Undemocratic ‘democrats’ The late Morgan Tsvangirai

Reason Wafwarova on Monday
Over the years, the US-backed and Western-sponsored opposition politics in our country has been in many ways a replay of Washington’s mindless games that started soon after the declaration of the American Century at the end of the Second World War.

There is nothing new in the sponsorship of client political parties, and the regime change doctrine was actually overplayed in Latin America during the peak of the Cold War.

ZDERA and the sanctions regime on Zimbabwe are just but an expression of the doctrine of creating and sponsoring client political parties in weaker countries.

There is nothing new in the role of sanctions as a form of pressure to coerce compliant political behaviour, and as a tool to force the public into submission, and to create conditions that may lead to an uprising against an unwanted government.

Those among Zimbabweans who continue to back the sanctions regime are only doing so in the hope that sanctions in and of themselves will one day remove Zanu-PF from power, not for any of the humanitarian pretexts that we are often told about.

I will revisit Nicaragua in the 1980s and draw the attention of readers to some glaring similarities between what was happening then and what we saw happening in Zimbabwe in this first decade of the 21st century.

Nicaragua held an election in November 1984 and the United States clarified their subversive aims towards Nicaragua by an outstandingly hysterical reaction to this election.

We held an election in July last year, and we saw the United States openly backing the hysterical puerile objections of the opposition leader; who ironically endorsed Zanu-PF’s more than two thirds majority win in the parliamentary election, but sharply objected to his loss in the presidential race, declaring a no-evidence win in his own favour.

The US carried out a classical well-crafted propaganda coup over the Nicaraguan election by deflecting attention from the voting itself through regular diatribes that were seriously reported as news in all Western media.

In March 2008, the Zimbabwean election was tactfully deprived of objective coverage as the Western media went into overdrive to paint the picture of an election contested by a ruthless military junta on behalf of the ruling Zanu-PF (or vice versa); and against a well-meaning and most civilised team of democrats in the opposition MDC, particularly the faction then led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

In the run-up to the June presidential election run-off, the Western and the South African media raved hysterical about a Chinese ship that was reportedly carrying military supplies destined for Zimbabwe; in much the same way the US national Press went hysterical about a concocted story over Russian MIGs in Nicaragua in the run-up to the 1984 election.

The Chinese ship story was abandoned after it had served its function of eliminating potential allies to the Zimbabwe Government, especially those from Sadc and the AU.

The Nicaragua MIG story was similarly abandoned quickly as soon as Washington realised that it had served its purpose of eliminating honest coverage of the election.

The January violent disturbances we saw in Zimbabwe this year were a political scheme to eliminate potential allies to Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts, particularly in Europe.

The concocted Nicaragua story elicited some highly emotional outrage by some dovish senators in the US, well exemplified by Massachusetts Democrat Paul Tsongas, who warned that the US would have to bomb Nicaragua to eliminate the MIGs because “they are also capable against the United States”.

It is obviously ludicrous for any sane person to ever imagine that Nicaragua would even for once consider the possibility of attacking the United States, but such is the pretence of US elites.

We have heard some overly excited opposition political activists hankering for the invasion of Zimbabwe by the United States, ostensibly to protect “innocent civilians,” — a favourite euphemism to describe violent hooligans; whenever they get to meet the wrath of law enforcement agencies in the country.

The Chinese ship story ended up with suggestions for military intervention in the UK House of Lords, and revelations that Tony Blair had long mooted the idea of military engagement over Zimbabwe.

The reasoning was that Zimbabweans needed protection from their own “monstrous government” and that Britain was too good a government to stand aside and watch the people of Zimbabwe suffer.

The US Latin American Studies Association carried a study of the Nicaraguan election and its largely objective report was virtually ignored by the national Press in the US, as were the elections themselves.

We had election observer reports from our 2018 election totally ignored by the United States as well, and that narrative was not a surprise to some of us, from a historical perspective of US foreign policy.

The Nicaragua election report rejected that Arturo Cruz, the official “democrat” according to Washington, was excluded from the elections.

Rather, his business backed political grouping made an ill-advised decision to exclude themselves from the election despite the fair playing field, the report said.

The report submitted the “observers’ doubts” that Cruz’s group had a broad following in Nicaragua.

Today we have a replay of this script in Venezuela, where the US is backing a self-declared “president” who has no known broad following in the country.

This LASA report resonated well with the view that Tsvangirai made an ill-advised decision to exclude himself from the presidential election run-off, just five days before voting day in 2008.

He was not excluded from the process by anyone but himself, of course under instruction issued at a golf course by a very abrasive US ambassador.

The report noted that Cruz’s agenda was “more attuned to the policy debate in Washington than to the hardships of life in Nicaragua”.

We have this perpetual argument that the MDC Alliance agenda is more attuned to policy debates in Washington than it is to the ruinous hardships of life in Zimbabwe.

This makes perfect sense when one considers how our opposition politicians defend and back ZDERA and its ruinous sanctions on our country.

Cruz’s call for talks with the US-sponsored Contras was reported as failing to “strike a popular chord in Managua”.

Even Cruz’s own sister, Lilian, opposed her brother’s treacherous call by penning an open letter to two pro-government newspapers to remind her brother that her son, Sandinista army officer David Baez, had been slain battling the Contras.

Similarly, the July 2008 call by Zimbabwe’s opposition for more sanctions against their own country through the UN Security Council was an embarrassment that was widely condemned by the African Union and SADC.

It is now 10 years later, and the AU and SADC are still lobbying for the lifting of sanctions on our country, and our opposition is still backing the sanctions, and lobbying for the intensification of the same.

In 2008, China and Russia stood in defence of international law and the United Nations Charter by blocking the ruinous move by the West to effect a fatal punishment on the people of Zimbabwe for their “disappointing” failure to engage in an uprising against their own Government.

The LASA report made a very revealing observation saying: “We know of no election in Latin America or elsewhere, in which groups advocating the violent overthrow of an incumbent government have themselves been incorporated into the electoral process; particularly when these groups have been openly supported by a foreign power.”

Not only did we have such elections in Zimbabwe, but also the elections actually culminated in a coalition government between the incumbent government and the advocates of violence.

The LASA report noted that the Nicaragua elections were indeed “manipulated”, but by the Reagan administration, which did everything in its power to block and discredit them, including the inducement of Cruz and others to abstain.

Zanu-PF, like what Venezuela is doing today, had to ban the distribution of food aid in the 2008 election, culminating in Tsvangirai pulling out, for among other reasons, allegations of State-sponsored violence against opposition supporters.

Cruz was later busted as being on the CIA payroll and he defended himself saying he had only “received assistance for a short period from an institution that was dedicated to support the struggle for liberty”.

Pressed to name the institution, Cruz went mute while his mate, Alfonso Robelo, admitted that Cruz “had been given money in the past by the Central Intelligence Agency to carry out what the (CIA) official called ‘political work’.”

When disgruntled our opposition politicians have in the past spilled the bins, Tendai Biti went berserk telling us of who the real Tsvangirai was after the second split in 2013.

We also saw a bit of that with the 2006 split of the MDC-T branch based in the UK. There was a lot of telling that happened at the time.

Job Sikhala also hysterically revealed a “donated” couple of million US dollars in 2005.

Christopher Hitchens commented on the democratic credentials of Arturo Cruz. He said: “He would not take part in an election that he felt to be insufficiently democratic, but he will take part in a war of sabotage and attrition that has no democratic pretences at all.”

Our opposition politicians are proudly taking part in a war of economic sabotage against our own people, yet they pride themselves as democrats.

We had the “Tongai Tione” sabotage campaign led by the late Tsvangirai after the 2008 election, and today his successor has re-christened the heartless sabotage game “Kudira Jecha”.

There is obviously no semblance of democracy in calling for sanctions against one’s own country, and it is not surprising that the advocates are too ashamed to stand openly and defend their treacherous call.

Arturo Cruz and his colleagues were labelled “democrats” by US commentators not on the basis of any credible information about such commitment, but because their concept of democracy rejected the logic of the majority, which meant that Nicaragua’s poor majority would have access to, and be the primary beneficiaries of their country’s resources and its public programmes.

This stance, much similar to the position of the Zimbabwe opposition in relation to the popular land reclamation policy of 2000, was what sufficed to confer democratic credentials on our opposition by Washington and London.

It was the crowning of the undemocratic democrats.

There is hardly any democracy to talk about in how leadership is chosen in our opposition, yet those riding roughshod over democratic processes are crowned as democrats, or proudly make the claim themselves.

The Managua correspondent for the London Guardian, Tony Jenkins, summed up what was happening in Nicaragua by saying: “The political opposition in Nicaragua has never really committed itself to trying to win power by democratic means.”

Challenged to respond to this assertion, one of the leaders of the opposition Democratic Co-ordinating Committee, a group proudly named “democratic” by Washington, which abstained from the elections, explained this posture.

He said: “It is true that we have never really tried to build up a big membership or tried to show our strength by organising regular demonstrations. Perhaps it is a mistake, but we prefer to get European and Latin American governments to put pressure on the Sandinistas.”

We have our own politicians here who continue to lose elections, and yet they prefer to have the US put pressure on Zanu-PF.

Do we know who is playing around with the idea of “pouring sand” in the works of President Mnangagwa’s Government?

We have over the years learnt the lessons from the “democratic opposition” of Nicaragua, Miami-based Cubans, Honduras, Venezuela, and our very own opposition activists here.

In Nicaragua, Tony Jenkins noted that the opposition “never accepted the basic Sandinista precept of the revolution; that society must be reorganised to the benefit of the workers and the peasants”.

Has our Zimbabwean opposition ever accepted the basic precept of the Chimurenga revolution, or have they ever accepted the sanctity of the legacy of the liberation struggle?

In the absence of such acceptances, the only route is to bank on pressure from outside forces and this is the only logic behind ZDERA and the shameful support for the so-called targeted sanctions — targeted of course at our people.

The idea is to render conditions of life intolerable, forcing the Government to tougher measures, and reinforcing the local sponsored allies of the US by presenting them as the only “democratic hope” to end the people’s suffering.

Our main opposition leader here says he is the only one with the keys to economic success, and we know where he derives his audacity.

We owe our politics to the national interest, not to our personal aspirations and ambitions. Our politics must be driven by the desire to build the nation.

There must be no room for foreign influence in the running of Zimbabwe’s affairs and any deviation from this commitment cannot be rewarded or honoured.

Indeed, we all seek a solution to the biting problems bedevilling the country, but none of us must bring upon us slavery and servitude in the name of solving our crisis.

We owe it to posterity to build a solid future for Zimbabwe and any weakness now will turn out to be a crack to be mended for many years to come.

Zimbabweans we are always one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!

Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia

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