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When devil runs with the gospel

WATCHING the Western media's mouth-washed platitudes about Mandela, its hard to imagine this is the same guy who was on the US sanctions list, listed as a TERRORIST, as late as June 2008. The same list that hosts Robert Gabriel Mugabe & yours truly... This was the thread I posted on my facebook wall on Monday evening attracting a deluge of responses ranging from the shocked to the outright incredulous. Quite a number did not even know that the so-called 'Land of the Free and Home of the Brave' was one of the powers behind the murderous Apartheid South Africa regime and worked to perpetuate the murderous regime's reign. This is why Nelson Mandela and his ANC counterparts where dubbed terrorists and placed on US sanctions.

Despite Uncle Sam's mouthwashed platitudes about Mandela's legacy today, platitudes that saw flushed correspondents waxing lyrical on CNN and other Western media about ''what a gift Mandela is to humanity'', to them Madiba was a terrorist along with the likes of Osama bin Laden as late as June 2008 when US lawmakers expedited the process of removing him from the sanctions list ahead of his 90th birthday on July 18 2008.

This is what one blogger had to say;

WASHINGTON (28 June 2008) - Some US lawmakers are trying to pass legislation to remove former South African president Nelson Mandela from a US list of terrorists by his 90th birthday next month, officials said on Thursday. South African Ambassador to the United States Welile Nhlapo said he was in talks with the State Department and lawmakers to resolve the issue by Mandela's birthday on July 18. Lawmakers in April introduced legislation in Congress to remove Mandela from the list, a step that is normally a government administrative matter;

because they were frustrated by the time the process was taking.

The State Department has said it and the Justice Department fully support the bill, which passed the US House of Representatives on May 8 and is awaiting Senate approval. "We have been able to clarify and resolve certain questions that were hanging in the minds of some people as to whether to support the process or not," Nhlapo said without elaborating.

"We are trying ourselves to talk to some of these people, clarify what else they may have on their mind . . . so that we can get this over," he added.

The former South African president and some in the now-ruling African National Congress are still blacklisted under US laws and need special permission to enter the United States more than a decade after the apartheid struggle ended.

No plan has been announced for Mandela to visit the United States once the bill passes. He last visited the United States in May 2005.

The ANC was banned by South Africa's white rulers in 1960, its leader jailed or forced into exile until the ban on the movement was lifted 30 years later . . .

George W Bush had to issue an executive order to have Mandela and the ANC leadership off the sanctions list before July 18 2008. Be that as it may, the bottom line is Uncle Sam was an enemy of democracy in South Africa as evidenced by his opposition to Mandela's quest for freedom which puts his sanctions on Zimbabwe, its leadership and other people into perspective.

So what is this charade of celebrating Mandela as if they believed in his cause? What is it that happened between February 11, 1990, the day a he ambled out of prison and 1999, the year he left office that so endeared him to them. The answer is simple Madiba did not upset the apple cart. He was content to have the crown minus the crown jewels, and in so doing became the typical good African who did not pose ''an unusual and extraordinary threat to US foreign policy'' like his counterpart north of the Limpopo.

In imposing sanctions on Zimbabwe, the US made it clear that the sanctions were being imposed because ''Zimbabwe constituted an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States.'' This is the text of Executive Order 13188 that the US president uses to extend the sanctions every year. Contrary to western rhetoric and grandstanding the sanctions were not imposed to promote democracy and good governance in Zimbabwe.

Infact the US has no moral ground to lecture us on any form of democracy as we had to wage a 14-year war against a white minority regime that had the overt and covert support of four US administrations from Lyndon Johnson (1963e69); Richard Nixon (1969- 74); Gerald Ford (1974-77) to Jimmy Carter (1977-1981).

A bit of history may help the historically na´ve appreciate the destructive role the US played during our liberation struggle and how those actions served to delay the dawn of independence at a cost of over 50 000 innocent lives, the same way Washington's illegal sanctions today seek to torpedo our quest for economic independence.

When Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Douglas Smith made his Unilateral Declaration of Independence on November 11 1965, the progressive world was naturally outraged and the UN Security Council responded by slapping the Smith regime with a raft of sanctions beginning that year till the brief restoration of British rule in December 1979.

Though the terms of the sanctions forbade trade or financial dealings with Rhodesia, the US supported the beleaguered settler regime regardless and covertly channelled assistance through apartheid South Africa. US allies among them Portugal - then under Marcello Caetano, Israel, and Iran then under the US proxy - Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi - also assisted and traded with Rhodesia.

In an attempt to bypass the UN sanctions, the US passed the socalled Byrd Amendment in 1971 and continued to buy chrome from Rhodesia in violation of the UN sanctions arguing that the mineral was a strategic raw material yet it went on to the chrome-plated bumpers of America's monstrous vehicles.

As if that was not enough, Washington also contributed to the establishment of an armaments industry in Rhodesia that enabled the Rhodesian Front to decimate over 50 000 black Zimbabweans whose only "crime" was daring to demand black majority rule.

The US also provided the technical knowledge and support, again through apartheid South Africa, toward establishing the 700- kilometre Border Minefield Obstacle along Zimbabwe's borders with Zambia and Mozambique in an attempt to stop aspiring cadres from crossing to training camps and to blow-up trained combatants who were crossing back into Zimbabwe. Furthermore, other American mercenaries and US servicemen joined the Rhodesian Security Forces ranks, with many of them bringing back to Rhodesia military ideas and concepts from Vietnam where the US had just been routed in 1975.

To get a detailed expose of the extent of US destabilisation of the Second Chimurenga, the likes of Charles Ray (or is it Ray Charles on account of his apparent political blindness) should get hold of a 2001 book titled ''From the Barrel of a Gun - The United States and the War Against Zimbabwe, 1965- 1980'' that was authored by a fellow African-American, Gerald Horne, and published by the University of North Carolina Press at Chapel Hill.

Charles Ray doesn't even have to order a copy from the US; he can easily borrow one from the Centre for Defence Studies at the University of Zimbabwe, about 7km from his base in Herbert Chitepo. The bottom line is Washington not only significantly contributed to Rhodesia's national income, which enabled the Smith regime to buy weapons to pulverise freedom fighters; it actually assisted Rhodesia's fight against the combatants. As such Charles Ray must read history before exercising his jaws on Zimbabwe.

By acquainting himself with history, he will find that his government, which today is at the forefront of demonising Zimbabwe to the extent of enacting a sanctions law - the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act - openly supported Zimbabwe on land at the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference, with Jimmy Carter promising that Washington would significantly fund land reforms and also urged the British to do the same.

Carter's promise - which was delivered by the then US ambassador to London, Kingman Brewster - was made after the Patriotic Front leaders threatened to walk out of the Conference when the British sought to scuttle demands for land reforms. All this was recently revealed in a report aired by BBC on August 22 last year at 12:23GMT, which anyone can access at http://news.bbc.co.uk.

In light of his fulminations in the private media, Charles Ray appears to have a warped conception of democracy. He seems to believe Zimbabweans are suckers for the narrow conception of democracy the Westerners always try to ram down the developing world's throat.

A truncated conception that focuses only on civil and social rights to the total exclusion of economic and cultural rights. According to the minimalist school of thought, to which Charles Ray is sold, democracy is basically a method of making decisions whose most important characteristic is free and fair elections for choosing government officials, a process where the elites compete for votes to win political office. According to this view, ultimate power rests in the hands of the people at election time but after vote counting the people cede decision- making authority to the elites ''who are well-versed in matters of governance.''

Westerners favour this minimalist view of democracy for the developing world not because it is ideal, but because they use it as a red herring that diverts people's attention from interrogating the source of their poverty.

Developing world poverty is then simplistically blamed on ''corrupt'' governments but not on centuries of plunder and the fact that the Westerners all but own developing world economies which they manipulate to suit their ends - the way American billionaire George Soros almost singlehandedly wrecked Asian economies precipitating the so-called Asian economic crisis.

The obverse of minimalist democracy holds that democracy is much more than a political system with free and fair elections, but is an economy and society that reflects a democratic desire for equality and respect for political differences, which differences should not be on matters of national interest, what is called conflict within consensus. For this school, democracy means much more than going to the polls every few years.

It means citizens owning their resources and participating in the institutions of society such as corporations, unions, factories, in fact, all aspects of economic, social and cultural production.

The former is what is commonly known as limited democracy while the latter is popular or expansive democracy.

Charles Ray, being an African- American, should have no problems understanding that in a developing country like Zimbabwe, what the populace needs even more than elections, is total empowerment not only in decisionmaking but also in economic, social and cultural production.

This is the path Zimbabwe has taken, which path has invited the fierce backlash from the West as the Charles Rays of this world eagerly hand Uncle Sam fresh whips to lacerate Zimbabwe's backside. For the record, Zimbabwe has held democratic multiparty elections whenever they were due since 1980, and the forthcoming poll will be the 11th in 28 years, showing we hasvea rich democratic tradition that gives people the chance to choose their leaders time and time again. To put things into perspective, very few African countries, some that were independent since the 1960s have held as many suffrages as Zimbabwe has.

Most had their first multiparty elections during the neo-liberal decade 1990 to 2000 but only because multilateral lending institutions made it a pre-condition for balance of payment support and aid.

While many others had leaders obtain power through bloody coups, but not so in the case of Zimbabwe.

Ray Charles, sorry, Charles Ray must remember this the next time he wants to masquerade as an apostle od democracy on this our hallowed motherland.

caesar.zvayi@zimpapers.co.zw





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