could have been preparing a programme? An inspection of the national budgets for the early nineties reveals that the highest allocated for all aspects of resettlement in any one year was .4% of the total.


    That was because no resettlement was taking place. For the first ten years after the Lancaster House Agreement, the land issue was not supposed to be raised. Then, in '89, the Berlin Wall fell and negotiations in South Africa accellerated. Thabo Mbeki has confirmed that they asked Robert Mugabe to hold back on land reform until their negotiations were over. The ANC came to power in 1994. Land reform changed from Willing Buyer, Willing Seller to the "Fast Track" land reform program three years later, in 1997. The same year that Claire Short sent her famous letter, which showed Britain bowing out of her Lancaster House Agreement obligations to finance land purchase.

    This article - and most on Sokwanele - tries to twist every issue into an attack on Robert Mugabe himself.

    This is just a hatchet job, nothing more. And most likely a CIA front.

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  2. Ok, here is where I read about Sokwanele.
    Grassroots Lieutenants of Imperialism?
    By Stephen Gowans

    Sokwanele is an offspring of Otpor, the underground movement that was established, funded, trained and organized by the US State Department, USAID, and the US Congress-funded National Endowment for Democracy (which is said to do overtly what the CIA used to do covertly) to bring down the Milosevic government in 2000.

    Here’s how it worked: The West ordered the formal political opposition to unite under a single banner, and to select a name that emphasized the word “democracy,” to invest the united party with moral gravitas. In Serbia, the anti-Milosevic opposition became known as the Democratic Opposition of Serbia. (In Zimbabwe, the opposition, following the same game plan, calls itself the Movement for Democratic Change.) The opposition’s anointing itself as the champion of democracy serves the additional function of calling the government’s commitment to democracy into question. If the opposition is “the democratic opposition” then what must the government be? The answer, of course, is undemocratic.

    The plan called for the opposition to accuse the government of electoral fraud to justify a transition from electoral to insurrectionary politics. The accusations built and built as the day of the vote approached, until, by sheer repetition, they were accepted as a matter of indisputable truth. The failure of the opposition candidate, Kostunica, to win the election on the first ballot, provided the pretext for people to take to the streets to force the government to step down. Otpor was central to organizing the planned “spontaneous” demonstrations.

    Wherever Washington is engaged in regime change operations, known now as color revolutions, the same plan is put into play. And where Washington is interfering in a country’s internal politics to oust governments it doesn’t like, you’ll also find Sokwanele’s sister organizations: Zubr in Belarus, Khmara in Georgia, Pora in the Ukraine. All translate into the same English phrase: enough is enough.

    Zvakwana, “an underground movement that aims to …. undermine” the Mugabe government, is another Optor offspring. (Sokwanele, “specialize(s) in anonymous acts of civil disobedience.”) (1) Both groups receive generous financing from Western sources. (2) While the original, Otpor, was largely a youth-oriented anarchist-leaning movement, at least one member of Sokwanele is “A conservative white businessman expressing a passion for freedom, tradition, polite manners and the British Royals.” (3) That, in Bond’s view, counts as the independent left.

    Not surprisingly, the Bond-recommended Sokwanele Web site links to Zvakwana’s Web site. Members of Zvakwana say their movement is homegrown and free of foreign control (4), but free from foreign control doesn’t mean free from foreign funding. The US Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, signed into law by US President George W. Bush in December 2001, empowers the president under the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to “support democratic institutions, the free press and independent media” in Zimbabwe – which is to say, groups like Sokwanele and Zvakwana.

    Movements, political parties and media elsewhere have knowingly accepted funding from Western governments, their agencies and pro-imperialist foundations, while proclaiming their complete independence. (5) Members of these groups may genuinely believe they remain aloof from their backer’s aims (and in the West it is often the very groups that claim not to take sides that are the favored recipients of this lucre), but self-deception is an insidious thing – and the promise of oodles of cash is hard to resist.

    There’s no doubt Sokwanele and Zvakwana are well-financed. Their Web sites alone betray a level of funding and organization that goes well beyond what the meager self-financing of truly independent grassroots movements — even in the far more affluent West – are able to scrape together.

    If Zvakwana denies its links to the US, other elements of the Western-backed anti-Mugabe apparatus are less secretive. Studio 7, an anti-ZANU-PF radio program carries programming by the Voice of America, an agency whose existence can hardly be said to be left-oriented or independent. Studio 7 is carried on SW Radio Africa, a shortwave radio station operating from the UK, also endorsed by the Bond-recommended Sokwanele. The station is funded by “international pro-democracy groups” (6) (i.e., US ruling class foundations and Western governments.)

    Groups like Sokwanele, Zvakwane and SW Radio Africa – and the arguments of individuals like Bond who promote them as the independent left – should be examined with a fair degree of skepticism. Are they really “independent”? If not, and they’re bound up with the foreign policy apparatus of imperialist countries, are they really left, or do they simply talk left, to hide a fundamentally pro-imperialist orientation?

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  3. MrK,

    Regardless of Sokwanele's position the facts are stairing all of us in the face. I have friends in Zimbabwe working there and they all they me the same thing.

    The point is that Mugabe has not released the vote in 15 days now.

    I am sorry, but you I refuse to be persuaded of the merits of his latest actions. I have made up my mind on Mugabe. He is a tyrant who abuses the rights of his people. He is there now illegally as far as I am concerned.

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  4. Cho,

    You are more closely informed than I am.

    However, I do not like the MDC.

    What guarantees are there that Morgan Tsvangirai is not just the second coming of Frederick Chiluba?

    Their support from white farmers does not bode well on the land issue. If they insist on their pre-land reform property rigths (derived from the apartheid government of Ian Smith and before that, the colonial government) before the property rights bestowed on the resettled farmers by the government of ZANU-PF, then they are setting the scene for a second civil war, because the people aren't going to be removed from their land quietly.

    Then, there is the MDC's lack of actual economic vision, which is replaced by an adherence the false dogmas of free markets and privatisation.

    Then, everyone talks about corruption, but how corrupt are the individuals who make up the MDC? No one seems to even think about that. All they want people to think about is ousting Mugabe.

    Is Morgan Tsvangirai democratic? Because he has not gone to the people, but every time he wants the west to intervene for him. He has even called for foreign invasion, he has called for sanctions that would hurt the economy. He even attended a meeting where a Mugabe stooge proposed the assassination of the president - without walking out indignantly.

    Then, there is the election itself. There should have been no election, before international sanctions had been lifted. Because in reality, the people's vote is not for the MDC, but for the lifting of international sanctions.

    One of the arguments that is put forward against president Mugabe is that he is corrupt, but since when has the west cared about corruption in Africa? When was the last time that aid was tied to financial transparancy and accountability? Look at Zambia. All these donor funded projects that no one follows up on, yet the praise and the aid keep coming.

    Which makes me think that the people who object to corruption in Zimbabwe are lying.

    Look, all they care about is getting their land back, and restoring western property rights in Africa.

    Cho, you imply that tyrants must go - but are you so sure that Morgan Tsvangirai is not just a tyrant in waiting? He will inherit the same laws, the same police force, the same or even worse type of MPs.

    And unlike the nationalist leadership, the neoliberals have no professed connection or obligation to the people. They are just 'pro business'. Which means pro-stealing the treasury blind.

    There are too many red flags about the MDC's philospophy, the way they handled themselves campaigning, and their backers, for me to be supportive of regime change in Zimbabwe.

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  5. MrK


    "I do not like the MDC".

    I do not like MDC either!
    I think MDC has no real vision for Zimbabwe especially on the critical issue of land. I also agree that they are strongly influenced by outside and may not have the calibre to improve the real welfare of the people.

    But none of that matters.

    First, The people expressed their will and voted for MDC and now Mugabe has withheld the votes.
    You should condemn this action or you'll sound terribly unbalanced in your assessment.

    Secondly, I don't think Mugabe should be terrorising his own people the way he has been behaving.

    Thirdly, Mugabe has held onto to power for too long and has no real vision to resolve the mess in Zimbabwe.

    The issue is not about MDC's credibility, and I agree with most of what you have said about them, the issue is Mugabe's failure to relieve power and his massive act of fraud.

    MrK, I am pretty sure that if Mwanawasa was behaving like Mugabe, withholding votes you would not be saying, oh but look at PF or UPND or UNIP....you'll simply say the Government has failed us...

    I repeat I do not support MDC's policies....I simply disapprove of Mugabe's failure to allow the votes to be declare and his brutality towards old women and children....

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  6. "I do not like the MDC".

    I do not like MDC either! I think MDC has no real vision for Zimbabwe especially on the critical issue of land. I also agree that they are strongly influenced by outside and may not have the calibre to improve the real welfare of the people.

    The land issue could really get out of hand, to the point that we are going to see british troops deployed in Zimbabwe.

    I do not put it past Tsvangirai to be so weak and unimaginativ to actually invite them in.

    But none of that matters.

    First, The people expressed their will and voted for MDC and now Mugabe has withheld the votes. You should condemn this action or you'll sound terribly unbalanced in your assessment.


    The problem I have is with how free the vote actually was. And what the vote was on.

    Because this MDC victory did not happen in a vaccuum. To what extent are the people actually voting against the misery caused by sanctions? The very sanctions the MDC called for and supports?

    I think that is extremely undemocratic. So what democratic outcome am I supposed to support and respect? Now if they had lifted sanctions for a couple of years before the elections, that would be completely different. This opens the door for western governments to impose sanctions on governments they disagree with and make the people's lifes so miserable that they vote for the opposition which they funded.

    That in itself is a direct assault on elections as the freely expressed will of the people. It also sets a terrible precedent, where a leader can make the life of his people so miserable that they vote for him.

    Secondly, I don't think Mugabe should be terrorising his own people the way he has been behaving.

    Ok, so we're both against terrorising the population. But is this going to change when the MDC takes power?

    Tsvangirai is arrogant, he has very little real hardcore ideological support in the country, and probably none in the countryside. At the same time, he will be under a lot of pressure to turn back land reform, and privatise industry, which predictably will lead to more misery because of losses of jobs and industry.

    Those are classical circumstances for disaffection, food riots, etc. How will Tsvangirai react to that? Will he take the easy road and just let the police take care of it?

    Thirdly, Mugabe has held onto to power for too long and has no real vision to resolve the mess in Zimbabwe.

    Ideally, a reason for him to hand over the reigns within ZANU-PF, not really for a change to the MDC and neoliberalism.

    The issue is not about MDC's credibility, and I agree with most of what you have said about them, the issue is Mugabe's failure to relieve power and his massive act of fraud.

    MrK, I am pretty sure that if Mwanawasa was behaving like Mugabe, withholding votes you would not be saying, oh but look at PF or UPND or UNIP....you'll simply say the Government has failed us...

    I repeat I do not support MDC's policies....I simply disapprove of Mugabe's failure to allow the votes to be declare and his brutality towards old women and children....


    Ok, I'll set out my point of view. I do not like state terror, I don't like torture, forced labour in prisons, the death penalty, all those things. And I will oppose them whereever I have the chance.

    However, I also don't like being manipulated by the powers that be into hating this person or that selectively. None of the things that Zimbawbe or Robert Mugabe is being accused of, is unique to him, or absent from the allies of the people making the accusation. But you'd think he was the 'most evil dictator' in the world. I guess must have inherited that mantle from Saddam Hussein.

    Zimbabwe has a military presence in the DRC. That is wrong, because even if invited, it is an undermining of the sovereignty of the DRC. However, so do Uganda and Rwanda, who are allies of the US. Where is the condemnation of the west's allies when they are still allies? Where is the condemnation of the extremely imperfect democracy of Pakistan, lead by General Musharraf? Who most likely is also behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto? Whatever happened to that story?

    And who in the west is making these allegations? Tony Blair? He led his country into an illegal war his own people did not even want. George Bush? He is a war criminal himself. His list of crimes is endless. (War crimes such as the invasion of a sovereign state and all the crimes and chaos that flow from that (people were hanged for that after the Nuremberg trials), perjury, electoral fraud, politicization of the Justice Department and politcal prosecution of political opponents such as Alabama governor and Democrat Don Siegelman).

    So who has the reputation left to point fingers to Zimbabwe? That is a major problem I have with chiming in with the general consensus and point an accusatory finger to Zimbabwe.

    Often, people point to the Gukurahundi killings, as a way to condemn Robert Mugabe. But those were over 20 years ago. Where have they been with their outrage? Why did they wait with being outraged about mass killings until land reform? And why are they not outraged about what is going on in the DRC, except within the context of condemning Robert Mugabe?

    So to sum it all up - we are on the same page with regards to human rights and economic rights.

    I am just extremely weary of being hoodwinked by the very same people who have been shown to be liars over Iraq, Iran, Al-Qaeda, etc. I am also concerned that as soon as they have Tsvangirai in power, they will forget all about human rights, police brutality, and all those human and civil rights issues in Zimbabwe, like they have forgotten about them in Uganda, Rwanda or the DRC.

    And above all, Tsvangirai is a figurehead - and a figurehead for who? Why is he supported outside of Zimbabwe and by whom?

    I will condemn everything Robert Mugabe has done wrong, but that does not mean I won't try to anticipate what is going to happen under the MDC, before they do it. Especially when they seem pretty obvious.

    And I have not heard any, repeat, any of the white farmer iterate the necessity of land reform in Zimbabwe, or anywhere else in Africa. Which would be very helpful, because it would at least demonstrate that they understand something is wrong with the land dispensation in Zimbabwe and there has to be a remedy for it. I doubt they will look that far ahead, or are that well intentioned.

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  7. The interesting thing here is that you somehow believe comparing Sokwanele to Otpor is unflattering. And I guess you don't realize how unflatering is the Mugabe-Milosevic comparision implied.

    Beyond that you're wrong on CIA/Department of State involvement in the coloured revolution. Actually, you're partly wrong. The CIA doesn't like popular movements, their preference is for putting their own trusted man in charge. So they actually were pretty suspicious of those efforts.

    Optor was pretty spontaneous. The "leaders" and organisers were students who wanted change, nothing else. After that success, they did start carreers as professional "peaceful revolution" organizing consultants with the help of two or three american billionaires of eastern european origins. But there again, they were consultants. In Ukraine, in Georgia, they helped locals who were mostly students organising.

    Oddly enough, the conspiracy theory about those movements doesn't acknowledge a simple reality: none of those countries became neo-liberal or pro-american heavens. In Yougoslavia, the nationalists are not surpressed, in Ukraine, the political scene is a stalemate between Ukrainian Nationlists, Liberals and Pro-Russian Nationalists, in Georgia, the current president is facing mobilisation from the same youth movement that elected him.

    In short, all of those were successful democratisation movements. None of them had any interest in promoting any particular agenda, just a change in the political environement. And as Cho said, whatever you think of MDC's positions, the issue is to move Zimbabwe past Mugabe. I bet the MDC will collapse between different factions as soon as Mugabe is out of the picture just like the Orange coalition in Kenya or Ukraine did.

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  8. Mugabe is turned into a tyrant, period. But why? Surely he didn't just snap overnight, did he? My thoughts:

    There seems to be three main forces influencing events in Zim namely Mugabe, MDC and Britain; the latter assisting MDC against Mugabe. If it were left to MDC and Mugabe alone, I think Bob would have conceded electoral defeat to MDC by now. KK did so to MMD in 1991, without international interference. The thing is not many leaders want to be seen to succumb to pressure of a foreign nature. We saw it with Saddam Hussein and Fidel Castro. These leaders had/have larger than life egos, and Mugabe is no different.

    To me the meddling hand from Britain is not helping matters. Britain simply wants to declare victory over Bob but he's holding out.

    Bob loves attention, like a kid, and if the world (Britain) could ignore him for a while, and instead employ more out of the public diplomacy/pressure, it may just work.

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  9. Zedian,

    Mugabe is turned into a tyrant, period. But why? Surely he didn't just snap overnight, did he?

    He didn't. For most of his government he was in the good books of the west. This is all a campaign to turn back land reform and to punish any who are seen to say no to the IMF. In my opinion.

    From Nationsencyclopedia:

    Riots, the worst since independence, broke out on 9 December 1986 in protest against the removal of subsidies for cornmeal, which had caused the price to rise by 120%; 15 people were killed, hundreds were injured, and hundreds of shops were looted. Peace returned two days later when Kaunda restored the subsidy and nationalized the grain-milling industry. He also ruled thenceforth with state of emergency powers. Reduction in government spending in order to reduce the deficit had been demanded by the International Monetary Fund, along with the devaluation of the currency, as a condition for extending new loans to enable Zambia to pay for essential imports. On 1 May 1987, Kaunda rejected the IMF conditions for a new financing package of about $300 million. He limited payments on the foreign debt to well under 10% of export earnings and established a new fixed currency rate of eight kwacha to the dollar. This did little to improve the economy or the popularity of Kaunda and UNIP.

    By early 1989, Zambia, in consultation with the IMF and the World Bank, developed a new economic reform plan. In early 1991, Zambia qualified for World Bank assistance for the first time since 1987, although this was later suspended. By 1990, a growing opposition to UNIP's monopoly of power had coalesced in the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD). A number of UNIP defectors and major labor leaders came together to pressure Kaunda to hold multi-party elections. In December 1990, after a tumultuous year that included riots in Lusaka and a coup attempt, Kaunda signed legislation ending UNIP's legal monopoly of power.

    After difficult negotiations between the government and opposition groups, Zambia enacted a new constitution in August 1991. It enlarged the National Assembly, established an electoral commission, and allowed for more than one presidential candidate. Candidates no longer were required to be UNIP members. In September, Kaunda announced the date for Zambia's first multi-party parliamentary and presidential elections in 19 years. On 31 October and 1 November 1991, the 27-year long state of emergency was terminated. Frederick J. T. Chiluba (MMD) defeated Kaunda, 81% to 15%. The MMD won over 125 of the 150 elected seats in the Assembly. UNIP won 25 seats, although UNIP swept the Eastern Province, winning 19 seats there.

    Despite the change of government, the economy still sputtered. Chiluba's austerity measures may have been popular with Zambia's creditors, but not with its people. Likewise, his privatization plans alarmed the unions, his original base of support. Chiluba's MMD in power became autocratic and corrupt.


    Again and again, the austerity policies demanded by the IMF are a main motivating factor.

    However, notice how very different IMF and World Bank proposals are when they are to be applied on their own democracies.

    My thoughts: There seems to be three main forces influencing events in Zim namely Mugabe, MDC and Britain; the latter assisting MDC against Mugabe. If it were left to MDC and Mugabe alone, I think Bob would have conceded electoral defeat to MDC by now. KK did so to MMD in 1991, without international interference.

    Without overt political interference. However, he came under huge pressure from the IMF, very similar to the pressure they put on Edith Nawakwi and Frederick Chiluba in 1999, and the same as they did with Zimbabwe in 2001.

    It isn't just that the US and UK are seen to be meddling in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe, it is that they have helped cause the present situation to a great degree. Hyperinflation is the cause of financial isolation, which occured through such legislation as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, and a behind the scenes campaign against anyone doing business with Zimbabwe.

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  10. it is that they have helped cause the present situation to a great degree. Hyperinflation is the cause of financial isolation, which occured through such legislation as the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, and a behind the scenes campaign against anyone doing business with Zimbabwe.

    Once again, will you explain that mysterious relationship between sanctions and hyperinflation ?
    How does one cause the other ? And why other countries under sanctions didn't experience hyperinflation ? (and as far as i know, most historical cases of hyperinflation weren't due to ay sanctions either)

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