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Show some respect, Uncle Sam

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Editor’s note

THE maintaining of sanctions on Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa comes as no surprise. In global affairs, the concept of paternalism remains a pervasive force, shaping relationships between nations and influencing ‘development’ strategies. Paternalism, defined as the practice of treating or governing people in a condescending manner characterised by interference, continues to be practised by those in positions of ‘power’ to assert control over others, often under the guise of benevolence which is a masked sense of ‘superiority’. Zimbabwe, after its numerous struggles, has significantly evolved and notions of equality, autonomy and dignity are part of the country’s cornerstone. It is precisely this which has invoked the wrath of Kon. And the most disgruntled and pissed by Zimbabwe, which has declared that there is no place for paternalism in contemporary international relations, is the US and its allies. When it comes to the illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe, Zimbabweans now know better; Uncle Sam is out for blood and nothing short of the pound of flesh will assuage the rabid US. But as a nation, we have also recovered from Uncle Sam’s paternalism. Uncle Sam, in his delusions of superiority, has for decades now, through the illegal embargo on the country, restricted our freedoms and responsibilities as well as duties. We are sick of the US’s posturing. This Western nation, a pale shadow of its former self, continues to assume a superior, guiding role over Zimbabwe when it has no moral, political, ethical, social, economic or any other ground to do so. In the contemporary context of evolving norms, principles and aspirations, where nations like Russia and China have become superpowers in their own right, the US is no longer the alpha in global affairs. And leaders like Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, pan-Africanists, in so-called developing nations, have debunked the paternalistic attitudes of the ‘so-called developed countries’ of the world. President Mnangagwa is among leaders who have had no qualms in declaring and emphasising the principles of sovereignty and equality. At the heart of President Mnangagwa’s argument against paternalism lies the principle of sovereignty — the inherent right of nations to govern themselves without external interference or coercion and, of course, Uncle Sam will have none of this! President Mnangagwa is the leader of a nation which emerged from a colonial history marked by exploitation and subjugation. And sovereignty to this ‘tiny’ Southern African nation represents a fundamental principle of self-determination and dignity. And Zimbabwe has dared and poked the ‘mighty’ US by making it clear that, for any nation to adopt a paternalistic attitude towards another is not only hypocritical but also perpetuates the legacy of domination and dependency that has plagued the global south for centuries and will not be tolerated anymore. Yet the US, by perpetuating sanctions on President Mnangagwa and the First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, is continuing with its nauseating age-old paternalistic approach which undermines the agency and autonomy of Zimbabwe, treating the country as a passive recipient of aid, advice or intervention rather than as an active participant in its own development processes. In the Second Republic, everything has been done by a Government, voted into power by the people, to ensure that innovation, creativity and ownership — the very ingredients necessary for sustainable development and prosperity — are not stifled. President Mnangagwa, since assumption of office, has made it clear that Zimbabwe will not be relegated to the status of a ‘junior partner’, accept or be a beneficiary of paternalism which is antithetical to the principles of equality. In the family of nations, Zimbabwe has refused to be disadvantaged — be it in the form of economic coercion, political manipulation or cultural imposition. The US’s will on Zimbabwe has been resisted vigorously because it does not promote sustainable development but serves to reinforce existing inequalities and perpetuate the ‘dominance’ of the West over others. The US and its allies have interfered in sovereign nations from time immemorial undermining the legitimacy of international relations and impeding efforts to build a more just, inclusive and co-operative world order. President Mnangagwa has chosen a path characterised by mutual respect and co-operation and recognising each other as equals, capable of determining own destinies and addressing own challenges while fostering relationships built on trust and mutual benefit as opposed to exploitation and imposition of foreign ideas and ideals. Uncle Sam remains adamant that only his ideas and ideals best serve the world and does not respect the diversity of experiences, cultures and aspirations of other nations. President Mnangagwa has become the enemy of people like Uncle Sam for preaching solidarity among developing nations to open up new possibilities for collective action and advocacy on the global stage whether it be in the realms of trade, climate change or peace and security. He has not shied from declaring that developing nations stand to gain from uniting their voices and interests to challenge existing power structures and shape more equitable and sustainable outcomes. President Mnangagwa has constantly reminded his counterparts that, by leveraging their collective strength and resources, developing nations can exert greater influence in international forums and negotiations, thereby advancing their shared goals and priorities. And this message Uncle Sam hates with a passion. President Mnangagwa is part of pan-Africanists dismantling existing structures of domination and exploitation, promoting democratic governance, and fostering inclusive development by investing in education, healthcare, infrastructure and technology transfer to empower local communities and build sustainable capacities for development. Uncle Sam, a rose by any other name . . . your sanctions on Zimbabwe remain. Sanctions on the person of E.D. Mnangagwa are sanctions on Zimbabwe as a nation. And Zimbabwe continues to move on, as it has been doing, undeterred. Uncle Sam, we are not stupid. Your latest move is to have a bite of Zimbabwe’s cake after realising that you were missing out as the rest of the progressive world is now dealing with Zimbabwe at your exclusion. Uncle Sam show some respect, please; we are no fools.

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