Obi Egbuna Jr Simunye
As both the political leadership and everyday citizens on the African continent are paying extremely close attention to the main candidates seeking the Presidency of United States of America, it is our historical responsibility to be fully aware of their track records and views concerning US-Africa policy, before they emerge as front-runners in both the Democratic and Republican Party.
Sice over 90 percent of so-called African Americans have religiously voted Democrat; a political trend that began with voting for President Woodrow Wilson in 1912, this process comes down to choosing between two individuals former US Secretary of State, First Lady and US Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton or the Senator from the State of Vermont Bernie Sanders.
For proud citizens of Zimbabwe, the African nation who have accepted that due to the vision and policies of President Mugabe and zanu-pf, their Government has incurred vitriol and wrath from US-EU Imperialism arguably more than any nation in Africa, the discovery that 15 years ago Senator Sanders when he was a member of the US Congress also voted in favour of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZDERA) will come as no surprise whatsoever.
Because Mrs Clinton is a proud co-sponsor of ZDERA while Senator Sanders chose to play the background, this provides so-called African Americans and Africans throughout the continent and Diaspora, a wonderful opportunity to conduct a dichotomy of white liberal politicians not only of the past and present but moving into the future.
While Mrs Clinton appears to embrace the more traditional and paternalistic approach when dealing with so-called African Americans, that resembles the relationship between a master and its pet, Senator Sanders opts to conduct himself like a parent who is completely comfortable letting a child make their own decision.
As a co-sponsor of ZDERA, Mrs Clinton had no problem convincing nearly the entire the Congressional Black Caucus to fall in line like obedient soldiers in time of war, while Senator Sanders on the other hand behaved like an outsider who supported his so-called African American colleagues in Congress, because after all, for them to support sanctions being imposed on an African nation, its leadership must be truly evil and repulsive.
Since US Presidential politics are never short of entertainment value, it was humorous to hear the decorated Civil and Human Rights Veteran and US Congressman John Lewis while endorsing Mrs Clinton, question the authenticity of Senator Sanders’ biography that highlights his direct involvement in the Civil/Human Rights movement during the 1960’s.
Congressman Lewis claimed to have never met or saw Senator Sanders during the period he chaired the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee, but recalled encountering Mrs Clinton, who during this period was not only campaigning for the right wing Republican Barry Goldwater but was the President of the Wellesey Young Republicans at Wellesey College.
After Senator Sanders’ supporters in the so-called African American community countered by revealing his involvement in the Congress of Racial Equality while he attended the University of Chicago, Congressman Lewis began to backtrack and stated he never meant to disparage Senator Sanders’ role in the Civil/Human Rights movement.
Perhaps one of Congressman Lewis staff members reminded him that blatant example of what US politicians describe as running across the aisle was on full display when Senator Sanders was hand in hand with him and Mrs Clinton in giving President Bush unconditional support when he pressed for regime change in Zimbabwe.
What must be understood is that for White Liberal politicians, who are generational products of the 1960s, involvement in the Civil/Human rights struggle serves as their rights of passage so to speak, which means the ability to exploit this inroad will lead to eternal blind loyalty from key voices representing mainstream leadership in the so-called African American community.
Another factor in understanding why Senator Sanders would favour regime change in Zimbabwe is many of his supporters in the so-called African American community share his sentiments.
The legendary entertainer and Civil/Human Rights movement sympathiser Harry Belafonte recently said Senator represents “a moral imperative’’ and “a certain kind of truth that’s not often evidenced in the course of politics”.
When TransAfrica Forum was funnelling money from the National Endowment for Democracy to 14 civil society groups in Zimbabwe, under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Solidarity Fund, Mr Belafonte was on TAF’s board of directors.
What President Mugabe and zanu-pf have done by implementing the historic Land Reform Programme, Look East Policy and the Indigenisation Act, has made Zimbabwe question the litmus test for organisational movements and individuals that claim to be liberal progressive or revolutionary in every corner of the world.
Because Senator Sanders considers himself a socialist in theory, many Africans consider his decision to favour sanctions on Zimbabwe that were aimed to bring about regime change, as a major disappointment and letdown because he appears to have empathy for the poor and downtrodden.
This blemish on Senator Sanders’ political record also calls into question his commitment to even a watered down and moderate interpretation of socialism, anyone in favour of equal distribution of wealth, will never openly attempt to sabotage a nation that reclaimed 12 million hectares of land from 4 500 white commercial farmers and returned to 350 000 families who are historically speaking, its rightful owners.
The national correspondent of the Atlantic magazine Ta Nehisi Coates wrote an op-ed last month that exposed that Senator Sanders is not in favour of reparations for slavery.
The reasons Senator Sanders provided were because it would not pass through Congress and would be racially divisive. This makes Senator Sanders’ position on both reparations and Zimbabwe, identical to that of President Obama.
To the surprise of many in his generation and peer group, Mr Coates has decided to still vote for Senator Sanders.
If Africans consider reparations both as a matter of principle and ultimately about land and self-determination, it sends the wrong statement to future generations of so-called African Americans by voting for a candidate seeking to dispose of an African leader that reclaimed sacred African soil from our former colonial and slave masters.
One of the key endorsements for Senator Sanders is from MoveOn.org, a non-profit progressive public policy and political action committee founded in 1998. During the 2004 elections MoveOn.org received $1,46 million from the liberal billionaire and enemy of Zimbabwe, George Soros, for their voting drive and an additional $4,6 million towards their fundraising committee.
As long as Mr Soros finances the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, which is the pipeline that the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition receives US Imperialist blood money, we don’t expect Senator Sanders to change his position on Zimbabwe anytime in the near future.
Because Zimbabwe is blessed to have a President who is impervious to the criticism and hatred of US-EU Imperialism, the only approach to pursuing your aims and objectives is best captured in the slogan of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party — Forward Ever Backwards Never.
Obi Egbuna Jr is the US correspondent to The Herald and the external relations officer of the Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association. His email is [email protected]