By Eunice Masunungure
ALTHOUGH the Government of Zimbabwe has been championing re-engagement with the West and international financial institutions, from which she has been estranged because of implementing empowerment programmes such as Land Reform and Resettlement Programme, re-establishing relations with the world’s biggest economy and its allies continues to be marked by twisted and subjective reportage from Western diplomats.
The West, especially the US, continues its false reportage on Zimbabwe and turns a blind eye on the comprehensive reforms the Zimbabwean Government is implementing; including the re-engagement initiatives, ongoing inclusive dialogue, chiefly characterised by the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), zero tolerance to corruption and the compensation of land-redistribution-affected farmers set on course with the signing of the Global Compensation Deed on July 29 2020.
Instances of such false reportage and negativity are found in the August 28 2020 joint letter from the Heads of Mission of Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The joint letter accused the Government of Zimbabwe of not fulfilling its mandate to ‘serve’ the country!
How can the US pledge its willingness to serve Zimbabweans when it has consistently pressed on the neck of the Government with illegal sanctions that harm the economy, especially the vulnerable ordinary people?
Surely, such a juxtaposition of ‘willingness to help’ and sanctions is impossible.
The letter did not take into cognisance that in the last two years, so much has happened in a bid to stamp out the scourge with Government Ministers such as Prisca Mupfumira and Obadiah Moyo, being dismissed from their positions and prosecuted for corruption.
It also ignored high profile arrests and convictions of senior Government officials like Douglas Tapfuma – former Principal Director of State Residences, who was jailed for four years after being convicted on three counts of criminal abuse of office.
Simon Mudzingwa Taranhike, the former ZINARA Director, was jailed 15 months after being convicted on charges of criminal abuse of office.
Samuel Undenge, former Energy Minister, was jailed for two and a half years on similar charges.
These are good examples of anti-corruption moves.
And goes on to show that the West is failing to be objective in its narratives.
The joint statement also blamed the Government for restricting citizens’ freedom hiding behind the COVID-19 pandemic.
It read: “But COVID-19 must not be used as an excuse to restrict citizens’ fundamental freedoms.”
This is reminiscent of the July 17 2020 MDC-A Vice President Tendai Biti’s utterances to US think-tank, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in a virtual meeting under theme ‘The Fight for Democracy and Public Health.’
“In Zimbabwe we have these draconian regulations that were enacted in March 2020 and have been amended on more than 30 times, which have simply served to lock down democracy.
So whilst the ruling party and first family are able to go around their businesses, we in the opposition- have not been allowed to carry out or do any activity.”
The Western diplomatic community fitly place themselves as speakers for the opposition in their argument that the pandemic is being used to punish general members of the populace.
Yet in their countries they heavily deployed the army to enforce lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.
But what is good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander.
The joint statement fitly sounds as an opposition MDC’s narrative alleging that the Government is not giving the masses a dialogue platform!
A forum for national dialogue already exists under the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), however, some chose to remain outside of it, who is to blame?
The MDC-A has refused to be part of it, projecting an insane urge to be treated differently as a super political party.
Clearly, the West is not ready to reform from such negativity but continues to act as a prefect of the so-called Third World.
This Western negativity is also evidenced by misrepresentations regarding human rights in Zimbabwe.
Even in instances outside the joint-letter, the West continues to frame Zimbabwe as lacking in respect of basic human rights.
Tweets by the US Embassy@usembassyharare Harare on August 25 are good instances:
“The continued denial of Hopewell Chinóno’s right to bail, representation and a speedy trial violate his constitutionally protected rights,” read the tweet.
Chin’ono violated the country’s laws and the law is taking its course, should he get preferential treatment just because he has a ‘narrative’ that pleases the Americans?
Another instance of misrepresentation is from August 21 2020 tweets by US Senate Foreign Relations Committee@SenateForeign.
Alleged the tweet:
“The credibility of #Zimbabwe’s judiciary was eroded more this week after bias shown by courts against citizens…All political prisoners including Hopewell Chinóno and […] deserve impartial justice and due process.”
Again should Chin’ono be treated differently from other alleged criminals because he is some Britain trained journalist?
Beyond doubt Western narratives about the status quo in Zimbabwe are devoid of objectivity and seek to sanitise the West’s vitriol against Zimbabwe.
What is spelt in the annals of re-engagement that ‘the main objective of the re-engagement efforts is to normalise relations of Zimbabwe with the West is not important at all to the US and its allies.
There is need to write back and correct the wrong impression created by Western propaganda.
Will the diplomatic narratives ever seek to explain the recent unrest in Wisconsin after, a 29-year -old Jacob Blake, who was opening the door of a parked vehicle, on a residential street and got shot seven times by a white American police officer.
The 29-year-old Blake is partially paralysed (at the time of compilation of this edition.)
That is a valid story to put on the table when talking about human rights.
Ironically, there are no human rights in US as evidenced by frequent deaths of innocent black lives at the hands of the American police, but we do not hear of violations of human rights in Uncle Sam’s country.