Zanu PF at Chatham House – Zimbabwe Vigil Diary
Apr 27, 2014
The Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, known as Chatham House, claims to be an objective and independent-minded think tank. It is nothing of the sort, judging by the Vigil’s experience of how it deals with Zimbabwe.
Chatham House misses no opportunity to give a platform for Mugabe’s propaganda. It has been happy to host, among others, the smarmy Zanu PF minister and part-time farm looter Walter Mzembi, who declared that Mugabe was misunderstood.
Then there was the British academic Joseph Hanlon who said after an exhaustive few weeks’ research that land reform in Zimbabwe was a success (and that Mugabe was misunderstood). There followed a Zanu PF business delegation who said, guess what? Mugabe is misunderstood!
Chatham House has just published a long report on Zimbabwe by Knox Chitiyo and Steve Kibble entitled ‘Zimbabwe’s International Re-engagement: The Long Haul to Recovery’. It comes as no surprise to the Vigil, given the involvement of Dr Chitiyo, that the report concludes that Mugabe is misunderstood. Dr Chitiyo is, after all, a former senior lecturer in History and War Studies at the University of Zimbabwe. So he should know.
The report betrays its bias from the outset: ‘A landslide victory by the Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) in Zimbabwe’s elections in 2013 resulted in its comprehensive recapture of the state.
The endorsement of the results by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the African Union (AU) and the UN confirmed ZANU-PF’s grip on power. It also symbolized Zimbabwe’s re-admittance into the international community . . .’
The Vigil is not sure what the authors mean by ‘confirmed Zanu PF’s grip on power’ – rubber-stamped would be at least more literate. As for the assertion that this so-called endorsement ‘symbolized Zimbabwe’s re-admittance into the international community’ we at the Vigil scratched our heads over this.
What on earth does it mean? Have they been welcomed back to the UN? We thought they had never been expelled. Have they been given money by the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund? No they still owe them billions. The short answer is, like so much else in the report, nothing but dubious assertions rather than facts.
Along with Botswana, the Vigil is convinced that the elections were comprehensively rigged and that Zanu PF has no mandate to govern Zimbabwe. Who is Chatham House trying to fool? We hope to have an opportunity to ask them. Chitiyo is to take part in a discussion on the report at Chatham House on 14 May.
The Vigil was interested to note that he is to be joined by Dr Miles Tendai, lecturer in African History and Politics at Oxford – conveniently another Zanu PF supporter who also believes that Mr Mugabe is misunderstood. (Attendance is by invitation only. You can apply to go to the meeting through this link: http://www.chathamhouse.org/events/view/199120).
A Zimbabwean journalist based in the UK, Makusha Mugabe, notes the naïve tenor of the report:
‘The recommended international engagement, including removal of remaining sanctions and targeted measures on President Mugabe and his wife and on defence equipment, cannot happen if it is contingent on improvement of the governance and human rights situation, because the violations are directly related to power retention. Without the ill-governance and the human rights violations Zanu (PF) would not retain power . . .‘
For the full article, check: Chatham House Zimbabwe Report: Much Ado About Nothing – http://www.changezimbabwe.com/index.php/news-mainmenu-2/1-latest/5001-chatham-house-zimbabwe-report-much-ado-about-nothing –. You can access the full report via this article.
· Vigil supporter Wilbert Mukori led the Vigil’s complaint to the BBC about its recent fawning TV interview with Mugabe. We are awaiting their response (see: http://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/zimsit_mugabe-bbc-interview-an-insult-to-suffering-zimbabweans/ – Mugabe BBC interview an insult to suffering Zimbabweans).
· As we mentioned at our last Zimbabwe Action Forum (ZAF) on 12th April, we will be discussing at ZAF on 3rd May forming a steering committee to carry forward the diaspora’s engagement with the emerging new political force in Zimbabwe following the breakup of MDC T.
· This meeting will also be discussing sending a delegation to the Home Office about Zimbabwean asylum issues. We are particularly concerned about reports of the bullying attitude of Home Office case workers.
· Thanks to Helen Rukimbiro and Fungayi Mabhunu for coming at the start to help set up.