US Government Report Undermines Zimbabwe Opposition’s Claim of Independence
Filed under: Civil Society, Zimbabwe — gowans @ 10:20 pm
By Stephen Gowans
The US government had a hand in formulating the policy platform of the Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, and funded community-based newsletters to create a platform to persuade Zimbabweans to accept Washington’s point of view, according to a US government report. The report boasts that Washington is the undisputed leader in nurturing anti-government civil society organizations in Zimbabwe, operating through a CIA-interlocked organization led by former New York investment banker and Michael Milken right-hand man, Peter Ackerman.
In a November 16, 2007 letter accompanying the US State Department’s “Zimbabwe 2007 Performance Report,” US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee wrote that,
“Working closely with like-minded governments, we continued diplomatic efforts to maintain pressure on the Government of Zimbabwe and to remind the regime that fundamental changes…are a prerequisite to reengagement with the international community.”
McGee called for economic reform, translated as abandonment of Harare’s economic program of favoring Zimbabweans over foreign investors, an end to price controls, and privatization of state-owned enterprises.
The neo-liberal, foreign investor-friendly economic policies Washington favors are central to the policy platform of the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC. The State Department document reveals that the MDC’s policy orientation may be based more on US government direction than its own deliberations. According to the report,
“The (US government)…assisted the MDC to effectively identify, research, and articulate policy positions and ideas within Zimbabwe, in the region, and beyond. In particular, (US government) technical assistance was pivotal in supporting (the) MDC’s formulation and communication of a comprehensive policy platform.”
Critics of the party point to the absence of any difference between its policy proposals and those favored in Washington for African countries, an absence that may be explained in the US government’s helping “the MDC to identify, research, and articulate policy positions and ideas, and develop and communicate a policy platform.”
US government assistance to the MDC’s Tsvangirai faction didn’t stop at formulating and articulating a policy platform, the report says, but extended to helping the MDC formulate strategy to oppose the Mugabe government. According to the State Department, the US government,
“provided technical assistance to the MDC…to enable it to conduct regular strategic planning meetings to establish goals, identify key objectives, prioritize activities, and determine performance benchmarks.”
The tone of the report paints Zimbabweans as being incapable of establishing goals, setting priorities, and measuring performance themselves and therefore requiring US assistance to perform basic organizational tasks. It may be that the assistance US advisors provided is more accurately, and less tactfully, called direction.