democractic movements as terrorism

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is the Zimbabwean political party focused on promoting democracy in a country where it has become very dangerous to associate with politics. Formed as an opposition party to the Zimbabwean African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which is led by current President Robert Mugabe, the MDC brings together a number of civil society groups. The MDC is now labeled as a terrorist organization by Mugabe’s government, political activists are regularly beaten and arrested, and known members of the MDC disappear. The MDC front webpage tells of three recent deaths of people closely affiliated with the MDC. The site notes that this is becoming an all too common.

In a 2000 parlimentary election MDC candidates won overwhelming majorities, but there were calls of unfair elections and the issue remains caught up in Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court. The South African Development Community (SADC) and the South African Ministerial Observer team both maintain their positions that the election was free and fair. MDC members say there was harassment and force used by the ZANU-PF government at the polls. In 2004 the MDC split over the decision to take part in the 2005 parlimentary elections because of the “illegitimate outcome” of the last election. The MDC voted to take part in the elections (33-31), but Morgan Tsvangirai voted the decision down saying it was a waste of time. The MDC then split into Tsvangirai’s decision supporters and pro-senate members, led by the former MDC deputy. Some say that the split was ethnic based.

There are two main ethnic groups in Zimbabwe, the Shona (75%) and Ndebele (19%). Ndebele was an ethnic category that grew out of the military state created by the British in 1830. The ethnic term of Ndebele encompassed people of many different origins and in fact Shona people lived in this conquered area, but were placed under the Ndebele label. However, the ethnic identifications of and between these two groups were very low and there was no historical enmity between them. In 1896-7 these ethnic groups actually joined in the Ndebele-Shona Chimurenga resistance to the British. Guerilla forces grew and became political parties, but neither was purely ethnic based and recruited across the board. Needless to say the ‘ethnic conflict’ in Zimbabwe was the least serious of all African ethnic conflicts. The greatest conflict was between Black and White in Zimbabwe. There have been recent talks to reunite the split political parties.

This is the real historical problem that has led to Zimbabwe’s current problems. The problem in Zimbabwe can be summed up to a battle between Pan-Africanism and Neo-colonialism. Mugabe has called for White people to leave and so it makes the situation difficult when British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has said that he is working closely with the MDC to create a regime change. Well there may be a high degree of internal pressure, the external powers cannot be dismissed. In order for the Western powers to achieve the goal of regime change they will use their secret services, CIA, network os military bases, and economic tactics. There is this other side of the argument that says maybe the MDC is not promoting democracy at all and is really a facade for Westerners to experiment in African politics yet again (Zaire’s Lumumba?).

Back to democracy, regardless of conspiracies the basics for democarcy do not exist in Zimbabwe. Recently six MDC members were arrested under the “Law and Order Act” for holding illegal political meetings. The 2008 Presidential election is close and the MDC and ZANU-PF are in negotiations. Tsvangirai has said that the MDC wants to participate, but they want to ensure that it is a free and fair election. The MDC wants to participate to create democratic change and not to give legitimacy to a system favoring one side. The MDC is demanding that there be international control of the elections and that millions of Zimbabweans abroad be allowed to vote, a new voters’ roll and the appointment of an independent Zimbabwe Election Commission to supervise the polls. South African president, Thabo Mbeki has been chosen by the SADC to mediate the negotiations between the two political parties. There is worry that Mugabe will not comply with demands.

Zimbabwe Timeline from: 1200-2007

Advertisements

zimbabwe, sudan, and the drc – enter ban ki-moon

As the new Secretary General of the UN completes his very <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6304043.stm
“>first official Africa tour, crises loom across the continent. Ban Ki-moon called on the DRC to make a pact for democracy and the AU to be unified on the conflict in Darfur. With the DRC still working to emerge from its long civil war, Ki-moon noted the successful elections last year. The DRC currently holds the largest deployment of UN troops anywhere in the world and the UN says it is committed to creating greater security of the region.

Ki-moon also spoke to the AU about keeping unified in the face of the Darfur crisis. With the potential of Sudan becoming chair of the AU there is worry for the conflict to fall from the priority list. Ki-moon condemned the recent bombings of villages in Darfur and called on Africa’s leaders to join together for peace as they did before to bring peace to Burundi and Sierra Leone. Ki-moon met with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan at the AU summit and urged him to commit to a joint UN-AU peacekeeping force for Darfur. “I… am deeply concerned about the continuing violence and the suffering of the civilians there. This time we need action and to make real progress,” Ki-moon said. Four years of violence and genocide has killed over 400,000 people and has displaced over 2 million people. “Together, we must work to end the violence and scorched-earth policies adopted by various parties, including militias, as well as the bombings which are still a terrifying feature of life in Darfur,” he told the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ki-moon also announced that he planned to convene in March a working group on Africa and the MDGs, “a coalition of the willing” of African stakeholders and international organizations and donors, to accelerate progress on the goals, which also seek to reduce maternal and infant mortality and provide access to health care and education. He noted that many African countries have made remarkable progress, but there remains a lot to be done.

As the well-publicized conflicts in Africa continue to recieve support, a mostly unheard of crisis grows. The name of this crisis is Zimbabwe or more specifically Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe since 1980 and recently his term was extended for years. Mugabe has mis-managed economic policy and thrown out human rights. Hyperinflation and negative growth are a few of the problems which he attributes to Western sanctions and the legacy of white minoritiey rule. Reported in the news Zimbabwe is facing a massive food crisis. The government has refused aid agencies support and again combats calls of mis-management with the idea of an international plot to remove him from power.

The effects of the food crisis among many Zimbabwean issues is yet to be seen, however maybe we will not witness such tragedy. This July the popular band, Dispatch, will be reuniting for a cause. That cause is Zimbabwe. Their benefit concert has been sold out, a new date added, and again sold out. The proceeds are to be used to fight disease, famine, and social injustice. After reading that I inquired as to where exactly donations will be made, since funds in the government’s hands will not necessarily be used for good. “We are in the process of figuring out some existing NGO’s that are doing great work there–and some other projects we’d like to support. Once identified, we will make a post about them to the public!,” was the response I recieved. I was very pleased to get such a response from a well-known band working to make a difference in Africa. Supporting existing programs and projects that are working effectively will creat the most good. Check out the Dispatch Zimbabwe Team site, I think there are some remaining tickets for the concert this summer at Madison Square Garden.

Here at Michigan State University there is a push within the Student Assembly to revoke an honorary doctorate degree in law, which was presented to Mugabe when he spoke at MSU. The bill written in the Student Assembly will be voted on next week and after that will be referred on to the Administration. The international plot to overthrow continues. All jokes aside, the efforts of Dispatch should be commended and the pressure on Mugabe intensified as his people face certain death from his inactions.