Has America seen the light?


NEWS that the US Government, through its regime change agenda arm and curator of local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) USAID, has decided to, forthwith, stop funding to the several organisations in the civil society did not come as a surprise.
It was a predetermined script that would result in a nasty estrangement from the moment that unholy pact was entered into.
Time and again, we warned the US that they were pouring funds into a bottomless pit of greedy and gluttonous people who were supposedly doing the bidding on their behalf.
Signs of frustration from the West were there from the moment ZANU PF thumped the MDC-T in the July 31 2013 harmonised elections.
Some Western nations were quick to take action but the US, in its typical arrogant fashion, held on for long in the hope there would be a revival of the waning fortunes of the opposition MDC.
However, events in ZANU PF, which have seen the ruling Party reinvigorating itself and the chaos that has characterised the MDC just 24 days before the crucial harmonised elections have pushed Uncle Sam into swiftly severing ties with their long-time allies from the NGO sector.
In November 2017, ZANU PF successfully oversaw a smooth transition of power while in February 2018, Nelson Chamisa, the new MDC-Alliance leader emerged from a brutal, often violent tussle for power that saw him stealing his way to the top.
Compounding issues for the US has been Zimbabwe’s widely endorsed re-engagement drive which has seen the world embracing the southern African nation for the first time in more than two decades.
Confronted with the real prospect of being left out, US companies like General Electric have broken ranks with their country’s long-held pugnacious sanctions project and have been making overtures to gain a foothold in the Zimbabwean economy.
Already, General Electric is in the process of finalising a partnership agreement with a Chinese company for the financing and construction of the Batoka Gorge Hydro Electric Scheme which is expected to cost about US$5 billion.
In a letter penned last week, USAID told the regime change NGOs that it had suspended funding to them with immediate effect, citing abuse of funds meant to prop up the regime change project.
The affected NGOs include the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), Counselling Service Unit (CSU), Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Grace for Peace.
All these fell under the ambit of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC), a convergence of regime change agenda organisations.
Interestingly, ERC had set up what they said was a ‘command centre’ at a local hotel where they were peddling lies daily on the alleged ‘unfairness’ of the forthcoming elections.
They have had to face the indignity of leaving the hotel with their tails between their legs after an angry Uncle Sam pulled the plug on funding.
However, sources who spoke to this publication this week have a different view.
They said while the US was frustrated with the gross abuse of funds, Uncle Sam wanted a clean break from the past and was angling towards possible revival of relations between Harare and Washington, especially in the wake of the widespread endorsement that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has received worldwide.
Funding for ‘projects’, the sources added, has been used to fund Chamisa’s poorly attended rallies to the exasperation of the US.
On the political scene, it has been a far from smooth ride for the opposition.
For instance, the MDC-Alliance leader had to abort a rally in Mushumbi Pools after less than 50 people turned up on Sunday.
He had lined up the rally after holding one in Mvurwi.
A few weeks ago, ZANU PF held oversubscribed rallies in the province.
Another opposition leader, Joice Mujuru, could also not hold a rally in Warren Park 1, Harare, the same day after only the PA system had become the major attraction to revellers and other people who were going on about their business.
But there was nothing new in the stance taken by the US.
In February 2015, an audit report by USAID revealed that NGOs had looted over US$850 million.
Executives from CiZC, ZimRights and the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) who were among those listed as having enriched themselves by looting USAID coffers put up spirited denials to the allegations.
The likes of McDonald Lewanyika, CiZC executive director, Okay Machisa, ZimRights national director and Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, the executive director of ZESN were implicated in the 2015 USAID audit.
They have yet to come clean on the damaging looting allegations.
Yet that does not make the US angels in this debacle.
By pouring such huge sums of money in their futile pursuit of regime change, the US was violating the country’s laws, in particular, the Political Parties Finance Act which prohibits local political parties from receiving funding from outside the country.
USAID’s website states the role of the organisation in unequivocal terms.
It says:
“USAID’s work advances US national security and economic prosperity, demonstrates American ‘generosity’ and promotes a path to recipient self-reliance and resilience.”
In the same vein, the US still has an outstanding law which has all but obfuscated the country’s economy.
It is called ZDERAA and Section 5 lays bare why Zimbabwe should be feeling aggrieved.
It demands a return to the land reform formulae proposed by Western donors that included the US itself.
It authorises the US President to:
“Support equitable, legal and transparent mechanisms of land reforms in Zimbabwe, including payment of costs related to the acquisition of land and the resettlement of individuals, constituent with International Donors’ Conference on Land Reform and Resettlement in Zimbabwe, in September 1998, or any subsequent agreements relating thereto.”
Simply put, the US and the West are actually saying any land ownership patterns post-1998 are unacceptable to them and unless revoked, warrant the continued stay of sanctions.
This is why actions by the Americans in the aftermath of the imposition of the sanctions are important to keep in mind.
In November 2012, Zimbabwe lost over US$30 million that was in transit after the country had sold its diamonds at an auction.
This was after the US’ Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) seized the money.
In its State Department report, Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The US Record 2006, released in Washington, DC, on April 5 2007, the US proudly admitted to subverting the then President Robert Mugabe’s Government and to supporting the opposition (MDC).
It added:
“To further strengthen pro-democracy elements, the US government continues to support the efforts of the political opposition, the media, and civil society to create and defend democratic space and to support persons who criticise the Government (of President Mugabe).”
Equally revealing were the comments made by Colin Powell that:
“And we (Bush administration) will continue to assist directly, in many different ways, the brave men and women of Zimbabwe who are resisting tyranny.
If that happens (regime change), the US would be quick to pledge generous funding to the restoration of Zimbabwe’s political and economic institutions (which have been destroyed by the sanctions).
Other donors (those Western countries that have imposed sanctions against Zimbabwe), I am sure, would be close behind (in restoring a Zimbabwe devastated by sanctions). Reading this, Robert Mugabe and his cohorts may cry, ‘Blackmail’.
We should ignore them.
Their time has come and gone.”
Within the MDC itself are culprits who have been working hand-in-glove with the shamed NGOs and Uncle Sam.
Time and again, the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai made numerous trips to the US, canvassing for sanctions.
In December 2017, the trio of Chamisa, Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, together with human rights ‘activist’ Dewa Mavhinga, went to Washington where they lobbied for more sanctions against Zimbabwe until they assume power.
While the US can be hailed for finally seeing the light, the probing question after this seemingly noble gesture is: What’s next?
Only time will tell.


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