By Stephen Gowans
On May 4, 2008 MRZine published Chido Makunike’s “The Complexities of Zimbabwe.” Makunike’s analysis had originally appeared at the Ford and Soros foundation-funded Pambazuka News, with help from the European Union and British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, partners with another Pambazuka News sponsor, Fahamu. Pambazuka News’ editor, Firoze Manji, is the director of Fahamu. His views on Africa, very likely reflecting those of the imperialist governments and corporate foundations that pay his salary and sponsor his publication and charity, was published by MRZine on April 28 (“China Still a Small Player in Africa”).
While the ostensible mission of MRZine is to dissect the politics and culture of capitalism, Makunike, a Western-educated public relations executive living in Africa, strayed no further than the accustomed anti-Zanu-PF line of the New York Times, Times of London, and other ruling class-dominated newspapers in the West.
Since these newspapers recycle the views of the US State Department and British Foreign Office, and rely on so-called “independent” experts on the ground, who in reality, represent corporate foundation- and Western-government supported NGOs, the circle is complete. The British Foreign Office puts forward its views on the Mugabe government, the world’s major media amplify the message, Makunike mimics it, and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, through Fahamu, provide him a platform to express recycled British Foreign Office views in the apparently left-leaning Pambazuka News.
MRZine then reproduces the article, under the guise of dissecting the culture and politics of capitalism. Anyone exposed to the blanket of negative coverage of the Zimbabwe government and the Zanu-PF program comes to the conclusion that the British Foreign Office view is indisputable; after all, everyone appears to agree on it: other Western governments, Western-educated PR executives living in Africa, the New York Times and Times of London, and MRZine (or at least its editor, Yoshie Furuhashi.)
What’s happened, however, is that the independent socialist publication has reproduced ruling class ideology, and has put its own stamp on it to make it acceptable to its left-wing constituency. When the British Foreign Office view is passed from one publication to the next, each affixing its own imprimatur, is it any wonder everyone agrees with the British Foreign Office?
To piece together what’s really going on in Zimbabwe, you need to critically examine what’s coming from the opposition, the government and other governments, but what’s usually done is to seek out “independent” sources, who often receive funding from the US or British governments or both, and turn out to be repeating what the mainstream media say, which in turn repeat what the US State Department and British Foreign Office say.
Last March, Z-Net published an analysis on Zimbabwe by Grace Kwinjeh, a founder, along with white commercial farmers and the British government, of the now US- and British-backed Zimbabwean opposition party, the MDC. Z-Net didn’t bother to mention Kwinjeh’s party affiliations, presenting Kwinjeh instead as an “independent” journalist.
The MDC’s program is to establish conditions agreeable to US and British foreign investment in Zimbabwe. Because Kwinjeh’s analysis was co-authored with leftist scholar Patrick Bond and appeared in an apparently leftist publication, the illusion is created that Zwinjeh’s US and British-backed MDC view is really an independent left view. In the same vein, co-author Patrick Bond, celebrates the underground anti-Zanu-PF groups, Sokwanele and Zvakwana, as an independent left, even though their funding and training comes from Western sources, the same sources that stand to profit from the replacement of Zanu-PF by the MDC.
While committed publicly to dissecting the politics and culture of capitalism, MRZine does nothing of the sort where Zimbabwe is concerned. Instead, it repackages the justifications the US and British ruling class are using to torpedo Zimbabwe’s efforts to invest national liberation with real content, in the service of the bottom lines of Western investment banks, corporations and white commercial farmers.
How is it that “independent” journalists, “independent” experts, “independent” underground movements, “independent” left scholars, “independent” election monitors, “independent” media, and “independent” socialist e-zines, are either funded by or represent the US and British ruling class or repackage ruling class ideas? So pervasive is the use of the word “independent” to disguise the influence of corporations, imperialist governments and their foundations, that “independent” should become a warning sign: Caution: Ruling class interests ahead.