Cholera Outbreak Outcome of West’s War on Zimbabwe

By Gowans

The crisis in Zimbabwe has intensified. Inflation is incalculably high. The central bank limits – to an inadequate level – the amount of money Zimbabweans can withdraw from their bank accounts daily. Unarmed soldiers riot, their guns kept under lock and key, to prevent an armed uprising. Hospital staff fail to show up for work. The water authority is short of chemicals to purify drinking water. Cholera, easily prevented and cured under normal circumstances, has broken out, leading the government to declare a humanitarian emergency.

In the West, state officials call for the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, to step down and yield power to the leader of the largest faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai. In this, the crisis is directly linked to Mugabe, its solution to Tsvangirai, but it’s never said what Mugabe has done to cause the crisis, or how Tsvangirai’s ascension to the presidency will make it go away.

The causal chain leading to the crisis can be diagrammed roughly as follows:

• In the late 90s, Mugabe’s government provokes the hostility of the West by: (1) intervening militarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo on the side of the young government of Laurent Kabila, helping to thwart an invasion by Rwandan and Ugandan forces backed by the US and Britain; (2) it rejects a pro-foreign investment economic restructuring program the IMF establishes as a condition for balance of payment support; (3) it accelerates land redistribution by seizing white-owned farms and thereby committing the ultimate affront against owners of productive property – expropriation without compensation. To governments whose foreign policy is based in large measure on protecting their nationals’ ownership rights to foreign productive assets, expropriation, and especially expropriation without compensation, is intolerable, and must be punished to deter others from doing the same.

• In response, the United States, as prime guarantor of the imperialist system, introduces the December 2001 Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act. The act instructs US representatives to international financial institutions “to oppose and vote against any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution.”

• The act effectively deprives Zimbabwe of foreign currency required to import necessities from abroad, including chemicals to treat drinking water. Development aid from the World Bank is also cut off, denying the country access to funds to upgrade its infrastructure. The central bank takes measures to mitigate the effects of the act, creating hyper-inflation as a by-product.

The cause of the crisis, then, can be traced directly to the West. Rather than banning the export of goods to Zimbabwe, the US denied Zimbabwe the means to import goods — not trade sanctions, but an act that had the same effect. To be sure, had the Mugabe government reversed its land reform program and abided by IMF demands, the crisis would have been averted. But the trigger was pulled in Washington, London and Brussels, and it is the West, therefore, that bears the blame.

Sanctions are effectively acts of war, with often equivalent, and sometimes more devastating, consequences. More than a million Iraqis died as a result of a decade-long sanctions regime championed by the US following the 1991 Gulf War. This prompted two political scientists, John and Karl Mueller, to coin the phrase “sanctions of mass destruction.” They noted that sanctions had “contributed to more deaths in the post Cold War era than all the weapons of mass destruction in history.”

The Western media refer to sanctions on Zimbabwe as targeted – limited only to high state officials and other individuals. This ignores the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act and conceals its devastating impact, thereby shifting responsibility for the humanitarian catastrophe from the US to Mugabe.

The cholera outbreak has a parallel in the outbreak of cholera in Iraq following the Gulf War. Thomas Nagy, a business professor at George Washington University, cited declassified documents in the September 2001 issue of The Progressive magazine showing that the United States had deliberately bombed Iraq’s drinking water and sanitation facilities, recognizing that sanctions would prevent Iraq from rebuilding its water infrastructure and that epidemics of otherwise preventable diseases, cholera among them, would ensue. Washington, in other words, deliberately created a humanitarian catastrophe to achieve its goal of regime change. There is a direct parallel with Zimbabwe – the only difference is that the United States uses the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act – that is, sanctions of mass destruction – in place of bombing.

Harare’s land reform program is one of the principal reasons the United States has gone to war with Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has redistributed land previously owned by 4,000 white farmers to 300,000 previously landless families, descendants of black Africans whose land was stolen by white settlers. By contrast, South Africa’s ANC government has redistributed only four percent of the 87 percent of land forcibly seized from the indigenous population by Europeans.

In March, South Africa’s cabinet seemed ready to move ahead with a plan to accelerate agrarian reform. It would abandon the “willing seller, willing buyer” model insisted on by the West, following in the Mugabe government’s footsteps. Under the plan, thirty percent of farmland would be redistributed to black farmers by 2014. But the government has since backed away, its reluctance to move forward based on the following considerations.

1. Most black South Africans are generations removed from the land, and no longer have the skills and culture necessary to immediately farm at a high level. An accelerated land reform program would almost certainly lower production levels, as new farmers played catch up to acquire critical skills.

2. South Africa is no longer a net exporter of food. An accelerated land reform program would likely force the country, in the short term, to rely more heavily on agricultural imports, at a time food prices are rising globally.

3. There is a danger that fast-track land reform will create a crisis of capital flight.

4. The dangers of radical land reform in provoking a backlash from the West are richly evident in the example of Zimbabwe. South Africa would like to avoid becoming the next Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s economic crisis is accompanied by a political crisis. Talks on forming a government of national unity are stalled. Failure to strike a deal pivots on a single ministry – home affairs. In the West, failure to consolidate a deal between Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and the two MDC factions is attributed to Mugabe’s intransigence in insisting that he control all key cabinet posts. It takes two to tango. Tsvangirai has shown little interest in striking an accord, preferring instead to raise objections to every solution to the impasse put forward by outside mediators, as Western ambassadors hover nearby. It’s as if, with the country teetering on the edge of collapse, he doesn’t want to do a deal, preferring instead to help hasten the collapse by throwing up obstacles to an accord, to clear the way for his ascension to the presidency. When the mediation of former South African president Thambo Mbeki failed, Tsvangirai asked the regional grouping, the SADC, to intervene. SADC ordered Zanu-PF and the MDC to share the home affairs ministry. Tsvangirai refused. Now he wants Mbeki replaced.

At the SADC meeting, Mugabe presented a report which alleges that MDC militias are being trained in Botswana by Britain, to be deployed to Zimbabwe early in 2009 to foment a civil war. The turmoil would be used as a pretext for outside military intervention. This would follow the model used to oust the Haitian government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Already, British officials and clergymen are calling for intervention. British prime minister Gordon Brown says the cholera outbreak makes Zimbabwe’s crisis international, because disease can cross borders. Since an international crisis is within the purview of the “international community,” the path is clear for the West and its satellites to step in to set matters straight

Botswana is decidedly hostile. The country’s foreign minister, Phando Skelemani, says that Zimbabwe’s neighbors should impose an oil blockade to bring the Mugabe government down.

Meanwhile, representatives of the elders, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Anan and Graca Machel sought to enter Zimbabwe to assess the humanitarian situation. Inasmuch as an adequate assessment could not be made on the whistle-stop tour the trio had planned, Harare barred their entry, recognizing that the trip would simply be used as a platform to declaim on the necessity of regime change. The elders’ humanitarian concern, however, didn’t stop the trio from agreeing that stepped up sanctions – more misery for the population — would be useful.

The Mugabe government’s pursuit of land reform, rejection of neo-liberal restructuring, and movement to eclipse US imperialism in southern Africa, has put Zimbabwe on the receiving end of a Western attack based on punitive financial sanctions. The intention, as is true of all Western destabilization efforts, has been to make the target country ungovernable, forcing the government to step down, clearing the way for the ascension of the West’s local errand boys. Owing to the West’s attack, Zimbabwe’s government is struggling to provide the population with basic necessities. It can no longer provide basic sanitation and access to potable water at a sufficient level to prevent the outbreak of otherwise preventable diseases.

The replacement of the Mugabe government with one led by the Movement for Democratic Change, a party created and directed by Western governments, if it happens, will lead to an improvement in the humanitarian situation. This won’t come about because the MDC is more competent at governing, but because sanctions will be lifted and access to balance of payment support and development aid will be restored. Zimbabwe will once again be able to import adequate amounts of water purification chemicals. The improving humanitarian situation will be cited as proof the West was right all along in insisting on a change of government.

The downside is that measures to indigenize the economy – to place the country’s agricultural and mineral wealth in the hands of the black majority – will be reversed. Mugabe and key members of the state will be shipped off to The Hague – or attempts will be made to ship them off – to send a message to others about what befalls those who threaten the dominant mode of property relations and challenge Western domination. Cowed by the example of Zimbabwe, Africans in other countries will back away from their own land reform and economic indigenization demands, and the continent will settle more firmly into a pattern of neo-colonial subjugation.

15 thoughts on “Cholera Outbreak Outcome of West’s War on Zimbabwe

  1. All those who ask for a solution to our catastrophy, it is simply web economics. Understanding how to trade amongst ourselves as Africans or Zimbabweans to create a self reliant and subsistant economy espeically as far as food production goes, including water supply systems and sewage and waste systems.
    I believe that while these systems are mastered, other pieces of the puzzle come into effect,research and development, education, engineering, etc which create employment thereby precipitating a functional economy without having to look outside of our economy for help. I know a lot of people will start casting stones and throwing arms at my suggestions, that there is no way a country can function without trading with others, but a simple example from a personal point of view will highlight what I am trying to let you see, from my point of view.
    As an individual, if you think of what you require as necesities to go through your day, you will probably think of shelter, water, food, clothing, and the rest is luxury. Now if you think of the means of producing the basics that I have mentioned, Zimbabweans as a people have the means, and access to the means, and even the ability to develop the means by which to provide those basics. Now the only reason why we are not working on the basics is because we have all become urban rats, thinking in terms of currency and consumption, instead of production and consumption. Once you become a full time consumer, you only think of acquiring money/currency to attain commodities and forget about the production of commodities which turns you into an urban rat, always lookin out for the best cheese to be made by the geniuses, who ever you might perceive them to be.
    You see, a spider can weave a web, and literally stay in it web and just wait for prey to come in, and whatever comes in, does not go out, albeit with a struggle. But the spider knows how to work its web it is never entangled itself. That is the approach of those who snare you. Remember that when you are snared, you are snared in your most natuaral habitat, where you feel most comfortable, and while you are most confident that there is nothing amiss, alas you are caught in the trap. Now the reason why we cannot get out of our situation, is simply because as a people we are divided, victims of our education, or miseduation, that has brought about our differences. If we look back at history, or if you look at white society, they have been very frought with division, but when it came to matters that threatened their liberties as a society, as a people, no matter what their differences, they rallied together as a common people against a common evil, and if you look at what happens in a situation when a British is involved in a disaster anywhere in the world, they will chater be it a plane to that particular disaster zone, anywhere in the world, just to retrieve the British first, and if resources allow, maybe help others, but usually the cirucumstances don’t allow for the rescue of all the people, but they make sure they get their own out of danger. Now in contrast to us Africans, we have been programmed to look out for ourselves, and the common good of individuals, now this is a deliberate programming, because it keeps you fighting against yourself and not a common good of a nation, or race, or people as blacks. If Africans were organised, the sanctions should not have had the devastating effect that we witness today, because we would have been functional as an economy albeit at low standards but at surplus provision, it takes organisational skills, and empowerment skills to train and programme the minds of citizens to work for a common good for a country before that of a certain class or individual. It is a simple philosophy, but we have been divided, hence we are easily conquered. There is nothing wrong with democracy where it is applied fairly, but don’t let deomcracy fool you to think that it is all the majority that is right. That is not always true,and a simple example will be America. We have witnessed the first black president to be elected after uptenth4 elections, just imagine what democracy was like for black Americans not more than 40years ago. Then you’ll know that the wolf has worn sheep skin, take heed and be warned. Lets stop the bickering and the beef, lets heal the divisions and fight for a common good against a common evil, for we all believe that we are all sons of God, even lucifer is a creation of God and also believes he is a son of God, so be warned, God has created all, both good and evil, but the choice is ours, to choose the common good………..
    So our tusk my brothers and sisters is to organise ourselves, and start as individuals working for the common good of our nation, because it is your interaction with others at whatever level, that classifies you as a citizen of that nation, and if we interact at low vs high,there will always be envy and division,for even though we all have different potential, there are still those who begrudge those with better talent, it is time we start as Africans to celebrate our excellence and reward our talents, and support the weak, and heal our societies. I leave the buck with all those who read this, the buck stops with you and me, we need to fix this, don’t wait for Jesus to return, he might not return in your lifetime, you do your part, I’ll do mine……lets all take our responsibilities seriously.

  2. Many thanks for a most useful and informative, website. I was wondering for quite some time about the reality of the Western Media’s campaign against Zimbabwe. Well, it’s the same old story again, of a few hundred bilionaires wrecking the lives of billions of people in Africa and elsewhere. Maybe it’s time, instead of rioting in Harare, Chicago, and Gaza, to selectively target just these few hundred psychopaths?

  3. I am really surprised by Keto Segwai’s outbursts about people in the Western capitals exposing imperialist machinations in Zimbabwe. It is true that there has been an influx of Zimbabweans into Botswana. I also sympathize with that country that relies so heavily on goods and serices mainly from South Africa. However the point I want to make is that the Zimbabweans in Botswana or elsewhere in the world are not political refugees. In other words they are not running away from political persecution, political detention or torture. The large majority of these are professionals and ordinary Zimbabweans seeking green pastures or survival since the imposition of sanctions on the country after the land reform program of 2000. Some have joined other Africans in seeking goods for petty trading. We should not lose sight of the fact that most of the continent have become nations of petty traders (Bottswana included) who consume more and more and produce less and less.Zimbabwe is still one of the few countries with an industrial base in Africa. The reason why the country is losing this base is because of its efforts to rid itself of neo-colonialism.
    Indeed, Seqwai does not seem to realize that the story of Africa is the same-it is only minor details that may vary. The cry of the Zimbabwean revolution should therefore not be viewed as “a cry voice in the wilderness” but rather a cry of the voice of true African revolution. It needs no emphasis that unless African countries find ways and means to create conditions favorable for a full participation of the majority of the people in the economic and polical business of their countries, African independence will remain an empty shell.
    The Zimbabwe revolution is born out of the realization that neocolinialism in Africa is not only an extension of a colonial system of exploitation, but one whose essential purpose is the continued repatriation of the profits to the so-called mother countries and North America. Since the African remains the source of cheap labor, this amounts to consistent expatriation of surplus produced by African labor out of African farms, mines, industries and so forth.
    For example in Zimbabwe, from 1980 onwards the white-owned commercial farms resorted to growing tobacco, flowers and soya beans for the export market characterized by under-invoicing. Obviously crops such as maize, groundnuts and other crops consumed domestically by Africans were excluded from the list of white commercial farming in the country.The question is, can Western imperialism salvage its economic position in Zimbabwe? Imperialists have no permanent friends but permanent economic interests.This logic let Britain, the United States and their Western allies cast off their racism at the right moment so as to find puppets among some Zimbabweans behind whom they can maintain their interests.The insistent appeal to democratic ideology and the need to build societies in which human rights are upheld is all a cover to recolonize Zimbabwe. Recently, In Afghanistan and Iraq, we have seen that American imperialism in particular finds itself haunted by the democratic and human rights campaign that it proclaimed but proved incapable of sustaining in practice. Africans in Zimbabwe will continue to refuse to be recolonized under the guise of “democracy,human rights, good governance and free and fair election.”

  4. On the issue of Wikipedia, the rhodesians are quite busy messing up that public forum.

    It is comical to see them, with their limited intellectual ability or integrity, to continually get challenged for breaking Wikipedia’s NPOV (No Point Of View) rule.

    They have no respect for the facts or the truth, as long as they get their farms back.

    In fact, Land Reform in Zimbabwe is working out very well, considering the currency was destroyed by sanctions. Please take the time to read:

    A new start for Zimbabwe? by Ian Scoones
    Ian Scoones, Challenges the myths about Zimbabwean agriculture and land reform
    15 September 2008

    Lessons of Zimbabwe
    Mahmood Mamdani

  5. Antonio it don’t wash. Those uber-people whom you dress up as “productive businessmen” were by all independent accounts productive to nobody but themselves. They have largely now been rightly replaced by ‘productive I want somes’

    Like the elected, productive governments of Zimbabwe and Venuezuela have shown, nationalisation is indeed people-friendly and good. It even had the cheek to gave the UK the NHS.

  6. “This is about imperialism at work” etc etc etc.

    Not it’s nothing to do with that either. Mugabe and Zanu-PF was destroying Zimbabwe without the west’s help, and continued destroying it after the west’s actions, and from all independent accounts Mugabe was destroying Zimbabwe’s new democracy even before it started.

    The author even states the reason why but failed to apply it to Zimbabwe: aggressive land reform taking land out of the hands of productive businessmen (note the lack of color here) and into people who’s only requirement to receive the land was “I want some”.

    The land reform program wasn’t about redistribution of land to the people of Zimbabwe otherwise he wouldn’t have gone on to nationalise it.

  7. “We as Black people….” etc etc etc.
    No it’s nothing to do with Black people blaming the white man. This is about imperialism at work. The fact that Zimbabwe is a predominantly Black country ought not to blind you to the nature of the conflict. This is not white against Black, although race certainly adds to the ‘conveniance’ in terms of propaganda in the media. (Black Africans starving and dying is tolerable lunchtime TV news in the West). Imperialists come in all shades and hues, Zanu PF does not blame the “white man” but western imperialism. And we as Black people, and white people, chinese, Indians, Jews etc. etc. need to educate our young people as to how modern imperialism and neo-colonialism work. The mess of Africa and the Carribean is not down to the white man, but imperialism and its lackeys and stooges.
    Incidentally citing wikipedia as an example of nuanced or informed writing is somewhat naive.

  8. Your article is very biased and typical of the attitude that has left africa and the caribbean in the mess that it is in. We as black people need to stop making excuses for the stupid decisions we make and stop blaming the white man.

    We need to fight the propaganda of special interest groups and educate our young black people about the history of africa, putting out black propaganda is not the way to go.

    Here is and example of the type of articles we should be writing

  9. Hi Stephen, great work, could you and all the rest of us check this out…

    David Banks happens to be some sort of big man for various British based anti-Zimbabwean quasi-organisations…

    David Banks: ‘Accountabillity Commission – Zimbabwe

    – based in Berkeley Square House. Basically a corrupt organisation stating impartiality, with the job of locking up black African unbelievers who refuse to look-west in the dungeons of the Hague. note Organisation and it’s website whent underground when David Banks was confronted with his links to ZDT.

    David Banks: Associate consultant of the ‘Zimbabwe Democracy Trust’

    – described in glowing terms by a fellow member of the all-party parliamentary group on Zimbabwe as the’head of Zimbabwe Democracy Trust’

    David Banks: Co-ordinator of the ‘all-party parliamentary group on Zimbabwe’

    – described as a “self employed consultant – (research and policy advice on human rights and democracy in Zimbabawe)”

    David Banks: ‘Friends of the Daily News’

    – at time, David Banks was listed as contact along with nortorious Zimbabwe hater Kate Hoey MP and a Lindsay Ross Executive Director – Commonwealth Press Union.

    David Banks: ‘DCJ Banks Ltd’

    – registration 05755560, incorporation date 24/03/2006
    Shadowy company based around the corner from Lancaster House. Anyone?

    David Banks: ‘Phoenix Fund For Zimbabwe’

    – charity number 1119417 Secretary to the trustees David Banks.

    David Banks: ‘The Campden Charities’

    – company number 5092240 charity number 1104616. ‘DCJ Banks’ aka David Banks listed as vice chairman.

    Seems to be some info out there that David Banks was trying to help Georgina Godwin (leader-for-life of propaganda station SWRA)in funding another radio station. Also that David Banks had/has a PR/propaganda company called ‘Dedicated Strategies’…can anyone confirm these above two bits of info?

    Anyway wonder what his DCJ Banks Ltd company is about? also, so corrupt that David Banks can head the alledged impartial Accountability Commission Zimbabwe while at the same time be formulating policy within the haert of the British regime – thats called perverting the cause of justice. David Banks should be listed as corrupt.

  10. I have nothing against one waging a struggle against western imperialism. But if it comes at a cost of taking away my fellow citizens rights, steal the elections, beat and torture fellow Zimbabweans, then surely I would rather do without the diabolical “liberator”.
    To be frank as Zimbabwe’s neighbours we are sick and tired of having to accomodate Zimbabweans within a generation. At first they were ofcourse fighting against Ian Smith’s white racist regime and surely we were more than willing to help. It is therefore scandalous that that black “liberator” has now turned an oppressor and we have once again have to live with an influx of Zimbabweans. Currently, a third of Botswana’s population comprises desperate Zimbabweans. The negative effect of this is that our socio-economic infrasture is overstretched. The fact is that more than 60% of violent crimes in Botswana involve Zimbabweans. It is nice and easy for some of you who are domiciled in the very western capitals, where you are propobaly allowed to draw social security benefits, yet you still display insensetivity on the plight of the ordinary Zimbabweans, whom we see daily dangerously jumping borders to Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique.

    I appeal to you and your “liberator” (Mugabe) to go HOME and leave the Zimbabweans to live their lives. Perhaps, given your waped thinking, you could be not knowing where your HOME is. That home is HELL.

    enjoy your journey.

  11. Please make your point M Mukanya.Wether the information comes from Canada or timbuktu is not relavent.If the analysis is correct,then it is correct.We that live in the heart of imperialism are aware of its behaviour at home and abroad.Unfortunatley your right wing colonialist straightjackett attitude wont give us credit for knowning the enemy and hence you retreat to boring almost racist attacks on the messenger.Typical MDC

  12. (yawn): Canadian “radical” plays expert on distant Zimbabwe, tries to out-radical everybody;explains things from a comically jaundiced “leftist” straitjacket.

    What have the poor suffering people of Zimbabwe done to deserve the attentions of people like this?

  13. The irony here is that it will probably be Obama leading the invasion or covertly supplying the military support to oust Mugabe.

    I am worried, Stephen. Your analysis is great and everything, but we need a plan of action to defend Zimbabwe from US imperialism. I’m looking toward you and Lalkar for inspiration on this front. Now is the time we need to stop just criticizing US imperialism and really do something, or a lot of people are gonna die under the yoke of Western imperialism.

  14. The class brothers[and sisters]of capitalism stick together and will stop at nothing to preserve thier private ownership of the means of production,even the decimation of a population.Those responsible for the sanctions and undeclared war against Zimbabwes independance and self determination are war criminals that are carrying out genocide and ethnic cleansing against a defencless population.One more crime to add to the long record of imperialism.

  15. The leadership of Zanu-PF are unlikely to cede power voluntarily knowing the fate that awaits them – what’s interesting is how the MDC will respond. If Mugabe decides to retire, it won’t be Zanu-PF going with him.

    If Tsvangirai is the great hope for Zimbabwe, surely he’d be eager to enter power-sharing and insist upon sanctions being lifted – that the Western powers respect the process of power-sharing and that the promised billions be made available to combat the outbreak of disease. But he won’t condemn the collective punishment of Zimbabweans.

    I daresay that if Mugabe dropped dead the sanctions would continue unabaited. Perhaps the US and UK governments would be forced to be a little bit more honest about their aims. If he was to revert to his early-nineties attitude of following the IMF, I doubt that all would be forgiven, but there would be a sudden silence from media outlets. Rather like the case of Libya, where Gaddafi is no longer such a mad dog now that foreign investors are allowed in…

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