By Tafadzwa Masango
WE are in the election season and there are plenty players in the regime change agenda working in cahoots with the opposition that The Patriot has been exposing.
This week we focus on the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust (ZDT), its founders, players and personal interests in Zimbabwe.
The Trust was set up in 2000 in the UK to remove former President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF from power, but relocated to the US in 2002 following an exposé in the media concerning its activities surrounding Zimbabwe.
An article by the UK’s The Guardian reported that: “The ZDT, whose patrons include former Tory Foreign Secretaries Malcolm Rifkind, Douglas Hurd and Geoffrey Howe has been accused of using the organisation as a cover for promoting the interests of Western multi-nationals in the troubled region (southern Africa)
The driving force behind ZDT is Sir John Collins, the Zimbabwean chairman of National Power, Britain’s largest energy company, who organised a letter to The Times, published in April, calling for free elections.
He did not say his company had substantial interests in Zimbabwe: In 1998, National Power won a US$1,5 billion contract to develop a power station in the country.
Former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Dr Chester Crocker is another patron – a director of Ashanti Gold Fields, which owns Zimbabwe’s largest gold mine. When approached by The Observer, he said: ‘I have nothing personally to gain from supporting the ZDT.
They were reaching out for like-minded people and I am like-minded.”’
The ZDT was set up in the UK in April 2000 as a non-partisan, pro-democracy group to campaign for the rights of Zimbabweans to live in ‘civic peace and freedom’.
It was incorporated in the US in July 2002 as a non-profit organisation after its headquarters moved from London to Washington, DC, in September 2002.
In March 2003, the District of Columbia granted the ZDT charitable 501-C3 tax-exempt status.
The move from the UK to the US was precipitated by scandals that dogged this so-called democracy group.
The Guardian was instrumental in exposing ZDT as nothing more than a bunch of politicians and businesspersons who had direct financial interests in Zimbabwe and were using their political connections and financial muscle to interfere in Zimbabwe.
Another British paper, The Observer, through reporters Pete Sawyer and Martin Bright, revealed there was ‘British cash behind bid to combat Mugabe’.
The Observer wrote: “A prominent group of British and American politicians and businessmen – many with energy and mining interests in Zimbabwe – are behind an international organisation to fund opposition to the regime of Robert Mugabe.”
The Observer revealed that several of the patrons of the then newly-formed Trust were directors of companies which have substantial commercial interests at stake in Zimbabwe.
The ZDT had tried to keep its membership secret for fear of reprisals from the Zimbabwe Government, but The Observer discovered that they largely came from the white business community in Zimbabwe.
In April 2000, ZDT organised a visit to London and Washington for Morgan Tsvangirai, the then leader of the MDC.
During the visits, he met British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and the US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Susan Rice.
The visits followed a visit to South Africa with an itinerary which included meetings with prominent figures in the business community, including the mining giant Anglo-American, which has interests in Zimbabwe.
The ZDT’s relocation from London to Washington DC was intended to sanitise the project by creating the impression that there was a multilateral approach to dealing with the ‘Zimbabwean issue’ instead of it being a vehicle by some politicians and their business cronies to abuse their power to direct political events in Zimbabwe.
The ZDT chairman, Lord Robin Renwick, was advisor to Lord Carrington during the negotiations to end the war of liberation as he served in the Rhodesia Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office between 1978 and 1980. He was political advisor to Lord Soames, Rhodesia’s Governor during the ceasefire and elections leading to the independence of Zimbabwe.
He served subsequently as Ambassador to South Africa in the period leading to the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the African National Congress (1987 to 1991). He served as Ambassador to the US from 1991 to 1995.
Lord Renwick subsequently became deputy chairman of the merchant bank, Robert Fleming, and is currently vice-chairman of Investment Banking for JPMorgan (Europe).
Both banks have played a leading role in the attraction of new investment to southern Africa.
He serves on the boards of a number of companies with important interests in Southern Africa – SABMiller, BHP Billiton, British Airways, Harmony Gold and Richemont.
He was appointed to the House of Lords by Prime Minister Blair in 1997.
Lord Renwick is also a trustee of The Economist.
BHP Billiton initially started a big platinum mining project in Zimbabwe, but it failed to take off, with Zimplats subsequently securing ‘extended mineral rights under a special mining lease to develop and grow PGM mining in Zimbabwe’.
Renwick gloats over being the man who converted Nelson Mandela from demanding nationalisation of the economy to becoming a servant of capitalism and private property.
On Zimbabwe, he is said to have had clear instructions to find a suitable black successor Government in Zimbabwe that was ‘…amicable to working with the British, willing to keep the economy in the hands of white monopoly capital, and, willing to accept the neo-colonial constitution drafted by the British that served to protect white minority rights.’
In May 1979, Lord Peter Carrington was appointed Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and was chairman of the Lancaster House Conference, which led to the solution of the Rhodesian problem and the creation of the independent Republic of Zimbabwe in 1981.He resigned in 1982 at the time of the Falklands crisis.
In 1983, he became chairman of General Electric Company, a post which he held until his appointment to NATO in June 1984.
Prior to this, Lord Carrington was Defence Secretary from 1970 to 1973.
Much like Lord Renwick, Lord Carrington not only had interests in Zimbabwe, but had close ties to the US establishment.
Lord Carrington is one of the founder members of The British American Project for the Successor Generation, which is an elite corporate/political talking and networking organisation.
Its aims are to ensure that the British left and liberal intelligentsia are not hostile to US foreign policy interests.
The British-American Project for the Successor Generation was founded in 1985.
Each year, the project invites 24 American and 24 British delegates to take part in four days of dinners, parties and discussions (ranging from the nature of the ‘special relationship’ to security and economic issues).
Delegates enjoy comparative luxury (the class of ‘98 stayed at the US$285-a-night Omni Royal Crescent in New Orleans). The aim, to quote the report of the 1985 conference, is: “To create, at a time of growing international strains and stresses, a closer rapport between Britain and the US among people likely to become influential decision-makers during the next two decades.”
Delegates are nominated by existing fellows; once they have come through the process of selection (in the UK, this is based on competitive debating sessions with other nominees), they have their travel and other expenses paid to the more or less exotic locations of the conference.
The project was first suggested in 1982 by Nick Butler, a Labour Party insider of the old right and a research fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House).
Like crumbs, most of the British shenanigans always find their way back to the home base, Chatham House.
In Zimbabwe, Lord Carrington had vested interest as a director of Barclay’s Bank, Cadbury-Schweppes and Rio Tinto Zinc.
Another ZDT patron, Sir Malcolm Rifkind has a long-standing connection to Zimbabwe where he worked as a lecturer prior to independence.
He worked for the Australian mining company Broken Hill Proprietary which was involved in a wrangle with the Government over a platinum mine in Zimbabwe.
Rifkind served in the British Foreign Office from 1982-86 as a Minister of State and from 1995-97 as Foreign Secretary.
From 1992-95 he was Secretary of State for Defence.
Another ZDT patron, Lord David Steel, served as the leader of the Liberal Party from 1976 until its merger with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats. British media exposé on Lord Steel link him to several scandals involving his abuse of his political influence in favour of tycoons and industrialists with their fingers in projects all across the globe.
Commenting on a story concerning reports that Lord David Steel was linked to a bribery case in Uganda, The Guardian wrote: “It is not uncommon for British political leaders to support British companies to obtain business from abroad as part of the promotion of UK plc.
Even the Prime Minister of the UK takes business leaders on his visits abroad and bats for UK companies in their competition with overseas companies for business from abroad.”
Given the number of British businessmen who had interests in Zimbabwe, it is no wonder Lord Steel was an active member of the regime change agenda.
Wife of Rhodesia’s last Governor, Lord Soames, Mary Spencer Churchill was also roped into the project.
Her family had a business portfolio that included interests in Zimbabwe and she provided the façade that this whole endeavour was for the good of Zimbabwe, a country she had ties to, hiding away the real motive behind the setting up of ZDT.
Sir John Collins, whose links to Zimbabwe got the investigative journalists on the trail that eventually exposed the whole sordid affair at ZDT, was born in Southern Rhodesia.
He worked for the Shell Group for nearly 30 years, starting in their agribusiness in Africa and rising to be their chief executive for Shell, UK, from 1990 to 1993.
Since then, he has held a number of positions, including being chairman of the UK’s National Power from 1998 to 2000.
Another chief patron of ZDT is Chester Crocker, an acclaimed proponent of the regime change agenda who has a personal link to Zimbabwe.
He was once a board member at the US Institute for Peace (USIP) working to effect regime change through the manipulation of Zimbabwe’s nationals who they organised in groups of opposition parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Crocker was also USIP chairman between 1992 and 2004.
His wife is Rhodesian and her kith and kin lost land in the Land Reform Programme and, as I highlighted in a previous article, Crocker’s pre-occupation with the removal of ZANU PF has been, and will always be, very personal.
Crocker is the man behind the infamous statement: “Make Zimbabwe’s economy ‘scream’ in order to separate the people of Zimbabwe from ZANU PF,” — to make Zimbabwe ‘scream’ through illegal sanctions the MDC-T also advocated.
To date, the same MDC-T is still calling for the US to maintain sanctions against Zimbabwe.
The MDC-Alliance duo of Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti were in the US last year in December advocating the same.
What sort of leaders thrive on the suffering of the masses?
This is food for thought for the electorate as we approach July 30 2018.