By Phillip Pasirayi
IN modern-day international political dynamics, countries enter into bilateral and multilateral agreements through the signing of treaties, exchange of notes and memoranda of understandin
g on issues such as trade, communications, security, tourism, health and education to cement ties.
In this community of nations, known in modern-day parlance as a global village, Zimbabwe today finds herself in a distressingly precarious position.
This distress emanates from the fact that the country is no longer considered fit to belong to this community of civilised nations where the rule of law and democratic principles as opposed to authoritarianism are given prime consideration.
Zimbabwe has increasingly become an illegitimate state in the eyes of the citizenry and at the international level. At the international level the country has continued to be isolated by both state and non-state actors such as the Commonwealth, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the European Union and the Global Aids Fund for violation of human rights.
Since 2000, there has been a systematic use of violence as a political tool to get the consent of the disenchanted masses. This is done in utter disregard of the African Union and Southern African Development Community (Sadc) principles and other international instruments on human rights and good governance to which Zimbabwe is a signatory.
The latest revelations that Information minister Jonathan Moyo concluded a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in the field of communication between Angola and Zimbabwe should be cause for concern for Zimbabweans who appreciate the role that political communication plays in shaping opinion or creating perceptions about political actors.
It is interesting to note that this communication cooperation is coming on the heels of the launch of a regional newspaper, the Southern Times, that is expected to cover the major socio-economic and political issues within the Sadc region.
It is therefore misleading for writers like Nicholas Siziba to hail the launch of the Southern Times as he did in an article entitled “Sadc in self-definition” that was published in the Daily Mirror of September 17.
We wait to see whether the newspaper will tell the African story in an impartial manner and report about political corruption (rigging of elections and use of violence), the continued choking of democratic space particularly in Zimbabwe and the effects of long political incumbency that are a notable feature for both Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Moyo is known for his vitriolic attacks against the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the British, Americans and civil society organisations fighting for human rights and good governance in the country, accusing these groups of economic sabotage and wanting to effect regime change in the country.
Moyo, who suffers a credibility and legitimacy crisis within the ranks of Zanu PF, is in a desperate attempt to please his master by concluding useless communication agreements with countries such as Angola, which does not bring food on the table for the suffering masses.
The attempt to forge closer ties with governments in sub-Saharan Africa is meant to continue misrepresenting the nature of the crisis that is obtaining in Zimbabwe. We know that Moyo has been to Namibia on the same mission and that the minister told Namibians how propaganda worked in the government’s so-called “Third Chimurenga” revolution.
There has been a deliberate effort by the government to misrepresent facts with regards to the causes of the Zimbabwean crisis. The Zimbabwean story has been mistold as a Pan-African struggle against neo-colonial and imperialist forces. The Zimbabwean crisis, epitomised by socio-economic decay and political stagnation, is primarily related to the regime’s misrule.
The country is in the throes of a serious crisis because of Zanu PF’s self-serving interests and the latest machinations by Moyo within the region are meant to perpetuate the regime’s grip on the reins of power.
The Zimbabwean crisis is not a bilateral issue between the country and her former colonial master as argued by Zanu PF functionaries. The problems in the country emanate from Mugabe’s sordid domestic policy and a sterile foreign policy. The regime in Zimbabwe is determined to hold on to power at whatever costs and part of the strategy is to devise a foreign policy that is anchored in a Pan-African solidarity framework.
It is also important to note that it is this empty Pan-Africanism that is bereft of the spirit of humanness (ubuntu or unhu) which is a core attribute of being African that has made southern African countries fail to deal with the errant Zanu PF government within the context of Nepad’s peer review mechanism.
This Pan-African solidarity foreign policy is aimed at reviving in people the nostalgia of the liberation struggle, the maltreatment of the black majority and the socio-economic and political marginalisation of the masses.
The usual issues that Zanu PF continuously brings to the fore such as the land redistribution, black economic empowerment and other benevolent gestures resonate with the majority of the people. But the question that has not been asked is the sincerity of Zanu PF on all this and failure by academics, civil society and the political opposition to articulate their policy positions on issues such as land reform.
The attempt by Moyo to spread propaganda throughout the region is also meant to counter the diplomatic inroads that MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai says his party has made in Sadc. So, the communication ties that Moyo has forged with Namibia, Mozambique and Angola are meant to continuously misrepresent the Zimbabwean story and demonise the MDC as anti-African and attack its leadership as stooges of Western imperialism.
The regime has nothing more to sell to the electorate for the 2005 poll except to replay these old-fashioned and exhausted land reform and empty Pan-African sentiments. The Moyo regional information network project is crucial to Zanu PF in that it will be used to deny the opposition in Zimbabwe a voice in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Malawi.
*Phillip Pasirayi is a human rights activist and a member of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.