Sunday, September 24, 2017

Activists charge Mugabe is Right - on land reform & cruel economic sanctions

By Charles Brooks

Just hours before Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe landed in New York City to attend the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, there was a protest demonstration demanding an end to the 16 year old sanctions imposed by the United States. Sanctions were imposed after President Mugabe took a nationalist approach to land reform by taking land from white farm owners and returning them to black farmers.

Over one hundred pro-Mugabe supporters marched through the streets in a protest demonstration led and organized by the December 12th Movement International Secretariat, a non-governmental organization with consultative status with the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council. “President Robert Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe have consistently fought for political and economic independence,” Spokesman Omowale Clay continues, “control of their land is fundamental. These illegal sanctions infringe on their national sovereignty.”

On this humid Saturday afternoon, protesters marched for over two hours in a disciplined single-file formation through the streets of midtown Manhattan to Zimbabwe’s Permanent Mission office before reaching the United Nations Dag Hammarskjold Plaza for a late afternoon rally. Casual observers and onlookers who snapped pictures and took video of the demonstration witnessed the unflinching support not only for President Mugabe but for the people of Zimbabwe as well.  They heard protesters chant, “It’s our land, it’s our fight - Mugabe is Right! Mugabe is Right!” while waving the Zimbabwean flag, and holding placards reading “Mugabe is Right” and “Victory in 2018 is certain”. International human rights attorney Roger Wareham stated that “in this period of time, with the US under a racist, reactionary Presidential leadership, it is crucial to demonstrate the U.S. Black community’s support for an independent and unapologetic Zimbabwe.”  

Speakers at the demonstration sent a strong message when they framed repealing the sanctions around critical issues such as self-determination, land reform, human rights, and of course American imperialism and British colonialism – bedrocks to white supremacy. Mr. Clay reminded the demonstrators, “With Europeans colonizing and exploiting us, when President Mugabe and ZANU-PF, the national liberation party said, if Zimbabweans say yes to Mugabe, then no one has the right to say no! Black Power! Black Power! Black Power! Mr. Clay went on to say, “Today we are in charge of ourselves.  So we say to our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe – we got your back! We got your back!”   

Both Viola Plummer, Chair of the December 12th Movement and Larry Holmes, First Secretary of the World Workers Party took the opportunity to talk about how the sanctions are not only painful and cruel but are human rights violations considering the heavy toll the sanctions have on the Zimbabwean people. Ms. Plummer pointed out the scarcity of not only food but medical supplies that are hurting the people of Zimbabwe.  “When you withhold food and medical supplies from the people who need them the most – it is a clear violation of their human rights”.  Mr. Holmes added, “These sanctions are starving Zimbabwe which is why we have to fight these sanctions so they can exercise their self-determination.” 

Throughout the demonstration, there was the demand for U.S. President Donald Trump to repeal the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001.  The bill was sponsored by Republican Senator Bill Frist and co-sponsored by three “liberals”, Russell Feingold (D-WI), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Joe Biden (D-DE), and one Republican – the ultra-conservative Jesse Helms (R-NC).  As a matter of fact, after the final vote was tallied in the House of Representatives - every single member of the Congressional Black Caucus supported the inhumane measure against Zimbabwe.  

President Mugabe addressed the UN General Assembly on September 21st, when he said in part: “Are we having a return of a Goliath to our midst, who threatens the extinction of other countries? And may I say to the United States President, Mr. Trump, please blow your trumpet.” President Mugabe continues, “Blow your trumpet in a musical way towards the values of unity, peace, cooperation, togetherness, dialogue, which we have always stood for and which are well within reach in our very sacred document, the charter of the United Nations.”

Further Reading:

Lancaster House Agreement (December 21, 1979)The formal agreement creating the Republic of Zimbabwe

From New African magazine (June 2000)Why Mugabe is right ... and these are the facts 

From African Sun Times (March 2000) - Zimbabwe UN Ambassador hold public forum

From The Herald - Obi Egbuni Jr - Simunye's blog on Zimbabwe 

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