Obi Egbuna Jnr Simunye
While Africans on our beloved continent are in the process of commemorating the heroic youth who were slaughtered by the apartheid death squad apparatus in Soweto 41 years ago and using the Day of the African Child platforms to address the immediate needs of African youth today, it would behove the African world to pay close attention to the United National Anti-War Conference (UNAC) that took place in Richmond, Virginia, from June 16-18 2017.
Before addressing the aims, objectives and agenda of this conference and what appears to be a deliberate exclusion of the Zimbabwe question from their list of issues and workshops, let us briefly visit an Internet news site that goes by the name Self-Help News, spearheaded by a gentleman named Victor Payne. It published a memo titled “Robert Mugabe, True Afrikan son, who led the way for Afrikan dignity and sovereignty”.
It stated the following: “In an Internet conference call released on Thursday 9 June 2017 Dinares Gurus: Internet blogger Yosef, focusing on Intel and associated RV, claimed that after attending a formal meeting at the UN ‘last week’ and signed documents on behalf of the African Union relating to international rules for commercial and financial relations associated with Afrika’s vast natural resources, President Robert Mugabe ceded his Presidency to Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as Ating President. That signing associated with Zimbabwe’s currency to global trading platform, all sanctions lifted, past sovereign debts removed and a New American Republic established diplomatic relations with Zimbabwe as of June 12th 2017.”
When challenged about publishing this bogus and inaccurate account, Mr. Payne made the following remarks: “It is about time for President Mugabe to set in motion a smooth political transition for Zimbabwe. To me he should have stepped down at least 10 years ago to inject new direction plus direction for the future of Zimbabwe. The fact is he cannot lead Zimbabwe forever as old age impacts his mental and physical being. Above all, the demands of public office necessitate timely change of government and leadership. Mugabe enjoy retirement!!!”
It appears that Mr Payne is not only willing to share his true feelings about President Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s political future but he also has an expert medical diagnosis on President Mugabe’s health, in particular his current mental capacity, which he felt is more important than addressing why an Internet newsite whose monicker is “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” would peddle a falsehood this dangerous, at a time that the US-EU imperialist regime agenda concerning Zimbabwe is in full swing. The only thing we can say to Mr Payne is with comrades like you, agents and provocateurs are no longer necessary.
The United National Anti-War Conference had the following workshops:
Modern Warfare: The expansion of NATO and the Anti-War Movement, Our Path to National Improved Medicare for All, Black Alliance for Peace, Skills and Strategies for being in the Streets: Tactics & Organising Defence Security Against Trump Forces, Building an Effective Anti-War Movement in the US, Canada and Beyond, What is the Way Forward for the Peace Movement, Drone Warfare and the Cyborg Soldier: Margins of Masculinities, Environmental Jutice & Exclusion in Prisons, Venezuela-Syria-Ukraine-Iran: What’s Behind the Colour Revolutions?, Abolishing the Institution of War, Even Bernie Wants to Bomb Syria; Challenges to Anti- Imperialist & Anti-War Organising Today, Youth and the US Education Crisis & the Anti-War Movement, How to Provide Support to the “Peace Process” in Colombia, Pivot to Asia: The Next Battlefield, Resisting Imperial Terrorism.
The UNAC website also features some rather compelling footage from previous demonstrations they have spearheaded and organised. The slogans on some of the demonstration signs include Stop Bombing Yemen, Save Planet Earth, $15 Minimum a Union, Money for Jobs, Education Not War, End Sweatshop Labour, End Racism and War, Jobs, Choice Legalisation for All, Justice Jail Killer Cops, US Out of the Middle East.
The UNAC’s propaganda offensive includes position papers on Standing in Solidarity with Palestinian Hunger Strikes, A Statement on Venezuela, UNAC on US Missile Attack on Syria, Report on the International Day of Solidarity with the People of Odessa, US and Media Attacks on Russia, 20 Years of Genocide in the DRC, Statement of the Administrative Committee of UNAC on the Death of Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, to name a few.
Based on the range of issues and the geographical sphere UNAC addresses both on the ideological and activist fronts, it is fair to say the decision not to mention US-EU imperialism’s regime change agenda pertaining to Zimbabwe was a choice made by their leadership and brain trust. It is truly unfortunate that for some anti-war and peace movement activists, they have difficulty deciding whether being on the left is a question of political ideology or anatomy.
Because we do not have the luxury of speculation at our disposal, an examination of certain contradictions, dynamics and realities is in order. It appears that key groupings within the civil/human rights and peace movement treat supporting African liberation movements who won their independence through protracted armed struggle like children approach eating their vegetables.
Let our victories in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, and Angola – Africa’s last region to break the chains of settler colonialism – serve as a reminder that we are just as committed to peace as those who are dedicated to pacificism and non- violence.
The second is some of the most decorated activists showered with praise and adulation by the anti-war and peace movement like Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte do not feel the need to explain why they jumped into bed with the National Endowment for Democracy and helped smuggle blood money to 14 civil society groups in Zimbabwe.
The third is it appears that the anti-war movement, based on its origins, is prone to mobilising and organising around US-EU imperialist conventional warfare, therefore downplaying the genocidal effects of diplomatic warfare and terrorism. This explains why after nearly 60 years the US blockade on Cuba is still in existence, even though the international movement to end this facist diplomatic measure is stronger than ever before.
It is fair to say the Trump administration is seeking to exploit this weakness on the question of Cuba, because they understand that within the Cuban support network inside US borders, there is an ideological divide along racial lines. Until this is resolved the Cuban support work in Babylon will never maximise its potential.
It is of paramount importance to state that while the Zimbabwe question is not an agenda item, some comrades who have been part of the effort to resist the US-EU imperialist media apparatus’ cowardly attempts to slander and isolate President Mugabe and ZANU-PF are part of the UNAC strategic brain trust like Abayomi Azikiwe, editor and founder of the Pan African News Wire, and to a smaller degree Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report. Another comrade who has given Zimbabwe unwavering support presenting at the UNAC conference is Maurice Carney, executive director of Friends of the Congo (FOC), who did a PSA calling for the lifting of US-EU sanctions on Zimbabwe on the music project, “Battle Cry For Cuba and Zimbabwe Volume 3”.
The decision to provide Brother Carney and FOC a platform is a step in the right direction. However, it is a tongue in cheek manoeuvre that enables UNAC to ignore the Zimbabwe question while at the same time avoiding being called racist. If there is any truth or validity to this claim, then Brothers Carney, Ford, Azikiwe, Ajamu Baraka, who was the Green Party’s candidate for vice president and Jonathan Hutto, former president of Howard University Student Administration and student rep to Howard’s Board of Trustees, are obligated by history and their cultural make-up to raise Zimbabwe aggressively in the UNAC circles, even if it makes the white liberal element within UNAC vomit like those who suffer hangovers after consuming too much alcohol.
As this year commemorates the 50th anniversary of Zionist Israel’s bombing of Egypt and Syria, we cannot forget that it was primarily SNCC who let it be known that the beloved Arab revolutionary Gamal Abdel Nasser, which led to a freezing of their funds and a collision course with Dr King and SCLC who was unfortunately supporting Zionist Israel.
We are eternally grateful to SNCC who not only decided to focus the mandatory draft but coined the slogans “Hell No. We Won’t Go and Victory to Ho Chi Minh”. While “Hell No We Won’t Go” was embraced by the anti-war movement, the decision to support Uncle Ho unconditionally was not embraced by the Anti-War Movement. When dealing with a coalition where dogmatism and inflexibility is quite prevalent one out of two isn’t bad.
For too many years the peace movement in the US has failed to pay homage to Dr W.E.B. DuBois and the role he played in establishing the Peace Information Centre which distributed the Stockholm Peace appeal that gathered somewhere between 273 and 500 million signatures of people opposed to nuclear warfare.
It is also an unspoken truth that the Anti-War Movement selects the Africans they embrace more carefully than families select the ornaments they place on their Christmas trees, this would include how African issues that find their way onto their agenda are handled.
What UNAC must realise is a reluctance to deal with the African nation and leader that US-EU imperialism fears the most calls their entire agenda into question. Lastly, when it comes to embracing President Mugabe and ZANU-PF, we must tell them if Zimbabwe is good enough for the Cubans, Venezuelans, Palestinians and the Congolese, it should be good enough for UNAC.
This is not a question of seeking UNAC’s validation; it is rather an issue of staying true to the values they proclaim to embrace and uphold.
- Obi Egbuna Jnr is the US correspondent to The Herald and the External Relations Officer for the Zimbabwe Cuba Firendship Association (ZICUFA). His email is [email protected]