Dr. Gary K. Busch
There has been no better example of the sheer arrogance, self-delusion and hypocrisy of the ‘world community’ than the current fracas in Zimbabwe. The delusional rhetoric of possible sanctions against Zimbabwe and the venting of moral outrage against the country’s leadership is evidence enough that the world hasn’t moved much farther than the universal European remedy for native dissent echoed by Rudyard Kipling “An’ then comes up the Regiment an’ pokes the "eathen out".
That the Europeans (and their North American colleagues) should follow such a line is not surprising. What is surprising is their inability to see in the response of African leaders to this dilemma, a more rational, balanced and constructive intervention than their own. Their European neo-imperialist views are not wanted, relevant or useful and their calls for sanctions are ludicrous.
As pointed out by Simon Jenkins in the Times (UK) “Unlike war, which is violence aimed at conquering and replacing a regime, merely engineering a shift in terms of trade is play-acting. As a gesture of soft power, sanctions were first imposed on Italy during the Abyssinian crisis of 1935 and did not work. Yet their appeal is undiminished. Macho in rhetoric yet painless to the imposing nation, they replace guns and bombs with trade returns and computers.”
Sanctions are not only ineffective, they have had a history of making those sanctioned even stronger. One can take a clear look back on those who have been the most sanctioned leaders and governments: South Africa, Ian Smith, Fidel Castro, Muammar Qudaffi, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeini, the Taliban, the governments of Burma, North Korea, Cambodia and the Taliban (to name but a few). None of them were moved by the imposition of sanctions to change their policies.
They merely strengthened their control over their economies, created import substitution and introduced a level of corruption and subterfuge missing before sanctions were introduced; international corruption which supplied money, goods and support to these sanctioned states from the traders in the very nations introducing the sanctions. Unless the sanctioning countries were actually willing to send in troops for ‘regime change’ they only made corrupt traders rich and poor people, without the ability to function effectively on the black market, even poorer.
Sanctions may not add to the national wealth, but they can make a regime more secure in the short one. They also enrich its ruling elite. Sanctions made Saddam the sixth richest man in the world and Serbia’s Milosevic the king of a mafia organisation. Today these sanctions are pouring money into the pockets of the cronies of Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Burmese generals. Even the ‘social sanctions’ of stopping cricket matches, withdrawing invitations to the Olympics and rugby spectacles are pathetic policies. No one, even the most fatuous of Western leaders, believes that stopping rugby matches brought down apartheid or that Mugabe will resign from public life if his wife can’t shop at Harrod’s.
What is even more serious a divergence from the principles of justice and the rule of law is the insistence on maintaining the threat of bringing these ‘evil-doers’ before the international criminal tribunals. These courts are operated outside the range of the normal constraints of legal procedures accepted by the judicial systems of the ‘world community’. As John Laughland points out in the Independent, “In democratic nation-states, the criminal justice system is embedded within the other structures of statehood, especially the legislature. Rules of procedure in British courts are rightly a matter for solemn debate in Parliament. Not so the existing international tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, which are subject to control by no parliament or electorate.
Anonymous witnesses, which the British House of Lords has just ruled illegal for murder cases in Britain, are the norm at the Yugoslav tribunal, where no fewer than 40 per cent of prosecution witnesses give their evidence with their identity hidden. Such anonymous denunciation reminds one of the worst excesses of totalitarianism; it fatally undermines the right of defendants to cross-examine their accusers.” Moreover, it is quite common for hearings to be conducted wholly or partly in secret, the transcripts hidden from the public for an indefinite period of time. Hearsay evidence is admitted, so that a defendant can be convicted on the basis of second or third-hand allegations which cannot be tested in court.
“Justice delayed is justice denied” is an axiom of the common law. This is missing in the international criminal proceedings. The alleged ringleader of the Rwanda genocide, Theoneste Bagosora, was arrested in 1996 and the prosecution did not conclude its case until 2007, more than 11 years later. The trial continues even to this day. Such periods of detention, which are common, are simply incompatible with the presumption of innocence.
As Laughland points out further “International tribunals use a theory of liability which is vague and dangerous. Defendants can be and have been convicted for war crimes they did not commit, did not order, did not know about at the time, and did not even intend. So-called ‘joint criminal enterprise’ is asort of conspiracy theory gone mad.
Charles Taylor is currently enmeshed in these proceedings. He is, no doubt, guilty of many things but he asks why it is he who is in the dock and not Jacques Chirac or, Muammar Qudaffi who sent him his weapons and Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso who knowingly used his country as a storehouse and delivery point for Taylor, for the RUF in Sierra Leone and for the rebels in the Ivory Coast. Why has the Rwanda tribunal prosecuted only Hutus and no members of the present government; and why have the overwhelmingly white lawyers at the new International Criminal Court so far indicted only black Africans?
These international tribunals are but the judicial wing of the new neo-colonialist Western policy of interventionism in the internal affairs of other states: their power is dangerous and should be curtailed. They are the Guantanamo processes of the international community. If they dressed Charles Taylor in an orange jumpsuit they’d give the game away.
Suggesting this court as a solution to the problem in Zimbabwe is not a positive step towards resolving the crisis. Africa, and for that matter Asia and Europe, is resplendent with leaders who would immediately qualify for the Caliban award. The ‘world leaders’ are looking for some sop to public opinion which will disguise their impotence and co-conspiracy in much of the evil they denounce.
The hypocrisy and doubletalk of the ‘world leaders’ is only to be expected; most don’t take them very seriously anyway. What is more disturbing is the wilful pandering to this hypocrisy by the Africans who seek glory, fame and position by feeding this frenzy with ever wilder tales of dark deeds being committed against them. In this, the Zimbabwean MDC has few equals. From the beginning of the pre-election campaigning the public relations arm of the MDC has put forward a tale of lies, exaggeration and bluff which has delayed any sensible solution to the problems which need to be addressed. Tendai Biti, the party secretary, has issued statement after statement, position after position to the Western press which were entirely figments of his own imagination.
An unsuccessful political hack himself, he suddenly found fame and an audience when he started to make outrageous claims of a 65% victory by Tsvangirai in the first round of the election. He came to the meeting in Lusaka and told the African leaders that the British were ready to invade to install a MDC government. He issued statement after statement that the MDC would not enter any talks with ZANU-PF; that no negotiations would proceed. All the while he knew that there were, indeed, talks taking place for an interim power-sharing government.
On July 1, Biti issued a statement dismissing as "malicious" and untrue reports that Zanu PF and the MDC were negotiating a political settlement and were on the verge of clinching a deal. "As a matter of fact, there are no talks or discussions taking place between the two parties and most importantly, there is no agreement in the offing," he said, adding that the "election on 27 June 2008 totally and completely exterminated any prospects of a negotiated settlement. It is now the firm view of the MDC that those who claim they have got a mandate to govern should govern. Chitongai tione." Biti was further quoted by AFP describing the June 27 run-off as "an exercise in madness".
"It showed us we were dealing with people who were not ready for dialogue," he said. "Before June 27 you could say everyone was a loser because they could argue they did not win the 29th of March election so it was a give and take exercise. Now we have made it clear that June 27 would block the arteries of dialogue." Asked if that meant there could be no further dialogue, he replied: "Dialogue to achieve what?"
At the same time the other spokesman for the MDC, Nelson Chamisa, was quoted as saying in The Herald of July1.that there was need for an urgent negotiated settlement. "Our hope is that we have to ensure that we have a negotiated settlement and understanding. We are warm to a negotiated settlement and we believe that talking should be about genuine dialogue." On July 4, Chamisa was quoted again in The Herald saying that his earlier position still stood and Biti’s statement had been "overtaken by events". These contradictions went on despite negotiators for both parties being scheduled to hold talks between July 9 and 13 in Pretoria.
There was even more confusion as to whether the MDC would contest the second round of the election with each spokesman saying something different. The MDC in the country were ill-informed, demoralised and under siege by the ZANU-PF thugs; exacerbated by the thugs’ belief that some of the MDC statements about giving back the farms, inviting Western troops into the country and putting Mugabe and his colleagues on trial were true and based on fact. It made President Mbeki’s task even harder as delicate negotiations were turned into farce by the MDC statements and the ZANU-PF reactions to them.
This hasn’t ended. There are serious and fruitful negotiations taking place in Pretoria and in Harare. It seems agreed that Tsvangirai will be Prime Minister, with MDC taking ten Cabinet Seats, ZANU-PF ten Cabinet seats and the splinter MDC taking two Cabinet seats. The two week timetable will be met. This has been a sensible and rational agreement made by experienced politicians of all three sides and facilitated by President Mbeki.
On Monday (2th July) there was a press release by AP and then AFP that the talks had broken down and that Tsvangirai had only been offered the Third Vice-Presidency. This was totally untrue but was the result of an entrapment of a person who was leaking the negotiations to the Western press. Yesterday the 29th a top official from Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was heading home from South Africa after she was exposed as a media mole in the ongoing power sharing talks.
The dramatic ouster of Theresa Makone, a controversial figure and MP-elect for the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai, came after negotiators from Zanu PF and the two MDC factions took a decision to feed her false information after having suspected her of leaking details of the secretive talks to the international media.
According to Mduduzi Mathuthu of New Zimbabwe.com the chief negotiators from the main parties entered into a pact to brief Makone that the talks had collapsed over Zanu PF’s inflexibility, and that Zanu PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche were flying back to Harare to consult with President Mugabe. The story was "a rope to let her hang herself, a complete dummy", one diplomatic source said. Within minutes, the fake story had been "sold" to international news agencies, despite the parties signing up to a media blackout during the crunch talks being held under the facilitation of President. Makone was asked to leave the talks.
The African Union – while giving Mugabe guarded support after his one-man election – instructed him to form a unity government with the MDC, saying no one party could govern alone. The resolution has since received the backing of the African Union. The talks are scheduled to last two weeks, which means the first details could emerge on or around August 4. A South African government spokesman confirmed the talks were still on, and was unaware of any problems.
This leaking of information; this faking of information; this exaggeration of information does no service to the MDC. Running a government is a serious and complex business and it requires people with skills as well as charisma. The role of the ‘world community’, with their babble about sanctions, criminal proceedings and retribution has exacerbated every effort to reach a solution in Zimbabwe. It is immensely frustrating to ZANU-PF, the MDC, Thabo Mbeki and other Africans of the African Union seeking a negotiated survival plan for the country. Perhaps the ‘international community’ can take propaganda and posturing holiday until an adult solution can be reached in Zimbabwe.