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Bush’s Visit a Non-Event

By Tim Chigodo, The Herald (Herare), 27 June 2002

VERY few Africans will find excitement and joy in the proposed visit to the continent by American President George W. Bush following his hard-line stance on Third World states.

The American leader has announced plans to visit Africa next year including sub-Saharan Africa. Details of the trip which will be a follow-up to the journeys undertaken by his predecessor Mr Bill Clinton in 1998 and 2000 will be made known in due course.

During his African tour, Mr Clinton did not visit Zimbabwe. Last year when US Secretary of State, Mr Colin Powell, visited South Africa, he joined the international campaign chorus against the Zimbabwean Government attacking President Mugabe for allegedly clinging to power.

However, the Government dismissed Mr Powell’s attack as baseless and uninformed. President Mugabe said he had no hard feelings for the US Secretary of State for his unjustified attack on him.

He told a visiting delegation from the US-based Carter Centre that the American administration was free to visit Zimbabwe to assess the situation on the ground so that it can be able to make informed comments.

However, South African students opposed to US policy in Africa handed out leaflets describing Mr Powell as an uncle Tom and a White House nigger. He also came under fire from Kenyan Aids activists for his administration’s inadequate response to the fight against the disease.

The March presidential election in Zimbabwe were not only devastating to the Bush administration but victory against Western imperialism. It was victory for African nationalism and self-determination.

The election have not only demonstrated that President Mugabe has the support of the majority of Zimbabweans but exposed blatant Western hypocrisy. President Bush and British Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair openly supported efforts to unseat Cde Mugabe during the election.

The two men supported the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and wanted its leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai to replace President Mugabe. Cde Mugabe’s re-election and Africa’s endorsement and support for the results, demonstrated to the West that a threshold had been crossed and that his example had deep resonance in the Third World.

The Zimbabwean election was not about democracy but land and race. The results were a big blow to the West, which was determined to impose its solutions and a puppet regime in the country.

President Bush and Mr Blair worked tirelessly to try and convince the world that Mr Tsvangirai, despite his lack of support by the majority, deserved to win the presidential election. To the West, he was a democratic alternative to Cde Mugabe.

Analysts say the US and Britain cannot lecture Africans on democracy. Both countries were too directly involved in the slave trade to be capable of selfless contribution on the subject. They have their hands, historically, dripping with the incalculable suffering of the black people.

President Mugabe won the election beating Mr Tsvangirai with over 400 000 votes. Britain, the US, European Union and the MDC have refused to accept Cde Mugabe’s victory which has already been endorsed by the African Union, Southern African Development Community, Russia, China and many other countries in the diaspora.

Having lost face, Britain, the US and their European allies fell back on recrimination, divisive tactics and threat of economic banishment for Zimbabwe and have shown that they are determined to do just that.

The EU whose members are also in the Commonwealth has ganged up with the US and imposed sanctions on Zimbabwean leaders and their families. They have also cut aid to Zimbabwe and persuaded their companies not to invest in the country.

Observers say the US as the most powerful nation in the world, should concentrate on various aspects of poverty reduction, debt relief, globalisation and war against HIV/Aids which is reducing life expectancy in Africa instead of meddling in the internal affairs of the country.

Britain’s intensified efforts to isolate Zimbabwe internationally by asking the Commonwealth to team up against the country for its land reform programme were futile and very unfortunate.

The countries have been accused of thwarting the release of funds for land reform by the British government as agreed at the Abuja talks.

There is no doubt that most Africans, including Zimbabweans, will treat the visit by the American leader as a damp squib. It is very clear that the West still holds paternalistic and imperialistic attitudes towards Africa.

The recent Farm Bill signed into law by President Bush will push millions of small African farmers out of business.

The huge subsidies given to American farmers will contribute to global over production of wheat, corn, cotton and other basic crops.

African countries will be particularly hard hit since agriculture plays a very significant role in their economies.

Most unemployed rural folk will be forced to move to cities to be part of the jobless pools.

The Bill authorises about US$190 billion in farm spending over 10 years. The money will finance a variety of farm schemes from agricultural research to conservation programmes.

The biggest subsidies are earmarked for producers of wheat, corn, sorghum, barley, oats, rice and cotton.

According to World Bank economists, over production of the crops has caused the price of cotton to fall on the world market.

Observers have described President Bush’s foreign policy as disastrous. The US administration has continued to support Israel which has violated Middle East peace accords with impunity.

Mr Bush surprised many people when he vowed to lay out a plan for Palestinian statehood on condition that the Palestinians replace Cde Arafat as leader.

This has angered the Palestinians who have objected to Mr Bush’s move to choose a leader for them. They want the Americans not to impose a leader on them and respect their choice of Mr Arafat.

President Bush has thrown his support behind Israel, calling Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a man of peace while Israeli forces continue to pound Palestinian settlements.

Palestinians have said there could be no hope for a truce until there is full withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank where Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat hopes to create an independent state.

North Koreans recently angrily rejected President Bush’s call for a dialogue describing him as a politically backward child bent on using money and arms to change the North’s communist political system.

The American leader had renewed his unconditional offer for talks with North Korea during his visit there while criticising the lack of food and freedom in the North.