Friday, September 05, 2008

(TALKZIMBABWE) Khama: Blood, not skin, is what unites us

Khama: Blood, not skin, is what unites us
Caesar Zvayi-Opinion
Fri, 05 Sep 2008 10:08:00 +0000

BOTSWANA’S unelected president, Seretse Khama Ian Khama, caught those who know him by surprise at the burial of the late Zambian leader, Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, on Wednesday. Not only did he leave his cocoon in Gaborone to finally join other African leaders at an African gathering, but he also came sporting a ring on the third finger of his left hand. Yes, a ring.

We all know the third finger is reserved for the nuptial manacle — the wedding band and when one puts a ring on it, particularly a wedding band, the logical conclusion is that there is a maiden revelling in wedded bliss somewhere in the background.

To the best of my knowledge, and this has since been confirmed by sources in Gaborone, Ian Khama is not married, has never been married, does not have a girlfriend, has not been romantically linked to one in his 57 years of bachelorhood, does not have a kid. In fact, haana kana kumbonenerwawo zvake (no maiden ever tried to elope to him).

This is the same way he pretends to be a president, exercising full executive power, yet he never went for an election. It wouldn’t be our business if the Botswana law allows one to be president without an election, that is their system. It becomes our business when the same man shoots his mouth over our own presidency here.

Badmouthing President Mugabe, who has always submitted himself to election every five years since 1980, accusing him of ‘‘pretending to be president’’. But then this is Africa, the land of contradictions, where hypocrites can masquerade without a sense of irony.

Be that as it may, Khama is free to wear a ring on whichever part of his body he likes, the same way he is free to act on EU sanctions in independent Africa, and to discuss hosting the US military force, Africom, against not only Sadc but Africa’s collective opposition.

The point is, in Botswana one can be a president without going for an election as Khama and his predecessors have done, that is their system. Here in Zimbabwe, the presidency is secured by election, not elevation. Our law says where there are more than two candidates; the winner should score at least 50 percent plus 1 to prevail. That did not happen on March 29, necessitating June 27 where President Mugabe trounced Tsvangirai by a wide margin.

As such, Khama can call himself president in Botswana but the Botswana system does not apply in Zimbabwe, which is why Tsvangirai is not a president.

That fact is why Tsvangirai’s name was not on the list of heads of state and government at Mwanawasa’s funeral, but on the list of other invited dignitaries among them opposition leaders in Zambia.

So on what grounds does Khama stand to point a finger at Zimbabwe?

The clue lies in his willingness to enforce EU sanctions in an African country, itself a consequence of Botswana’s history as a British protectorate. As Tsholotsho MP Jonathan Moyo put it, ‘‘what Uncle Sam does, Uncle Tom follows’’. Here are a few examples:

l The EU says it does not recognise President Mugabe and would rather have Tsvangirai. Ian Khama follows suit and mulls not only giving Tsvangirai a diplomatic passport but an armoured car as well.

l The EU imposes sanctions on Zimbabwe; Khama implements them.

l Gordon Brown boycotts the EU-Africa Summit on account of President Mugabe’s attendance; Ian Khama follows suit over the Sadc summit.

l The Western media badmouths Zimbabwe, Ian Khama instructs the Botswana media to follow suit. Works in cahoots with Usaid to launch an anti-Zimbabwe programme, "Voice from Within", that airs every Wednesday, prime time on Btv.

l The Dutch embassy gives Tsvangirai ‘‘asylum’’ during the run-off, Khama follows suit.

The list is long, but the point is Ian Khama and his politics of Western appeasement are the biggest crises confronting Sadc at a time the region is supposed to be gearing for the African renaissance.

How can the renaissance be achieved when the likes of Ian Khama go against the basic tenets? That Africa can engage the West as an equal partner not a basket of client states?

It is no secret why the US is keen to get a foothold in Sadc, a region that has been termed the Persian Gulf of Minerals?

A report released by the US think-tank, Council on Foreign Relations, titled ‘‘More than Humanitarianism: A Strategic US Approach Toward Africa’’, acknowledges the centrality of Southern Africa to US interests.

The CFR report says in part, ‘‘Africa is of growing international importance. By the end of the decade, for example, sub-Saharan Africa is likely to become as important a source of US energy imports as the Middle East.

‘‘China, India, Europe, and others are competing with each other and with the United States for access to oil, natural gas and other natural resources. The world’s major powers are also becoming more active in seeking out investments, winning contracts and building political support on the continent.’’

There you have it. The US is keen to militarise Southern Africa through Africom as a prelude to plundering its resources. Africa need only look at what US military presence has done to the Middle East to see why Ian Khama’s poodle politics is the biggest crisis confronting the region.

Zimbabwe is not the crisis as the likes of Khama and their media embeds would have us believe, simply because Zimbabwe is actually advancing the objectives of the Frontline States, its successor the SADCC and Sadc combined, that is the total decolonisation of African space.

Back to Khama. Mwanawasa’s burial was full of valuable lessons that Ian Khama would do well to imbibe if he is to shake off the tag of ‘‘Sadc’s slouching novice’’.

For starters, it was clear in Lusaka that Botswana is alone in its stance on President Mugabe and Zimbabwe. Africa respects its heroes and elder statesmen.

For instance, it was announced for all to hear, him included, that ‘‘arriving now is President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe’’. Tsvangirai’s arrival, if ever it was noticed, was not similarly announced.

Not only that, Ian Khama probably saw and heard for himself the crowd’s reaction, and the stampede from the media, when President Mugabe arrived, the same media that hardly gave him (Khama) a glance when he slouched to his seat among other heads of state and government.

If that did not strike him, then he would have to be as a blind as a bat, if he did not read the significance of the order in which heads of state and government were seated. President Mugabe was given a prominent central position in the front row, just in front of the lectern, both at Parliament Building and at Embassy Grounds — Mwanawasa’s final resting place.

Not only that, when the laying of wreaths began President Mugabe was the fifth to do so after Mwanawasa’s family, Zambia’s acting President Rupiah Banda, AU chairman Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Sadc chairman, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.

That arrangement by Zambia’s protocol office was in recognition of President Mugabe’s stature as the elder African statesmen, which is why many leaders conferred with him.

Khama would also be interested to know that President Mugabe, apart from winning numerous accolades all over the world, was also knighted by the Queen of England as Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1994 just like his (Khama’s) father, Seretse Khama, but because of his pan-African grounding, President Mugabe never used the title ‘‘Sir’’ preferring the revolutionary Comrade (whose Chimurenga meaning is blood brother) that he carries to this day.

A title won, not by serving the Empire but from fighting the depredations of the Empire, which is why the Empire tried to strike back by revoking the meaningless title in June this year.

This was testimony to the fact that Westerners have no permanent friends, only permanent interests. By choosing to put the interests of Zimbabwe before those of the Empire President Mugabe became the West’s enemy.

Ian Khama would do well to learn from how the Western leaders, who were lauding Mwanawasa whenever he launched tirades against Zimbabwe, were conspicuous by their absence at his burial, sending a few of their lowly envoys resident in Lusaka.

In contrast African leaders came from as far afield as Ghana and Madagascar to pay their last respects to their African brother.

Blood, not skin, is what unites us.-The Herald

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