MANHERU:- Tsvangirai: Dropping Sadc for Ecowas and NATO
three countries have in common, but it helps to recall that a month or two ago, the MDC-T leader was in Gabon, again on an undisclosed mission which had nothing to do with him as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. I mean undisclosed to you and me as average Zimbabweans. I am sure the authorities are in the loop, whether from Tsvangirai himself, or through other mechanisms which are always many.
Profile of hosts
Nigeria is in the Security Council, and was in the Ecowas chair when the Ivory Coast debacle played itself out, all to an African denouement, with the UN-assisted Sarkozy emerging the sole winner. Well, at least for now. Far more than a member of Ecowas, Ivory Coast was a French backyard and that status seemed decisive to the final outcome. Ivory Coast’s membership to Ecowas did not save it, would not save it. Rather, it became the seminal theatre for Europe’s militant, neo-liberal experiments in armed intervention for regime change in post-colonial Africa. The Ivory Coast episode in that experiment appears to have succeeded, again at least for now. Like Nigeria, Gabon is in the Security Council and, alongside Nigeria and South Africa, supported UN Security Council Resolution 1973 which authorised a Nato invasion of Libya, all against an AU decision and roadmap on Libya.
Tsvangirai has gone on this unexplained trip soon after the fall of Tripoli to NATO forces. I take it that the timing was part of the message. Equally, I take it that against such overwhelming evidence, it is now axiomatic that the war in Libya was a NATO war against one Muammar Gaddafi, never an insurrection, let alone a revolution, against one Gaddafi and the values he represented.
To this day, Africa puzzles at what Gaddafi represented, which is why a defence of what he symbolised for Libya and Africa, should never be confused with an apology of his misrule of Libya, much worse, his misplacement of Libyan and African resources and assets. For all we know, Gaddafi may very well have been his own quartermaster in a war against himself and his people.
I fail to be convinced that Europe and America bought munitions for their war against Libya. They didn’t. They couldn’t, what with their comatose economies. They simply converted Gaddafi’s offshore investments into a fund for financing the war against him, which is probably why the over US$96 billion belonging to Libya, will never come back, thanks to legal niceties embedded in each of the asset freezing countries. Much of it was used up against Brother Gaddafi himself. His investment policies armed his enemies.
That side of Gaddafi is especially repugnant, so repugnant to a point of giving a satisfying ring of poetic justice to the fate that awaited him personally, a fate sure to blight his own people and country, undeservedly. However, to abhor all this and his misrule should never stand in the way of his symbolism as a face of erring, sovereign Africa whose boundaries should forever remain inviolate. That is my point.
Rebels who know no war
But all these failings of Gaddafi hardly make the so-called rebels virtuous, or a solution for Libya. They do not make the rebels even fallible in the understandable sense of generic man congenitally fated to inherit frailties from Adam and Eve, after delightfully munching the green, rotund and nubial apple. The so-called rebels fought no war, know no war. They were excited and excitable spectators to some war which they telescopically forgot was taking place in their very home, claiming the lives of their own people. Their role was well calibrated by NATO and it was not even auxiliary; it was firmly ornamental. They were made to advance under the wings of NATO – literally!
All was a boyish game so full of thrill, made thriller by occasional fatalities from sparse ambushes, sparser artillery fire. Otherwise our thrilled one-day-old revolutionaries from Benghazi were only too happy to shoot wildly for cameras, shoot even at the Almighty, all to suggest close, man-to-man, corner-to-corner, mortal combat that never was, indeed all to prove formidable fire-power, all of it borrowed or loaned by the invading NATO, against their very own.
True, a few of them died, true, a few of them were involved in skirmishes they could not avoid. Nil surprises. Libya had to die a little to make the lie stick. The rebels were meant to die a little, to get hurt a little more. Both Libyan blood and Libyan show of battle courage, however symbolic, however inconsequential to the overall outcome, were part of the cast. Like the martial Coriolanus, Libya has to bear scars for exhibition by NATO. Otherwise how was imperialism going to sell that whole invasion to the world?
The first and last casualty
As in all hard-to-sell wars, newsrooms become fulcrums to this frenetic sales effort. Expectedly, truth became the first casualty. If we are not careful, truth shall again become the last casualty, especially if we do not remember that today we have seen the product, tested its efficacy against real life. This was a televised war, most televised war even. We all saw it, one-sided though the coverage was. Except so was the war itself, what with the UN, the Arab League, the AU, NATO, the US and divided Libya on the one side! That is not my point. My real point is, need we remain victims of a salesman’s hyperboles, in respect of a war we all witnessed to be foreign, anti-Libyan, anti-African? So, let us put it straight and bold: Libya was invaded by a NATO sanctified by the UN, permitted by the Arab League, tolerated by the AU.
Contracts feeding frenzy
Libya is today an occupied country, thanks to the impotence of the General Assembly, the AU and the Arab League. What greater proof of occupation does one need in the face of a TNC which pleads with European and American exchequers for the release of Libyan money, Libyan currency (printed in Britain), Libyan assets, all of which in combination mean Libyan futures? What greater proof of occupation does one need beyond the ignominy of a TNC whose first assignment even before stabilising Libya, or relocating to, and establishing itself in, the Libyan capital – itself the citadel of the Libyan State – is to pawn oil and reconstruction contracts to France, Britain, America and other European powers, to the same powers who rained so much destruction on the well-built Libya?
The legitimacy deficit
The TNC is not yet the Libyan Government. The TNC has not yet addressed the Libyan people, let alone secured from them the right and authority – no matter how tenuous – to dispose of Libyan assets, Libyan interests. It has not yet gone for elections, something we can all understand. In fact, no one in Libya – including the rebels themselves – know what the TNC is, has been, will be. But
every State, no matter how failed, has instruments for legitimating emergency executive decisions taken in the interim, ways of legitimating executive decisions ahead of proper ascension to power. There must be some form of Cabinet, however makeshift.
There must be some resolution, however threadbare. Above all, there must be clear, iron-clad provisos, all to indicate that whatever commitments this succeeding NATO-junta (that is what the TNC is, really) is making, all to deal with exigencies of post-conflict Libya, would need condonation, regularisation or ratification.
Now before the Libyan people are addressed, let alone consulted, the junta is already in Paris to pawn Libya’s buffeted future, a conference which is only Libyan by media proclamation, but one fundamentally Anglo-French, chaired by Sarkozy, and Cameron, both of them triumphant and feeling more accomplished than both Bush and Obama in Iraq and Afghanistan!
Whose future? Whose Libya? Africa is nowhere near, except of course its renegade presidents, renegade governments. The Arab League is nowhere near. Only some robbed emir of Qatar, itself a false fugleman of the whole war! These are the hard facts which perforate the sales language. We need not be humbugged. Let us, as conscious Africans, put our firm hand on the handle.
A man no monkey
So, the MDC-T leader has embarked on his journey against such a sorry backdrop. By the way, he missed this week’s Cabinet. His minions would not even wait for T&S they were entitled to, never mind that this whole itinerary has nothing to do with the Government of Zimbabwe. The MDC-T leader does not need peanuts from Government; he is no monkey! One can only deduce that this trip was key, so important that Cabinet paled into insignificance. What was it?
The link with Sadc
Tarry thee Jew, still another important detail! Hardly two weeks ago, Zimbabwe joined the whole of Sadc in Luanda for the sub-regional group’s last scheduled meeting for the year. Before this Summit, Sadc had convened extraordinarily in Windhoek and at Sandton, Johannesburg, to discuss the situations of Madagascar and Zimbabwe.
I am sure the reader recalls a troika meeting which had been convened much earlier in Livingstone, Zambia, which again focused on Zimbabwe. Both its information and conclusions created quite a rumpus between Zimbabwe and the troika, with Zimbabwe insisting the troika had misled itself, had made itself anaemic by feeding from the palsied palms of one side. This misunderstanding was cleared in part in Windhoek, and more comprehensively in the pre-Sandton Summit private dinner between Presidents Zuma and Mugabe, and of course in the actual Summit. Each step saw the methodical, careful and well-sequenced trimming of Livingstone until its last limb was lopped off in Luanda. Clearly Sadc had realised it had been misled by the MDC-T leader who sought to gain ground through blatant lies and by posing as a hapless victim of Zanu-PF excesses.
Serving from on low?
Luanda made it clear Sadc had no business seconding staff to Jomic, itself a sovereign body created by parties to the GPA for the resolution of internal, national challenges related to implementation of the GPA. Logically, Sadc could never facilitate from inside participation, and from on low, as opposed to facilitating from on high as befits a true referee.
The second major decision from Luanda was to cut an impolitic and sickeningly presumptuous bureaucracy which had battened and willfully interposed itself between the facilitator who is President Zuma in his personal capacity, and the GPA parties and their principals. Led by the clumsy Ambassador Zulu, this officious and solicitous bureaucracy, often responding to interests outside Zimbabwe, South Africa and Sadc, had succeeded so exquisitely in poisoning the facilitation atmosphere. Luanda requested Cde Zuma to assume direct charge of the interface.
Renewal from T.B.J.
I have taken quite some part of your time, dear reader, in spelling out details of the Luanda Summit as these have a bearing on the behaviour of the MDC-T leader. Luanda was a major setback for the MDC-T, both at home and in the region. And the indicative marker has been Botswana which all along had tended to lean closer to the MDC-T script. Both in Windhoek and Sandton it became quite clear that our western neighbour had been disenchanted in a remarkably major way. So was Tanzania, itself another country which had warmed up to the MDC-T and its mendacious leadership. Angola, itself the chairman, played an opaque card of good public-relations-against-unyielding-stance on principles, a tactic which the gullible MDC-T functionaries mistook for friendliness.
To all that add the Windhoek meeting of liberation movements, and you begin to appreciate what politics were at play in Luanda, leading to the outcome Luanda gave the world. It was remarkable diplomacy, all against the green MDC-T.
This major setback for the MDC-T provides clue to its leader’s whirlwind to Central and West Africa. Of course he also sought to collect more cash from his sponsors, apart from more holy waters, after the less-publicised mischief which befell the first holy bottle from T.B.J!
By taking his case to Nigeria, itself under Africa’s youngest and latest President, the MDC-T leader took a very foreboding misstep which he might live to rue. If the MDC-T party had a good grasp of history and contemporary politics, it would have known how Nigeria is regarded both before and after Independence. Does Tsvangirai know that in the run-up to Geneva, Nigeria played a shameful role which not only sought to shore up the Kissinger Plan, but also to divide the Patriotic Front? The foreign minister then was one Garba who sought to present Zanu with a sell-out fait accompli. That was resisted, with the PF harbouring lingering memories of an unreliable African government which they took the Nigerian Government to be from that experience.
Of course this does not condemn the great Nigerian people who are pan-African through and through. Nor does it overwrite critical, principled interventions which the successor Nigerian Government made in 1979 to bring greater pressure to bear on the British Government on the issue of Rhodesia. The President then was Obasanjo, who would stage a second coming after the military dictator, Sani Abacha at the turn of the millennium. Or even after our Independence when Nigeria trained a few of our military officers.
Then came the Abuja meeting on Zimbabwe’s land question at which the Nigerian government played a singularly honourable role by telling the world that “land was at the core of the political crisis” bedeviling Zimbabwe. Regrettably this emblazonry was to be checkmated by the Abuja CHOGM at which the same Obasanjo government did its best to work with the white Commonwealth to undermine the Zimbabwe position on land and sovereignty. Sadly, the Nigerian government had regressed in a manner reminiscent of its infamous role in the Kissinger days. The very misdemeanours which the white world was lobbying against Harare were or would manifest themselves 10-fold in Nigeria’s elections, apparently with little or mild, perfunctory remonstrance from an obliging Europe. Zimbabwe felt traded in for Nigeria’s existing and future amity with selective Europe and America. Trust plummeted.
Serving Europe, selling Africa
Then came Ivory Coast. Again, populous Nigeria, itself a natural leader of the continent, took a baffling stance. While abundantly acknowledging the electoral misdemenours which indicted the UN, the French, Ouattara and to a limited extent, Gbagbo, Nigeria still sided with the West, thereby giving Africa a foretaste of what, alongside South Africa and Gabon, Nigeria would do again against Libya, another African country.
Interestingly, the Nigerian leader, Goodluck Jonathan, then still to be elected, acknowledged before his peers in Addis that the Ivorian ballot had been stolen. But he added a chilling caveat: “But then, where in Africa are elections not stolen?” A few weeks down the line, Nigeria would itself go to the polls, which proclaimed him as the winner!
I do not need to recall what happened to Nigeria on Libya. It is all history now. Yet the fundamental lesson from all this is that the Nigerian Government will take a position not necessarily for Africa, but for self-preservation and for the acknowledgement of the hard realities of global power and those who own and wield it.
Same oil, same weaknesses
On Libya, both Nigeria and South Africa sought to ingratiate themselves with the omnipotent West which they see as enthroning them to the Security Council as junior partners, at whatever cost to Africa, her interests and her Ezulwini plan. Needless to say this is hardly leadership, less so to a continent under a renewed siege from resurgent colonialism.
I might as well add that Wikileaks revealed that oil companies in Nigeria operate like a counter-state to the Nigerian Government, possibly explaining why this giant of Africa gave away without even a whimper, what Libya today is giving away after some fight, however un-heroic.
Wishing a NATO on Zimbabwe?
By going to accost Nigeria for some undisclosed role on the Zimbabwean question, the MDC-T leader had recalled all these unpleasant memories in Zanu-PF, its interlocutor in the GPA. By accosting a Nigeria which has embraced the flawed outcome imposed on Libya by the power of the NATO sword, Tsvangirai has implied his preference for a similar endgame and “resolution” in respect of Zimbabwe. No amount of pretended disdain of what happened in Ivory Coast on his part will take away from the fact that he has substantively aligned himself yet again to African-aided Western intrusion into the political and military affairs of the continent.
Fighting for knighthood
Much worse, Tsvangirai has undermined if not dropped Sadc mediation for an outlandish Ecowas one, led by Nigeria. Indeed, comments attributed to President Goodluck Jonathan suggest a West African president who seeks some role on the Zimbabwe question.
I am avoiding stating that President Jonathan is challenging President Zuma’s facilitation, challenging Troika mediation, challenging Sadc. We have been through this before by way of a solicitous President Wade of Senegal who mounted the same challenge to the Mbeki mediation before Zuma took over. And because we have seen this before, we are now wise enough to know that the competition is on delivering Mugabe’s head to the West or, the obverse, restoring white interests here which stand imperiled by Zanu-PF. Such a feat brings honour and knighthood, which is why the Zimbabwean question has had many eager players, most of them for Britain, Europe and America. We hope the Nigerian President does not get carried away.
As for our mole-blind Tsvangirai, well, he is behaving well in character, is he not? A neat thin slice of ham in between British and American corn, ready for a Western bite! But he has well-founded fears.
A chastised Zuma, both at home and abroad, will not want to be seen to be repeating another foreign policy misstep anywhere on the continent, much less within her Sadc neighbourhood. Much worse, events this week have shown that Zuma may not be as available on Zimbabwe as he has been in the past. He might begin to have more issues at home, apart from the stern indication that Zimbabwe will not accept his mediation unconditionally.
This is deeply bothering to Tsvangirai, as it is to the American ambassador who is showing obvious desperation. Like drowning men, both men are clutching at each occurrence elsewhere in the world, hoping its do-able here, exportable here. Tsvangirai has exposed all his flanks. They are naked and we all see his soiled hinds. Icho!