Magazine article New African

Zimbabwe the Brigade against Mugabe: The Line-Up of the Anti-Mugabe Brigade Is Really Awesome. and They Want Him out. All Because He Is Redistributing Land from White Farmers to Landless Blacks. (Feature)

Magazine article New African

Zimbabwe the Brigade against Mugabe: The Line-Up of the Anti-Mugabe Brigade Is Really Awesome. and They Want Him out. All Because He Is Redistributing Land from White Farmers to Landless Blacks. (Feature)

Article excerpt

As Zimbabwe descends into anarchy and chaos, land is irrationally seized from productive farmers, we are told. President Robert Mugabe is portrayed as a dictator bent on driving this nation into starvation and economic disaster while benevolent US and British leaders call for democracy and human rights.

These are the images presented by Western news reports, intended to persuade the public to support an interventionist policy. As always when the West targets a foreign leader for removal, news reports ignore complexity and context, while the real motivations for intervention remain hidden.

History and context are essential for understanding political events, and it is precisely these aspects that are lacking in the Western reporting of Zimbabwe. Agriculture is the most significant sector of Zimbabwe's economy. Yet, Western news reports encourage the view that land reform is harming economic performance, implying that efficient farming is best left in the hands of 4,500 wealthy white farmers, while ignoring the millions of blacks barely able to survive.

The unspoken assumption is that only white farmers are capable of efficiency. The concern expressed in the West for "efficiency" is in reality a mask for the preservation of white privilege.

Temporary economic dislocation is an unavoidable by-product of land reform, but genuine and lasting progress in Zimbabwe can only be achieved through land redistribution.

In the West, the gross imbalance imposed by colonial theft is accepted as the natural order in Zimbabwe, with the indigenous population lacking any claim to the land. The government's fast track land reform is intended to rectify historical injustices and to ensure a more equitable division of the land.

But Zimbabwe's path runs counter to Western efforts to integrate the economies of sub-Saharan Africa in the interests of Western capital. In the period leading up to Zimbabwe's March 2002 presidential election, Western leaders attempted to tighten the screws on the country, hoping to affect the outcome.

Already a sort of de facto sanctions regime was in place, in that Western officials were actively discouraging trade with Zimbabwe while overheated news reports painted a picture of instability and unreliability, which also tended to deter trade. Last November, the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, revealed that during the past few months he had been "building coalitions" against Zimbabwe.

As the Extraordinary Summit of the South African Development Community (SADC) opened in Blantyre, Malawi, on 14 January this year, Britain threatened to withhold $18m in budgetary support from Malawi, the chair of the SADC, unless it agreed to direct the SADC towards the imposition of sanctions against Zimbabwe.

This was a significant portion of Malawi's budget. Similar threats to withdraw budgetary support were wielded against Mozambique.

At the summit, President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania announced that the British Foreign Office minister for Africa, Baroness Amos, had telephoned him directly and urged him not to support Zimbabwe at the SADC and at the then impending Commonwealth meeting in Australia. When that call failed, Jack Straw then telephoned and attempted to bully Mkapa. Under Article 98 of the Cotonou Agreement, disputes between the European Union and the African Pacific Caribbean (ACP) countries must be taken to the joint EU-ACP Council of Ministers for resolution.

Last year, Zimbabwe's invocation of Article 98 was simply ignored by the EU, prompting President Muluzi of Malawi to write to the EU on behalf of die SADC. Muluzi complained that Zimbabwe's "legitimate concerns had received neither a response nor an acknowledgement from the EU," and that the EU had instead threatened to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe.

British and American foreign policy has increasingly come to rely on the use of proxy organisations to carry out specific tasks involved in destabilising other nations. …

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