By Dr Tafataona Mahoso
THE racist and illegal sanctions decree on Zimbabwe, signed into US law by US President George W. Bush in 2001, is 12 years older than the Constitution of Zimbabwe; and children born that year are now in college and old enough to start their own families.
I teach some of those children in college and I cannot blame them if they believe some of the clever denials of the impact of sanctions being published daily, like the one by one Learnmore (learn Nothing) Zuze in the News Day oof November 5 2019, titled ‘The High Cost of Feuding with the US’.
The trend in opposition media is to speculate on the possible cost of exposing US hypocrisy and the cost of national demonstrations against white racist sanctions in order to avoid researching the real economic cost for Zimbabwe’s povo of 20 years of the white sanctions.
In his regular guest column in the News Day of November 5 2019, Zuze included the following paragraph:
“The (United States), for all its faults, is quite unequivocal on the upholding of human rights such that any country that has had a feud with it in the past, the matter (causing the feud) boiled down to a poor human rights record for the country. One can take the examples of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the US has fought for observance of the rule of law across the (whole) world.”
Zuze’s argument is based on at least three false assumptions which elementary historical research can expose as completely false. These assumptions are:
- That the record of US intervention to ‘enforce’ human rights throughout the world is clear, coherent and consistent;
- That the US decree, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), is a human rights decree; and
- That blanket financial and economic sanctions imposed on an entire people indeed constitute an appropriate and humane instrument of human rights.
The first assumption is a blatant denial of a well-documented scientific and historical record of US intervention around the world spanning more that a century. The title of historian Michael Parenti’s article on this issue is quite telling: ‘US Intervention: The World as “Our Oyster.”’
Parenti analysed more than 50 such interventions. Not one and anything to do with human rights!
The second assumption selling ZDERA as a human rights decree has the effect of selecting as the only humans in Zimbabwe those white settler-farmers from whom Africans took back their land after being deprived of it for 100 years.
This was the key reason for ZDERA, which is why it came down in 2001 and not before the African land revolution!
The third assumption contradicts findings by reputable researchers such as David E, Anderson and Joy Gordon of the Eric Rice Centre and others who found that:
“We must come to grips with the perversity of the (sanctions logic). It is simply not good enough to say that atrocities committed (by the sanctioning countries] for the right reasons (or for good intentions), or by respected international organisations, are not really atrocities after all.
Because economic sanctions are intended to inflict great human suffering, pain, harm, and even death and thus should be subject to the same kind of careful moral and ethical scrutiny given to the use of military force before it is chosen as a means to achieve political objectives; and because sanctions are themselves a form of violence, they cannot legitimately be seen merely as a peacekeeping device or as a tool for enforcing international law.”
The need for public education
In How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Walter Rodney documented the history of the construction of Western capitalism on African slave labour and African raw materials and minerals.
Now, Professor Bernard Magubane has documented the depth and extent of the criminal and racist defamation and dehumanisation of Africa and Africans which the Anglo-Saxons carried out in order to justify to themselves and to the world the African holocaust in slavery, colonialism and apartheid which made capitalism possible.
In Race and the Construction of the Dispensable Other, Magubane gives Africa and the African people a lesson which Zimbabwe needs in 2019.
In the short-term Zimbabweans need to unite and defeat the illegal and racist sanctions imposed by the same Anglo-Saxon countries at the invitation of the MDC formations in the year 2000.
But more daunting is the long-term task of cleansing the name of Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans, the name of Africa and Africans, which the Anglo-Saxon powers criminally and falsely defamed with the help of journalists and the MDC formations.
As Magubane demonstrates in his book, Africans still struggle to overcome the demeaning and besmirching fabrications and stereotypes of 500 and 400 years ago.
The main vehicles then were a racist anthropology and a bastardised and racist Christian heresy about the origins and fate of humankind. Today’s visual and digitalised anthropologist is the imbedded and sponsored journalist.
The false videos, films, web sites and e-mails which this new anthropologist and missionary of imperialism produces are not tucked away in museums and libraries like the tracts from old anthropology; they are beamed raw and direct into hundreds of millions of homes around the world.
Africa is still the butt of a globalised defamation industry which began in slavery.
One of the philosophers of the crisis of the North Atlantic states is Alvin Toffler. In his book The Third Wave, he recognises the crisis of white North Atlantic civilisation as coming from its heritage of genocide, terror and theft.
That civilisation needs more genocide, more terrorism and cleverer ways of stealing in a world which is based on the myth of human rights and poverty alleviation! Toffler writes about this crisis of the North:
“In The Social History of the Machine Gun, John Ellis shows how this new, fantastically deadly weapon, perfected in the nineteenth century, was first systematically employed against ‘native’ populations and not against white Europeans, since it was considered unsportsmanlike to kill an equal with it. Shooting colonials (indigenous populations), however, was thought to be more like a hunt than a war, so other standards applied….”
But Toffler wants his 21st Century Euro-American readers to understand that colonial genocide was no sport.
It was driven by the need to loot and steal resources abundant elsewhere but scarce in the North:
“Behind the racist attitudes and the religious and other justifications as the British, French, Germans, Dutch and others spread around the world, stood a single hard reality. (North Atlantic) civilisation could not exist in isolation (and without looting). It desperately needed the hidden subsidy of cheap resources from the outside (Africa, Latin America and Asia). Above all, it needed a single integrated market through which to siphon those subsidies (from Africa, Asia and Latin America.)”
In Understanding Power: The Indispensable, Chomsky, edited by Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel, one finds these truthful paragraphs:
“Woman: What do you think stopped the impeachment drive against US President Ronald Reagan after the Iran-Contra scandal?
Chomsky: It would just embarrass the hell out of everybody — I mean, nobody in power wants that much disruption for something like that. Look, why don’t they bring every American President to trial for war crimes? There are things on which there is a [ruling class] consensus in the elite culture: the United States is permitted to carry out war crimes, it’s permitted to attack other countries, it’s permitted to ignore international law… Well, by the principles of the Nuremberg trials (established by the West itself) every single American President since then (1845) would have been hanged (just like Hitler’s Nazis). Has anyone been brought to trial? Has this point ever been raised? It’s not a difficult point to demonstrate.”
This is the white racist legacy of the US which US Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nicholls is paid to hide and Zuze does not want to learn.
The US and Africa
The year 1957 is important to pan-Africanists because of the independence of Ghana which led to the homecoming of the pan-African movement at the All African Peoples’ Conference in Accra in 1958. Prior to that date, the pan-African Conferences were held in London, Manchester and Paris.
Instead of rejoicing with the Africans who were reclaiming their sovereignty, the United States took the very same reactionary route which US President Donald Trump and Ambassador Nicholls have been following today.
The reactionary route was faithfully reported in the white settler magazine East Africa and Rhodesia on January 24 1957: “American Congress Member’s Report on African Visit: Tribute to British Administration in East and Central Africa.”
This was a story about a US intelligence and research team sent to Africa in 1956 under the leadership of Congresswoman Frances Bolton.
While paying lip-service to a vague notion of ‘Africa’s rebirth’, Bolton made it clear in her 1957 report that the best way for the US Government to help the African masses was not by supporting Pan-African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, but by supporting the imperialist powers: “Make it clear to the metropolitan countries that we (the US) have no desire to interfere with their method of bringing more health and education to their (Africans)…” Ambassador Nicholls is saying the same thing in a different context: Support the Rhodesian whites and the British by supporting their stooges in Zimbabwe.
But, just as President Trump and his ambassadors are scared about emerging relations between Africa and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries so, in 1957, the US Government was scared of the emerging relationship between African nationalists and the Eastern bloc countries, especially the Soviet Union and China. Bolton reported in 1957: “We cannot close our eyes to Russia’s invasion of Africa. Just as she took hundreds of students from China and gave them education in their Communist schools, so is she (Russia) doing with hundreds of starry-eyed young Africans who see only the vision of freedom that is told to them.”
So, in 1957 US policy defined African aspirations for autonomy and sovereignty as “…told to them by Russia.”
This is the history which Zuze does not know: If the Western empire was scared of a few ‘starry-eyed’ African juveniles going to study in Russia in 1957, what about the China-Africa Summit, the Indi-Africa Summit, the entire Look East policy and the presence of Russian and Chinese companies at Penhalonga and Marange in Zimbabwe, where the President of the country today is no longer a starry-eyed juvenile but an accomplished pan-African statesman?
The settler magazine East Africa and Rhodesia faithfully reported again on April 11 1957: “US Vice-President (Richard) Nixon’s Report on His African Visit: Great Stress on Plans of International Communism.”
In other words, Bolton’s visit in January 1957 triggered an even bigger mission led by the Vice-President himself four months later, who went on to become President of the US.
Like Bolton before him, Nixon also defined African struggles for independence as being “…told to them by Russia and China.”
Nixon’s mission worsened Cold War rhetoric and brought about US actions in Congo and elsewhere which have alienated African patriots and pan-Africanists to this day. Why did the US so misread the situation?
History gives us the answers.
By 1951, the Anglo-American destiny of Southern Africa seemed guaranteed.
The US had come to appreciate the role of white settler-colonies in this region not only as pillars of imperialism in its Cold War against communism but also in the tangible, material reconstruction of Europe after the Hitler wars.
Europe did not have the US dollars with which to pay for food, machinery and materials from the US.
So, an impoverished and devastated Europe paid a prospering US with foreign currency earned by African and Asian colonies.
Zimbabwean coal, gold and chrome paid for the reconstruction of Britain; just as Congolese copper, cobalt, uranium and other strategic minerals earned the US dollars which enabled Belgium to be rebuilt from the ruins of the Hitler wars.
But there was more. Part of the reconstruction of Europe under the US Marshall Plan involved paying and resettling the demobilised white soldiers.
The World Bank was therefore employed to finance the African Land Husbandry (ALHA) of Southern Rhodesia which became the implementation phase of the Land Apportionment Act of 1930.
The net effect of these acts was that white settler farmers came to own 1 200 acres (on average) of the best farmland while African peasants had access to only 14 acres per person (on average) of the driest and most infertile land. Likewise, African cattle herders were limited to 6 herd of cattle per household while white cattle ranchers and dairy farmers were not limited.
So, by 1951, the US, as the leading imperialist power, was benefitting from European colonialism and settlerism in Africa so much that the white settlers felt reassured about the permanent future of white rule and its imperial Anglo-Saxon support.
What appeared to be a far-fetched position of the white South African regime in 1951 was reaffirmed by the Nixon administration of the US in US National Security Memorandum 39 of 1969, otherwise known as the Kissinger Study of Southern Africa, which concluded, among other things, that:
‘The whites (in Rhodesia, Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa) are here to stay and the only way that constructive change can come about is through them. There is no hope for the blacks to gain the political rights they seek through violence, which will only lead to chaos and increased opportunities for the communists.”
Henry Kissinger was President Nixon’s Secretary of State.
The children of Soweto changed Kissinger’s name to ‘Kiss inja’, kiss the imperial dog, because of his support for apartheid and UDI.
Just as now, in 1969, the US Government and its ambassadors and advisors also doubted the determination of the Africa people of this region (including Zimbabweans) to define their interests and objectives and to pursue the same to the end.
Moreover, the 1969 Kissinger study did not see the African people as the drivers of change. It therefore concluded that:
“Military realities rule out black victory at any stage. Moreover, there are reasons to question the depth and permanence of black resolve.”
The next year after Kissinger’s policy document, a North American supporter of Rhodesia, South Africa and the Portuguese empire, by the name of Nathaniel Weyl, also published a book called Traitor’s End.
The book was intended to be the white racist’s celebration of the final liquidation of all the liberation movements of Southern Africa: the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC); the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) of Namibia; the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO); the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA); the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU); the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU); and others.
Indeed, the years 1969-1971 were quite bad for most liberation movements.
Their leaders were mostly in jail and the US administration of President Nixon had moved from expressing sympathy for imperial powers and white settler-regimes to providing the weapons and finances needed to wage settler-wars against liberation movements. In exchange for use of military bases on the Azores Islands, the US began to provide massive military aid to the Portuguese empire and this, in turn, inspired the Rhodesian and South African regimes.
The message of Traitors’ End was that the African liberation movements would never recover from their set-backs enough to cause any more trouble to whites; and that Europe would provide poor whites to settle in Angola, Mozambique, Rhodesia, Namibia and South Africa and turn them into permanent white societies on the European model.
That was in 1969-1971. But by 1978, however, the freedom fighters of ZANLA (ZANU) and ZIPRA (ZAPU) were close to outright military victory. The settler-regime hastily arranged an Internal Settlement which excluded the freedom fighters and which received encouragement from both the US and the UK.
But the Internal Settlement was to last less than one year, again, indicating the dismal failure of the concerned white powers to read the geopolitical situation in the region at the time.
Kissinger’s reading of the geopolitics of Southern Africa in 1969 was way off the mark; and within less than five years, the situation had completely changed, contrary to the conclusions of the US study.
Even when the situation changed, conventional realpolitik and conventional white racism combined to downplay the critical role of African liberation movements.
The sudden transformation of the guerilla war situation in Southern Africa in 1974 continued to be credited to the Portuguese coup d’etat which forced the new Portuguese regime to pull out of Mozambique (1975) and Angola (1976), thereby leaving Ian Smith’s Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) almost completely surrounded by what became the Frontline States which offered rear bases to the African liberation movements fighting to liberate what is now the Southern African Development Community (SADC) from white minority rule.
What conventional realpolitik and conventional racism helped to downplay was the fact that the very same African guerilla armies, which came to besiege Smith’s Rhodesia, were responsible for changing the geopolitical situation in the region against the Portuguese empire.
It was this changed situation which caused the coup d’etat in Portugal against the US-supported fascist regime of Antonio Salazaar.
In other words, by changing the balance of forces and the security factors in Southern Africa, the African guerilla armies liberated not only themselves but also Portuguese Europeans from European fascism. They also changed US imperial security policy toward Southern Africa.
I use this example, not only because the men and women who are now commanders in the SADC region today were among the young guerillas of the 1970s, but also because US realpolik and racism blinded Kissinger’s national security experts and prevented them from reading the geopolitical situation in Southern Africa correctly.
Ten years later, when the liberation movements of Zimbabwe were negotiating with Britain at Lancaster House, they found out not only that the white Rhodies were still a specially protected sub-species but also that the Africans being used by the empire to shield the Rhodies were also valued far above those who resisted racism and imperialism.
The British and their North American cousins were first concerned about the fate of the white settlers; and their special preference for Bishop Abel Muzorewa’s United African National Congress was based on the fact that, just like Morgan Tsvangirai 33 years later, Muzorewa too had accepted the definition of the white settlers as a specially protected sub-species of the empire.
Therefore, US diplomat and Columbia University Professor Elliot P. Skinner, in 1979, reaffirmed the Kissinger doctrine for the North Americans:
“Our tragedy is that, whether we like it or not, the United States has inherited the role of metropole (or mother country] of all the whites in Southern Africa. This is not a role we welcomed, but it is one we cannot avoid… we are the ones who have led the discussions about the future of these countries [meaning Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia.)”
But it is a remarkable achievement of African self-determination that, by 1979, US support for white racist interests in our region could be admitted as a tragedy by a US ambassador: That is what Zuze does not know.
Indeed, the same white world which helped the Rhodesian settler-regime to bust UN mandatory sanctions from 1965 to 1980 could also be counted upon to support the Rhodesian agenda of the MDC formations and to agitate for illegal regime change and racist sanctions against Zimbabwe from 2000 onwards.
The foundations of that worldwide and racist MDC lobby were put in place during the Rhodesian era. According to Professor Gerald Horne:
“South Africans, French, British, Israelis, Germans, New Zealanders, Australians and many others from the pan-European world rallied in defence of the (white) outlaw state (of Rhodesia.)”
Yet Skinner said by 1979 this racist posture was a tragedy.
The same white lobby and the countries behind it recognised that the African land reclamation revolution of 1992-2002 was in fulfilment of the same African liberation objectives which the Rhodesian regime had resisted from 1965 to 1980. So the same struggle continues.
The point I am making is clear.
Neither Ambassador Nicholls nor the MDC formations understand the history of the African struggles and victories which we celebrate in Zimbabwe every April and August.
Or, if they do, they conveniently choose to mask it.