By Stephen Gowans
Patrick Bond and Grace Kwinjeh wrote on article on March 11 for Z-Net on the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe. Titled “Zimbabwe’s political roller-coaster hits another deep dip,” the article took the current government to task, predicted a Robert Mugabe victory “by hook or crook,” and declared civil society to be Zimbabwe’s “main wellspring of hope.”
Civil Society Center director Patrick Bond (as in Bond…Patrick Bond…of Her Majesty’s NGOs, as one wag put it) has been lambasting the Mugabe government for years as a self-declared “independent” left voice on Zimbabwe. Bond’s independence includes celebrating activist groups that receive US government funding as part of the West’s regime change program in Zimbabwe.
But who is Bond’s co-author, Grace Kwinjeh?
Kwinjeh is listed at the end of the duo’s article as a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist. But according to Kwinjeh’s blog, Kwinjehviews, Bond’s co-author is also “a founder member of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party the Movement for Democratic Change, (MDC)” who “spent some time in Belgium as the MDC Representative to the EU.” At one point, Kwinjeh was the deputy secretary for international relations in the Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change. (She also says she is a South African-based Zimbabwean journalist. Since this matches the brief bio provided at the end of the Bond-Kwinjeh Z-Net article, I assume Bond’s Grace Kwinjeh is also Tsvangirai’s Grace Kwinjeh.)
Inasmuch as Kwinjeh’s and Bond’s analysis of the upcoming elections is highly critical of the current Zimbabwean government, it is hardly an insignificant point that Kwinjeh fails to disclose her connection to the MDC. This is tantamount to an IBM employee writing a scathing review of Mac computers and then presenting herself as a technology journalist without acknowledging her connection to IBM.
It’s no less significant that Patrick Bond should be caught up in the deception, given his history of promoting “independent” left voices that are hardly independent (and does so once again.) But, then, maybe that’s what a civil society center director does. See Talk Left, Funded Right.
The MDC, which soon became the favored party of white farmers in Zimbabwe, has manifold connections to the US and British states and EU. The leader of the MDC faction Kwinjeh was deputy secretary of international relations for, Morgan Tsvangirai, worries in the Wall Street Journal about the effect the current government’s land reform policies have had on foreign investor confidence, and favors a policy in which Zimbabweans compensate settlers and their descendants for land taken from them and never paid for in the first place. This is akin to insisting you pay a thief for the return of the goods he stole from your house.
The issue, here, however, isn’t the MDC’s politics, but the deception and Bond’s part in it. Readers of Kwinjeh and Bond ought to be aware that they’re being bamboozled when either writer says or implies he or she is providing an independent left perspective. Kwinjeh should acknowledge her ties to the US- and EU-backed MDC. As for Bond, he should stop misrepresenting groups and individuals linked to corporations, capitalist foundations, and imperialist governments as an “independent” left.