Criticism of Ncube's Oxford professorship part of an anti-Zimbabwe plot

Criticism of Ncube's Oxford professorship part of an anti-Zimbabwe plot
Published: 11 February 2019 (445 Views)
Last week a British freelance writer covering teaching, learning and student issues, as well as higher education in Africa and the Middle East, Anna McKie let the world in on the increasingly rabid obsession of the British with Zimbabwe in an article entitled Oxford under fire over Zimbabwe finance minister's professorship which was published by www.timeshighereducation.com.

Oxford should cut ties with Zimbabwe
The article dwelt on two Oxford University staff, Dan Hodgkinson, a lecturer in African history and politics, and Simukayi Chigudu, a Zimbabwean associate professor of politics at the same institution who used the riots which rocked Zimbabwe in mid-January to press the university to sever ties with the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube on that grounds that he occupies a key portfolio in the Zimbabwean Government. Prof Ncube is a visiting professor in African studies at Oxford's Said Business School and Blavatnik School of Government.
 
Hodgkinson contended that continued links between the university and the Government of Zimbabwe through Prof Ncube would compromise the former's reputation.

"An association with Oxford, an incredibly reputable institution, carries with it a lot of authority. To hold a position where you are able to use that authority seems to be problematic, to say the least," argued Hodgkinson said.

Chigudu accused Prof Ncube of issuing"naked lies in defence of unconscionable violence and repression from the Zimbabwean state".
"Let's re-colonise Zimbabwe"

McKie's article came just a fortnight after a member of theBritish House of Lords, Adrian Palmer asked the Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations, Tariq Mahmood Ahmad if he had considered the idea of re-colonising Zimbabwe."It's tragic to see what's going on," said Lord Palmer in apparent reference to the violent and destructive riots unleashed on the country by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, some non-governmental organisations(NGOs) and some MDC Alliance legislators and Government's response thereto.

Africa and the continent were shocked by the statement which some claim was made in jest. It is repugnant that some British Lord thinks that colonisation let alone re-colonisation of a sovereign state still has a place in the modern world.

Concerted anti-Zimbabwe drive
The events of the past three weeks have exposed a concerted and systematic plot by some British citizens to push Zimbabwe into a tight corner ostensibly for the intervention of the security services sector to restore peace following the so-called stay away of mid-January which literally threw the country into anarchy and mayhem, leaving a trail of hundreds of millions of dollars in business lossesand threatened national peace and stability. Although the United Kingdom had warmed up to President Emmerson Mnangagwa's re-engagement drive, some of its citizens were not happy. The 14 and 15 January events, therefore, gifted them with a golden opportunity to push their anti-Zimbabwe agenda.

One such person is British Labour Party legislator, Catherine (Kate) Hoey who urged her government to suspend its re-engagement activities with Zimbabwe before appealing to the United Nations and the international community to condemn Zimbabwe security services intervention to save the country from the national security threat posed by rioters who overran police stations, stoned police officers and torched both public and private property. Hoey claimed that the intervention was a breach of human rights. The work of people such as Hoey has seen the British Government taking a hard-line stance against its former colony threatening the relations between the two countries which had begun thawing since November 2017.  Thanks, to Hoey, Hodgkinson, Lord Palmer and Zimbabwe's own son, Chigudu, Britian's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Harriet Baldwin, has indicated that her government would not support Zimbabwe's pending application to re-join the Commonwealth and threatened punitive measures against Zimbabwe.

"UK will not be able to support Zimbabwe's application to re-join the Commonwealth because we (UK) don't believe in the kind of human rights violations by the security forces," Baldwin.

It is sad that the UK government is making such far-reaching decisions on the basis of one-sided and emotionally-charged prodding from the Hoeys and the Hodgkinsons of this world. This indicates the British's revival of its previous unrelenting bid to replace ZANU PF with the MDC Alliance at the helm of the country.

Log in the eye
When those who are seeking disassociation with Zimbabwe and punishing the country speak, they conveniently forget Oxford and Britain's own issues. Despite its long history and generally great reputation, the University of Oxford has its own fair share of-not-so-glorious moments. In 2009 the university set up the Neda Agha Soltan graduate scholarship following the fatal shooting of a 27-year old student of the same name in June that year. This sparked protests as the student was suspected to have been killed by an Iranian doctor and Oxford fellow, ArashHejazi who had arrived two days before and left for Britain a day after the event.

Despite pointing a finger at the Zimbabwean Government, Oxford is not saintly. The British newspaper, The Guardian has revealed that over the past years Oxford has struggled to recruit black and minority ethnic students to some of its famous degree courses. Given this racist background, one is not surprised by the rabidly racist machinations and remarks of people such as Hoey, Lord Palmer and Hodgkinson.

Back in  2002, the then Chaplain of Oxford's Pembroke College, Rev John Platt and that institution's fundraising official, Mary Jane Hilton had to quit over a £300 000 donation-in-exchange-for-a-place scam. As recently as June 2018 the university made headlines over drug-fuelled sex orgies involving some ofits students. The party was organised by the Piers Gaverson Society. So much for Hodgkinson's "incredibly reputable institution."Prof Ncube's association with the Government of Zimbabwe pales into a non-issue compared to this, given that he is serving his own people. What shall one say of the invasion of Iraq by British and American forces in March 2003 on the basis of made up intelligence to the effect that Saddam Hussein harboured weapons of mass destruction? If anyone harboured anything, it was George W. Bush and Tony Blair who nursed a joint ambition to control Iraq's oil.

Going forward
The 14 and 15 January incidents are now part of history but Britain will continue to need Zimbabwe and the same for the latter. Going forward, Britain should not base its decisions on Zimbabwe on hate-filled people such as Hodgkinson and Hoey. It should engage the Zimbabwean Government and establish the facts on the ground. Even if it means arranging meetings between President Mnangagwa and Prime Minister Theresa May so be it.

It is gratifying to note that the Oxford University's management refused to be dragged into Chigudu and Hodgkinson's pettiness. Its unidentified spokesperson level headedly responded that, "(Professor Ncube's) position as Minister of Finance (of) Zimbabwe now limits his ability to contribute to teaching…but we continue to value the opportunity to benefit from his experience as a distinguished academic."

One hopes that the British Government will borrow a leaf from one of its oldest institutions on the way it views and treats Zimbabwe.

- Nobleman Runyanga

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