BOIS-CAIMAN-1791-CLUB ist auf und Mach mit !

Zimbabwe Under Siege 6/13

Emotions were running high in Zimbabwe itself, as the fate of the nation rested on the outcome of the election. Supporters of both ZANU-PF and the MDC engaged in violent acts against each other, including a few cases of murder. (22) Complaints from both Zimbabwe and the SADC concerning hostile Western intervention in the political process in Zimbabwe were sent to the European Union. Under Article 98 of the Cotonou Agreement, disputes between the European Union and African Pacific Caribbean (ACP) countries must be taken to the joint EU-ACP Council of Ministers for resolution or arbitration proceedings. Zimbabwe's invocation of Article 98 was simply ignored by the European Union, prompting President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi to write to the EU on behalf of the SADC. Muluzi complained that Zimbabwe's "legitimate concerns had received neither a response nor an acknowledgment from the EU," and that the EU had instead threatened to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe. (23) Zimbabwe remained steadfast and President Mugabe declared, "We will resist the sanctions. We cannot bow to them. I know Tony Blair and the British are waging war against me and my government. I will fight against their colonialistic attitude without giving up." (24) Mugabe's firm resolve disappointed British officials, who hoped to make him grovel, and on February 18, 2002, the European Union's foreign ministers voted unanimously to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe. Under terms of the sanctions, The European Union suspended budgetary support to Zimbabwe and terminated "financial support for all projects" except "those in direct support of the population." All financial aid would be "reoriented in support of the population, in particular in the social sectors, democratization, respect for human rights and the rule of law," by which the EU meant that financial support would be funnelled to groups seeking to overthrow the government of Zimbabwe. (25) Additionally, a visa ban was imposed on 20 Zimbabwean government officials and their spouses, forbidding travel within the European Union, and overseas assets held by the targeted officials were frozen.(26) Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, among those listed in the EU's sanctions, sharply criticized the EU. "It is very clear that what we are now dealing with is organized economic terrorism whose aim is clear and is to unseat a legitimately elected government which has decided to defend its national independence and national sovereignty." (27)

Four days after the EU imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe the United States followed suit, expanding the list of targeted individuals to include not only Zimbabwean government officials, but prominent businessmen as well. The Bush Administration even added church leaders to the sanctions list, including Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, who had merely praised President Mugabe. (28)

Despite intense pressure from Great Britain, African leaders at the March 2002 Commonwealth meeting rejected the demand for sanctions against Zimbabwe. President Mkapa of Tanzania revealed that members of the Commonwealth had endured a "bombardment for an alliance against Mugabe." (29) British Prime Minister Tony Blair petulantly insisted, "There can be no question of Mugabe being allowed to stay in power with a rigged election," considering any result other than a win by the MDC as "rigged." In response to the British propensity for constantly lecturing its former colony on "democracy," President Mugabe pointed out, "There is no one who can teach us about elections. There is no one who can teach us about democracy and human rights. There was no democracy here, no human rights at all until the people of Zimbabwe decided to fight." (30)

After the polls closed at the end of the March 9-10, 2002 election in Zimbabwe, there were still people in Harare who had not yet voted, so voting was extended for a third day to accommodate them. The MDC's base of support is largely urban and ZANU-PF's rural, thus the extension of the voting period benefited the MDC. Although the election law was bent in favor of the urban vote, President Mugabe won the presidential election by a convincing margin of over 400,000 votes. Predictably, Western leaders cried "foul," outraged that the millions they had poured into the MDC's campaign failed to pay off. While President Bush was saying, "We do not recognize the outcome of the election," the South African Observer Team, which monitored the election, concluded that the "elections should be considered legitimate." Namibia announced that its observers judged the election "watertight, without room for rigging," while Nigerian observers claimed that they had not witnessed anything that would affect the integrity of the vote. Similarly, an observer from the Organization for African Unity characterized the election as "transparent, credible, free and fair." The first-hand reports by observers were simply dismissed out of hand, as U.S. and British officials loudly accused President Mugabe of fraud, motivated by their desire to use the accusation as ammunition on their continuing campaign against Zimbabwe. (31) Great Britain wasted no time in acting. A three-member panel representing Australia, Nigeria and South Africa decided to suspend Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth for a period of one year. The vote came as a startling surprise, given the assessment of the South African Observer Team. Behind the scenes, Tony Blair had subjected South African President Thabo Mbeki to intense pressure, threatening to kill plans for the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) if Mbeki did not vote as instructed. Mbeki harbored great hopes that NEPAD would become the engine of African development, and could not bear to see his dream shattered. Tony Blair, aware of his sentiments, extorted Mbeki's compliance, telling him that NEPAD would be "dead in the water," unless he voted against Zimbabwe. (32)

If British diplomatic behavior appeared overweening, it was not unconsciously so. Shortly after Tony Blair's hijacking of the March Commonwealth meeting, an essay was published by his foreign affairs advisor, Robert Cooper, calling for a new imperialism. "The challenge of the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards," wrote Cooper. "Among ourselves," by which he meant the West, "we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era -- force, preemptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle." Rather than charting a new course, Cooper's bluntly stated paper merely provided the ideological underpinning for Western policy as it is actually practiced. The citizens of Iraq, Yugoslavia, Cuba, Zimbabwe and others who attempted to defend their sovereignty against the imperial onslaught would no doubt feel that it is Cooper who is living in the nineteenth century. "[T]he opportunities, perhaps even the need for colonization is as great as it ever was in the nineteenth century," suggests Cooper. "What is needed then is a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values." Only the haughtiest imperial mind could claim "human rights and cosmopolitan values" only for the West and "force, preemptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary" for subject peoples in the Third World and Eastern Europe. (33)

1 | 2 |3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10| 11 | 12 | 13