Expressions of imperialism within Zimbabwe

By Stephen Gowans

Zimbabwe’s Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa on Friday denounced the US and Britain for their interference in Zimbabwe’s elections. At the same time, he decried the Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), and its civil society partner, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), as being part of a US and British program to reverse the gains of Zimbabwe’s national liberation struggle.

“It is no secret that the US and the British have poured in large sums of money behind the MDC-T’s sustained demonization campaign,” Chinamasa said. (1)

“Sanctions against Zimbabwe (were intensified) just before the elections,” while “large sums of money” were poured into Zimbabwe “by the British and Americans to bribe people to vote against President Mugabe.” (2)

The goal, Chinamasa continued, is to “render the country ungovernable in order to justify external intervention to reverse the gains of the land reform program.” (3)

The justice minister went on to describe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC “for what they are — an Anglo-American project designed to defeat and reverse the gains of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle, to undermine the will of the Zimbabwean electorate and to return the nation to the dark days of white domination.” (4)

The minister also described the ZESN as “an American-sponsored civil society appendage of the MDC-T.” (5)

Were they reported in the West, it would be fashionable to sneer at Chinamasa’s accusations as lies told to justify a crackdown on the opposition. But, predictably, they haven’t been. For anyone who’s following closely, however, the minister’s charges hardly ring false.

The ZESN is funded by the US Congress and US State Department though the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Its board is comprised of a phalanx of US and British-backed fifth columnists. (6)

Board member Reginald Matchaba Hove won the NED democracy award in 2006. Described by its first director as doing overtly what the CIA used to do covertly, the NED – and by extension the NGOs it funds — are not politically neutral organizations. They have an agenda, and it is to promote US interests under the guise of promoting democratization. Hove is also director of the Southern Africa division of billionaire financier George Soros’ Open Society Institute, which has been involved in funding overthrow movements in Yugoslavia, Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Soros also has an agenda: to open societies to Western profit making. Indeed, the board members of the ZESN comprise an A-list of overthrow activists, with multiple interlocking connections to imperialist governments and corporate foundations.

It doesn’t take long to connect Hove to left scholar Patrick Bond (of Her Majesty’s NGOs) and his Center for Civil Society. The Center is a program partner with the Southern Africa Trust, one of whose trustees is ZESN board member Reginald Matchaba Hove. The Center for Policy Studies, whose mission is to prepare civil society in Zimbabwe for political change (that is, to prepare it to overthrow the Zanu-PF government), is funded by the Southern Africa Trust, a partner of Bond’s Center for Civil Society. Other sponsors include the Soros, Ford, Mott, Heinrich Boll (German Green party), and Friedrich Ebert (German Social Democrats) foundations, the Rockefeller Brothers, the NED, South African Breweries and a fund established by the chairman of mining and natural resources company, Anglo-American. Significantly, Zimbabwe is rich in minerals. Zanu-PF’s program is to put control of the country’s mineral resources, as well as its land, in the hands of the black majority, depriving transnational mining companies, like Anglo-American, of control and profits. Everjoice Win, the former spokesperson for the ZESN, is on the advisory board of Bond’s center. The Center supports the Freedom of Expression Institute (FEI), which is funded by George Soros and the British government’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD). The FEI is a partner of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (also funded by the British government), whose director Rashweat Mukundu is a board member of the ZESN.

Bond co-authored a report with Tapera Kapuya, a fellow of ZESN sponsor, the NED. He also contributed to a report titled Zimbabwe’s Turmoil, along with John Makumbe and Brian Kagoro. The report was sponsored by the Institute for Security Studies, which is financed by the governments of the United States, Britain, France and Canada, the Rockefeller Brothers, and of course, the ubiquitous George Soros and Ford foundations. Makumbe has published in the NED’s Journal of Democracy, and is a former director of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (funded, not surprisingly, by the NED). The Coalition, like the Center for Policy Studies, is devoted to ousting the Mugabe government under the guise of promoting democracy, but in reality promotes the profits of firms like Anglo-American and the interests of US and British investors. Kagoro is a former coordinator of the Coalition. Significantly, the Coalition is a partner of the ZESN.

Add to this Bond’s celebrating the Western-trained and financed underground movements Zvakwana and Sokwanele as an “independent left” (7) and his co-authoring a Z-Net article on Zimbabwe with MDC founding member Grace Kwinjeh [8] (MDC leader Tsvangirai admitted in a February 2002 SBS Dateline program that his party is financed by European governments and corporations (9)), and it’s clear that Bond links up with the spider web of American and British-sponsored civil society appendages of the MDC-T.

Chinamasa’s clarification of the connections between the US and Britain and Zimbabwe’s civil society and opposition fifth columnists is a welcome relief from Western newspapers’ attempts to cover them up. The ZESN, despite being generously funded by the US through Congress and the State Department, is described by the Western media as “independent” while ZESN partner, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), is called “an international pro-democracy organization” (10) and “a Washington-based group.” (11) What it really is, is the foreign arm of the Democratic Party. The NDI receives funding from the US Congress (as well as from USAID and corporate foundations), which it then doles out to fifth columnists in US-designated “outposts of tyranny.” Only in the service of propaganda would the Democratic Party be called “a Washington-based group.” One wonders how Americans would have reacted to the British monarchy parading about post-revolutionary Washington as a “London-based” group – an “international good government” organization bankrolling an American NGO to monitor US elections? Would anyone be surprised if the leaders of the British-financed NGO were dragged off to jail, especially were its backers openly working to oust the government in Washington to restore the rule of the British monarchy? In Zimbabwe, the only surprise is that the Zanu-PF government hasn’t reacted with as much force as the Americans would have done under the same circumstances. That Zimbabwe’s government has tried to preserve space for the exercise of political and civil liberties in the face of massive hostile foreign interference is to be commended.

Washington is quite open in its intentions to overthrow the Mugabe government. Under the 2001 US Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act “the President is authorized to provide assistance” to “support an independent and free press and electronic media in Zimbabwe” and “provide for democracy and governance programs in Zimbabwe.” (12) This translates into the president financing anti-Zanu-PF radio stations and newspapers and bankrolling groups opposed to Zimbabwe’s national liberation movement to inveigle Zimbabweans to vote against Mugabe.

“The United States government has said it wants to see President Robert Mugabe removed from power and that it is working with the Zimbabwean opposition…trade unions, pro-democracy groups and human rights organizations…to bring about a change of administration.” (13)

Last year, the US State Department acknowledged once again that it supports “the efforts of the political opposition, the media and civil society” in Zimbabwe through training, assistance and financing. (14) And the 2006 US National Security Strategy declares that “it is the policy of the US to seek and support democratic movements and institutions in every nation…with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in…” North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus and Zimbabwe. (15)

The goal of the overthrow agenda is to reverse the land reform and economic indigenization policies of the Zanu-PF government — policies that are against the interests of the ruling class foundations that fund the fifth columnists’ activities. The chairman of Anglo-American finances Zimbabwe’s anti-Mugabe civil society because bringing Tsvangirai’s MDC to power is good for Anglo-American’s bottom line. Likewise, the numerous Southern African corporations that Lord Renwick of Clifton sits on the boards of stand to profit from the MDC unseating Zimbabwe’s national liberation agenda. Lord Renwick is head of an outfit called the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust (ZDT), also part of the interlocked community of imperialist governments, wealthy individuals, corporate foundations, and NGOs working to reverse Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle. The ZDT is a major backer of the MDC. (16)

Police raids on the offices of the ZESN and Harvest House, the headquarters of the MDC, seem deplorable to those in the West who are accustomed to elections in which the contestants all pretty much agree on major policies, with only trivial differences among them. But in Zimbabwe, the differences are acute – a choice between losing much of what the 14-year long national liberation war was fought for and settling for nominal independence (that is crying uncle, so the West will relieve the pressure of its economic warfare) or moving forward to bring the program of national liberation to its logical conclusion: ownership of the country’s land, resources and enterprises, not just its flag, by the black majority. In this, there is an unavoidable conflict between “a government which is spearheaded by a revolutionary party, which spearheaded the armed struggle against British imperialism” and “a party that was the creation of the imperialists themselves (that) has been financed the imperialists themselves.” (17)

It’s impossible to achieve independence from foreign control and domination without turmoil, disruption and fighting – not when the opposition and civil society are directed from abroad to serve foreign interests. Can Zimbabwe’s elections honestly be described as free and fair when the economy has been sabotaged by the West’s denying Harare credit and debt relief [18] and where respite from the attendant miseries is promised in the election of the opposition? Are elections legitimate when media are controlled by outside forces (19), and civil society and the opposition have been controlled by foreign powers?

Chinamasa’s complaints, far from being demagoguery, are real and justified. Zanu-PF’s decision to fight, rather than capitulate, ought be applauded, not condemned. Imperialism cannot be opposed without opposing the MDC and its civil society partners, for they too are imperialism.

1. Herald (Zimbabwe) April 26, 2008.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Michael Barker, “Zimbabwe and the Power of Propaganda: Ousting a President via Civil Society,” Global, April 16, 2006.
See also and
7. Stephen Gowans, “The Politics of Demons and Angels,” April 15, 2007,
8. Stephen Gowans, “The Company Patrick Bond Keeps,” March 24, 2008,
9. Rob Gowland, “Zimbabwe: The struggle for land, the struggle for independence,” Communist Party of Australia, . The MDC is also financed by the British government’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, whose patrons include former British foreign secretaries and is headed by Lord Renwick of Chilton, vice-chair of investment banking at JPMorgan (Europe.)
10. The Globe and Mail (Toronto), April 26, 2008.
11. The Washington Post, April 26, 2008.
13. The Guardian (UK), August 22, 2002.
14. US Department of State, April 5, 2007.
16. “Zimbabwe ambassador: Self-determination is at the root of the conflict,” FinalCall.Com News, April 22, 2008.
17. Ibid.
18. Under the US Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, “the Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States executive director to each international financial institution to oppose and vote against–

(1) any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or

(2) any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution.”


19. The same question can be asked of elections in Western liberal democracies, where the media are controlled by an interlocked community of hereditary capitalist families and corporate board members who share common economic interests inimical to those of the majority.

10 thoughts on “Expressions of imperialism within Zimbabwe

  1. This has appeared in RAW STORY:

    ‘An independent Zimbabwean election monitoring group expressed doubt on Tuesday over the credibility of the results of the presidential election and accused the ruling ZANU-PF party of attacking observers.

    The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) was the first observer group to publicly question the results, which showed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had failed to beat President Robert Mugabe by enough to avoid a second round run-off.’

    ZESN described as Independent…and no mention is made of its links to MDC..

  2. Terry,

    If by “left” you mean organizations that are prepared to ally themselves with imperialism to undermine governments, armed forces and movements that are pursuing traditional leftist objectives, then, yes, this is indeed the voice of Zimbabwe’s left. It should be out that your first link is to a report by the ISO (Zimbabwe), a founding member of the MDC, hardly a left party, in either its aims or sources of funding and support.

    A much stronger argument can be made that a real(istic) anti-imperialist left in Zimbabwe is represented by Zanu-PF.

    Zanu-PF led a struggle for national liberation against Rhodesian apartheid, culminating in the achievement of Zimbabwe’s political independence. It reclaimed land alienated from the indigenous people by European settlers and returned it to its rightful owners. Today, it advances the project of investing national liberation with real content, through a program of economic indigenization.

    What has the ISO (Zimbabwe) achieved in comparison? It has access to flashy web sites and magazines…and it works to alienate left support for Zimbabwe’s national liberation project. On top of that, it helped found, along with Britain and the EU, a party bent on reversing the gains Zanu-PF led the struggle for. That’s Zimbabwe’s left?

    If you want to find out what Zimbabwe’s left thinks, go here . At the very least, you’ll read something different from you can read in the New York Times, Times of London and Links.


  3. Piers,

    I sense you’re jealous that 007 is monopolizing the attention, and are eager to draw some your way. Okay Piers. Fair is fair.

    You were a senior researcher at the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation before stepping into your current role as director of the South African History Archives.

    Maybe you never checked, but the violence and reconciliation center is backed, among others, by some organizations that aren’t all that committed to non-violence.

    Anglo-American Chairman’s Fund
    Australian High Commission
    British High Commission
    Mott Foundation
    Ford Foundation
    Heinrich Boll Foundation (German Green Party)
    George Soros
    Rockefeller Brothers
    Southern Africa Trust

    The CSVR’s mission is to contribute to the building of violence-free societies. This is entirely unbelievable, given the list of the center’s funders, especially the last two — USAID (the US State Department) and USIP (the US State Department and Pentagon) — aren’t really the peace and reconciliation types. They’re more the “get out of the way or we’ll blow you away and string up anyone who resisted” types. The same can be said about the UK, represented here by the British High Commission, and the German Green party, represented by the Heinrich Boll Foundation, whose leader, as a member of the German cabinet, discovered that the perks of power were more important than any qualms he might have over the bombing of Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

    To be a little more nuanced, I should point out that the US and Britain are indeed opposed to violence – but only when used to defend and promote the interests of those they, or their allies, are trying to oppress. They’re for non-violence in Iraq, now that the country has been conquered, but were all for using violence to conquer it. They’re for non-violence in Gaza and the West Bank…on the part of Palestinians, but not the Israelis. As for South Africa, they’re for non-violence and reconciliation, now that the apartheid regime is a memory, but were happy to allow the old apartheid rulers to exercise whatever violence was necessary to keep the black majority in check.

    In the NGO world, violence is illegitimate, except when exercised by the state on behalf of the interests of Ford, Rockefeller, Soros, Anglo-American, and so on. Then, it’s perfectly all right, necessary, even laudable. Interesting how that works.

    In another time, Piers, you would have made a good priest. Today, you’re making a living as the modern equivalent — an intellectual whore (though I could be mistaken on the intellectual part.)

    For my money, Piers, what’s far more absurdly comedic than what I’ve written is your working to promote non-violence while being paid by the Pentagon and State Department to do so. It’s good to see satire is alive and well in certain orbits.


  4. I’m sorry – I just couldn’t help myself with the following response to Stephen Gowans latest offering – thanks so much to Grace for sharing this with us; the man’s a genius, but I suspect he has the assistance of artificial stimulants?

    Stephen Gowans – simply smokin!

    oh dear, oh dear – seems like Mr Gowans has been smoking his tik pipe again. Must be all those sanctions that render a rational deliberative process impossible as the politics of ‘cowboys and injuns’ take centre stage disguised as some sort of intellectual narrative.

    Does Gowans really believe that ZANU-PF in its current mutated madness has the interests of the majority at heart? Where precisely does he suck that from – the buffet table at the Harare Sheraton? The mind boggles, but hey maybe there’s an empirical basis for this – does Mr Gowans care to share this with us? Or will we simply be referred to back copies of the Herald, or maybe that awfully exciting magazine, New African …. another forum for comic genius judign from those wonderful supplements paid for by the Zimbabwean government last year (please, for anyone who has them, do reread the Gideon Gono interview – priceless!)

    I detract .. apologies….

    It’s certainly not news that civil society ‘chefs’ (in Zimbabwe or many other places for that matter) have been relying on neo-con funds for some time now – pretty inneffective if regime change was the cunning objective of the marionette masters in Washington, don’t you think?! That folk such as Hove and Tsunga accept awards from dubious source or the organisations they front are funded from western (often right wing) sources hardly adds up to some sort fo coordinated initiative to undermine the ‘revolutionary’ programme of the great liberators (as Chinamasa and it would seem Mr Gowans would have us believe). If it were, it’s been about as inneffective a strategy as you could get – and assumes the loons in Washington and London really know what they are doing and who they are dealing with. But I suppose with all that satelite technology, anythings possible …

    I rather enjoyed the Gowan’s bits on Patrick Bond and now have images of him in a rather large swivel chair behind his control centre at the CCS pushing Zimbabwean and South African civil society buttons as part of some cunning conspiracy to keep the true revolutionaries in place. I always wondered what he was doing at those Free Burma Campaign meetings when there were only 6 of us in the room – was it really part of his cunning entryist politics to prepare Burma for the beauties and beneifts of capitalism. Gadzooks, who can one trust Mr Gowans? well, apart from Patrick Chinamasa that is …..

    Once again the truth of what has actually transpired in Zimbabwe falls victim to a form of dot-to-dot matric marxism that’s not alas even saved by the footnotes. The inference that Zimbabweans have no agency in the decisions made and actions taken, but are simply manipulated by Washington and the evil Dr Bond is grotesque and probably racist.

    Nevertheless, I do hope these gems from Gowans and his fellow travellers are archived for futrue generations to guffaw at – my particular favourite from this latest offering is – “That Zimbabwe’s government has tried to preserve space for the exercise of political and civil liberties in the face of massive hostile foreign interference is to be commended.” I have to say I spat my coffee all over my expensive computer monitor when I read that – sheer comic genious! Churchilian stuff – I’m sure Bob would be ‘fighting them on the beaches’ if indeed there were any ….

    But let’s suppose for a moment that Cde Gowans is indeed a serious soul, I would say he does raise some important questions about a range of economic and political interests in Zimbabwe – at least external capaitalist interest. The suggstion that they are rowing all in the same direction is a little far fetched, as is the notion that the indiginisation policies of ZANU-PF is a meaningful attempt to spread ownership to the masses – Indeed, the problem is that Gowan’s analysis (dare I call it that?) falls apart on the alter of ideological lunacy that suggests that the ruling party in Zimbabwe is a revolutionary one and that the neocons are desperate for its popularity to spread across the region and beyond, attacking the very heart of the capitlaist behemoth! I’ve always wondered whether ZANU-PF isn’t a cunning plot by the imperialists – given Bob the Builder’s penchant for Saville Row and Fortnums, i thought this was a dead giveaway – but what do I know? Indeed, what do I know?

    Anyway, thanks for the light relief Mr Gowans – it’s good to see that satire is alive and well in certain orbits.

    Yours in the struggle for more revolutionary comedy!
    A looting continua
    Piers Pigou
    [Declarator – born in Britain, of Hugenot descent (blasted Catholics!), emigrated to South Africa in early 90s – I have lived 35 years of my life in southern africa as a deep cover agent recently activated by the neo-cons to mock Mr Gowans and his sixth columnist fellow travellers who I understand have themselves recently been activated after several years training in Albania at the Enver Hoxa Militia Training Camp for revolutionary nicompoops!]

  5. This has made a lot of sensible contribution to a debate going around a community of Zimbabweans under Zim-Fight-On Don’t Mourn. People like myself are torn between politics of the stomach, complete independence and international manipulation. What will prevail?

  6. 007,

    I think a much closer parallel would be me, co-authoring with a key member of the Liberal Party, an article with a title like “Afghanistan’s political rollercoaster hits another dip.” You’d have a better case, then. Maybe Zunes can lend you another straw to grasp at.

    Nice to know you’re keeping such close tabs on my blog and are so prompt to comment. Do you hover over “what’s left” with bated breath waiting for me to mention your name, or did Q send you an alert?

    Now, on this matter of your frequent — and at times rather lengthy — commentaries here: I’m concerned that this is taking you away from more serious pursuits. You could be applying for another foundation grant or trying to line up Morgan Tsvangirai (Zimbabwe’s Lech Walesa — except not as effective as old Lech) to co-author another one of your penetrating Z-Net articles on what’s happening just across the Limpopo River from where you’re at, at the Center for Civil Society — that is, where you’re at, when you’re not gallavanting around the globe, in Australia now, Canada next, now the US, and then back to your Center in South Africa, from where you can keep tabs on the activities of the “independent” left across the Limpopo, as they receive instructions, with Zunes cheering them on from the sidelines, from the Peter Ackerman/USIP/Freedom House/CFR crowd on how to overthrow the nasty Mugabe and deliver Zimbabwe into the hands of the…hmm…Peter Ackerman/USIP/Freedom House/CFR/NED/WFD/USAID/Anglo-American crowd. Funny how that works. Oh well, it that happens, you’ll have occasion to pen many a biting article on the neo-liberal tyranny of your friend Grace Kwinjeh’s MDC. just think — she might even be a cabinet minister.

    By the way, I’ve always wondered where your travel budget comes from. Are you independently wealthy, or are generous travel allowances available to those who are willing to preach the gospel and burnish the reputations of fifth columnists paving the way to neo-colonialism? Just thought I’d ask.

    Back to your next Zim article: If Tsvangirai isn’t available, there are a whole bunch of NED/WFD/USAID/Soros/Ford Foundation-supported activists I could steer you in the direction of as potential co-authors…that is, if Q hasnt already.


  7. Stephen,
    Do you have any feeling for what the election results actually are? Why are recounts being done?

    The reports we see here in the West don’t seem very reliable.

  8. Ah, my stalker is back! Don’t forget to add another crucial link in the imperial chain: Patrick Bond occasionally files commentaries on Steven Gowans’ blogsite, and Gowans claims to be a resident of Ottawa, Canada, the geographical site of a government in league with the US in various nefarious adventures, including overthrow and imperial control of Afghanistan (about which, tellingly, Gowans writes little), and moreover, Gowans pays taxes to the Canadian government, which means Bond willingly consorts with yet more funders of imperialism.

Leave a Reply to Piers Pigou

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s