Why Africa finds it hard to support MDC
By Reason Wafawarova
September 04, 2007
The March 31 2007 Sadc Dar-es Salaam communiqué on Zimbabwe; the July 2007 Accra AU Conference's position on the same; and the reaffirmation of the African stance at the 27th Sadc Summit in Lusaka, Zambia; have all but sent one clear message to the MDC:
Africa stands by Zimbabwe.
These three gatherings unanimously expressed solidarity with the position of the Government, officially (and maybe rightly) stated as the "people of Zimbabwe". Africa has, three times in a row; in a period of five months, unequivocally and solidly stood by Zimbabwe in relation to the illegal sanctions regime, the land reform programme as well as the validity of the last three national elections in which the MDC participated and lost.
That solidarity has expressed condemnation of the Western-administered economic sanctions on Zimbabwe, supported the land reform policy and validated the election results for 2000, 2002 and 2005 as free and fair.
The solidarity has gone further and proposed packages to rescue Zimbabwe from its current problems.
All this has been against expectations of a heavy-handed approach and hard-line stance on Zimbabwe from the Western ruling elite and members of their MDC political project.
Both the MDC and the Western ruling elite are clearly less than amused that African leaders have not lived up to their bidding on Zimbabwe in general and President Mugabe in particular.
The question to be asked is why Africa finds it so hard to support a party that claims to be a champion of democracy or better still; why have these African leaders failed to see the alleged excesses and inhumane nature of the Zimbabwean Government?
The simple answer that has often been put forward is that all those African leaders supporting or failing to condemn Zimbabwe are either equal "dictators" or simply too impressed by President Robert Mugabe's credentials as a liberation icon.
Some have even inferred that it is all because all Africans are inherently corrupt and genetically incapable of handling complex matters related to things like economic policies.
This, of course, is not only simplistic and reductionist thinking but also smacks of gross inferiority complex on the part of Africans who embrace such warped thinking.
The MDC has expressed its disappointment with South Africa, Sadc, Comesa and the AU so many times since its formation in 1999 that one actually wonders if political insight and free and fair political space are a phenomenon only as young as eight years; the life span of the MDC? At least judging by the rulings of the MDC on each and every decision taken by any of these African stakeholders on Zimbabwe.
Every time a position is made on Zimbabwe, it turns out that the position falls short of MDC expectations and is subsequently lampooned as "unfree and unfair."
If there is one thing the MDC factions have always got right, it is the assertion that the problems in Zimbabwe need a political solution. However, that political solution does not necessarily lie in illegal regime change nor does it lie in an MDC government.
The solution lies in resolving the bilateral conflict between Harare and London, a conflict that has been given a semblance of multi-lateralism when Britain lobbied the EU to back its position.
As the 19th century Prussian conflict theorist, Carl von Clausewitz put it; conflict or war "is politics continued by other means." Marx and Engels regarded conflict as the continuation politics of the powers concerned. In this context it is more than important to analyse all the political aspects of a conflict or a crisis as the Zimbabwean situation is often termed.
Here, there is need to find the real policies (not the stated ones) of which a conflict is a continuation, and the policies of the players involved in that conflict. There is need to examine all the belligerent powers, not just one.
If one agrees with the policies that have led to the conflict from one side of the conflict, then they agree with the politics of that particular side, even when such policies are pursued through the means of a struggle, revolution or force.
Conversely, if one is a political opponent of the policies from another side, then they do not put aside their political opposition simply because the side they agree with has decided to confront the conflict by forceful or revolutionary means.
What happens is that one remains an opponent of the policies and politics that led to the conflict itself and not necessarily to the means by which the conflict has been pursued.
Only pacifists are opposed to conflict just for the sake of attaining peace through maintaining the status quo and those politicians heading African states are most certainly not a bunch of moralistic pacifists bent on turning the other cheek each time an imperialist blow is thrown at them. They are like every other politician worthy the name; visionaries sworn to fight for emancipation and a legacy of positive social change.
They support Zimbabwe's land reform programme, not necessarily because they agree with the modalities of how the policy has been implemented so far but primarily because they support the politics behind the land reform programme.
They support Harare's position with regard to the Western-administered sanctions regime, not necessarily because Harare is home to fellow Africans but because they fundamentally agree with the politics that led to those sanctions; or conversely, they disagree with the politics that motivated the Western allies who have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.
The stated politics behind the sanctions are that they are firstly not economic sanctions but mere travel bans, a fact disputed even by the US State Department itself, if one looks at their March 2007 announcement that they are actually stepping up the anti-Zimbabwe programme through the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.
The other stated politics behind the sanctions states that Zimbabwe is pursuing "unsound policies", that Zimbabwe is governed by a tyrannical regime, that there is a culture of human rights violations, that the political playing field is uneven, that the declining wealth of the country is a result of gross looting by those in power, that elections after the formation of the MDC have all been fraudulent and that President Mugabe is the sole dictatorial individual making everybody in Zimbabwe suffer.
The Government, with apparent support from the African family, disputes the stated politics and asserts that the real politics is nothing more than the bitterness of the British and their western allies over the seizure of white-held, not owned, farms for onward distribution to landless black people.
After all, they seem to argue; no imperialist goal has ever been pursued in the name of its real intentions. No imperialist army, of course, marches off to war under the slogans "Higher Corporate Profits!" or "Blood for Oil!" on its banners.
No, the army marches behind the massive power of the imperialist rulers' ideological agents-its politicians and their mass media.
These work overtime to create a pretext that can convince the ordinary people that the imperialist rulers are fighting against tyranny, for democracy, for the defence of their families, against terrorism, for freedom and human rights, against any evil their minds can cook up or for any "noble" causes their imagination can muster.
It is the expectation for these super attractive happily ever after sweet freedoms and liberties that many of the youthful Zimbabweans in the MDC have come to a point where they now consider themselves citizens of a "new Zimbabwe", pretty much the same way we hear religious people saying they do not belong to their homes here on earth but to a new home in Heaven.
For 90 years, Zimbabweans were made servile citizens in their own homeland under brutal apartheid British rule and that yoke was broken on April 18 1980. For 27 years, Zimbabweans have considered themselves citizens of an independent Zimbabwe and they have always believed that they are African Zimbabweans.
In comes the western money bags, thrown right into the hands of one Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC and we have a whole bunch of youngsters and misguided elderly people clamouring for a new status as Western Zimbabweans, hailing from what they call "new Zimbabwe".
In 1992, Noam Chomsky, a prolific and renowned intellectual, was asked by Heinz Dieterich why some Latin Americans had turned themselves into "Ibero-Americans" (after 150 years as Latin Americans) and how a bit of Spanish money could make such a change possible after such a long time of a solid identity.
Noam Chomsky replied, "People have a price, some will sell themselves for five cents, others will demand a million dollars."
To this writer, it would appear like many in the MDC have given themselves for two cents and it is because of this cheap price that Africa finds it hard to support or stand by the MDC. The opposition has just postured as a cheap outfit of donor mongers bent on selling our birthright for two cents and its simply difficult if not impossible for any African worthy the name to identify with the MDC.
Africa, through South Africa, Sadc, Comesa or the AU, has simply refused to support the western politics behind the problems in Zimbabwe. To the contrary, they have openly supported the Zimbabwean politics behind the Harare-London bilateral conflict. To this end they have refused to be mere pacifists blinded by bruises of rebels who come second best in physical showdowns with the police.
They rather choose to view the conflict in the context of its politics, regretting what might be considered the excesses of the conflict but never losing sight of the just cause for which Zimbabwean politics stands.
In this context, the MDC is right in pointing out that the solution lies in politics. It lies in the politics of the MDC realising that a Western Zimbabwe is not going to materialise and that Zimbabwe can never be bought for five cents.
The solution lies in the realisation that the imperial agenda of reversing the land reform programme is not worthy supporting, regardless of the baited silver. It is not worthy supporting because it is a tool of permanent subjugation of one's own people. It seeks to reinstate our pre-1980 status as servile citizens in our own motherland.
As for Arthur Mutambara; the message is very clear. There is absolutely no need to make a fool out of oneself by trying a hopeless juggle between the western money-bags and one's birthright.
It only makes one look plain ridiculous in the eyes of both Zimbabweans and the Western ruling elite.
The learned Professor has to simply come home to himself and tell the Westerners that he is no longer for sale and return every cent "donated" to his faction after he was installed to the presidency by Professor Welshman Ncube.
It is almost cruel to advise Tsvangirai to do the same because in all honesty, the man deserves the money since he is basically career-less and politically hopeless. This writer would insist that Tsvangirai should desist from calling for more sanctions on the country and should stop misleading his sponsors by telling them that change is in the pipeline.
However, he deserves to keep whatever proceeds of treachery he has so far acquired, purely on the moral grounds of the uncertainty of his future. After all, the crumbs did take Bishop Abel Muzorewa a substantial amount of time before we began to hear rumours of destitution.
Anyway, this may be the lighter side of our Zimbabwean politics but the serious side is that the MDC; in all its shapes, factions and formations should seriously consider transforming itself into a home-grown opposition party by firstly cutting its unholy ties with our country's erstwhile oppressors.
The sooner those in the MDC realise that their politics cannot be supported in Africa the better for all who genuinely want to promote democracy through a multi-party system.
This writer is certain that Zimbabweans are a hopeful people and will soon solve the current problems and shame the vultures waiting for land re-grabbing disguised through the vehicle of freedom and democracy or maybe property rights.
Reason Wafawarova is a Zimbabwean writer writing from Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Visit: Zimbabwe Watch