Of MDC demonstrations and the US hand

Of MDC demonstrations and the US hand
Published: 10 September 2019 (214 Views)
The MDC demonstrations which were pencilled to start in Harare on 16 August and the spread to the rest of the country these past weeks should not be treated in isolation as a mere demonstration against the prevailing hardships that the general citizenry are going through. The demonstration bears all the DNA and footprint of the United States (US) which has been driving a regime change project for the last twenty years. For a very long time Zimbabwe has been on the US regime change radar, what was missing was an opportune moment to execute their nefarious plans.

Invasion of Iraq in 2003
When the US invaded Iraq in 2003 during George W. Bush's presidency, he was heard saying that after dealing with the then Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein the next target was a country in Southern Africa. All pointers zeroed in on Zimbabwe because those were the days when the late MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai was planning what he termed the "final push". The 2003 "final push" bears a striking resemblance of the 16 August demonstration in that they were both targeted at unconstitutionally removing the ZANU PF Government from power.

Barack Obama
Enter Barack Obama. When Barack Obama came into power, he did not show any appetite to pursue Bush's plans on Zimbabwe. Obama was more pre-occupied with dealing the raging wars and regime change they had orchestrated in the Arab world.

Largest Embassy in Africa
In 2015, the US went on to embark on the construction of one of the largest embassies in Africa in Harare's Bluff Hill suburb near the Westgate Mall in western Harare. The embassy sits on 16.5 acres of land and cost US$200 million to construct. This set many people wondering why the US chose to build the biggest embassy in a country that it has put under punitive sanctions since 2001. It should be noted that the US has long term interests in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa and Africa in general. The US realised that as long as ZANU PF and other liberation movements are still in power in Africa, its policies would be frustrated, hence, the fight to topple such governments. This embassy will act as the launch pad to effect regime change and replace these governments with puppet ones which look to the US as an "economic messiah".

Trump and the extension of sanctions
US President Donald Trump who came into power in November 2016 had an opportunity to mend relations between Harare and Washington. Alas, like his predecessors, he chose to sign the Executive Order Number 13288 which saw the extension of sanctions on Zimbabwe. Trump extended the sanctions for another year citing that the new dispensation was posing an "unusual and extraordinary threat to the American foreign policy".  By any measure Zimbabwe can never be compared to the US militarily or financially, hence it boggles the mind that it can pose a threat to the US.

As if that was not enough, Trump while answering questions from journalists outside the White House on July 19 said "We're looking at Zimbabwe right now" and 12 days later he struck.  On 1 August 2019 the US imposed travel bans on Zimbabwe's Ambassador-designate to Tanzania, Lieutenant General (Rtd) Anslem Sanyatwe and his wife Chido Machona. His sin? He was in charge of the Presidential Guard of the Zimbabwe National Army which the US believes without proof that it was involved in the killing of civilians in the 1 August 2018 incident. The Government of Zimbabwe is still seized with the matter following the Motlanthe Commission set up by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to look into the issue. Even before Government was done with the matter, Trump flagrantly disregarding all diplomatic protocol, swiftly moved to punish Lieutenant General Sanyatwe 

Enter Ambassador Brian Nichols

In June 2018, the US appointed Brian Nichols as its ambassador to Zimbabwe. Ambassador Nichols appeared to be very different from his predecessors. He loves to tweet using the US Harare Embassy twitter handle @usembassyharare. When the MDC announced that it would embark on demonstrations on 16 August, Ambassador Nichols went into an overdrive following the developments including the claims of false abductions. He tweeted "The U.S. government is concerned about renewed reports of abductions and assault of civil society members and opposition party members. Harassment and intimidation have no place in a democratic and pluralistic society. #RespecttheConstitution #humanrights"

Ambassador Nichols even temporarily removed his diplomatic robes to become an activist as he made his intentions clear on twitter that: "We will be visiting victims of the latest violence against civil society and opposition activists to hear their stories and document their injuries. We call on the (Government of Zimbabwe) GOZ to condemn these attacks and hold those responsible to account. #RespecttheConstitution #humanrights."

True to his word, he visited human rights activist, Tatenda Mombeyarara in a Harare hospital. It should be noted that Mombeyarara was arrested for undergoing a subversive training on conducting demonstrations in the Maldives in May 2019. The visit was not casual.  It was meant to establish if Mombeyarara could still take the leading part in the US backed demonstrations which were set for 16 August.

Ambassador Nichols tore the diplomatic rule book when, in direct contravention of the Vienna Convention, on 15 August in the company of his deputy, Thomas Hastings, regional Security Officer, Patrick Bellinger, Mrs Nichols and Mrs Hastings visited MDC deputy national chairperson, Job Sikhala at his residence in St Mary's in Harare's satellite town of Chitungwiza. The mission was to render moral support for the MDC demonstration assuring them that the US would stand with them and would also retaliate by escalating the punitive sanctions.

The Sikhala narrative
Sikhala, who is also the legislator for Zengeza West constituency has proved to be a real loudmouth and loose cannon type of an MDC senior member. While addressing a rally in Bikita, Masvingo Province on 6 July, Sikhala uttered that "The war and the fight, we're going to take to the doorsteps of (President) Emmerson Mnangagwa (sic). We're going to overthrow him before 2023. That's not a joke". This led to his arrest and was subsequently thrown under the bus by MDC leader, Nelson Chamisa, a development which widened the fissures in a party which is already divided between Chamisa on one side and his Co-Vice Presidents Tendai Biti and Professor Welshman Ncube alongside Sikhala on the other side.

As has been the MDC mantra, Sikhala called upon the international community to bring President Mnangagwa before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to answer to charges of human rights abuses. This is a tired narrative which the MDC chants each time their plot is foiled. Above all, Zimbabwe is not a member of the ICC. The MDC should first haul its friend, the US to the Hague to answer to human rights abuses in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, among other war torn countries. The sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe are a human rights abuse on the citizens in themselves as they have impinged on people's right to provide food for their families.
Uranium and rare earths

For a long time since the cold war, the US has been having a torrid time dealing with both Russia and China military wise. Using their mammoth embassy in Harare, the US wants to install an MDC government in Zimbabwe which would allow it unfettered access to the country's rich trove of mineral resources. Using the MDC puppet government, the US will gain access to the country's rich natural resources among them uranium and rare earth minerals. The US wishes to gain access to the uranium deposits in Zimbabwe for its defence systems as well as power generation needs. Only an MDC government will afford them such a chance thereby, beating Russia and China. Russia and China have heavily invested in Zimbabwe since the 1960s and 1970s and are now reaping the fruits of their unpopular decision to support a liberation war effort which many in the west regarded as a terrorist initiative.

The end game

Driven into a corner by ZANU PF electorally, the desperate MDC is now pursuing hook and crook methods of getting into power despite dismally performing at the polls last year. In order to achieve their goal, the MDC has roped in the Americans so that when State Security agents react harshly to demonstrators the US would take that as a signal to invade Zimbabwe militarily and install an MDC government through the back door as was the case in Iraq after the fall of Hussein. This plan will, however, not see the light of the day as evidenced by its failure in the last twenty years.

The US' evident itch to invade Zimbabwe and replace President Mnangagwa with Chamisa does not reflect badly on the President as the US and the MDC wish the world to believe. On the contrary, it is a serious indictment on Chamisa and the MDC. It means that the party lacks the grit to compete with ZANU PF hence its decision to tag on the coat tails of America. The decision also exposes Trump and America's disregard for the sacrosanct principle of the sovereignty of individual nations. It foregrounds America's bully boy tactics which strike a sharp contrast with the expectations of the world from a super power of its stature.

- Sizalubuhle Khumalo

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