Zimbabwe: Humanitarian Situation Linked to Sanctions

By Obi Egbuna
December 08 2008

THROUGHOUT African people's history of fighting for liberation and human dignity, each gain and breakthrough we have made was mainly due to our ability to overcome our enemy's overt brutality, deceit and manipulation.

Because the colonialists and imperialists have actively engaged in both our physical and mental oppression, the web of deception created by their liberal camps and networks is a crucial and deadly weapon if we are not prepared for the onslaught and attacks.

The manner in which the United States and British media have reported how cholera is spreading in Zimbabwe not only reveals they enjoy watching a people whom they cannot intimidate and control suffer, but even, more importantly, it is clearly a masquerade by supposedly compassionate human beings who have nothing to do with the problem.

The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, and his staff deserve ultimate praise, not only for their tireless efforts to maintain Zimbabwe's health infrastructure, but for having the courage and integrity to inform the world that the sanctions -- and not negligence or bad governance -- are the root cause for problems with the country's health delivery system.

While the cholera problem is tragic and deserves our immediate attention, the political parasites in the Western world, obsessed with a racist illegal regime change in Zimbabwe, should be the last ones allowed to pass moral judgment on how President Mugabe and Zanu-PF deal with this matter.

This brings us back to the opportunism of former US President Jimmy Carter and his cohorts who attempted to force their way into Zimbabwe a few weeks ago under a liberal banner and facade of goodwill.

Carter's inability and unwillingness to aggressively persuade every US President that succeeded him to honour the commitment he made to Zimbabwe during the Lancaster House negotiations speaks volumes in relationship to his concerns about the people's well-being and the country's stability. Because the Southern African Development Community collectively demanded that Morgan Tsvangirai and his faction of the MDC share the Ministry of Home Affairs with President Mugabe and Zanu-PF on November 9, 2008, the US and British countered by using Carter and the "Elders" group to do their bidding and initiate "damage control".

This was in the hope that they could sabotage the Sadc ruling that demonstrated the solidarity and international Pan-Africanist logic that informed the region's involvement in Zimbabwe's political stand-off. Since Zimbabwe happens to be located in the southern region of Africa, US and British imperialism have chosen people like "Madiba" Nelson Mandela's wife Graca Machel to do their dirty work, hoping their words and actions will give credibility to the Western anti-Mugabe crusade.

America and Britain are truly desperate and naive if they believe the name recognition of Mandela will be more of a determining factor in how daughters and sons of Africa analyse and address the Zimbabwe question as opposed to the unified voice of Sadc.

If the Mandelas are not careful, it will be their reputations and credibility that are on the line.

The "Elders" group, which was founded last year on Mandela's 89th birthday, must be thoroughly examined from top to bottom by Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa.

We can begin by focusing in on two of its partners -- Bridgeway Foundation and Humanity United.

While the founder of Bridgeway Foundation, John Montgomery, started the group in 1993 after hearing a preacher in church discuss the work of Amnesty International, Humanity United is directly and openly affiliated with the Genocide Prevention Task Force co-chaired by former US Secretary of Defence William Cohen and former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright.

This task force is jointly convened by the United States Holocaust Museum, American Academy of Diplomacy and the US Institute of Peace which is directly funded by the US Congress. The timing of the "Elders" decision to visit Zimbabwe and the rest of its founding membership pool should arouse suspicion which force the masses of Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa, who are obviously tired of the West meddling in our political affairs, not to be mislead.

Since the "Elders" group is considered to be the brainchild of British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, who along with the rock and roll musician Peter Gabriel raised US$18 million to get the group started, the old adage "he who pays the piper calls the tune" should not be considered an attempt to insult or embarrass the Mandelas, Desmond Tutu or former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.

During the historic signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Zanu-PF and both factions of MDC earlier this year, President Mugabe stressed the importance of Zimbabweans remaining the masters of their own destiny.

These words were a testament to both his experience and vast base of knowledge.

The President and ruling party were not only encouraging their people to honour the political culture of unity which has always guided the liberation struggle, but safeguarding against the liberal camps of British and US imperialism which continue to attempt to derail genuine efforts at indigenous empowerment across the African continent. When Mandela used the platform of his 90th birthday party in Britain to claim there was a "tragic absence of leadership" in Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was already looking at the strategic advantage of making Graca a Dame Commander of the British Empire.

This manoeuvre was also supposed to signal that the solidarity between the people of Mozambique and Zimbabwe no longer meant anything.

It would truly be a tragedy if Graca has forgotten long before her and her current husband took their vows in matrimony, President Mugabe and Zanu-PF sacrificed their new-found freedom in Zimbabwe by deploying 50 000 troops in Mozambique to help defeat Renamo and save the government led by her late husband Cde Samora Machel and Frelimo.

When the true history of Africa is finally written, this courageous act by President Mugabe and Zanu-PF will be seen to have been equally as vital, in terms of setting the political tone in Southern Africa, as the efforts our Cuban comrades fighting alongside MPLA in Angola.

Since Zimbabwe has made an appeal to the international community to assist with the cholera problem, we can only hope this appeal is handled entirely different from the manner in which the West has handled the call to assist with Zimbabwe's courageous fight to eradicate the HIV and Aids pandemic.

It is quite interesting that the distinguished members of the "Elders" group have never opened their mouths about how humanitarian aid has been used as a political weapon against Zimbabwe.

This might be idealistic on the part of those of us who are expecting them to bite the hand that feeds them financially and politically.

However, it is mind boggling, especially when we know one of the feathers in Annan's cap is the Nobel Peace Prize he won for HIV and Aids work.

But never has he issued a challenge to the Global Fund's chair and executive director Tommy Thompson and Richard Feacham who denied Zimbabwe's applications with no logical explanation, to assist Harare's brave and commendable efforts.

The Mandelas have also remained silent on this matter as well.

It is also disappointing that Archbishop Tutu has decided to let the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Roland Williams, dictate how he addresses the humanitarian and political issues in Zimbabwe.

Why can't he, instead, come and talk to people like Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga face-to-face like a true son of Africa and a man of God?

In his report on Zimbabwe, Carter claimed that 3 500 people are dying every week from HIV and Aids in Zimbabwe.

On the contrary, Minister Parirenyatwa has refuted these figures, which are actually closer to 1 500.

Zimbabwe was applauded in Mexico this summer when it was announced that this country has the most rapid decline in HIV and Aids infection rates in Southern Africa (from 33 percent in 2000 to 15,6 percent in 2008).

This forces Africans outside Zimbabwe to question the motives of the non-governmental organisations and human rights groups who are discussing the cholera problem in Zimbabwe to trumpet the claim that a regime change is the solution to the country's problems.

Minister Parienyatwa and his staff have talked about appealing to the National Medical Association, the Black Nurses' Association and other medical advocacy groups in the US to request that they not only help identify humanitarian support, but also help explain the impact the sanctions are having on the health infrastructure of the country.

Since we understand that the outcome of Zimbabwe's power-sharing agreement is directly connected to how neo-colonialism is neutralised and defeated in Africa, let us make everyone know that the humanitarian crisis is directly linked to the fight to lift the US and British-imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.

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