Elliot Ziwira Senior Features Writer
The United States of America’s confirmation that the civil society organisations it has been funding in an effort to push for regime change have diverted the funds elsewhere, makes interesting reading in more than one way. The confirmation brings to the fore the multifaceted nature of democracy, especially when read on the backdrop of the fact that the US, through its embassy in Harare, has previously denied playing a role in attempting to effect an illegal regime change in Zimbabwe by availing $850 million through its United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to anti-Government, political civil organisations, stretching over three years.
In February 2015, the US Embassy in Harare said in a statement: “The February 16 edition of The Herald newspaper published a page one article that carried a great deal of misinformation regarding USAID support to the NGO sector in Zimbabwe.
“One of the greatest pieces of erroneous information was contained in the headline itself, which asserted that the United States provided $850 million in funds to Zimbabwe NGOs between 2011 and 2014.”
In the same statement, the embassy outlined that USAID provided funds to improve “food security, increase agricultural production and farmer incomes, support economic resilience and develop small businesses, promote civil society and democratic engagement and provide health services to save lives.”
Fast-forward to 2018, and the same embassy, through its acting public relations officer Mr John Taylor, confirms that, indeed, funds meant for the regime change agenda were embezzled by three organisations that have all along been known to be appendages of opposition parties in the guise of championing human rights and good governance issues; and that they have had their feeding troughs upturned.
It is beyond denial that the US funds projects that benefit poor and vulnerable communities in Zimbabwe and other developing nations, but what raises eyebrows is Big Brother’s meddling in the politics of sovereign states.
What is of interest is not the admission of funding and the failure to effect change through sponsored tenets of democracy, but the individualistic, avaricious and hypocritical nature of the local runners of the said organisations that thrive on crisis; real, imagined or manufactured.
Organisations whose nefarious shenanigans were reported to the USAID office of the Inspector-General include Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Counselling Services Unit (CSU).
It is noteworthy that when organisations or their proxies benefit from chaos, they are likely to create crises for them to project a desperate situation; such situation that will stir emotions for a global by-in; and incite people against authority.
It is a case of milking the cow dry and inciting the starved calf to revolt, by not only robbing it of its right to the milk, but blaming it all on the same cow; or through scapegoating.
Nothing much is said about the conditions that the cow in milk has to be in for it to produce more, or how much should be left for the calf. Through subtle articulation of hegemony and democracy, the hungry, irked and frustrated calf is made to believe that the mother is to blame; and that the one milking her has much of a right to the milk, and more, as the calf.
A considerate farmer; even in the ilk of my grandmother (may her soul rest in eternal peace!), knows the dangers of overindulgence if his/her intention is to continue enjoying quality milk.
Now that the cow in milk and the calf no longer walk together; the bull is alienated from both, and the honey bird sings a dreary song to a snake’s nest, what will become of the community?
There is so much about beamed aid, so much about imported solutions to local challenges that leaves a sour taste in the mouth to some and long-lasting sweet flavour to others. In a world where some build mansions on the suffering of others, and shout wolf from a vintage point, will the word crisis not get a new meaning?
There will, indeed, be a crisis coalition to take us from one crisis to another in a vicious dialectical cycle contoured like Africa; conjuring images of a continent in strife.
Probably Achille Mbembe puts it aptly in “On The Postcolony” (2001) when he writes: “Africa is never seen as possessing things and attributes properly part of ‘human nature’. Or, when it is, its things and attributes are generally of lesser value, little importance, and poor quality.
“It is this elementariness and primitiveness that makes Africa the world par excellence of all that is incomplete, mutilated and unfinished; its history reduced to a series of setbacks of nature in its quest for humankind.”
The African crisis, which has given reason for the so-called big brothers of the world to play judge, prosecutor, witness, solicitor and complainant all rolled into one, has its roots in colonialism.
As Kheir (2010) notes, the “African crisis is a crisis of inheritance rather than a crisis of capability.”
Post-independence African leaders inherited hot seats from colonialists, whose apparatus of governance they scantly decipher. They inherited the same crises that culminated in liberation struggles across the continent; and without prior knowledge in matters of state, they become novel men to old dialectical tensions.
As Fanon highlights in “The Wretched of the Earth” (1967), without any ideological clarity of vision, and modes of democracy to use, the continent’s leadership, whom he termed the “native bourgeoisie” suffers in two fronts; that of the empire’s embryonic link and the masses’ expectations.
Whatever the leaders embark on in their quest to move forward is always construed as a crisis of “incomplete, mutilated, and unfinished” repose of a people attempting to heedlessly hobble into a miasmic future spot.
It is such thinking on the part of the empire that the African cannot independently run his affairs as a fellow human being that creates opportunities for individuals among the people of colour to be willing pawns in the power-games of the West.
Yes, democracy is required for a modern nation state to progress and be at par with other states; but democracy has never been known to be effective if its tenets are skewed to favour the powerful minority and leave out subaltern classes through subtle exhibition of power disguised as constitutionalism.
The minority can also lose through the “tyranny of the majority”.
When the minority suffers losses through democracy and its maze of faces, and the majority are hoodwinked through democracy; democracy and its purported restoration becomes catch-phrases for regime change proponents and their handlers.
This instalment comes at a time the postcolonial nation state of Zimbabwe is preparing for its watershed harmonised elections scheduled for July 30; and global lenses are beamed on the nation smarting from a 38-year fatigue, and is positioning itself to change outcomes for the benefit of all its citizenry.
With the US Embassy shedding light on the lugubrious milking of USAID coffers by avaricious individuals, who feast on the wounds of the majority, it is trite to refer to USAID website where the agency says it plays “an active and critical role in the promotion of US foreign policy interests.”
“The investment we make in developing countries has long-term benefits for America and the American people.”
So much for putting eggs in a bottomless basket, and expecting milk from a heifer or a cow with no calf.