America's Misguided Stance on Zimbabwe: While Zimbabwe's Erstwhile Political Enemies Have Joined Hands to Work for Peace, National Reconciliation and Economic Recovery, Dissonant Voices in America Are Telling the US Congress and Government to Harden Its Stance against Zimbabwe, a Position Likely to Lead to a Major Clash between the Two Countries. Ifa Kamau Cush Reports from Washington
Cush, Ifa Kamau, New African
When Zimbabwe's new deputy prime minister, Prof Arthur Mutambara, delivered his maiden speech to Parliament in March, he had no doubt about the role America is playing in his country. "We must take note that if the government [the Inclusive Government formed in February this year by the three main parties in the country--Zanu PF and the two erstwhile opposition MDC formations] fails because of lack of support, it is the people of Zimbabwe who [will be] the biggest losers ... It is [Prime Minister] Morgan Tsvangirai and his team, including all of us who came in from the opposition, who will be disgraced. A collapse of this government will drive this country into dire crisis that will make Somalia look like child's play. Is this what you want, America, Britain and Europe? Whose interests are you serving?," asked the tough-talking 43-year-old deputy prime minister, a member of an MDC that has benefitted from Western financial and political support for the past 10 years.
But Mutambara was not finished. "It is in this context that we denounce in the strongest of terms the extension by one year of sanctions on Zimbabwe by President Barack Obama," Mutambara continued. "It is my view that this unfortunate decision was based on ignorance and arrogance. How can you say: 'The actions and policies of the government of Zimbabwe pose a continuous unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the US'? Is that even the correct way of phrasing your concerns?
"We all thought [what were] of paramount importance were the people of Zimbabwe and their aspirations, and not US foreign policy. Yes, we have challenges in implementing the GPA [Global Political Agreement signed by the three parties], but grant us the common sense and intelligence that we know what we want as a nation. There is unprecedented unanimity among our citizens that this government must succeed. Why is a US president with African roots making irresponsible decisions without consulting Zimbabweans, Africans and African institutions? We take particular exception to this unmitigated ignorance and arrogance."
But Mutambara's concerns appear not to have been heard in Washington DC where, in early May, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee heard testimony from American organisations that have advocated regime change in Zimbabwe over the past several years. The testimony, delivered to the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health chaired by the Democratic Congressman, Donald Payne of New Jersey, was a regurgitation of the State Department's talking points that are designed to undermine Zimbabwe's new Inclusive Government.
Taking their cue from the Obama administration which is continuing the Bush administration's invidious policy against Zimbabwe, representatives of the rightwing National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI) and TransAfrica ignored the African Union's embrace of Zimbabwe's new government and, instead, described the Inclusive Government as "undemocratic". It is the view of many scholars, diplomats and activists that, with regards to Africa, the Obama administration only listens to the previous Bush administration.
Dr Molefi Kete Asante, professor of African-American Studies at Temple University, Philadelphia, has expressed his disappointment that the Obama administration "has not taken progressive action" on many African issues. "President Obama mirrors the Bush administration with regards to Zimbabwe and Darfur," Dr Asante said.
On Zimbabwe, the Obama administration's policy is particularly egregious. Rejecting AU calls to lift economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by Western governments, President Obama issued an Executive Order in March this year, continuing America's prohibition placed on the IMF, the World Bank and other international financial institutions (IFIs), including the African Development Bank, from lending money to Zimbabwe--a policy in place under the Bush administration since 2001. …