Reason Wafawarova on Monday
Election 2018 is over, and it ended with telling lessons for the two main parties in the race. ZANU-PF nearly paid the ultimate price for years of infighting; something that clearly affected the outcome of the presidential race. On the other hand the MDC-Alliance paid a huge price for candidate imposition in the parliamentary race, with the electorate punishing the coalition heavily in the majority of constituencies, resulting in a paltry 64 seats in the 210-seat House of Assembly.
But election analysis will be for another day. The column will today address the winning ZANU-PF. You won, so what is next?
Events leading to this election clearly showed us that Zimbabwe might be a small African country writhing in a dilapidated economy, but the country is still centrally important to Western foreign policy. Much as we postured as a radicalised and principled country under former president Robert Mugabe, we obviously seem to be all agreed that the West is equally centrally important to our economic affairs.
We are dying to impress the West, are we not?
The natural resources of Zimbabwe may be enough to potentially make Zimbabwe a relatively rich country, but it is an exaggeration that these resources are too valuable to lose for Western capitalist elites. Economically, the West could do without Zimbabwe, as has been happening in the last 20 years, yet it is clear that there is something still very important for Western foreign policy in this country of ours.
There may be about 2 500 Western-sponsored NGOs resident in Zimbabwe today, and some of them were very active in the just ended elections.
We are told that these NGOs are humanitarian by definition, and are solely here with us in honest pursuit of our happiness. A closer look at most of these NGOs will however, show that the perception of humanitarianism is sometimes less than meritorious.
The attention we have been receiving from the West is something we earned because of our bad apple status in the eyes of Western rulers.
Under Mugabe we simply became a bad apple in the rich orchard of Africa, a very bad example to all others in this continent so synonymous with raw and unexploited wealth.
We are the bad apple that caused the rise of land reform politics in South Africa. We are the deadly domino effect that needs to be tamed and eradicated.
Robert Mugabe is gone now, at least politically. He did his part to set us on the path of self-emancipation, much as the West did all they could to demonise him under the rotten apple theory.
Liberation movements that pursue independent nationalism ahead of neo-liberal subordination to capitalist power cannot be allowed any room for success. This is why Zanu-PF became a defiled party under Mugabe.
Now we have proclaimed a new dispensation, a departure from our Mugabe past, a departure from our economic decline, a departure from a yesteryear of restricted democratic freedoms.
ZANU-PF won this election competing for a better new Zimbabwe tag with the opposition MDC-Alliance.
ED has successfully branded himself as the reformed face of ZANU-PF. What does this mean?
Economically we should never be “an extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States,” but politically we are deemed a massive threat, as ZIDERA insists. We were just told before we went for elections that the United States had passed a Senate resolution to renew sanctions on our country pending the outcome of the electoral process. We await the next move.
Under the rotten apple theory, the political logic follows the line that the tinier and weaker the country is, the more dangerous it is. If a marginal and impoverished country can begin to use its own resources and can undertake programmes of development geared to the needs of the domestic population, then others may ask; Why not us?
The contagion of Zimbabwe’s “unsound policies” may be spreading to places like South Africa, threatening Franklin D. Roosevelt’s January 6, 1941 “Fifth Freedom”.
We have been punished as the “great Satan” under the Fifth Freedom, and we are generally agreed that this punishment must come to an end. So we have said we are now “open for business”.
We are coming across as a nation reformed enough to atone for the egregious sin of the land reform programme, or whatever evil else we might be accused of.
For the benefit of the reader, the Fifth Freedom was an idea propagated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a speech titled “The Four Freedoms” on January 6, 1941.
Roosevelt suggested that there were four fundamental freedoms that man needed to observe. These he outlined as freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want and freedom from fear.
He then gave the Fifth Freedom as the freedom to defend (by any means necessary) the four fundamental freedoms.
Over the years, the Fifth Freedom has become central in US foreign policy and is strongly adhered to by those in the MDC-Alliance.
It is a licence to kill in defence of the four freedoms; it is the legitimate excuse to eliminate threats to pro-Western values under the guise of defending fundamental freedoms.
The methods adopted in eliminating this threat or individuals associated with this threat include neutralising, disposing, executing, or killing enemy targets.
We know the regime change agenda failed during the politics of Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe. What then transpired was an internal self-reforming process in Zanu-PF, a process that ended up roping in the entirety of the nation on November 18, 2017, ousting Mugabe in the process.
Those in the opposition wanted to use the dethroning of former President Mugabe as a convenient opportunity to destroy and end the entire ZANU-PF entity.
Mugabe was supposed to sink with ZANU-PF, and when this did not happen, they tried to revive Mugabe from political ashes so his political ghost would haunt ZANU-PF into electoral defeat. Strangely, Mugabe badly wants to see ZANU-PF totally destroyed.
It has no business existing without him leading it, the old man reasons.
We saw what happened on the eve of the election when Robert Mugabe and Nelson Chamisa held separate, but related Press conferences that were calculated to bury Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZANU-PF.
Clearly, the West is impressed with the demise of Robert Mugabe, but not for the same reasons we are impressed. We are happy a man who had become a prisoner of his overbearing ambitious wife was retired to allow continuity of ZANU-PF and the liberation legacy, yet our Western colleagues are happy because the “rotten apple” is no more.
It is now a fact that the land reform programme is irreversible, and that to us safeguards the Mugabe legacy in our history, much as the man is busy making a villain of himself in his tenth decade on this planet.
The West prefers a tattered legacy for Robert Mugabe. We prefer to restore his legacy as the founding father of our nation, as the revolutionary that led us during the land reclamation programme. Mugabe himself is more worried about what his colourful wife wants from him politically, and he is doing very little to ensure ZANU-PF does not depart from the revolution he started with the party.
Indeed under President Mugabe we faltered terribly economically, and we failed dismally on the arbiter of accountability and transparency. But it cannot be denied that Mugabe was an apostle of developing the country towards the needs of the domestic population, ahead of the needs of foreign investors.
In our investment drive we must forever ensure that the needs of the foreigners we invite to our country do not supersede the needs of our own people. The local investor is superior to the foreign investor by the definition of entitlement.
The West’s affection and passion for the MDC formations has been waning over the last few years. It started when Tsvangirai was still alive, and it is likely that after this election the West might have next to nothing to do with the MDC formations and its factions.
The performance of the MDC during the 2009-2013 Inclusive Government did not impress Western diplomats, and this is why most Western countries were not too keen on an MDC-Alliance victory in this election.
The crimes of Zanu-PF under Mugabe could best be explained the same way the crimes of Nicaragua’s Sandinistas were explained in the mid-80s. Then, Congressman William Alexander explained “the lust members (of Congress) feel to strike out against Communism”.
It was quite notable that even congressional or media critics of the war against Nicaragua felt obliged, with only the rarest of exceptions, to make it very clear that they had nothing good to say about the Sandinistas.
Their position was rather that the United States interests did not require such an attack, or that the means of the attack were inappropriate.
Mary McGrory wrote of this trend, “Only the bravest will say a word for the Sandinistas or question the president’s premise that he has a perfect right to practise unlimited ‘behaviour modification’ in a small, peasant nation.”
Today, most of the leftists, anti-imperialists and media critics that have dared to criticise the West on the economic aggression on Zimbabwe have tried to make it very clear that they have nothing good to say about Zanu-PF. Their position has been that the economic sanctions are unwarranted, or that the execution of the sanctions has been ineffective.
Only the bravest like US Senator Cynthia McKinney and British veteran labour MP, Tony Benn stood openly to say there are a lot of good things to be said about Zanu-PF. The British MP is on record as saying it was “total hypocrisy” for Britain to try and lecture Zimbabwe on democracy.
Today Tony Benn might be feeling vindicated with a lot more British politicians softening their stance on ZANU-PF under ED Mnangagwa.
The official claims against Zanu-PF are similar to those that were made against the Sandinistas in the 80s and they can hardly be taken seriously. If the minimally credible charges against Zanu-PF under Mugabe are accepted; Zanu-PF’s record would at the very worst, compare favourably with that of Western clients in the African region; some of whom have been lauded openly as exemplary democracies.
“We are doing our best to mend our relations with the West, to run away from the unhelpful image we carried under Robert Mugabe. We are trying our best to impress as a reformed nation ready to once again join the “family of nations.”
We must tread carefully on the road to diplomatic acceptance by the Western world. Let us be careful not to sacrifice our sovereignty at the altar of diplomatic expediency. Let us not attract the investor at the expense of our own future.
There will be charges laid against us after this election, some meritorious, some baseless.
We have done the best that could be done in accommodating those still holding economic sanctions against us. We have done about the best that could be done in opening democratic space in Zimbabwe. We have done the best that could be done to reach out with the hand of friendship to those that isolated us for the past 20 years.
Let not our peacefulness be taken for weakness, let not our gesture of friendship be mistaken for vulnerability, let not our quest for investment be taken for desperation, and let not our moment of need be taken for hopelessness. The need for us to be assertive as we engage with all others in our rebuilding efforts cannot be overemphasised.
It is unimaginable that if the United States were being attacked and sanctioned by a state of unimaginable power, Washington would not impose censorship on the media that offered that powerful country support, and would not mind US local media receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from the aggressor.
That is in fact very correct, since the editors and anyone remotely connected to these media houses would be in concentration camps or at Guantanamo Bay, as happened to Japanese US citizens during the Second World War.
Censorship in Israel is so severe that an Arab woman lecturing at the Hebrew University was denied permission even to publish an Arab language social and political journal.
The Arab press in East Jerusalem has repeatedly been seized by the Israeli authorities for reporting settler attacks against Palestinians. An Arab bimonthly was permanently banned in 1983, and by 1985, at least 350 books were officially banned in the occupied territories, according to Noam Chomsky in the book “Turning the Tide”.
A Palestinian artist was jailed for six months on the charge that the colours of the Palestinian flag appeared on the corner of one of his paintings.
Yet we have never heard the US or anyone from the West advocating to arm and direct Palestinian attacks on Israel; like they did with the Contras after accusing the Sandinistas of censoring La Prensa.
Just like the US shamelessly defended apartheid South Africa when they were attacking neighbouring countries without provocation, Israel stands supported to the hilt by Washington today.
That does not stop the US from lecturing us on democracy.
We all have to respect this Anglophone democracy that says the terrorism of others is bad terrorism while that of the West is self-defence or a fight for freedom and democracy.
And by the dictates of the theory of rotten apples, Zanu-PF was supposed to be discarded so that others could not be tempted to copy its pro-people model of governance. Looks like ZANU-PF has survived, at least for another five years.
This writer hopes Zanu-PF is aware of the challenges that lie ahead and that the party has a plan for the future.
The Sandinistas lost a battle but they recently came back with the revolution in full force in Nicaragua. Does Zanu-PF have the character to withstand the machinations ahead?
We do not live in isolation, but in our endeavours to rebuild this economy let us remember not to sell our birthright in exchange for foreign endorsed glory.
Zimbabwe, we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.