Saturday, February 26, 2011

(NEWZIMBABWE) Tsvangirai and McGee: Tendi replies to MDC

COMMENT - Morgan Tsvangirai: "The international community should have insisted on democratisation rather than regime change. When they spoke of democratisation, what they really meant was regime change." That is because they have no interest in whether the Zimbabwean people can vote or for whom. They are only interested in getting Zimbabwe's diamonds, and keep land redistribution from catching on, so 'their' diamond deposits in South Africa and Botswana remains safe. If land redistribution spread to Namibia, imagine how many diamonds would be flooding international markets. And land would be redistributed in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, probably in Malawi and Tanzania too. All the West is interested in, is a regime that keeps most resources out of the hands of Africans.

Tsvangirai and McGee: Tendi replies to MDC
by Blessing-Miles Tendi
26/02/2011 00:00:00

Speaking at the Frontline Club in London on Wednesday, Blessing-Miles Tendi, author of Making History in Mugabe's Zimbabwe: Politics, Intellectuals and the Media, recalled a recent interview with former South African President Thabo Mbeki who revealed how MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai would walk out of power sharing talks in 2008 to consult the former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee [Read Story and See Video].

The MDC released a statement on Friday, dismissing Tendi as a “Zanu PF apologist” and accusing Mbeki of engineering a 2005 split in the party.Here, Tendi responds to the MDC statement:

DURING a debate entitled “Zimbabwe 2011: An Opportunity for Change?”, which was held at the Frontline Club in London on February 23, 2011, I made the assertion that Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai consulted with James McGee, the former US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, during the power-sharing negotiation phase in 2008.

On February 25, 2011, the MDC’s Information Department wrote to attack the credibility of my assertion and branded me a “Zanu PF apologist”. I write to state that I stand by my assertion at the Frontline Club on February 23.

I would also like to add that my remarks on February 23, in fact, also drew from a wide range of interviewees in the higher echelons of the former Thabo Mbeki-led ANC government. Over the past four months, and in two separate trips to South Africa, I have been interviewing senior ANC officials and some members in South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation. It is striking that they ALL express misgivings about how the MDC is hamstrung by its relationship with Western powers.

This is not about Mbeki. This is about how the MDC’s relationship with the West is widely recognised by ANC elites, and how it has proven detrimental to the party’s image and standing among many current and former ANC and Southern African leaders.

Still, we must not view the aforementioned perception of the MDC as working with the West as solely belonging to some ANC elites or regional leaders. Even in British academia – where I work – this view has gained and continues to gain currency.

The shift of thought in British academia began most palpably in 2008 with Professor Stephen Chan of the University of London when he wrote [Read Article]: “I admire Tsvangirai. I wrote a book about him, based on many hours of face-to-face interviews, which was distributed underground in Zimbabwe to help the MDC's 2005 campaign. I attended those elections and acknowledged the book was mine. I was and am prepared to stand up for Tsvangirai.

"But I also want to say that he screwed up. Tsvangirai’s main source of advice was the US embassy in Harare, especially after Mugabe’s government arrested Biti on treason charges and imprisoned him two weeks before the run-off. The deliberate effect of the arrest was to deprive Tsvangirai of local guidance. I want also to say unequivocally that the Americans screwed up.”

While the aforementioned critique of the MDC’s links to the West has gained validity since Chan’s intervention in 2008 – through the ongoing WikiLeaks revelations most effectively - the party has been woefully unable to formulate and propagate a counter narrative.

The MDC’s refuge is to dismiss those who propound a critique of its relationship with the West as “Zanu PF apologists”, as happened to me in the party’s statement of February 25, 2011, further reinforcing my most important assertion during the Frontline Club debate: that mediocrity reigns in the MDC.

I want to close with a passage from page 233 of my book “Making History in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe”, in which the MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai said to me in a 2006 interview: “The international community made the mistake of insisting on regime change, and this damaged the MDC’s credibility because some Africans viewed the party as a vehicle for regime change.

"The international community should have insisted on democratisation rather than regime change. When they spoke of democratisation, what they really meant was regime change."

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