An interview with US correspondent to the Zimbabwean Herald Obi Egbuna
By The People’s Minister of Information JR
February 4, 2016
2015 was a historic political year for the African continent because one of the continent’s most radical anti-imperialist leaders chaired the African Union, and I am talking about President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Although Western sanctions have been leveled against Zimbabwe for the last decade and a half because of its land reclamation program, which stripped the descendants of European colonial farmers of the lands their predecessors stole from the indigenous population, returning the land to 350,000 of the rightful caretakers, Mugabe and Zimbabwe have continued to blaze a revolutionary path, looking East instead of West to sustain their sovereignty.
Inside of the U.S., there is an overwhelming amount of propaganda aimed at creating a wave of public opinion that goes against the interests of African people worldwide, and we have dedicated our lives and platforms to changing that narrative.
I talked with Obi Egbuna, the U.S. correspondent for the Zimbabwean national newspaper, The Herald, about what President Mugabe accomplished leading Zimbabwe and the African Union in 2015. Here is what he had to say.
Evans Gororo is a farmer near Chinamora, Zimbabwe, whose “corn is as high as an elephant’s eye,” as the song says. Blacks are proving to be even more productive farmers than the whites who stole the land from them. – Photo: AFP
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell the people a little bit about why the U.S. and the Western powers were threatened by Zimbabwe’s land reclamation policy to the extent where they would put sanctions on Zimbabwe?
Obi Egbuna: My brother, the annals of history show all who are interested in learning the truth that separation anxiety is a central part of the colonialists’ and imperialists’ makeup. It is extremely difficult for them to accept defeat of any kind.
In the case of Zimbabwe, they have been defeated militarily and diplomatically. The foundation for Zimbabwe’s land reclamation program is the historical background which gave President Mugabe and ZANU-PF a significant advantage on the world stage and in the court of public opinion which, for a people who endured colonialism and slavery, matters the most.
The U.S.-E.U. alliance invested much time and energy in making Madiba Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress the face of anti-colonial resistance in the Southern region of Africa, the last geographical area on our beloved Mother continent to liberate itself from settler colonial rule. What this did is put the strengths and weaknesses of The Madiba and the ANC front and center, which reveals to those amongst us who don’t know and those who appear to have forgotten that since its inception ANC never raised or prioritized the issue of land and self-determination.
This is why the iconic Pan African warrior Mangaliso Robert Sobukwe and the militant comrades in the ANC youth wing decided to break away and start the Pan African Congress of Azania whose slogan is Izwe Lethu I Afrika which means the land is ours. While South Africa begins its 22nd year as a sovereign nation, 83 percent of its land is still in the hands of the former apartheid ruler.
What this means is, on the other side of the Limpopo River (the boundary between Zimbabwe and South Africa), you have President Mugabe and ZANU-PF who initiate a land reclamation program that was created from the bottom up. This aspect of the story has an extremely special twist: The land reclamation program was spearheaded by the War Veterans Association, who were the comrades that bravely led ZANU-PF to victory during the Second Chimurenga.
When the Land Reclamation program was launched, President Mugabe was in Cuba for the G-77 summit. After learning that the War Veterans had put their plan into motion, he returned to Zimbabwe and gave their courageous and visionary effort the ultimate blessing.
Those of us who strive to be true daughters and sons of Africa know this is the 40th anniversary of the overthrow of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah that took place on Feb. 24, 1966, the same day Dr. King had dinner with the most Honorable Elijah Muhammad at his private residence in Chicago. The connection is that Osagyefo was on the way to Vietnam to present a proposal to end the war on Vietnam which cost Dr. King his life.
What we witnessed was the evolution of African anti-imperialist resistance. In the 1960s, Nkrumah leaves Ghana, and President Lyndon Johnson and the CIA put the wheels into motion to carry out the coup to bring about regime change in Ghana. In 2000, President Mugabe is on revolutionary soil in Cuba and his comrades begin the process which reclaimed land for 350,000 families in a country where the average indigenous family consists of six people.
The foundation for Zimbabwe’s land reclamation program is the historical background which gave President Mugabe and ZANU-PF a significant advantage on the world stage and in the court of public opinion which, for a people who endured colonialism and slavery, matters the most.
The land reclamation program in Zimbabwe comes on the heels of Operation Sovereign Legitimacy, when the military and defense forces representing Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola fought off a plan spearheaded by U.S. imperialism to re-invade the Democratic Republic of the Congo and reestablish the colonies of the war criminal and neo-colonialist stooge Mobutu Sese Seko. This was the coming out party of President Obama’s current National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who at the time was the assistant secretary for African affairs, serving under Madeline Albright when she was secretary of state during the second term of the Clinton administration.
At the time, it was Zimbabwe’s turn to chair the SADC defense forces, which meant all the militaries of each and every country in the Southern Region of Africa. This put President Mugabe and Madiba Mandela on a collision course, because they had a difference of opinion. The Madiba was not in agreement that SADC should send a defense force to fight off this invasion effort.
The advantage that President Mugabe had was historical. Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and Mozambique, when they were known as the frontline states, all fought protracted armed struggles for their independence, where South Africa’s independence was a result of long drawn out negotiations between Madiba Mandela and Frederick DeKlerk. This means the Madiba had to defer not only to President Mugabe but President Nujoma of Namibia and President Dos Santos of Angola because ZANU-PF, SWAPO and MPLA were no strangers to not only waging armed struggles but emerging victorious when the smoke clears.
The land reclamation program of Zimbabwe puts the racism and deceit of U.S. and British imperialism front and center. Forget the Bill Clinton wannabe Tony Blair, who decided not to honor the Lancaster House agreement from 1979, where the Carter and Thatcher administrations agreed to finance the transition of Rhodesian settlers from 70 percent of the country’s most resourceful land that they illegally occupied.
In the case of U.S. imperialism, Reagan decided to ignore the agreement, which means that President Mugabe and ZANU-PF must have reminded him of the Black Panther Party. The arrogant manner the Bush administration behaved concerning the U.S. conference on racism, xenophobia and other related intolerances put Zimbabwe front and center because of the decision by President Bush to boycott the conference if slavery, Palestine and reparations were discussion items on the agenda.
We, as Africans, cannot discuss slavery, Palestine and reparations without the land reclamation program in Zimbabwe, for those who decide to do so lack both vision and integrity. The irony is the conference took place in 2001, which ironically was the same year that the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act was introduced by President Bush and pushed through Congress by the late Donald Payne and Christopher Smith of New Jersey and the Senate by Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
A happy farmer, Tracy Mutinhiri stands outside her tobacco farm near Harare, Zimbabwe. – Photo: Kevin Sieff, Washington Post
The sanctions were a vindictive and cowardly response that is true to the tradition of rape, racism, plundering and white supremacy. Those who are in favor of the sanctions are the enemies of Africa and our struggle for liberation, even if they are of African ancestry.
M.O.I. JR: What do Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Maxine Waters of the Congressional Black Caucus have to say about the sanctions?
Obi Egbuna: Our sisters’ vote on the sanctions represents something we said as children – monkey see monkey do – something that’s said when we feel our peers blindly following behind something or someone without understanding where they are headed. For the record, the entire Congressional Black Caucus came five votes short of voting unanimously in favor of U.S.-E.U. sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Those who abstained were Corrine Brown of Florida, the late Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Ohio, Carolyn Kilpatrick the mother of the former mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick, the former Black Panther Bobby Rush of Illinois and our sister Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. This means not one single member of the CBC voted against the sanctions.
If this sounds outrageous, be reminded it is consistent. Not one CBC member felt historically obligated to pound the halls of Congress and demand that the Lancaster House Agreement, negotiated by their beloved white liberal ex-President Carter, be honored or they would raise hell on behalf of the Zimbabwean people.
Let us not forget the Land Reclamation program spearheaded by President Mugabe and ZANU-PF was 21 years after the Lancaster House negotiations, which means all those CBC members along with their comrades in arms in the numerous organizations who made getting arrested in front of the South African Embassy politically en vogue.
Where it gets sensitive for the CBC is, when it comes to African issues, the group as a whole always treated Congressman Donald Payne like a pearl of wisdom. When it came to the Zimbabwe question, Congressman Payne had a serious conflict of interest that isn’t public knowledge.
Congressman Payne for nine years served on the board of directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, which was created after President Reagan spoke before the British Parliament and talked about the need for the U.S. and E.U. to develop a think tank to ensure a victory for the imperialists in the Cold War. Like his colleagues in the CBC, Congressman Payne wore many hats; he also was on TransAfrica Forum’s board of directors.
Few amongst us who have done an in depth study of the anti-apartheid movement. As a result, so many of our people function from the understanding that Randall Robinson started the anti-apartheid movement in the U.S., which means he had no regard for the Council on African Affairs led by Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois which raised the issue.
The legendary actor Canada Lee was dragged off the stage at the NAACP convention in the ‘50s for raising the apartheid question, SNCC members were arrested in front of the South African consulates in D.C. and New York in the ‘60s and protested in front of Chase Manhattan Bank. This all occurred before the creation of TransAfrica Forum in 1977, which means Mr. Robinson either has problem using calendars or chose to dismiss the contributions of those who came before TransAfrica.
Not one CBC member felt historically obligated to pound the halls of Congress and demand that the Lancaster House Agreement, negotiated by their beloved white liberal ex-President Carter, be honored or they would raise hell on behalf of the Zimbabwean people.
The role of TransAfrica Forum Africa Action and the Priority for Africa Network in attempting to bring about regime change in Zimbabwe is connected to Congresswoman Lee, who serves on Africa Action’s board of directors. These three organizations, under the guise and auspices of a cover called the Zimbabwe Solidarity Fund, were funneling National Endowment for Democracy money to 14 civil society groups in Zimbabwe.
Congresswoman Lee also received the Addie Wyatt Award from the Congress of Black Trade Unionists which is aligned to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unionists, who, when the U.S. and British governments created the Westminister Foundation for Democracy, put up the money to start the Movement for Democratic Change led by the former prime minister of Zimbabwe and main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was the secretary general for ZCTU and resigned to lead MDC.
The money to start MDC was funneled through ZCTU, and the gentleman considered the dean of trade unionists in the so-called African American Trade Unionists, William Lucy, who is also on the NAACP’s board of directors, was instrumental in persuading the NAACP to accept the request of the U.S. State Department not to publish their report on the 2002 presidential elections in Zimbabwe, which was extremely favorable. The NAACP went in place of the CBC, who President Mugabe invited even though none of them voted against U.S.-E.U. sanctions on Zimbabwe. When has the CBC ever turned down a travel opportunity or a photo-op?
Congresswoman Lee also has ties to the Communist Party USA through their U.S. Peace Council, who, during the Second Chimurenga, had an analysis of Zimbabwe that saw it as an extension of the Soviet Union. That supported Joshua Nkomo and ZAPU and not President Mugabe and ZANU, who have the distinction of being the only Chinese supported liberation movement in Southern Africa to come to power.
Congresswoman Lee also has ties to the Black Aids Institute, whose leader, Phil Wilson, actively attempted to dissuade Dr. Dorothy Height from signing a resolution that went to the U.N. and World Health Organization in 2007 that exposed how the U.S. and Britain, through former U.S. Secretary of Health Tommy Thompson and his British counterpart, Richard Feacham, who were the chair and executive director of Global Fund, blocked Zimbabwe’s applications for the second, third, fourth and sixth rounds this millennium respectively.
A couple of years ago, President Mugabe, while addressing the U.N. General Assembly, used three words to describe the meddling of the U.S. government in Zimbabwe’s 2013 presidential election – shame, shame, shame – which led to Congresswoman Lee walking out, which, with all due respect, was rude and immature, but honest. Congresswoman Lee had the temerity to show her true feelings, while Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York, who replaced Congressman Payne on the board of NED, the National Endowment for Democracy, Congressman Melvin Watt of North Carolina and Congressman Danny Davis of Illinois lied to President Mugabe’s face, telling him they would return to the states and spearhead a campaign to lift the sanctions.
Edwin Masimba Moyo grows snow peas near Marondera, Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s government launched land reforms 15 years ago. – Photo: Newsday
Both Congresswomen Lee and Waters gained national and global recognition for condemning the war on Iraq and helped portray President Bush as the reincarnation of Satan himself. However, on the question of Zimbabwe the CBC were Satan’s little helpers. The issue of a pro imperialist regime change in Zimbabwe has made the likes of President Obama, Gen. Colin Powell and the CBC comrades in arms.
It is not thrilling to know in order to fight to lift U.S.-E.U. sanctions on Zimbabwe, we have to go to war with the Congresswomen Lee and Waters and the rest of the CBC and President Obama. What will determine the outcome is what is stronger – their loyalty to the Democratic Party and U.S. imperialist interests or our sacred land, the start of all civilization.
M.O.I. JR: Can you tell us about Mugabe’s address to the U.N. in 2015. What was significant about his speech?
Obi Egbuna: Let’s begin with the grandstanding of presidential hopeful, the former U.S. secretary of state, U.S. senator and former first lady, Hillary Clinton, using platforms afforded to her to accuse President Mugabe of bashing the LGBT community. The statement Mrs. Clinton took out of context is: “We equally reject attempts to prescribe ‘new rights’ that are contrary to our values, norms, traditions and beliefs,” which ended with President Mugabe saying, “We’re not gays.”
Why does the Obama administration continue to impose their viewpoint on Africa, which gives the impression that tolerance and advocacy are one in the same? The homosexual question is equivalent to the Zionist question 25 years ago, from the vantage point that the mere mention of Zionism resulted in one who dared to condemn Zionist aggression being bombarded by all apologists and supporters of Israel.
If President Obama has the audacity to go before the African Union and tell all of Africa they must accept the Western narrative and paradigm of homosexuality to be at the front of the line for humanitarian aid and preferential diplomatic treatment, what needs to be addressed is how many homosexuals in civil rights organizations, churches, the U.S. Congress and Senate are working for regime change in Zimbabwe because President Mugabe and ZANU-PF refuse to join the chorus aimed at increasing their presence in Africa.
The next question: Are homosexuals in MDC, ZCTU and the 400 civil society groups being financed by the NED, National Democratic Institute and Open Society for Southern Africa, which is funded by none other than George Soros, the political version of the Annie character Daddy Warbucks, working for regime change because they feel that ousting President Mugabe and ZANU-PF from power will result in a homosexual renaissance that will take priority over the land reclamation program, indigenization bill and Look East Policy?
In the final analysis, it’s not about homosexuality but consolidating the national gains of the First, Second and Third Chimurenga. The main focus of President Mugabe’s speech was how Zimbabwe was faring in meeting their millennium development goals despite the challenges that U.S.-E.U. sanctions present.
The president also lent his voice to the struggle of the Palestinian people. I had the honor of interviewing the Palestinian ambassador to Zimbabwe, H.E. Hashem Dajani, after the SADC summit in Zimbabwe in August of 2014, and he talked about how President Mugabe is respected and appreciated in Palestine and the ties between the Zimbabweans and Palestinians. This was rather compelling because, as we speak, there are key forces in our community who are “johnny come latelys” to Palestinian solidarity work, who prior to 2001 had no track record of doing any work defending the Palestinian struggle and cause.
What is necessary for Africans at home and abroad to understand is that Palestinian solidarity is only the first step to having an anti-zionist position, because the Zionists are direct enemies of Africans. The Zionist state of Israel supported apartheid in South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe and refused to recognize Algeria and Tunisia as sovereign nations.
Why does the Obama administration continue to impose their viewpoint on Africa, which gives the impression that tolerance and advocacy are one in the same?
The President also discussed Agenda 2063 of the A.U. and how it recognizes the intrinsic and inextricable linkages between peace, security, development and the full realization of human rights. He also discussed how peace and security is one of the six pillars of the Common African Position.
Whenever President Mugabe addresses the U.N., it confirms how U.S.-E.U. imperialism fears an African head of state they don’t control, who has a command of the English language. Each and every time President Mugabe takes that podium, we think of the appeal of the Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey to the League of Nations in the ‘20s and the appeal of W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Robeson that dealt with genocide.
This also invokes the memory of Malcolm, who was assassinated by the FBI-CIA and NYPD before he could go before the U.N. with the fighting spirit of DuBois, Robeson and Garvey before him.
M.O.I. JR: How do you see China’s role on the African continent?
Obi Egbuna: I just finished an article in the Herald entitled “Understanding Zimbabwe’s Look East Policy.” Some of the highlights were as follows: According to the newsletter SADC Today, China has built approximately 20 agricultural training centers throughout Africa for the purpose of farming mechanization. The one in Zimbabwe is called the Gwebi Agricultural Center, which was built by the Chinese in 2009 and which was turned over and is under Zimbabwean control since 2015.
Without the wealth of white farmers, Zimbabwean farmers like this one in Masvingo Province succeed using traditional farming methods.
Out of the 20 centers, seven are in Southern Africa where, according to SADC Today, 62 percent of families depend on agriculture for their livelihood. This explains why all of Southern Africa is enamored with Zimbabwe’s land reclamation program and has continued to vehemently oppose the U.S.-E.U. sanctions on Zimbabwe – all with the exception of Botswana, whose head of state, the current chair of SADC, President Karma, said Botswana’s airspace could be used by the West if they were ready to invade Zimbabwe.
The irony is President Karma was educated in Zimbabwe – but excuse the momentary digression; we are well aware that some of our comrades’ lack of insight and exposure have gone as far as to call China, Africa’s next colonizer. This means they do no respect and appreciate the basic and fundamental premise of revolutionary solidarity, which teaches us that no people on earth have an identical history, but ties are established based on obvious and irrefutable similarities.
When China under Mao Tse Tung and India led by Gandhi and Nehru defeated British colonialism and imperialism, this paved the way for Osagyefo Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party’s defeat of the British colonial empire in Ghana once and for all. When the Vietnamese immortal fighter Ho Chi Minh and the fearless Gen. Giap defeated the French on the battlefield, this made DeGaulle and his soldiers vulnerable in Algeria, where after eight years Ahmed Ben Bella and the FLN emerged victorious.
And lastly, in Guinea, the only other man Commandante Fidel Castro – besides Jose Marti – referred to as a revolutionary apostle, Ahmed Seku Ture and the Democratic Party of Guinea, who the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan calls his political father, refused France’s overture to accept a referendum that was neo-colonialist to the core.
When you desperately want your independence, you appreciate momentum you gain from the defeat of your enemies. At the root of solidarity is gratitude, which the Tanzanians showed when China built their railroads after independence. I can tell you, 12 years ago, when President Mugabe and ZANU-PF announced Zimbabwe’s Look East Policy, the U.S. State Department had an emergency meeting because they know that Africa-Asian relations is going to lead to the monstrous grip that Western imperialism has on the world economy being broken once and for all.
The Africa summit that the Obama administration had in Washington during the summer of 2014,which excluded Zimbabwe, Eritrea and Sudan, in the final analysis was a feeble attempt to woo African nations to move away from China and reconsider President Clinton’s Africa’s Growth and Opportunity Act, which points us in the direction of the Corporate Council on Africa and the United States Agency for International Development, which oversees the U.S.-Africa Business Exchange, the mechanism that screens the African businesses that still want to jump in bed with U.S. imperialism.
The Corporate Council on Africa had a seminar on Zimbabwe six years ago when it was announced that General Electric had developed a working group on Zimbabwe. The seminar began with the former U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr. Charles Ray, announcing Zimbabwe was open for business. This reminded us of when Sen. Jesse Helms hosted the counter-revolutionary Zimbabwean Bishop Abel Muzorewa and introduced him to the chairmen of RJ Reynolds and the Phillip Morris tobacco companies for the purpose of the bishop agreeing to let these tobacco conglomerates rape and plunder Zimbabwe in the tradition of Cecil John Rhodes.
I can tell you, 12 years ago, when President Mugabe and ZANU-PF announced Zimbabwe’s Look East Policy, the U.S. State Department had an emergency meeting because they know that Africa-Asian relations is going to lead to the monstrous grip that Western imperialism has on the world economy being broken once and for all.
What President Mugabe has said is Africa should readopt the Bandung agenda, which so-called African Americans remember Brother Malcolm discussing in his legendary “Message to the Grass Roots” speech. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell went in his capacity as the publisher of his newspaper, the People’s Voice, which coincidentally is the name of ZANU-PF’s paper.
What the Obama administration will have to get used to when it comes to Africa is the role of a window shopper, meaning they are on the outside looking in. You even have their favorite African heads of state like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, who is the biggest advocate of AFRICOM and who attacked Zimbabwe opportunistically, establishing a One China Policy. We saw China veto an attempt by U.S.-E.U. imperialism to convince the U.N. Security Council to impose an additional measure of sanctions on Zimbabwe. Those amongst us attacking African-Asian relations should be presented with a library card or pointed in a direction of the African bookstores we have left.
M.O.I. JR: Describe how President Mugabe chaired the African Union this year? What kind of initiatives did he push?
Obi Egbuna: The main story in my humble opinion is based on the predictions of experts on Africa, U.S.-E.U. diplomats and politicians. President Mugabe was not supposed to make it to become the chair of the A.U. or the chair of SADC, which he chaired from August of 2014 to August 2015.
What must be understood is how Southern Africa as a region defended the sovereignty during an extremely difficult period back in 2006. President Mutharika of Malawi was threatened by the E.U.; if he named one of the main roads in Malawi in honor of President Mugabe, they would discontinue a project to refurbish the roads, which were some of the worst in all of Africa.
President Mutharika also was told by the E.U. to cancel a ceremony in President Mugabe’s honor. His response was it was un-African to disinvite a guest you have invited; the only exception was to disinvite one who invited himself.
The next step was the late Zambian President Mwanasasa and the former president of Botswana, Festus Mogae, while in attendance at Zimbabwe’s annual Harare AgriShow, letting the audience know that the rumor that the SADC heads of state had asked President Mugabe to step down was not true, and they were in support of the Land Reclamation Program and opposed to the sanctions.
A young tobacco farmer tends his crop near Shamva, Zimbabwe. – Photo: Aaron Ufumeli, Mail & Guardian
The next crucial move was all the SADC leaders threatening to boycott the U.S.-E.U. summit in Portugal in 2007 if President Mugabe failed to attend. This was in response to the former prime minister of Britain, Gordon Brown, saying he would boycott if President Mugabe attended.
You then saw Namibia come to Washington to lobby Congress and the Senate to lift the sanctions because it compromised the region. This occurred when Namibia chaired SADC.
When Tanzania’s President Kikwete and President Mutharika of Malawi chaired the A.U., they called for the lifting of the sanctions. The support of your neighbors is vital when it comes to politics in Africa. If our fallen brother Muammar Qaddafi had had this, perhaps he would still be here.
The president is pleased with the A.U. flagship programs: the Continental Free Trade Area, the African Center for Disease Control, a Pan African University for Science and Technology to develop skills for the value addition and benefication of the continent’s vast mineral resources, a single aviation market, a high speed train and a Pan African e-network.
What the African world will see is how Zimbabwe has carried Africa on its shoulders. The land reclamation program resulted in the A.U. establishing a mandate that 10 percent of all countries’ budgets go towards agricultural development. We see who got the Confucius Peace Prize from the Chinese and it wasn’t President Obama.
What the African world will see is how Zimbabwe has carried Africa on its shoulders.
One of the most important lessons of the African revolution is the boldest and most visionary amongst us aren’t appreciated till long after they’re gone. I’m sure President Mugabe won’t mind if he joins this illustrious list. He will be in the company he deserves.
Obi Egbuna Jr. is the U.S. correspondent to the Herald and the external relations officer to ZICUFA (Zimbabwe-Cuba Friendship Association). His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.