Saturday, June 09, 2012

(NEWZIMBABWE) The reforms Zimbabwe badly needs

The reforms Zimbabwe badly needs
09/06/2012 00:00:00
by Nathaniel Manheru

I WAS most amused to hear Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC-T president threatening Generals for political involvement. He, of all people!

Just two weeks before, the man had met with one General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), also known as FOB, Friend of Bill, following his ill-fated decision to run for US Presidency in 2004, with full backing from Bill Clinton.

Both were Rhodes Scholars, something linking the two men, and then with Tsvangirai, to the imperial settler political legacy personified by Cecil John Rhodes. All are benefactors of Cecil John Rhodes, the first two directly, the lonely last by lineage legacy. And given Clark’s dubious title as the general to command the first phase of American-led Nato’s expansionary, regime-change expedition fatefully commissioned in the Balkans, Clark is also known as the “hammer of the Serbs”.

The full repertoire of his medals includes the Kosovo Campaign Medal, in recognition of his command during this ground-breaking air war for new global imperialism. He met our Prime Minister in Vienna, for more than an hour, well away from prying ears and eyes. Details of that meeting have not been released, never will be, although consequences of that meeting may be felt, suffered even, some day.

From Clark’s own head, by his own mouth

In 2001, the General praised America’s war leadership: “I’m very glad we have a great team in office: Powell, Ramsfield, Cheney, Rice... People I know very well. Our President George W. Bush. We need them there.”

And as the war against Iraq was raging, he added: “President Bush and Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt.” That was in October 2003. He added: “There is a lot yet to be done, and not only by the diplomats.”

Of course for us Zimbabweans, the “great team in office” referred to men and women who were busy crafting ZDERA, that package of sanctions against this country. And the two leaders who had to be “proud of their resolve”, were the two men who could have jointly invaded Zimbabwe, had it not been for the refusal by some of our neighbours to offer their territory as beachhead for that planned invasion.

Clark’s praise and approval of the great team in office, praise of the great resolve in the face of so much doubt, could very easily have been in the aftermath of a crippling invasion of Zimbabwe. And his belief in a global agenda that called for more than diplomats, amounted to an endorsement of a new world order shaped by unjust wars, shaped by warmongering generals like him. Such is the man our Prime Minister met for a whole hour in Austria, under the pretext of human rights discourse.

Sermons from Serbian sepulchres

From the 78-day blitz war in Kosovo, the US General wrote a book, Waging Modern War, whose false premise of “a political problem cannot be solved by military force”, is heftily rebutted by the very unjust war he waged, the very war that gave him staircases to the dubious fame he rides on to this day. The book was one elaborate make-up by a general who had drawn so much Serb blood, civilian blood at that, indeed conscience-salving through dishonest scholarship.

Western generals previously in charge of deadly war machines, generals whose hands drip with the blood of innocents, always wind up on the pulpit as furiously righteous preachers of peace, frothily mouthing phrases of sanctity of life while stepping out of sepulchres they will have filled up with deadly harvests from their unjust wars. Clark emerges from that mould.

Threatening a third World War

Had it not been for a British General, one General Sir Mike Jackson, who commanded the international KFOR peacekeeping force, Wesley Clark would have started World War III over Kosovo. Clark had ordered British paratroopers to storm Pristina airport, all to prevent Russian troops from taking over the airfield of Kosovo's provincial capital.

That would have escalated matters, in fact triggered a conflict of world-war scope. For a man whose sense of war hardly ever went beyond air sorties conducted from the safety of stratospheric altitudes, a man who to this day brags of finishing a war without a single casualty from his side, such an order, however bald, sounded very bold, very bold indeed, damn the ghastly consequences. Besides, his order related to units from a non-American army.

“I am not going to start the third world war for you,” Sir Mike Jackson is said to have firmly told the Supreme Commander whose approach to war was no richer than that of an infantile Star Wars video gamer! What was our Prime Minister discussing with such a reckless man of imperial wars, discussing with a general from a hostile country? What?

The face of an era of humbuggery

And I am not being cynical. Those who served under Clark were totally derisive of him. They called him “the Ultimate Perfumed Prince”, stressing “he is far more comfortable in a drawing room discussing political theories than hunkering down in the trenches where bullets fly and soldiers die”. It is a judgment that not only damn him as a soldier; it is a judgement that suggests his claim to a remarkable simpleton.

Of course his bid for presidency never went beyond weeks of insipid campaigning. Today Clark the imperialist warrior has evolved fully. He is now Clark the “peace” campaigner, a transfiguration which continues to provoke cynical responses, such as this one from Brendan O’Neill: “When former cheerleaders of war, former warmongers and former war-supporting journalists suddenly become anti-war, it makes me suspicious.

It often seems that, for such people, being anti-war is little more than a cynical posture, a way of scoring points by joining the critique of an unpopular war. They appear to be serving themselves, rather than serving the potential victims of war.”

He still works for the American establishment, a diligent reserve force for screening America's probing interest in those it wants to turn into tools. He still works with Bill Clinton, using NGO platforms, such as the one our Prime Minister was part of in Austria, to project messages of “peace”, backdropped by the bloody legacy of Yugoslavia. And when you consider that in the 21st Century, imperial wars are provoked, fought and won in the name of peace - peace, that bitch of a word — then you appreciate Clark’s duplicitous stance is the way of our era, the way of our dangerous world.

Unjust wars, unjust tribunals

But Clark is not my subject matter. Tsvangirai is. He cannot fear generals. He looked for one recently, palavered with him for almost an hour, dined with him even. And this was not a home general, anymore than was Ben Menashe a Zimbabwean.

Rather, he was an American general, the same way Ben Menashe was an Israeli. Not just another general, any American general, but this one general who commissioned war as a principal vehicle for neo-imperial expansionism in the 21st Century. One who, through war, commissioned instruments for governing the new world order of victor nations on the one side, and victim peoples on the lowly other.

His war delivered Slobodan Milosevic for trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), thereby giving this UN international instrument its first ever televised trial run, its first victim for whom death was a release from that victimisation.

A good seven years later after Milosevic was delivered, thanks to Clark, Charles Taylor would beat the same path from the jungles of Africa, to face a similar process, only this time renamed Special Court for Sierra Leone. Americans call this transitional justice, something MDC-T politics has caught on to. After all the court itself had been set up in 2002, hardly two years after the hostilities of Yugoslavia.

Both marked a new justice, a new legal ethos through which militarily powerful nations would eliminate recalcitrant leaders, mostly from the Third World, easily from Africa, for judicial lynching in the name of international law. Such tribunals are a legal medley, combining domestic law and international law. Their launch assumes a quisling government at home, such as existed in Blair’s Sierra Leone, after the pacification of the native. Our Prime Minister thus met a man of war, a symbol of an unjust war and the perverted justice that follows it, indeed a persona of western efforts towards the reconquest of the Third World in the 21st Century.

The Generals we have

Zimbabwe has generals — many generals — both retired and serving. Many of its generals have commanded military campaigns we have carried out beyond our borders: for the UN and significantly, for Africa. We fought in Mozambique. We fought in the Congo. Both wars had a lot to do with liberation goals, principally that of giving Africa secure Independence, defending its territory, its sovereignty. But this is by the by.

A more fundamental point is that we have a generation of generals who were guerrillas of freedom, generals who cut their teeth in the struggle for national independence, our national independence.

They are cadre-generals, cadre-soldiers who took up arms not because they wanted a career of arms, but because their land, their country, laboured and groaned under the jackboot of British setter colonial enslavement. They are soldiers of circumstances, soldiers who were students, mere rural youths to begin with, soldiers who could have been anything but bearers of deadly arms.

The springboard to their soldiery career was nationalist politics. Not barracks. Not this bogey called professionalism, itself a fake stance of sellout indifference when your own country, your own people are being enslaved, inveigled by traitor politics. They are no guests to national politics, never will be.

A soldier’s pledge

Today they all walk with a shoulder limp from heavy armour borne in tenderness. Today they live, nay survive ravaged by horrid images of a ghastly war foist on them by circumstances of history, a war which gave them horrid sights only meant for older, mature eyes: fellow comrades mowed down by machine gun fire, fellow comrades blown to smithereens by huge bombs, fellow comrades flayed and burnt or incinerated to crispy brownness by fire, fellow comrades blistered by napalm, fellow comrades who became headless torsos that jay-walked, staggered, stood still as in pensive thought, before mechanically falling forward with the recklessness of death, the recklessness of a being who never wishes to rise and walk again.

Today they live, grow old in the dank smell of death, with the fact of eventual independence as the only sweetener. Soldiers of circumstances, generals of a political process that was forced to take up arms, a process that in due course became Zimbabwe, became us — all of us including the Prime Minister. It is a founding process for this nation, for us as a free people. Soldiers — very young then, tender then — who met mercenaries from faraway wars: Malaya, Korea, Vietnam. Met them in deadly combat.

These mercenaries came from all over: Germany, France, Holland and especially the United States of America, all to help Britain and her kith and kin here. Generals who know what it takes to free a people, what it takes to lose that freedom, too. Much worse, men and women who bear the burden of securing that young State to emerge from the cauldron of war in 1980. They carry arms in its name, for its name. They have pledged to take life in its name, for its sake, to lose their lives in its name, for its sake. Their birth as soldiers thus coincides with the birth of Zimbabwe.

The many questions gnawing generals

I pause a very simple question: how does such a person react to politics and politicians that embrace the very soldier-type he swopped fire with in battle a mere three decades ago? When you insensitively meet with Clark — an American general loaned to Nato — how do you still hope for a salute from these cadre-generals? Just how? Or demand their silence, quiescent silence at that? Do they smile, embrace, salute, kiss you, or they see you as the face of treachery, the face of a war about to be declared, the war to come?

What is more, see you as the face of a war they themselves will have to fight, to own personal peril. A new war sure to expend their already expended lives. And your politics talk of security sector reforms after dinner with Clark? Politics that suggest Zimbabwe's security sector must be reformed by western armies?
Asking questions for America

The Prime Minister and his MDC-T party have taken an anti-nation line, to great anger not just of generals, but all right-thinking Zimbabweans. These politics find home and homely sentiment in American think-tanks from which blueprints of aggression are developed, their implementation defended. These politics find comfort in lobby groups that hurt our economy. The issues now emerging from the KPCS meeting in the United States clearly show that Biti's statements on diamond mining in Zimbabwe were in fact probing attacks for the US, all in anticipation of the KPCS process.

The pressure to deploy Zimra to the diamond fields was pressure to meet the information requirements of the American government for precision attacks on the Zimbabwean economy, attacks in the name of the KPCS. How else do you reconcile his noises with the fact that the man sits in Cabinet and knows fully well what sanctions have done to our diamond trade whose receipts are reckoned in United States dollars? Is it normal trade when a country trades in its diamonds and is forced to wait for well over half a year for its receipts?

Buyers have to do all sorts of shenanigans to evade the American sanctions dragnet all to pay us. We as sellers have to do extraordinary things to get our entitlements from the diamond market. Is this free trade? Is this what the MDC-T wanted to be achieved by their sanctions? If so, why seek to kill the dying?

His own shadow minister

And in this whole saga, Tendai Biti plays the Shakespearean cynic who brings salt when he should bring plaster to a wound. Never in the history of government has there been a finance minister who plays shadow minister to himself, so well. He found fault with the facilitator's Luanda SADC Summit report for being too optimistic on the recovering Zimbabwe economy. No, we are not doing that well, he said, contradicting the overly modest estimates from the facilitator. A few days later, the Consumer Council records a fall in consumer prices, announcing a welfare gain for the country.

Why is our Finance Minister wishing the economy he runs such ill? Why such gratuitous pessimism? And yet his mantra for the whole of last year, his mantra for his party when speaking outside the country, when campaigning inside the country, is to say the MDC has recovered the economy. What genus of politics are these which feed fat on pessimism from a man who minds the economy, a man therefore who should give and spread hope there is, and make real the hope there should be?
Collapsing the national economy

It gets worse. He is fixated by diamond receipts. He will not worry about remittances from all other minerals. He wants to capture data on diamond trade; he has to be persuaded to release data on multi donor trust funds which do not reflect in national accounts, which are never talked about, except in hushed tones in MDC-T corridors of treachery. And who does not know that these funds are that party's election war chest? It gets worse. Biti saps agriculture to anaemic paleness. The countryside looks grey when it should be looking green with a winter crop.

He is not bothered. No, he would rather pay the IMF debt as if for Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans alone the consumption curve ever hits the minus zone. He is not bothered. Tsvangirai, his boss, is told by the Chinese what it takes to unlock billions in aid from that country by way of a master loan facility. A small payment to Sinosure. But no, Biti will have none of it. The MDC-T politics appear to have entered a new phase, a phase of collapsing this economy. What is the endgame?

Two sets of justice

The real outrage was still to come. It came this Thursday at a seminar in the city. To a stunned audience, the MDC-T wondered why western military intervention only happens in Libya, and now Syria, and yet does not happen here where "we are dying". And "we" is the MDC-T, "we" is the single MDC-T supporter who died in Mudzi, in circumstances which are still disputed.

The MDC-T wishes the western world to think their supporter died from being stoned by Zanu PF "thugs". They don't want a trial. They want instant convictions, per-trial convictions, including of sitting MPs and Senators from Zanu PF as would boost their numbers in Parliament. That is the game in town. But the MDC-T stoned a policeman to death kwaMunyarari, in Glen View. It will not want its accused to be put on trial. They must be released, enjoy a pre-trial release similar to that enjoyed by Blair and Bush over Iraq and Afghanistan, General Clark's heroes. And the MDC-T deploys its "civilised" youths to riot in town, to challenge the trial, to free the accused before the trial!

Office without polls

The seminar hears more. If Zanu PF pulls out of the GPA and collapses the Inclusive Government, this country will burn! "This country will burn", brags the MDC-T man, cocksure of borrowed fire, loaned incendiaries from Clark's NATO! MDC-T's politics rest on provoking a Libya-style western intervention in Zimbabwe. They do not rest on the ballot box. How can they, given the sorry state the party cuts presently, a mere four years into its maiden governance? That puts an additional layer to the Party's extra-judicial, extra-democratic hope for power: the layer of intervention above those of time-based infirmities of opposite candidate, wished-for death of the opposite candidate, and the election-circumventing GPA which comfortably brings office to the unelected, unelectable.

OPSR so badly needed

And the upshot of all this? Well, to say that Morgan Tsvangirai is not opposed to generals in politics. He is opposed to Zimbabwean Generals in politics, while accosting American generals for regime-change politics. Otherwise how does a whole Prime Minister meet politically with a general of a foreign army while fearing meeting his own generals politically here at home? He outlaws local generals from politics; he ushers non-national generals into Zimbabwe politics! It thus is not the principle of generals in politics; rather, it is the expediency of foreign generals running riot in Zimbabwean affairs, while Zimbabwean generals are penned and quartered in barracks of national inactivity, national passivity.

The MDC-T has created a certain psychosis in national politics. It is these politics, this psychosis which has created a reflex in the men in uniform, men forced to wear fatigues by a national quest for freedom and sovereignty. The problem cannot be the generals. The problem is these diseased politics peddled by the opposition. Zimbabwe needs OPSR, opposition political sector reforms, needs OPSR badly.


Nathaniel Manheru is a columnist for the Saturday Herald. E-mail him:

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