Ranga Mataire

Writing Back

Some compatriots are confusing the New Dispensation’s re-engagement and engagement thrust as some kind of surrender.

This line of thinking is couched within a linear liberal rapprochement approach that renders the one seeking to engage a lame duck at the mercy of Big Brother’s nefarious manoeuvres.

The one seeking to re-engage is expected to suffer all manner of misrepresentations without recourse for fear of being vanquished.

It appears as though some among us are confusing the Second Republic’s thrust of a new kind of politics anchored on tolerance, less adversarial, less toxic and no name calling as some kind of weakness.

Some have even made it a pastime to daily malign the person of the Presidency for a few pieces of silver. It must be made clear that the idea of birthing a new kind of non-adversarial politics must neither be viewed as a sign of weakness, nor abdication of power.

We need to understand that Zimbabwe is governed by its own laws as enshrined in its Constitution.

The good thing about the current administration led by President Mnangagwa is that it is a product of the nationalist project that was foundational in birthing what we call Zimbabwe today.

It is an administration quite conscious of history because its drivers are direct products of that valiant foundational history.

What Zimbabwe seeks is to be treated as an equal member of the global world and be able to trade and develop its economy.

The problem we have today is that we have some among us who are so averse to history and are ignorant that they are ignorant.

Such people are dangerous because they view everything through the lens of the “present”.

What is clear to any student of history is that all over the world, the Western world, particularly the United States, always resorts to the divide and rule tactic to conquer and install pliable regimes.

They often set some indigenes against their fellow compatriots.

What is at the centre of the West’s attitude towards Zimbabwe is known and apparent.

Zimbabwe remains nationalistic in its framing of national and foreign policies. This is something that the West is averse to.

US planners have always stated in one document or another that the primary threat to their New World Order is Third World nationalism. Forget about Al Qaeda or international terrorism, the major threat to America’s interests are nationalistic post-independence administrations that are responsive to “popular demand for immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masters” and production for domestic needs.

Zimbabwe’s greatest crime was to embark on a radical mass empowerment of ordinary masses through the ownership of the means of production the land.

One only needs to look at the core of the sanctions law including the politics of those that have sponsored the sanctions law back in 2001 to appreciate the attitude of the US.

On March 8, 2001, US senators Bill First and Russ Feingold introduced ZIDERA Bill a bipartisan effort comprising of politicians across the aisle.

It is not the likes of Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, who were also part of the sponsors, who tell the story best. It is one Senator Jesse Helms in 2001, and Jeff Flake in 2018.

Jeff Flake

From demands for Zimbabwe to withdraw from the DRC to democracy, at the core of ZIDERA was the land issue.

Any student of history knows that Mr Helms was a close friend of racist Rhodesia and an ardent supporter of Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

A well-known white supremacist, Mr Helms once ran an advert in support of racist candidate in the US that screamed: “White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working besides you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories?”

Not only that, when the Civil Rights Act was passed in Congress in 1964, outlawing discrimination against blacks, Mr Helms denounced it as “the most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced”.

He described Martin Luther Jnr and his followers as “communists and sexual perverts”.

But the greatest of ironies is that while Mr Helms campaigned for sanctions to be imposed on Zimbabwe, he campaigned against sanctions on Rhodesia.

The same Mr Helms tried and failed to present Bishop Abel Muzorewa to President Jimmy Carter in July 1979 as the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia after the sham election that brought Muzorewa to power in an election that disenfranchised parts of the population.

President Carter was required by law to end the sanctions if the election was deemed representative enough. Here was Mr Helms hand-holding the bishop through Capitol Hill, seeking endorsement for an illegitimate leader and demanding that Mr Carter lifts sanctions.

During the Lancaster House negotiations, Mr Helms despatched two of his aides to support Smith’s delegation in a show of support of continued colonial rule.

Fast forward to the 1980s, Mr Helms and Mr Bob Dole, later a US presidential candidate campaigned to have the US suspend support for Mozambique and instead support Renamo, a rebel movement founded and supported by apartheid South Africa.

So to any student of history, it was not surprising to see Mr Helms, a friend of Rhodesia sponsoring a law that punishes Zimbabwe for embarking on the land reform programme.

Mr Helms died in 2008, but his rightist ideals did not die as Mr Jeff Flake picked up the baton.

In 1987, Mr Flake testified before the Utah State Senate in support of a resolution expressing support for apartheid South Africa.

And while Mr Flake today supports sanctions on Zimbabwe, he once opposed sanctions on the apartheid regime arguing that this would worsen the conditions for black South Africans.

Mr Flake has tried to paint himself as a progressive conservative, but evidence close to home points a different story.

His teenage son, Tanner, once named himself “niggerkiller” in an online game, and posted YouTube comments using the word “nigger”. Mr Flake had to apologise on his son’s behalf.

Whether it is Mr Flake, an apartheid defender, or yesterday’s Mr Helms, an ardent supporter of Rhodesia, the central demand has always been about land.

Zimbabwe is being made an example for daring to take land from whites. So Zimbabwe is very conscious of history and the hope is that the West and Americans will one day accept that  land reform is irreversible.

Anyone who thinks that this is just about democracy or human rights is either naïve or refusing to read history.

We are all aware what this is all about.