Be Steadfast on Zimbabwe

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NAMIBIA has to remain steadfast on its position on Zimbabwe and be guided first and foremost by its conscience and national interest and not by any other extraneous issue. Nobody should expect us to follow the lead of those baying for President Robert Mugabe’s blood for that is not in our national interest. Others can afford to export chaos to our shores but we may not because the consequences are too ghastly to contemplate.

As a nation, we have an obligation to ourselves to pursue an independent foreign policy that sets national interest as a priority above all other priorities. And there can be no denial that when it comes to Zimbabwe, we have special interests in that sister African country. Ours is a special and close relationship and we have no apologies to make to anyone. Nor should we be ashamed of the special friendship with Zimbabwe. One does not disown a friend just because he is in trouble. That is not in our character as Namibians in the Land of the Brave.

Additionally, Namibia had a team of election observers in Zimbabwe apart from the SADC and African Union observer teams during the election period.

It is these observers and the Namibian Embassy in Harare that must inform our position on Zimbabwe and not media reports or the positions of others.

Those that are criticising the Namibian Government for not expressing itself on Zimbabwe before it receives feedback from its observers are simply missing the point and are pandering to the heinous campaign to demonise Zimbabwe.

Namibia should resist enlistment as cannon fodder and a pawn in the mind game against a fellow African country by outside powers because these powers’ judgment of the situation in Zimbabwe is not free and fair. It is at best clouded by their interests and at worst tainted by the colonial and imperial baggage that they carry into the relationship with Zimbabwe.

Suffice to say countries that are speaking loud against Mugabe orchestrated by the United States and Britain are motivated by self-interest be it economic, strategic or political and not the good of the Zimbabwean people or a desire to see democracy flourish in that country. Not coincidentally, Zimbabwe has a sizeable white settler population that has national ties with Britain and Australia mainly. It is in that context that the anger that has been generated by Zimbabwe’s land reforms should be understood.

Britain and the US have a history of opposing freedom for black Zimbabweans.

Until 28 years ago, they sided with Ian Smith, a white supremacist, who oppressed black Zimbabweans. It took the sacrifices of black Zimbabweans themselves, led by Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, to bring about freedom and democracy to their country. Zimbabweans are therefore champions of their own freedom and democracy and not Britain and the US. Those who supported the oppression of black Zimbabweans not so long ago cannot claim to speak for their freedom today. They have no moral right to do so.

And this brings us to another point of Britain and US double standards.

In 2005, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) manufactured an election process in one of its political laboratories in Iraq to elect a new parliament and leadership after the toppling of Saddam Hussein.

Notwithstanding the country’s military occupation by the pair and an intensive and extensive warfare across the country, Britain and the US pronounced the elections in Iraq as democratic. The government of Iraq has since been paraded as legitimate.

How ironic that an election held under one of the most brutal wars and massive foreign military occupation would qualify as ‘democratic’ and ‘legitimate’ but another election held under very different conditions and relative political violence would not qualify as such.

The tally of Iraqi deaths and casualties then would simply dwarf those in Zimbabwe and yet because the US and Britain had decreed the elections free and fair in Iraq, the world including many African countries simply said so be it.

It is a shame that some African governments have volunteered to serve as choirmasters for the US and British propaganda against Zimbabwe.

Namibia should not sing from their hymnbook. We are our own masters and should decide what is best for us and help Zimbabwe come out of its problems in the best way possible.

European countries and the US are taking Africans for fools. They expect African countries to condemn President Mugabe but the US would, for instance, never condemn Israel nor would Britain condemn the US should they be at fault in the Middle East or elsewhere.

In actual fact, the US would block any effort to condemn Israel.

When a true friend stumbles and falls, we do not ululate and celebrate. We lift them up, dust them off and start the long journey together. We must help the people of Zimbabwe to find peace through good counselling, practical advice and mediation under President Thabo Mbeki.

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