How can France preach human rights?


AFTER reading revealing comments about our evolving relationship with France by Nathaniel Manheru, I felt satisfied enough to want to focus on other issues of interest to Zimbabweans, that is, until I stumbled upon an interview held between Tichaona Zindoga and the French Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Laurent Delahousse.
In that interview, Delahousse comes across as a well-meaning guy who has the best interests of Zimbabwe at heart, someone whose stay in our country has been guided, always, by the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of his host country.
However, after a second reading, it became obvious that beyond his nice and seemingly well-meaning language, he had also assumed a role over us which we find astonishing and unexpected.
After claiming that he has played a key role in improving relations between France and Zimbabwe, which may be true by the way, he goes on to state:
“We are certainly not in Zimbabwe to make things complicated for anybody.
At the same time we keep a very strong interest in issues pertaining to respect for human rights, for implementation of democracy, preparation of elections, implementation of your beautiful Constitution.”
With all due respect to the good ambassador, most of us do not recall the moment when we either appointed or elected him or any other ambassador for that matter to become a monitor or a prefect of sorts over our human rights record and democracy.
We do not recall France assisting us to fight for democracy which was denied us by the British for 90 years.
The Russians, yes, the Chinese yes!
Both provided us with moral and diplomatic support and even with military hardware throughout our struggle, just as the rest of African countries did.
The question, therefore, remains: who appointed the likes of Delahousse as supervisors of the democracy we fought for and attained without any meaningful support from the West in general and from France in particular?
How democratic is it to appoint oneself as an apostle-cum-overseer of democracy in Africa without consulting the rest of those involved?
How respectful of us is the business of imposing oneself as the benchmark by which all Africans should live?
About the democracy and human rights which the good ambassador speaks of so feelingly, most of us do not recall the time or period when France assisted us to fight the liberation war which freed us from the predatory British colonials.
If anything, both Britain and France were on the same side of history, supporting colonial dictatorships which they set up in Africa for exploitative purposes.
Why is France so keen to micro-manage our affairs when in reality it opposed our fight for democracy in Zimbabwe?
It never supported us even at a verbal and/or moral level.
Most of us recall that at a critical moment in our liberation struggle, when it became obvious we would eventually defeat British settlers, white mercenaries from France, Israel, Britain, Germany, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand flocked to our country and enlisted in the Rhodesian army in their thousands.
In order to give military support to their fellow whites.
In specific terms, these mercenaries fought in support of the Rhodesian army which was losing its grip on the ground and the South African army which had, earlier on, intervened to bolster the dwindling strength of the Rhodesian military.
The plain truth is, France belonged to the wrong side of history and cared more about the cheap natural resources it was looting from West Africa and the cheap human resources which it was exploiting in Africa at the expense of our indigenous population.
In the context of all this degrading, exploitative and one-sided colonial tradition spawned by European powers in Africa, including France, the key question remains: When did France become a disciple of democracy and human rights in Africa?
When was the damascene moment from being a colonial dictator to being a beacon of democracy and human rights in a continent whose locals it brutalised left, right and centre?
During the interview with Zindoga, Delahousse assumes he is addressing an African audience which has no memory, no knowledge at all about its dark and brutal deeds not only against blacks of Haiti, but against all blacks who dared to resist French colonialism in Africa.
Delahousse’s utterances about democracy and human rights in Africa are based either on his ignorance about the despicable role which France played in oppressing and exploiting Africans during the colonial era or on his erroneous assumption that Africans are like children who are naive and gullible and not capable of seeing through the lies he peddles before us.
France has no moral standing at all on the basis of which it can preach to us about democracy, human rights and elections.
We had to fight for all these.
They were not donated to us by the West as Delahousse seems to be suggesting in his unfortunate and paternalistic utterances which ordinary Zimbabweans find deeply insulting.
Who does not know that France, like Britain, became an industrial power on the back of its enslavement of Africans from 1450 right up to 1860s.
It is Africans who became ‘the technology’ with which France transformed its Trans-Atlantic empire into a highly productive one.
Who does not know that it is the black slaves of Haiti who produced huge quantities of sugar which made it possible for poor French natives to drink tea and coffee for the first time in their lives?
Yet up to this day France has not yet apologised for its well-documented enslavement of Africans!
Like all European countries which prospered on the back of unpaid slave labour, France has not bothered at all to pay compensation and or reparations for its shameful record about the slave trade.
And to this day, it is unashamedly milking its former colonies of colonial taxes.
And the good ambassador has the temerity to pontificate to us about human rights!
Further, who does not know that France slaughtered 1,5 million Algerians between 1954 and 1962?
The Algerian war of liberation was all about human rights, democracy and freedom which the French denied the Algerian people.
Who does not know that France has always treated the Roma population in France as third-class citizens?
Up to this day France continues to expel them simply because they are Roma or gypsies. Here is the record of collective expulsions.
About 9 500 in 2010, 10 800 in 2011 and 12 800 in 2012.
And the good ambassador has time to preach about democracy and human rights to Zimbabweans.
How ironic!
Coming closer to the years 2015 and 2016: Is France not part of the European Union which is building a fortress Europe to keep out hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees fleeing from American and NATO-sponsored wars in the Middle-East?
Why is Europe building a ‘durawall’ around its borders as if these refugees are not entitled to human rights at all?
In regard to some of those refugees coming from Africa, is it not France which took a lead in bombing Libya in 2011 before the rest of European countries did the same to topple Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s government?
France played a key role in reducing one of the most advanced and developed African countries to rubble.
Overnight almost all Libyan citizens lost their human rights, courtesy of France and its allies.
Surely it is obvious the good ambassador needs to start preaching his sermons about human rights in France itself.
Charity begins at home ambassador.


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