MDC-T and the American connection

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By Tafadzwa Masango

IN my last submission, I touched on a crucial player in the regime change agenda – the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust (ZDT) – and hinted they were a story for another day.
The Trust was set up in 2000 to agitate for former President Robert Mugabe’s ouster from power.
The patrons of this Trust read like a ‘who is who’ members list of the British and American establishments that had ties and interests to protect from a nationalist Government in Zimbabwe.
The ZDT was set up by Lord Robin Renwick, Margret Thatcher’s then ambassador to South Africa and director of mining for the Rupert family’s diamonds and cigarettes empire.
Other founders are Lord David Steel – then Liberal Party leader and partner of oil tycoon Tony Buckingham; Lady Soames – the daughter to Prime Minsiter Winston Churchill and wife to the last British Governor of Rhodesia; and Chester Crocker.
Other patrons of the ZDT include former Tory Foreign Secretaries, Malcom Rifkin, Douglas Hurd and Geoffrey Howe.
Another driving force of ZDT was Zimbabwean and chairman of National Power, Britain’s largest energy company.
While the ZDT’s origins lie in Britain, its operations moved across the Atlantic to Washington DC in 2002 following an exposé in the media concerning its activities surrounding Zimbabwe.
Additionally, the ZDT’s relocation to the US gave its operations some façade that the Zimbabwe case was not motivated by personal interest, but a multilateral cause.
A full exposé of ZDT, all its players and their personal interests in Zimbabwe will be in my next submission.
However, this week our focus is on the US involvement in the regime change agenda through direct and indirect funding of the MDC and its appendages.
The US Institute for Peace (USIP), in a 2003 report titled Zimbabwe and the Prospects for non-violent Political Change, documents the rise of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector which specialised in the ‘democratisation’ of the country.
The paper highlights the steps taken in the late 1990s to redirect the focus of NGOs and civil society on governance, advocacy and political change.
Richard Hatch (researcher) and Sara Diamond (author) in a paper titled Operation Peace Institute expose the roots and operations of USIP, describing it as a “…stomping ground for professional war mongers with a board of directors of who’s who of tight wing ideologues from academia and the Pentagon.”
Hatch and Diamond add: “By law the USIP is an arm of the US intelligence apparatus.
The legislation that established the USIP specifies that – the director of the central intelligence may assign officers and employees of the CIA to the USIP and the Institute is authorised to use and disseminate classified material from the intelligence community.”
Much like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which is a tool for the promotion of political parties, labour unions and media voices deemed acceptable by the US establishment, USIP sought to use the same rhetoric and the same recycled defence and security intellectuals to control debate and decision making on conflict resolution.
In the case of Zimbabwe, the USIP worked to effect regime change through the manipulation of Zimbabwe’s nationals who they organised in groups of opposition parties and NGOs.
The story of the US and Zimbabwe can never be told without mentioning Chester Croker, the man behind the infamous statement: “Make Zimbabwe’s economy scream’ in order to separate the people of Zimbabwe from ZANU PF.”
Various documents have been unearthed that reveal the role that various US and British bureaucrats and politicians played in the funding of the MDC and setting up of NGOs and civil society organisations that were pushing for the ‘democratisation’ of Zimbabwe.
Crocker, an acclaimed proponent of the regime change agenda in Zimbabwe, served as a board member of USIP and its chairman between 1992 and 2004.
He is also a founder patron of the ZDT.
It is important to highlight Crocker’s personal connection to Zimbabwe.
He is married to a Rhodesian woman whose kith and kin lost farms in the Land Reform Programme.
His pre-occupation with the removal of ZANU PF has been, and will always be, very personal.
Moving away from Crocker and USIP, the NED also has a track record of setting up NGOs and civil society organisations in the country for its supposed ‘democratisation’. NED senior director for Africa, Dave Peterson is quoted in a 2008 global research paper saying that NED has been: “Successful in building a strong and vital programme of support to civil society, including the media, political parties and trade unions.”
Petersen lists some of the NGOs that have received money from NED.
They include: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
In the same report, Peterson reveals that in 2006, NED distributed about US$1 million to these ‘democratisation’ bodies.
Testifying before the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on Africa Affairs in July 2007, Peterson said since 2002, NED had contributed US$600 million through USAID to operations in Zimbabwe.
The relationship between the MDC and these democratisation NGOs and CSOs, was and remains, symbiotic.
At the height of the regime change agenda drive, one could not really make a distinction between the two.
In 2007, the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai led a delegation of civil society representatives to the US to make presentations on the progress made in the ‘democratisation’ of Zimbabwe.
The delegation included Grace Kwinjeh (MDC), Akwe Amosu (OSISA-Southern Africa), Lovemore Madhuku (NCA) and Otto Saki (ZLHR).
If Tsvangirai could lead a delegation of NGO representatives to a meeting in the US, it certainly shows that Americans made no distinction between the MDC and the NGOs.
Furthermore, an April 5 2007 State Department report revealed that the US had “…sponsored public events that presented economic and social analysis discrediting the Government’s excuses for its failed policies.”
The report also boasted the US had “…sponsored and supported several township newspapers” and that the listener base of the VOA Studio 7 station had been expanded.
The same report also revealed the US was the force behind the underground movement Sokwanele/Zvakwana.
Another 2007 State Department report, Zimbabwe 2007 Performance Report, makes a number of revelations that further confirm its deep involvement in the MDC.
Part of the report reads: “The US Government assisted the MDC to effectively identify, research and articulate policy positions and ideas within Zimbabwe, in the region and beyond.
In particular, (US Government) technical assistance was pivotal in supporting the MDC’s formulation and communication of a comprehensive policy platform.”
To put this in simple language; the MDC’s stance on various issues of a policy nature was formulated and directed by the US.
What this exposes is that the US dictated the MDC’s policy stance as a future investment – should the MDC get into power it would adopt the policies laid down by the Americans that would further US interests.
The report also takes note of some of the technical assistance the International Republican Institute (IRI) has provided the MDC: “IRI held a workshop for Tsvangirai’s shadow government at which each shadow minister presented and defended his/her policy positions.
A panel of technical experts grilled presenters on the technical content of their presentations.”
Apparently, this assistance was deemed: “Critical to build the capacity of the MDC to operate effectively and to enable it to contend in the 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary elections and to be prepared to govern.”

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