Wednesday, 23 July 2008


The Islamic 'other' in film

By Sukant Chandan*

Docu-dramas, documentary films and feature films are
perhaps some of the most influential media by which we
develop our political perceptions and prejudices. This has
been recognised long ago and put to use on a mass scale
during the Second World War, when films were used to rally
the masses in the Allied countries against Hitlerite
fascism. It was a time when the US made films celebrating
Soviet guerrilla martyr attacks against the Nazi
occupation, such as in the film North Star. The US has ever
since pumped massive amounts of resources into this medium
through the cinema, TV and more recently the internet.

With the emergence of the internet, online video file
sharing and peer-to-peer download services in the last
decade, the grip of the big production houses have
decreased, and people now have relatively more access than
before to a more complex and critical understanding of
politics and culture. Documentary films have also played a
major role in shaping public opinion, and perceptions of
the 'Other'. The Other being non-white people generally,
but today specifically focused on Muslims and Islamists
which, we are told, do not share or are against 'our'

Perhaps the most well-known example of a documentary film
that has shaped public opinion is Michael Moore's
Fahrenheit 9/11. Many other films have had an impact on
political discourses which are defining our time:
Islamophobia, Western initiated war and occupation, or in
the words of the world's self-proclaimed standard bearers
of democracy: "full spectrum dominance" and "shock and

While it is often US-made films that receive most
attention, there have perhaps been more interesting and
nuanced films made in Britain. Such films include White
Girl, Mark of Cain, Britz and several documentaries,
especially on the issue of Palestine.

Michael Moore and Nick Broomfield's films have been
commercial successes. However one is not so sure that they
have been successful in assisting their mass audiences in
understanding Muslims and their struggles for independence
such as in Iraq or Palestine or throughout the Muslim world

Fahrenheit 9/11 is seen by many as an insightful critique
of US government reaction to 9/11, but it fails to give any
insight into US foreign policy in the Middle East, policies
that have led many in the region to view the 9/11 attacks
as a reaction against the oppression of Arabs and Muslims
over generations. Unsurprisingly criticism of the film has
come from the Right, however it is important that people
who oppose Western arrogance do not let Moore off the hook
as Muslims are given no time whatsoever in representing
themselves. Robert Jensen's review of the film has been one
the few critiques from a progressive point of view. He
states: "The sad truth is that Fahrenheit 9/11 is a bad
movie, but not for the reasons it is being attacked in the
dominant culture. It's at times a racist movie. And the
analysis that underlies the film's main political points is
either dangerously incomplete or virtually incoherent."

Jensen argues that there is no fair representation of
Muslims in the film, and the representation of countries
like Morocco are far from respectful, let alone inline with
challenging racism and prejudice. While the film
contributed to the climate of mass opposition in the West
to the Iraq war, it failed to give any understanding of
what Muslims are thinking and doing about their oppression;
rather the only portrayal in the film of Muslims was the
rich Gulf Arabs (the Bin Laden family who are one of the
main construction industrialists in the region) who are in
cahoots with Bush and Co. Jensen spoke about his criticisms
of the film, saying that at the time of writing his review
he was too soft on the movie and explains: "Since the end
of WWII, there has been bipartisan support for US attempts
to dominate the politics of the Middle East. Republican and
Democratic administrations alike have pursued illegal and
immoral policies, using overt and covert violence. This
didn't start with George W Bush and won't end when he's out
of office. Moore's movie failed to offer any coherent
analysis of the historical and political context for Bush's
failed wars, and hence did little to help viewers deepen
their understanding."

Broomfield's recently released Battle for Haditha on the
other hand does feature Iraqi protagonists in the community
where the massacre took place as well as persons involved
in the Iraqi resistance. This film was expected to be a
critical film of the now notorious massacre of 24 men,
women and children by US marines in November 2005. While
the film does show the gung-ho nature of the Marines, it
fails to depict the Iraqis accurately. Iraqis are a proud
people with a long history and tradition of
multi-confessional Iraqi, Arab and Islamic culture which
includes a deep sense of patriotism which they have
defended against colonialism of the past and today against

Battle of Haditha treats the Iraqi resistance in an even
more problematic manner than that of the Iraqi
non-combatants. One of the main resistance fighters is a
drunk and joins the struggle due to financial reasons,
while the Islamist resistance leader, a cleric, is a very
shady and manipulative character who cares nothing about
the Iraqi people. In contrast, despite the animal-like
behaviour of the Marines, they are shown as victims of
their political and military leaders. There is no doubt
that the viewer is supposed to sympathise with the Marines
culminating in one of them leading an Iraqi girl by the
hand into the light, while a few moments ago he just
massacred her entire family. The Western viewer would
rightly never accept such a depiction of a soldier of the
Third Reich in relation to the French or Dutch, and would
never accept the anti-fascist resistance as a fundamentally
suspect movement, so why should the viewer accept such a
portrayal in this instance?

Radical Arab Nationalist Ibrahim Alloush explains in a
critique of the film, "when the humanitarian perspective
becomes a cover for humanizing the invader in Iraq or
Palestine independently of politics, it changes into an
arrogant, orientalist mechanism of reducing the Arab cause
to a form of shallow humanitarian advocacy at best, and
political misguidance based on conflation of henchman and
victim at worst… Undeniably, the movie's message is tricky:
it is in an effort to exonerate the Marines in Iraq and the
non-ideological resistance; present the residents as
aimless barn animals ready for slaughter; and to indict
major politicians in the West and ideologists in the East.
Ultimately, it is a liberal message and stems from lack of
comprehension of the ongoing battle between the occupation
and the resistance on Iraq's soil."

The puzzling thing about Broomfield's 'docu-drama' is the
way in which he depicted the relationship between the Iraqi
civilians and resistance; it seems this was at odds with
reality. The residents of Haditha have said that the
resistance are a part of the community who defend the
people against the occupation forces. For some reason
Broomfield has decided to completely distort the
relationship between the resistance and the people of

In contrast to Moore and Broomfield there are a number of
British-made film productions which positively challenge
the mainstream Islamophobic discourse. In discussion with
The Guardian journalist and film-maker Clancy Chassay on
the subject of his video reports from Gaza, he said of his
short films: "It encourages the viewer to engage with our
shared humanity; a humanity too often denied to these

Indeed it is not a complicated principle to understand, but
the ability to engage in a process to share a common
humanity is beyond many people as a result of the sheer
mass of mainstream media which turns reality on its head.
Chassay's reports cuts through the warped message in much
of the mainstream media that Fatah equals a shared
democratic value with Western democracy, and that Hamas
equals terrorism and repression. Chassay shows that in Gaza
Fatah's armed wing are actively engaged in sending rockets
into Israel, whereas we are led to believe that it is
Hamas' responsibility that any homemade Palestinian rockets
are targeted at Israel. The second round of films from
Chassay shows the impact on Palestinians in Gaza of the
blockade on Gaza by Israel and with which the West is
complicit. These latter films challenges a Western audience
as much as the first set of Chassay's films as they force
the viewer to see beyond the 'terrorists' label, and see
Palestinians as people, albeit a brutally oppressed people.

One of the bravest films to be made is the British film
Britz, a film that raised some uncomfortable home truths
about the ramifications of British foreign and domestic
policies towards Muslims. The film's director Peter
Kosminsky has said that the film was not aimed at Muslim
audiences but at white Western audiences, particularly
those in Britain. Moazzam Begg in his review of the film
following a special preview screening states: "He
[Kosminsky] replied that it was to make people ask more
questions about internal and foreign policy; about spooks
as well as suicide bombers. Indeed, it was to boldly ask
the question whether the effects of personal trauma-in this
case Nasima's best friend who is detained without trial and
then subjected to a control order-coupled with societal
hostility and a sense of political impotence can lead
someone to the path of violent extremism. And if it can,
are we able to understand?"

Britz addressed political taboos head on. In this day and
age it takes confidence and political daring to take up
political themes that should be some of the main political
issues that urgently need addressing. The onus is on
intellectuals, writers, film-makers and those engaged in
progressive political change to radically adjust the
parameters of the debate (or the lack of debate), otherwise
it is left to those in weaker positions to try and raise
these issues but are either ignored or vilified in an
atmosphere reminiscent of McCarthyite totalitarianism.

Another off-limits subject seems to be the Iraqi
resistance. There is only one documentary film that has
reported on the resistance, and that is Steve Connors' and
Molly Bingham's Meeting Resistance. This film was shot
during the small window of time immediately after the
invasion of Iraq in March 2003 when Western filmmakers
could still meet and interview those involved in the
resistance. The film shows people from all walks of life,
young men, professionals, religious clerics, a house wife
and political activists, all part of the resistance who
have nearly an hour and a half on film to discuss their
motivations and the nature of their involvement in the
struggle to free their country.

In conversation with Connors at the British Museum's
screening of Meeting Resistance during the London
Documentary Film Festival, Connors explained how the film
challenges many assumptions and misrepresentations of the
resistance to occupation in Iraq: "Firstly, it pushes back
on the "insurgency" title. To use one word to describe all
the different reasons for violence in Iraq is ridiculous
and - far from simplifying the issues - just creates more

When asked in what ways the film challenges Western
preconceptions of the conflict in Iraq, Connors replied "I
think the film allows the audience to rethink and
re-humanise the resistance faction of the Iraqi political
scene and shows them to be people whose aspirations are not
so dissimilar from our own. Denying a view of Iraqis as
actors in their own history then perpetuates the notion
that we Westerners are the only ones civilized and
sophisticated enough to provide a solution instead of
facing the reality that we are actually the major problem
in Iraq. Unfortunately most Western filmmakers (or
journalists) who have tackled Iraq simply haven't been
sufficiently self aware to look at themselves and the
subject in this way".

Connors is right when he highlights the dearth of
filmmakers that approach the Muslim and Islamic Other in a
human way rather than in way that adopts every Eurocentric
stereotype of Muslims. Nevertheless, despite the flawed
depictions of Muslims and their liberation struggles, and
in the face of the lack of films like Britz and Meeting
Resistance, these and other ground-breaking films are
outstanding examples for others to build upon and
positively influence wider audiences.

*Sukant Chandan is a London-based political analyst. This
article first appeared in Conflict Forum's Cultures of
Resistance magazine, of which Sukant Chandan is a
Co-Editor. He can be contacted at

Monday, 21 July 2008

Poll shows Obama not closing racial divide

Wed Jul 16, 2008

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Americans are sharply divided by
race ahead of the first presidential election in which a
black candidate will represent a major party, a New York
Times/CBS News poll showed on Tuesday,

The poll found that blacks and whites hold vastly different
views of Sen. Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat who would
be the first black president, and are also divided on the
state of race relations in the United States, the newspaper

In the survey, 83 percent of blacks had a favorable opinion
of Obama, compared with 31 percent of white voters.

Obama will face John McCain, a white Republican senator
from Arizona, in the November 4 presidential election.

On the status of race relations, 59 percent of black
respondents thought they were generally bad, compared with
34 percent of whites who thought the same way.

The nationwide telephone poll of 1,796 adults showed that
39 percent of blacks said there had been no real progress
in recent years in getting rid of racial discrimination.
Only 17 percent of whites said the same thing.

Twenty-seven percent of whites said too much had been made
of problems facing black people, while half of blacks said
not enough had been made of racial barriers faced by black

The poll was conducted July 7-14 and had a margin of error
of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found Obama leading
McCain by 50 percent to 42 percent among registered voters
nationwide. The poll also had Obama with a 19-point lead
over McCain on the economy, the issue topping the list of
voter concerns.

The poll of 1,119 adults and 971 registered voters was
conducted July 10 through 13. The results had a margin of
error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008


"They Are Slaughtering Somalis Like Goats"
Mike Whitney

"Land is not our priority. Our priority is the people's peace, dignity and liberty. It is the people that are important to us." Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, Head of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU)

07/07/08 "ICH" -- -- While George Bush was busy railing at Zimbabwe's President, Robert Mugabe at the G-8 summit in Toyako, Japan; his Ethiopian proxy-army in Somalia was grinding out more carnage on the streets of Mogadishu. More than 40 civilians have been killed in the last 48 hours. On Sunday, Osman Ali Ahmed, the head of the UN Development Program in Somalia, was shot gangland style as he left a mosque Mogadishu. He died before he reached the hospital with wounds to the head and chest. Ali Ahmed is just the latest of the peace-keepers who have been killed in the ongoing battle between Bush's Ethiopian occupiers and Somali guerrillas.

"I care deeply about the people of Zimbabwe," Bush announced. "And I am extremely disappointed in the election which I labeled a sham election."

Right. Bush's newly-discovered empathy for black people was nowhere in sight during Hurricane Katrina when thousands of African Americans were rounded up at gunpoint and forced into the Superdome without food, water or medical supplies. Nor is it visible in Somalia today where millions of Somalis have been forced to flee their homes and relocate to tent cities in the south because of Bush's support for the Ethiopian army's invasion. The latest surge in violence has been the worst in a decade and the security situation continues to deteriorate despite the arrival of 2,600 troops from the African Union and a tentative truce that was signed in June between some of the warring factions. It should be no great surprize that the western media has stubbornly refused to report on the rising death-toll in Somalia, choosing instead to focus all of their attention on America's "villain du jour", Robert Mugabe. Mugabe is next on the neocon's list for regime change. Neocon Godfather Paul Wolfowitz even composed a postmortem for Zimbabwe's president in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial "How to Put the Heat on Mugabe".

In 2006, the United States supported an alliance of Somali warlords known as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) who established a base of operations in the western city of Baidoa. With the help of the US-backed Ethiopian army, western mercenaries, US Navy warships, and AC-130 gunships; the TFG was able capture Mogadishu and force the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) and their allies to retreat to the south. But, much like Iraq and Afghanistan, the resistance has coalesced into a tenacious guerrilla army which has returned to the capital and resumed the fight making it impossible for their Ethiopian rivals to govern. As the struggle continues, the humanitarian situation gets worse and worse. At least 2.6 million Somalis are now facing famine due to acute food shortages spurred by a prolonged drought, violence and high inflation. UN monitors have warned that the figure could hit exceed 3.5 million by the end of 2008.

The UN Security Council has played its traditional role as facilitator of American-backed imperial violence by failing to condemn US involvement in Somalia and by promising to send peacekeepers to mop up after violence subsides. The UN has shown no interest in stopping the carnage and have become little more than the glove-hand of the US military; an accomplice to Bush's chronic adventurism.

In an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Salim Lone, a columnist for the Daily Nation in Kenya and a former spokesperson for the UN mission in Iraq explains the UN's role in providing the "go ahead" for the US invasion:

"The lawlessness of this particular war is astounding; the most lawless war of our generation. You know, all aggressive wars are illegal. But in this particular one, there have been violations of the UN Charter and gross violations of international human rights. But, in addition, there have been very concrete violations by the United States of two Security Council resolutions. The first one was the arms embargo imposed on Somalia, which the United States has been routinely flaunting for many years now. But then the US decided that that resolution was no longer useful, and they pushed through an appalling resolution in December, which basically gave the green light to Ethiopia to invade. They pushed through a resolution which said that the situation in Somalia was a threat to international peace and security, at a time when every independent report indicated, and Chatham House’s report on Wednesday also indicated, that the Islamic Courts Union had brought a high level of peace and stability that Somalia had not enjoyed in sixteen years.

So here was the UN Security Council going along with the American demand to pass a blatantly falsified UN resolution. And that resolution actually was a violation (of the) the UN Charter. You know, the UN Charter is like the American Constitution and the Security Council is not allowed to pass laws or rules that violate the Charter. And yet, who is going to correct them?"

The Bush administration has predictably invoked the "terrorist" hobgoblin to justify its involvement in Somalia, but no one is buying it. The ICU is not an Al Qaida affiliate or a terrorist organization despite the absurd claims of the State Dept. It is true that the ICU was trying to enforce Sharia Law, but a much milder form of Sharia than in Saudi Arabia. The ICU was the first government in over a decade to restore security and order to Somalia and--generally speaking--the people were supportive of the new regime.

Political analyst James Petras summed it up like this:

"The ICU was a relatively honest administration, which ended warlord corruption and extortion. Personal safety and property were protected, ending arbitrary seizures and kidnappings by warlords and their armed thugs. The ICU is a broad multi-tendency movement that includes moderates and radical Islamists, civilian politicians and armed fighters, liberals and populists, electoralists and authoritarians. Most important, the Courts succeeded in unifying the country and creating some semblance of nationhood, overcoming clan fragmentation."

The real motives behind the invasion were oil and geopolitics. According to most estimates 30 per cent of America's oil will come from Africa in the next ten years. Bush's new warlord-friends in the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have already indicated a willingness to pass a new oil law that will encourage foreign oil companies to return to Somalia. The same oil giants that are now lining up in Iraq will soon be making their way to Somalia as well. The Horn of Africa is also critical for its deep-water ports and strategic location for future military bases. It's all part of the Grand Schema for reconfiguring the region to accommodate America's hegemonic ambitions.

Humanitarian Catastrophe: "The Ethiopian invasion has destroyed all the life-sustaining systems"

Heavy fighting and artillery fire have reduced large parts of Mogadishu to rubble. More than 700,000 people have been forced to leave the capital with nothing more than what they can carry on their backs. Entire districts have been evacuated and turned into ghost towns. The main hospital has been bombed and is no longer taking patients. Ethiopian snipers are perched atop rooftops across the city. Over 3.5 million people are now huddled in the south in tent cities without sufficient food, clean water or medical supplies. It is without question the greatest humanitarian crisis in Africa today; a man-made Hell entirely conjured up in Washington. Just weeks ago, Amnesty International reported that it had heard many accounts that Ethiopian troops were "slaughtering (Somalis) like goats." In one case, "a young child's throat was slit by Ethiopian soldiers in front of the child's mother."

In another Democracy Now interview, Abdi Samatar, professor of Global Studies at the University of Minnesota, had this to say:

"The Ethiopian invasion, which was sanctioned by the US government, has destroyed virtually all the life-sustaining economic systems which the population have built without the government for the last fifteen years. And the militia that are supposed to protect the population have been looting shops. For instance, the Bakara market, which is the largest market in Mogadishu, has been looted repeatedly by the militias of the so-called Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, supported by Ethiopian troops. And the new prime minister of Somalia, Mr. Hassan Nur Hussein, has himself announced in the BBC that it was his militias that—who have looted this place. So what you have is a population that’s hit from both sides--on one side, by the militias of the so-called Transitional Federal Government, which is recognized by the United States, and on the other side, by the Ethiopian invaders who seem to be bent on ensuring that they break the will of the people to resist as free people in their own country....

What you have is really terror in the worst sense of the word, a million people have been displaced that the Ethiopians have been denying humanitarian aid, and the United States which seems to just watch and let it happen. It’s like there's has been a calculated decision made somewhere in the world, maybe in Washington, maybe in Addis Ababa, maybe in Mogadishu itself, to starve these people until they submit themselves to the whims of the American military and the Ethiopians, who are acting on their behalf."

Amnesty International has called for an investigation of the United States role in Somalia. Regrettably, neither the United Nations nor the corporate media are at all interested in Bush's war crimes in Africa. What they care about is Mugabe.


Somalia: Troops killing people 'like goats' by slitting throats-new Amnesty report

Monday, 7 July 2008


Fishy, Fishy, Fishy...

Monday, July 07, 2008

China Hand

More Problems Emerge for the Betancourt Rescue Story

[I am also grateful to a reader who pointed out that Betancourt and the other hostages appear to be in good physical condition after their ordeal, in contrast to the photograph documenting Betancourt's ill health while in captivity. Advance preparation by FARC to deliver healthy hostages would also be consistent with a planned, negotiated release--CH]

Hot on the heels of
allegations on Swiss radio that Ingrid Betancourt was freed through payment of a $20 million ransom instead of clever Colombian special forces derring do and US backup, we get a couple more data points:

In Counterpunch, Clifton Ross
reports that the South American media has an interesting twist on the ransom story:

The story entitled "There was no such rescue but a media 'show'" that appeared in today's Diario Vea was drawn from the work of Bolivarian Press Agency writer Narciso Isa Conde and the Popular News Agency of Venezuela. According to the article the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) had agreed to turn over Ingrid Betancourt and the other hostages to Swiss and French negotiators who agreed to arrange to pick up the hostages from various locations in two helicopters. The Colombian military got wind of the upcoming release and took control of the helicopters. The collusion of the U.S. in the media spin, while yet to be proven, is quite likely, especially since McCain just "happened" to be in the neighborhood and would be able to take the spotlight in a crassly opportunistic attempt to boost his pathetic presidential campaign.[emph. added]

Apparently, Diario Vea is a pro-Hugo Chavez paper in Venezuela.

One might say “consider the source” and say these allegations are sour grapes from pro-Chavez forces resentful that their guy was sidelined and the Colombian government scored a big win.

But put that together with a
report by Patrick McDonnell and Chris Kaul in today's LA Times on the Colombian government's attempts to knock down the ransom story as “absolutely false” by pinning responsibility for the leak to Swiss radio on one John Pierre Gontard, who it alleges is tainted by data on a notorious captured FARC laptop as a FARC bagman.

A few problems.

First, Gontard denies the allegation.

Second, Gontard is not some FARC fellow traveler. He's one of the key Colombian peace negotiators for the European governments, so acknowledged by the Colombian government.

Third, Gontard might have been the guy who negotiated the Betancourt release in the first place.

From the LA Times:

Gontard has been coming to Colombia for years as the Swiss representative of a three-nation team, including Spain and France, that has acted as facilitator for possible talks between the FARC and the government.


On June 30, the government announced that Gontard and French diplomat Noel Saez had arrived in Colombia to resume those efforts. Two days later, onetime presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, three American defense contractors and 11 Colombian police and soldiers were rescued after more than five years in rebel captivity.


So, on June 30 Gontard is a welcome emissary of the European governments.

On July 7, he's some creepy FARC hack.

That story line doesn't make a lot of sense.

Unless, as Ross reports, the Colombians hijacked Gontard's ransom-and-release operation.

Which makes you think that all the vaunted surveillance operations that the US (and apparently Israel, according to
Haaretz—h/t to LR) are claiming credit for were not directed against FARC (which, if news reports are to be believed, realize their communications are compromised and now pass messages mainly through human couriers); they were targeting the hostage negotiators in order to figure out their plans.

As reported by Ross, then the Colombian military could have zipped up to the airfield at the critical moment, commandeered the rescue helicopters, and grabbed the hostages and the glory.

Now, to cover their tracks, the Colombian and US governments attempt to swamp the true story of the release with a coordinated international media blitz.

And, when somebody, plausibly some disgruntled European negotiator who knows the real story, does leak the story to Swiss radio, the Colombians react by sliming Gontard—who was possibly on the FARC computer because he was delivering a downpayment on the ransom—to discredit the European negotiating team and squelch the whole ransom story.

That's a pretty persuasive hypothetical.

The emerging outline of this story is one of FARC being willing to deal with the Colombian government, but the Colombian (and US) governments being averse to any explicit compromises that would give credibility to Hugo Chavez, European do-gooders, ransom payments, and negotiations in general and detract from the zero-sum “War on Terror” narrative.

Certainly, if the Betancourt rescue was actually a world-class double-cross by the Colombian government, FARC (and, by the way, the European governments represented by Gontard) now realizes that any good faith negotiations involving Uribe's government is impossible.

If FARC is truly flat on its behind, this approach might work.

Then again, even if FARC still has some fight left in it and prospects for a peace—negotiated or imposed--evaporate, I expect the downside for Uribe is still limited.

After all, if the Uribe government doesn't bring peace to Colombia, it can console itself with the billions of dollars of US aid that an uncompromising and open-ended COIN operation demands.

Friday, 4 July 2008


Ingrid Betancourt--This Year's Jessica Lynch?

South American affairs is obviously not China Hand's bailiwick, but I had the funny feeling that the the “rescue” of Betancourt and the other hostages from the hands of FARC by the Colombian government looked, walked, and quacked more like a negotiated release than a genuine piece of special ops derring do.

It looks like I might have been right.

Swiss radio is reporting that it cost $20 million to spring the hostages.

For those of you interested in how unworthy suspicions flower in the mind of an incorrigibly cynical blogger, I will regale patient readers with a rundown of the official story's fishier elements.

First, the Betancourt story got huge—suspiciously huge—play in US papers. In my hometime paper, the LA Times, it was the big A1 right-column, banner headline lead.

Well, Ingrid Betancourt, like Jerry Lewis, might be huge in France—she holds dual Colombian-French citizenship—but, quite frankly, before July 2 I had never heard of her.

Obviously, the US press was primed to push this story.

That's not by itself indicator of something fishy going on.

The US government has a strong interest in boosting the kinda-fascisty guys who run Colombia while running down kinda-commie Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

It also has a strong interest in discrediting and sidelining Chavez as a regional leader who can serve as a go-between and extract hostages and concessions from FARC.

So the story that the Colombians--with indispensable US support--sprung the hostages would have received some play in any case.

However, the orgasmic and uncritical US press coverage of the action, combined with the gratuitous jibes at Chavez (including energetically interpreting some neutral-sounding statements from Betancourt as veiled Chavez criticism), appeared so promptly, ubiquitously, and hyperbolically it appeared to me we were witnessing the previously-planned orchestration of a media event rather than the reaction to a slick rescue.

Another indicator was that getting Betancourt released was a big thing for President Sarkozy of France. The French pay for hostages. Full stop.

So there was a strong incentive to get Betancourt out by any means possible--including a ransom--to steal Chavez's thunder and save Sarkozy's political bacon.

Of course, the rescue story was something that, in the context of special ops rescues, sounded ridiculous, involving some scheme where FARC unwittingly gathered the dispersed hostages and loaded them on a helicopter that fortuitously turned out to belong to the Colombian government.

However, the story sounded completely plausible if somebody had made a deal with FARC and said, hey, we're sending a helicopter for the hostages. Load ‘em up!

When Betancourt got out, she refrained from direct criticism of FARC, calling for a peace process instead of some no-holds barred war on the SOBs who imprisoned her for six years—another indication that a deal was involved.

For inquisitive reporters, I would consider another red flag the fact that nobody got killed. Indeed, not a shot was fired.

One would think that the Colombians would have taken advantage of an extraordinary intelligence and infiltration coup not just to helicopter out some hostages but also helicopter in some commandos and put a nice corpse-filled punctuation point on a signal victory in the war on terror.

So, a big media push would be needed not only be needed to capitalize on an deal that was in the works; it would obscure the suspicion that a deal was involved and also dissuade the press from taking a hard second look at the official story it had already splashed all over its front pages.

The press—apparently having forgotten the manufactured bruhaha over Jessica Lynch's rescue and eager to confirm the suspicion that it is more interested in any narrative that the government is willing to provide legs for than messy, facty, and critical reportage--happily obliged.

Add to that the allegations of a ransom appearing in the European media, and that's something that looks like it's worth pursuing.

Here's how the Guardian
reported the Betancourt ransom story.

Ingrid Betancourt arrived in France today after being held captive for six years in the Colombian jungle, amid claims that a ransom was paid to free her.

The Colombian government said that she was freed in an audacious operation after the military tricked Farc into handing the French-Colombian politician over without a shot being fired.

But quoting "reliable sources", Swiss Radio reported that a ransom was paid of around $20m (£10m).

It said that the US, which had three citizens among those freed, was behind the deal and that "the whole operation afterwards was a set-up".

The station reported that the wife of one of the hostages' guards was the go-between, having been arrested by the Colombian army.

If proved true, the allegations would be hugely embarrassing for the Colombian government which was showered with praise for the efficiency of the operation. Many commentators had predicted that it would even spell the end of Farc as a credible force.

However, I wonder how much play, serious investigation, or popular attention the Betancourt story will merit, now that its propaganda value as a one-day headline sensation has been realized.


FARC leaders were paid $20 MILLION to free hostages: Swiss radio


PARIS (Thomson Financial) - Leaders of the Colombian FARC
rebel movement were paid millions of dollars to free
Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other
hostages, Swiss radio said on Friday, quoting 'a reliable

The 15 hostages released on Wednesday by the Colombian army
'were in reality ransomed for a high price, and the whole
operation afterwards was a set-up,' the radio's
French-language channel said.

Saying the United States, which had three of its citizens
among those freed, was behind the deal, it put the price of
the ransom at some $20 million.

The radio said its source was 'close to the events,
reliable and tested many times in recent years.'

The report added said the wife of one of the hostages'
guards was the go-between, having been arrested by the
Colombian army. She was released to return to the
guerrillas, where she persuaded her husband to change

Switzerland, along with France and Spain, has been
mediating with the FARC on behalf of Colombian President
Alvaro Uribe.

According to the official version of Wednesday's operation,
a Colombian army intelligence agent infiltrated the FARC
and tricked the rebels into believing their top leader had
sent a helicopter to pick up the hostages.

Colombian soldiers posing as FARC guerrillas flew the
hostages from a jungle hideout where they had been
assembled before revealing their identity.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the rescue 'was
conceived by the Colombians and executed by the Colombians
with our full support,' while implying that Washington had
provided intelligence and even operational help.

U.S. ambassador to Bogota William Brownfield also told CNN
that Washington had provided 'technical support,' while
Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos insisted it
was a '100 percent Colombian' effort.

The top U.S. military officer for Latin America, Admiral
Jim Stavridis, head of United States Southern Command, said
the rescue of Americans Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves and
Keith Stansell had been 'a priority of this command'.

The three were seized by the rebels as they conducted an
anti-drug mission for the Pentagon in February 2003.

The operation enhanced Uribe's prestige as he seeks a third
term in office, and enabled him to stick to his line of no
talks with the rebels without the hostages being freed, the
radio noted.



Contribution to the Forum on Global Financial Crisis
Third International Assembly
Hong Kong
19 June 2008

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison Chairperson, International
Coordinating Committee International League of Peoples'

I wish to comment on the gravity of the current financial
crisis of the world capitalist system and on the impact of
this in the various major contradictions in the world, with
special attention to the people's resistance in Asia,
Africa and Latin America and in the imperialist countries.

Gravity of the Global Financial Crisis

The economic and financial crisis of the US and world
capitalist system has worsened to a new and unprecedented
level since the Great Depression. This signifies the utter
failure of the attempt of the US and other imperialist
powers to overcome the problem of stagflation under
Keynesianism with the policy shift to neoliberalism.
Instead, the latter policy has aggravated and deepened the
crisis of overproduction in the real economy and has given
free rein to the abuses of finance capitalism.

The states of imperialist and other countries have adopted
the policy to press down wage levels and cut back social
spending. They have allowed the monopoly bourgeoisie to
accelerate the concentration and centralization of
productive and finance capital in its hands through the
denationalization of underdeveloped economies,
privatization of public assets, liberalization of
investments and trade and deregulation at the expense of
the working people, women, children and the environment—all
in the name of “free market” globalization.

The consistent result has been the actual contraction of
the world market, as the purchasing power of the working
people has declined and has limited the demand for the
products of expanded production. Ever intent on maximizing
profits by raising the organic composition of capital
(constant capital over variable capital), the monopoly
bourgeoisie has reduced industrial employment and regular
employment in imperialist countries by shifting production
to a few other countries, like China, India and the
Southeast Asian countries, in order to avail of cheap

The illusion of economic growth has been conjured for the
entire world capitalist system through the wanton expansion
of money supply and credit. The imperialist states and
nearly all other states have gone into unrestrained local
and foreign borrowing to cover trade and budgetary
deficits. The state and private banks have expanded credit
and the private corporations have gone into heavy
indebtedness by getting bank loans and issuing corporate
bonds. To maintain the US as the biggest consumer market,
US households have been given a seemingly endless flow of
credit, culminating in the housing bubble and ending in the
ongoing mortgage meltdown.

The truth about the US economy is now out. The sordid facts
about the con game of the lead economy of the world
capitalist system are being exposed. The debts of the US
federal government, the private corporations and households
are unsustainable and cannot be paid back. And yet the US
policy makers continue to expand the money supply and lower
the interest rates. The industrial decline and the runaway
federal debt of the US have undermined the long-touted role
of the US as the engine of global economic growth and the
global market of last resort as well as the value of the US
dollar as the reserve currency of the world.

The US economy has become dependent on credit provided by
certain oil producing countries and by countries supplying
consumer goods. It has fallen into a prolonged state of
camouflaged recession since 1999 when the high tech bubble
was about to burst. Some US economists now describe the US
economy as being in a state of inflationary recession and
is halfway into an hyper-inflationary Weimar Republic-type
of depression that has a high potential of leaping into
Great Depression II. The other industrial capitalist
economies are being pulled into the vortex of the global
financial crisis that the US chiefly has stirred up.

The few other countries from which the US imports cheap
consumer goods face decreasing orders, a credit crunch and
the declining value of the US dollar. The chronically
depressed underdeveloped countries in the third world find
themselves in a far worse situation than before. The
overwhelming majority of them have become net fuel and food
importers. Their peoples are grievously victimized by the
manipulated shortages and price gouging by the global and
regional cartels directed by the monopoly capitalists in
the US and other imperialist powers. The entire world
capitalist system can be summed up as being in a state of
depression, especially if we fully take into account the
actual social and economic conditions of the oppressed
peoples and nations.

Consequences of the Global Financial Crisis

The gravity of the economic and financial crisis of the
world capitalist system is such that we can expect the
worsening and sharpening of contradictions between the
imperialist countries and the oppressed peoples and
nations, between the imperialist countries and certain
countries that invoke national independence, among the
imperialist powers themselves and between the monopoly
bourgeoisie and the working class in the imperialist

The crisis of the world capitalist system inflicts social
devastation at its worst and suffering at its most painful
on the oppressed peoples and nations in Asia, Africa and
Latin America. It is therefore understandable why we see
here the most widespread spontaneous and organized actions
of mass protest and the revolutionary armed struggles that
seek to end imperialist domination and overthrow the puppet
regimes. The main contradiction in the world is that
between the imperialist powers and the oppressed peoples
and nations.

The extent of existing revolutionary armed struggles is
already formidable, as we observe those in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Nigeria, Philippines,
Turkey, India and other South Asian countries. The
potential is high for the revolutionary armed struggles to
arise in more countries in several continents. The crisis
of the world capitalist system generates the favorable
objective conditions for the further spread of people's
wars for national liberation and democracy.

Since the end of World War II, many new national states
have arisen from the colonies and semi-colonies either as a
result of the revolutionary movements for national
liberation or as a result of neocolonial compromise. Most
of them are now in the clutches of neocolonialism and
neoliberalism. But there are some states which invoke
bourgeois nationalism or socialism and assert national
independence against the imperialists and their agents.
Those states born from successful national liberation
movements, such as China, North Korea and Cuba, have been
the most effective in asserting national independence and
preventing US aggression.

We have also seen the Yugoslavia of Milosevic and Iraq of
Saddam resisting the worst of imperialist impositions and
being subjected to wars of aggression launched by the US.
Currently, there are other countries whose governments
stand up to imperialist domination and move to nationalize
imperialist enterprises. Venezuela of Hugo Chavez is a
prime example. As the crisis of the world capitalist system
worsens, we are going to see more dramatic events in the
contradictions between the imperialist countries and the
countries that assert national independence.

The imperialist powers collude with each other against the
oppressed peoples and nations in general. But they compete
with each other for sources of cheap raw materials,
markets, fields of investment and spheres of influence. As
a result of the full restoration of capitalism in former
revisionist-ruled countries, imperialist countries
competing with each other and seeking to redivide the world
have increased in number. The world has become more cramped
than ever for the competitions and rivalries of the
imperialist powers.

The US is increasingly resented by other imperialist powers
for presuming to have sole hegemony over the whole world
and for trying to grab the lion's share of spoils in every
continent. At the same time, it is already overextended and
weakening in certain parts of the world. Contradictions are
developing between the US and Russia and China jointly or
separately. So are those between the US and the European
Union. These contradictions involve economic, financial,
political, security and other issues. As the crisis of the
world capitalist system worsens, the contradictions among
the imperialist powers will sharpen and generate conditions
favorable for the rise of revolutionary movements.

Within imperialist countries, contradictions are surfacing
between the monopoly bourgeoisie and the working class.
Under the auspices of neoliberalism, the wage and living
conditions of the working class have deteriorated
drastically. Job security for most workers has evaporated.
Worker youth, women and immigrants are discriminated
against, exploited and oppressed. Social benefits won over
a long period of time have been gravely eroded. Trade union
and other democratic rights have been undermined and

As the crisis of the world capitalist system worsens, the
monopoly bourgeoisie will try to further exploit and
oppress the workers. It will pit one section of the working
class against another. For the purpose, it will use
chauvinism, racism, religious bigotry and fascism. But it
is precisely the escalating exploitative and oppressive
acts of the monopoly bourgeoisie that will drive the
workers to fight back and wage revolutionary struggle. The
class struggle in the imperialist countries has never been
eliminated. It has only been suppressed for quite a long
while. It is now resurgent. ###

Thursday, 3 July 2008



Ingrid Betancourt's impromptu airport press conference,
flanked by the bloody Colombian Defense Minister Juan
Manuel Santos and other military officers with undeniably
gringo features was one of the strangest spectacles
Machetera has ever seen. Even considering the joy she must
have felt at being liberated after so much time in
captivity, her effusiveness toward her liberators suggests
that the time she spent in the jungle with the FARC left
her with no greater understanding of the Colombian conflict
than when she was seized on her presidential campaign tour
seven years ago. Her extravagant praise of Colombian
President Uribe and the Colombian army (who, she implied,
had one-upped Israel with its commando tactics) sounded
more like a campaign speech than anything else - minus a
recent visit to the dentist and blonde highlights in her

Betancourt mentioned how shortly after the helicopter
lifted off, suddenly, somehow, the lead guerrilla was on
the floor, blindfolded, and the soldiers, oh-so-cleverly
disguised in Che Guevara t-shirts (the most cynical
appropriation of this great man's image ever, but also a
confirmation of his everlasting symbolic power), announced
that they were actually from the Colombian army, and the
hostages were now free. In respect to the capture of the
guerrilla, she said, "Don't think that I felt happy; I
pitied him a lot, but I gave thanks to God that he was with
people who respect the lives of others, even when they are
enemies." Someone should suggest that she tell that to the
family of the Ecuadoran who was killed with a blow from a
rifle butt to his neck after surviving Colombia's bombing
of the FARC camp on Ecuadoran soil.

The FARC is an easy target these days, with dwindling
support from all quarters for its armed struggle, so
Machetera has little desire to pile on. Yet there is
something strange about the fact that seven years on, a
captive should emerge with so little respect for the
struggle being waged and should refer to her captors as
"humiliators" and "despots." The only hint at sympathy came
near the end of what El Tiempo chose to broadcast of
Betancourt's statement - if there was more, perhaps it
wasn't convenient to the storyline - where she pointed a
convoluted message at Alfonso Cano, insisting that the
guerrillas were not to blame, that they'd left the hostages
alive, but it was simply a "perfect operation."

As usual, though, there's more to the story. Pascual
Serrano explains:

The FARC had Already Expressed to European Delegations
Their Willingness to Liberate the Hostages

(Doubts over whether the Colombian army intercepted the
liberation in order to present it as a government success.)

Pascual Serrano - Rebelión

Translation: Machetera

Despite the fact that the Colombian Defense Minister, Juan
Manuel Santos, has presented the liberation of Ingrid
Betancourt and fourteen other FARC hostages as a brilliant
military operation, the reality is that it happened exactly
when European delegates, the French Noel Saéz and the Swiss
Jean Pierre Gontard, had managed to make contact with the
guerrilla leadership to begin their liberation. The FARC
had already expressed its intentions in this regard, and
the government had authorized the contact, which was
closely monitored.

On July 1, a communique from the Colombian army, read by
César Mauricio Velásquez, the Press Secretary at the
presidential palace, signaled that the two European

"came to Colombia in recent days and asked for government
authorization to go and meet directly with the FARC
leadership; authorization that was granted by the

The Spanish daily, El País, also reported this matter, the
same day:

Bogotá has authorized the meeting of two European
negotiators to discuss the conditions for future meetings
to discuss the future of the FARC hostages, according to
reports from the Colombian media. The former French consul
in Bogotá, Noël Sáenz and the Swiss diplomat, Jean-Pierre
Gontard, left at the beginning of last weekend for a
meeting in the mountains not facilitated by the government,
and may have already met with members of the guerrilla
secretariat, the principal governing body, and even with
the new FARC leader, Alfonso Cano.

According to this daily:

The FARC have declared themselves disposed to exchange 40
hostages, Betancourt among them (also with French
citizenship), three U.S. citizens, as well as other
politicians, police, and members of the Colombian army, for
around 500 imprisoned guerrillas. Among the prisoners that
the FARC would like to exchange, are three who've been
extradited to the United States. One of them, Ricardo
Ovidio Palmera, Simón Trinidad.

According to the French daily, Le Figaro, the French
emissaries, Noel Saéz, and the Swiss, Jean-Pierre Gontard,
met last Sunday or Monday in the Colombian jungle with a
person close to the new head of the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC), Alfonso Cano.

Already, two weeks prior, sources close to the French
government, indicated that France had managed to make
contact with the new FARC secretariat, even though the
French ambassador in Colombia denied it at the time.

In Colombia, the daily El Tiempo, close to the government,
acknowledged that the international delegates may have met
with Alfonso Cano:

Those charged with the task are the French Noël Saez and
the Swiss Jean Pierre Gontard, authorized by the government
to work with the subversive group in order to find a way to
frree the hostages.

A source from the Colombian government confirmed that "the
two Europeans began their journey to firm up the meeting
three days ago," in an unidentified area.

The same source did not rule out that the meeting had been
with the guerrilla leader who replaced Manuel Marulanda
Vélez 'Tirofijo,' who died in March.

This would mean that communication channels with the FARC,
which had been practically closed since the death of 'Raúl
Reyes' on March 1, had begun to open again.

Government Guarantees

"The government is guaranteeing the two facilitators
passage to make these contacts. They have been given the
facilities so that the meeting may be successful,"
indicated an official.

The Colombian government also reported that the two
diplomats were going to ask the FARC to accept a proposal
for a meeting area in order to begin dialogue over an
eventual humanitarian exchange.

The Colombian government's version of the liberation is
that soldiers infiltrated the guerrilla [camp] having
tricked the FARC commander César, in order to gather the
hostages and put them in a helicopter which turned out to
be an army camouflage; giving the guerrilla leader the
impression that they were being moved to a meeting with
Alfonso Cano, the head of the FARC. The question that hangs
over this version is whether the guerrillas in charge of
the hostages already had guidelines for an imminent
release, and were therefore easily and naively disposed to
collaborate with such a suspicious transfer. Or to what
extent the liberation was already agreed upon between the
FARC leadership and the mediators sent by France and, at
the last minute, the Colombian army intercepted the
liberation in order to present it as a successful military

In fact, it would be a similar operation to that which took
place when Raúl Reyes' camp was bombed in Ecuador. On that
occasion, the Colombian government knew that liberation was
brewing and preferred to militarily eliminate the guerrilla
spokesmen even if it would abort the liberation, while in
this case the release flight was intercepted in order to
present it as a success exclusively belonging to the
military and government.

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of
translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may
be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and
the source, author, and translator are cited.


Wednesday, 2 July 2008


The Movement for Democratic Change: The Continuity of its Theoretical and Practical Weaknesses

By Sehlare Makgetlaneng*
Race & History
June 10, 2008

"The fight against Zimbabwe is a fight against us all. Today it is Zimbabwe, tomorrow it will be South Africa, it will be Mozambique, it will be Angola, it will be any other African country. Any government that is perceived to be strong, and to be resistant to imperialists, would be made a target and be undermined. So let us not allow any point of weakness in the
solidarity of the SADC, because that
weakness will also be
transferred to the rest of Africa."

—Thabo Mbekii(1)

The Movement for Democratic Change is characterised by
unique and frightening theoretical and practical
weaknesses. It is as if it is not an opposition political
party in the former settler colonial society in the region
which was the victim of settler colonial rule. It has no
position on imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism,
racism, globalisation and north-south relations. Despite
acute problems confronted by the masses of the Zimbabwean
people on a daily basis, its strategy and tactics have been
failing to meet their demands and needs. The consequence
has been that they do not recognise them as expressions of
their own experience. Its remaining alternative to defeat
the Zimbabwean African National Union - Patriotic Front
(ZANU-PF) to be in power in Zimbabwe is the ballot box. The
purpose of this work is to demonstrate that the MDC's
profound theoretical and practical weaknesses have
continued increasing. In its achievement in the March 2008
presidential and parliamentary elections, the MDC have
exposed the continuity of its theoretical and practical
weaknesses. It is as if it does not have serious organic
intellectuals capable of articulating appropriate strategy
and tactics, nationally, regionally, continentally and
internationally. Who are its leading intellectuals and

The MDC maintain the thesis of the primacy of external
factors over internal factors. While it maintains that
ZANU-PF is responsible for socio-political and economic
problems in the country, or that their sources are
internal, it maintain that their solution is external. It
maintains that leaders of some other African countries,
particularly President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, are
crucial for solving these problems and the survival of the
Mugabe administration as well as ZANU-PF as the ruling
party. The incorrect thesis of the primacy of external
factors over internal factors either in the resolution or
maintenance of Zimbabwean problems is maintained even by
some of those who declare to be against it. They maintain
it when they argue that external actors are critical to the
continued survival of the Mugabe administration. Ian
Phimister and Brian Raftopoulos defend this thesis when
they maintain that "the support of President Thabo Mbeki
has all along been crucial for survival of Mugabe's
regime." Leaders of the whole Southern and Central Africa
have also enabled the regime to survive. As the "ZANU-PF
government" effectively suspended the rule of law" in its
attempts to "bludgeon its opponents into silence, it has
enjoyed the support provided by the so-called 'quiet
diplomacy' and 'constructive engagement' of other Southern
and Central African governments."(2) A critical and
objective analysis of the state of the MDC will support the
fact that internal factors, not external factors, have been
crucial for survival of the Mugabe administration.
Highlighting its practical and theoretical weaknesses,
Dumisani Muleya maintains that it is:

getting into a state of paralysis. After defeating Mugabe
and his ruling Zanu (PF) [in the 29 March 2008 elections],
the MDC seems to have run out of ideas.

The trouble is that the opposition has no serious leverage
to change the situation. Its attempt at mass action a few
weeks ago was a damp squib. The truth is that even if the
MDC is popular with the masses, it is structurally brittle
and lacks strong leadership. It has no capacity to deal
with Mugabe's hardened regime. It has been consistently
outflanked in the streets by Mugabe's brutal security
forces and outmanoeuvred at the negotiating table.

The power relations still favour Mugabe, due to his control
of the instruments of repression. There is a need for the
MDC to be more dynamic to avoid becoming paralysed. The
party also needs to rely more on formal structures to make
critical decisions on the way forward, rather than ghostly
characters or money grubbers with narrow vested interests.
The party risks being hijacked by money mongers, especially
now that it is on the verge of gaining power.(3)

After the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission delayed to
announce the results of the March 2008 presidential and
parliamentary elections, maintaining that the MDC won the
presidential elections and that it had obtained the
required percentage for it to be in charge of the political
administration of the society, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai
moved from one administrative capital to another
administrative capital of Southern Africa meeting political
leaders of the region asking them for support for his
political party. These are some of the leaders his
organisation has been not only avoiding, but regarding as
central to the survival of the Mugabe administration. The
issue of mobilising the masses of the people to support
what the MDC said was its overwhelming victory in the
presidential and parliamentary elections was avoided.

Barney Mthombothi in 2004 maintained that, instead of
mobilising its supporters, the MDC "has been wasting time
on fervent pleas to the international community."
Tsvangirai and his colleagues should recognise the reality
in practice that the masses of the people of Zimbabwe are
"the fount of their credibility, legitimacy, power and
authority" and that when "the masses are properly mobilised
no autocrat, no matter how powerful or repressive, can rule
them against their will for any length of time." He
concluded that the MDC's "tactic so far has been to appeal
for international assistance in the form of sanctions and
boycotts without a concomitant intensive mobilisation of
the masses within the country" and that this tactic is
incorrect in that it fails to come to grips with the
reality that the "home front is the theatre, the crucible,
of the struggle" or that the "engine of the opposition is
in Zimbabwe, not outside" the country.(4) Briefly, "the key
catalyst for change" in Zimbabwe "remains Zimbabweans."(5)
This position is the advice to the MDC - the advice it has
refused to recognise in theory and practice in its
insistence that the solution to Zimbabwe's problems is
primarily external, not internal. The MDC under the
leadership of Tsvangirai is still embarking upon this
programme of action. After the Zimbabwean Electoral
Commission delayed to announce the result of the March 2008
presidential and parliamentary elections, maintaining that
the MDC won the presidential elections and that it has
obtained the percentage for it to be in charge of the
political administration of the society, Tsvangirai moved
from one administrative capital to another administrative
capital of Southern Africa meeting political leaders of the
region asking them for support for his political party.
These are some of the leaders his organisation has been not
only avoiding, but regarding as central to the survival of
the Mugabe administration.

Tendai Biti, secretary general of the MDC, in his speech at
the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation symposium in
Cape Town on 8 May 2008, pointing out that there must be "a
commitment to democratisation, social and economic
reconstruction and national healing" in Zimbabwe, concluded
that the Southern African Development Community, the
African Union and South Africa "have a duty to play their
part" to serve as "the midwife to deliver the baby" and
that "Zimbabweans did what they could" in bringing into
existence "the people's victory of 2008" elections whose
recognition is essential.(6) In a typical MDC appeal to
"international community" and threat of mass action if it
does not do what it is being asked to do, Biti concluded in
his speech: "Leadership must emerge from the international
community to fill the vacuum of mediocrity, inaction and
paralysis. Without this the population of Zimbabwe might
have no option but to fight back."(7) What Biti refuses to
acknowledge is that if the MDC is committed in practice to
"democratisation, social and economic reconstruction and
national healing" in the country, it must wage a war
against itself being the organisation accused even by some
of its members of providing the leadership of "mediocrity,
inaction and paralysis" in the resolution of the Zimbabwean
national question. The responsibility to bring this popular
national development into existence in Zimbabwe lies on the
shoulders of the people of the country. For the political
party to spend time, energy and resources criticising
leaders of other countries for not committing themselves to
resolving national problems it declares to be the primary
reason behind its establishment is to maintain that it is
not capable not only to achieve this national objective,
but also of serving as a genuine national leader, leading
the people into achieving and defending their strategic and
tactical interests. This position is supportive of the
position that the MDC is a front of imperialist forces as
the Mugabe administration maintains.

What is the MDC's minimum programme of action? Does it mean
that the MDC is of the view that it is possible to realise
its objectives without mobilising the masses of the people
and without their active participation in the struggle?
Official documents and speeches of leaders of any
organisation articulating popular democratic grievances and
aspirations in theory and practice reflect, among others,
that it has conducted a careful and concrete study of the
concrete socio-political and economic conditions in the
country as well as its problems, their form and content,
causes and consequences. Secondly, they reflect that it has
executed the task of studying members of the society to
ascertain their grievances and aspirations. This
theoretical task enables it to find out which grievances
and aspirations are common to the majority of the members
of the society in order to base its minimum programme of
action on them. This theoretical task serves the practical
task of solving common grievances and achieving common
aspirations. This is not the case with the MDC whose
theoretical method consists of pre-conceived views of the
national situation, ZANU-PF, Mugabe's administration and
their alleged African allies whose support we are told is
essential for their survival and also, by implication,
whose withdrawal of their support is essential for the
solution of the country's problems.

The MDC is not facing the critical structural and
fundamental challenges progressive and revolutionary
organisation are confronting. These challenges are that:

In as much as the slave cannot ask the slave-master to
provide the strategy and tactics for a successful uprising
of the slaves, so must we, who are hungry and treated as
minors in a world of adults, also take upon ourselves the
task of defining the new world order of prosperity and
development for all and equality among nations of the

For the weak to challenge the strong has never been easy.
Neither will it be easy to challenge powerful vested
interests on the current and entrenched orthodoxies about
the modern world economy.(8)

The MDC's means of mobilisation of resources for the
resolution of Zimbabwe's problems is characterised by its
continued efforts to attract and preserve political,
ideological and economic investment of advanced capitalist
countries to itself and its cause. It regards and accepts
their political, ideological and economic goodwill as of
crucial importance in achieving its objective to be in
power so as to achieve governance, democracy and
development objectives it has set for the country. This is
the same issue of subordinating Zimbabwe's development to
the resources of the political, economic and financial
forces of developed countries. The key issue is not that
these forces have proved to be not reliable when it comes
to the development of Africa and that of the majority of
its people, but that they are structural enemies of Africa
and the masses of its people. By acting in alliance with
these forces in the adoption, formulation and
implementation of strategy and tactics for a successful
achievement of its objectives, the MDC is providing them
with powerful weapons to create Zimbabwe under its
leadership in their own image.

When the MDC promised to march on the State House and bring
"millions onto the streets" in what it regarded as the
"final push" on Mugabe and the ZANU-PF to defeat them, it
displayed its practical and theoretical weaknesses. Jono
Waters maintained that because of its lack of appropriate
strategy and tactics, it failed to capture the imagination
of Zimbabweans in the process.

However, it was a promise that the MDC failed to come close
to achieving. Almost no one turned out, partly because of
the heavy state security presence, but largely because of
the MDC's own lack of organisation, unimaginative ideas and
ability to play straight into government hands.

The MDC as a party is disorganised and has been slow to
capitalise on building structures in the "high density
suburbs" or townships, where most of its support is. I
regularly asked my staff if they were going to take part in
MDC mass action. No, because firstly they don't know what
to do as there is no organisation and secondly, they
reckoned someone else would do the marching.(9)

Waters provides some of the key reasons why the MDC
maintains the position that the solution to Zimbabwe's
problems is external, not internal and that external
factors, not internal factors, have been crucial for
survival of the Mugabe administration.

There now exists what Zanu (PF) rightly calls
anti-government non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who
pour thousands of dollars into opposition coffers. I would
go as far as to say that these NGOs have been a major
contributor to the downfall of democracy in Zimbabwe.

For two reasons: the government has capitalised on it by
making the link with "meddling in Zimbabwe's affairs"; more
importantly, people do not see an opposition leadership
that struggles and thinks and feels with them. They see a
bunch of greedy, US [United States] dollar salaried, Pajero

The foreign press also gives the MDC more credit than it
deserves. Whether or not these "correspondents" were
sitting in Johannesburg or London (where it appears most
now are), or even Harare, they would draw the same pro-MDC

When the most recent "action" [final push march] failed,
the MDC was then able to hide behind an easy excuse for
their inability to organise - with the foreign press being
their apologists - Mugabe's brutal and despotic regime.
Yes, it is brutal and despotic. But the point that keeps
getting missed is that most of Zimbabwe's cowed and
subjugated population appear to feel the MDC is not worth
being beaten up or, let alone dying for.

Repressive regimes ultimately implode, but what sustains
this one to some extent is a general lack of belief the MDC
will be any better running the country.(10)

Given its unique and frightening lack of appropriate
strategy and tactics, does it mean that there is no
alternative for it to defeat ZANU and assume power? Its
remaining alternative is the ballot box through which to
achieve this objective.

Waters correctly maintained that the MDC's "greatest
mistake was" that "it did not capitalise on people's anger
quickly enough" when, after the presidential election in
March 2002, "the people were angry in what appeared to be a
manipulated outcome."(11) It intensified this "greatest
mistake" after the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission delayed
to announce the results of the March 2008 presidential and
parliamentary elections and when after more and more people
agreed with it that it won not only parliamentary
elections, but also the presidential elections for its
leader to be the president of the country. Instead of
capitalising on "people's anger" and mobilising them into
decisive mass action for what it regarded as its
overwhelming victory in these elections to be recognised
(as Biti maintained that this recognition is essential), it
displayed in theory and practice its leadership of
"mediocrity, inaction and paralysis."

In a damaging e-mail note (by William Bango as Tsvangirai's
spokesperson, to the party's leader based in Belgium
representing it to the European Union, Grace Kwinje), the
practical and theoretical weakness of Tsvangirai and the
MDC are pointed out as articulated by some of its members.
It was leaked to the state-owned Sunday Mail on 8 June
2008. In Bango's words:

They complain that the MDC is a spineless party with a
leadership that is scared to nothing (sic). They say all
kinds of unkind words for Morgan Tsvangirai ... he is a
poor strategist ... he is a condom that we will quickly
take off once we are satisfied with what we are doing... he
is a coward, why is he not marching with everyone, why is
he not in front, why is he still going to court if it is
the finish push.(12)

Bango was attempting to brush aside criticisms of
Tsvangirai by some party members. These criticisms of
Tsvangirai constitute invaluable advice to him, his
advisors and his colleagues in the leadership of the
organisation. Tsvangirai has continued refusing to
recognise this advice in theory and practice by not
willingly seeing to it that the organisation critically
assess its theoretical positions as it confronts the
practical question as to what is to be done to achieve its
strategic and tactical objectives. The critical assessment
of positions is a task specified by political practice, as
any serious organisation constituting the realisation of
the unity of theory and practice under the dominance of
practice confronts the current situation for its concrete
understanding, confrontation and resolution.

After the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission delayed to
announce the results of the March 2008 presidential and
parliamentary elections and when after more and more people
agreed it won parliamentary and presidential elections for
him to be the president of the country, Tsvangirai went
into a self-imposed exile concentrating on mobilising
diplomatic pressure against Mugabe. Instead of capitalising
on the immediate post-March 2008 electoral crisis and
mobilising Zimbabweans into decisive mass action for what
the MDC regarded as its overwhelming victory in these
elections to be recognised and affirmed, he displayed in
theory and practice his leadership of "mediocrity, inaction
and paralysis" by refusing to return to the country to lead
the presidential run-off election campaign. He cited an
alleged plot by the military to assassinate him as the
reason behind his decision of postponing his return to the
country. Zimbabwean analysts maintained that regardless of
the security danger he may have faced, his absence from the
country to lead from the front raised negative questions
about his leadership qualities and his willingness to put
his safety or security on the line at the crucial time when
the MDC constantly maintained that many of its members and
supporters were being killed and continue being killed.

John Makumbe, political scientist at the University of
Zimbabwe maintained that if Tsvangirai "doesn't come back"
home "he will be demonstrating that he is fearful of
Mugabe, therefore he is less of a leaders than Mugabe and
that will have very serious implications on his qualities
as a leader."(13) Bill Saidi, deputy editor of the
independent newspaper The Standard, maintained that,
through his self-imposed exile, Tsvangirai has created
impression that he is more concerned about his security
than that of the members and supporters of the organisation
under his leadership. This is "not heroism at all. If you
are in a struggle ... and if you are not in front to back
your people, then you weaken the struggle."(14) According
to Jonathan Moyo, former Minister of Information and
Publicity, Tsvangirai is damaging his reputation as a
leader prepared to be with the members and supporters of
the party. Maintaining that at issue is "not about losing
or winning the runoff, but his credibility as a national
leader who is able to be with the people" and that he
should "stop behaving like an opposition leader and behave
like a leader of a government-in-waiting." He concludes:
"All national leaders are under daily security threat but
they don't allow those threats to shape their agenda. You
can't wish to be president of Zimbabwe by remote control.
Each day he spends out of the country is very costly to

Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, attempted to gloss
over Tsvangirai's prolonged self-imposed exile by
maintaining that questions should be raised about Mugabe
and his administration rather than about Tsvangirai and the
MDC. For him: "The issue is about violence and the killing
of people and the pressure should be put on the Zanu (PF)
regime to end the violence. The regime is on the
rampage."(16) Eldred Masunungure, political scientist at
the University of Zimbabwe, like Makumbe, Saidi and Moyo,
disagrees with Chamisa's position. His position is that
Tsavngirai's decision to stay outside the country at such a
crucial time in the history of the struggle of the
organisation to defeat the ZANU-PF "is ill-advised and very
damaging." The point is that: "Once you decide to get into
politics you should be prepared to take risks. You should
be prepared to take risks. You should not be like a general
who abandons his troops at a crucial moment."(17) Central
to this criticism is that, by going into self-imposed exile
and prolonging it, he betrayed the trust of the MDC members
and supporters and the national confidence in himself. He
enabled Mugabe and ZANU-PF to recapture the ground they
lost and set the agenda impelling him and the MDC to react
to it. If leaders of political parties declaring to be for
popular social change indicate that they are not willing to
risk their lives and possessions for the achievement of
their strategic and tactical objectives, why should their
members and supporters do what they are not prepared to do?
Responding to this criticism levelled against him even by
some of his allies and supporters, he ended his
self-imposed exile on 24 May 2008 by leaving South Africa
for Zimbabwe.

The position defended by Phimister and Raftopoulos that the
support of Mbeki has been crucial for survival of the
Mugabe administration is also defended by Morgan
Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai continues blaming South African
foreign policy towards Zimbabwe for its problems. He
continues demanding that President Thabo Mbeki should
contribute towards their resolution. The MDC under his
leadership has failed to provide external actors with
platforms to contribute towards support to the resolution
of Zimbabwe's problems. It has failed to provide them with
platforms to render support to itself. Addressing the
Foreign Correspondents' Association of Southern Africa on
13 February 2008 in Johannesburg, he pointed out that Mbeki
should have "a little courage" by criticising Mugabe in
public since he does not have to fear that Mugabe would
send him to jail. Mbeki "can break his policy of quiet
support for the dictatorship in Zimbabwe" and "add his
voice to those demanding free and fair elections in
Zimbabwe." Mbeki does not need to fear to face risks
members and supporters of the opposition are taking on a
daily basis. He "can do it without taking the risks that we
taking. He won't be arrested, teargassed, beaten, charged
with treason, he won't see his supporters killed." He
continued: "Only a little courage is required - the courage
to speak the unpleasant truth, the courage to see what is
before him." Mbeki "owes it to our common African humanity;
he owes it to his own people - who are seeing refugees
streaming into their cities, taking their jobs, crowding
their cities, dying on their streets" in South Africa.
Tsvangirai warned that if Mbeki does not solve Zimbabwe's
problems, South Africa might soon be "overwhelmed by the
tragedy of Zimbabwe." In his words: "President Mbeki, if
you won't do it for us, if you won't do it for Africa, do
it for your own country. Do it for your legacy. You have
invited the world to see what freedom and democracy has
done for South Africa [and] for the World Cup. Do not allow
your South Africa to be overwhelmed by the tragedy of
Zimbabwe."(18) Why if Mbeki does not solve Zimbabwe's
problems, South Africa might soon be "overwhelmed by the
tragedy of Zimbabwe?" One of the reasons why is because,
according to him, the 29 March elections were not going to
be free and fair. This line of reasoning is not new. It is
what the MDC faction under his leadership has been saying,
that South Africa should contribute towards resolution of
Zimbabwe by acting against Mugabe. Its supporters have been
regarding Mugabe as authoritarian, corrupt and a dictator
who has been stealing elections since the MDC posed a
serious challenge to his rule in the 2000 elections. He is
seen as a threat to the socio-political and economic
development and progress not only of Zimbabwe and Southern
Africa, but also of the whole African continent, Africa's
initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa's
Development and Africa's relations with the Western
European countries. Leaders of developed countries have
exerted pressure upon the leaders of Southern African
countries to join them in condemning Mugabe, demanding that
South Africa should play a leading role in acting against
Mugabe because of what they regard as his administration's
violations of human rights.

It is interesting to note that leaders of developed
countries and their allies throughout the world do not
criticise atrocious violations of human rights in some
other countries. At issue is hypocrisy or double standards
on their part. Khathu Mamaila maintains that hypocrisy or
double standards of the West has helped Mugabe to maintain
his grip on power. He cites some "crimes" constantly
mentioned in the criticism of the Mugabe administration.
These are examples of this hypocrisy or these double
standards. Firstly, is the issue of the suppression of the
media by the Mugabe administration. Mamaila maintains that
on this issue, the Mugabe administration "is not the
worst." He cites "the case of two Ethiopian journalists
arrested for "outrage against the constitution." They "face
execution or life sentence if convicted. There is no public
outrage about this" from the West and the fundamentalist
critics of the Mugabe administration. There are other
"worse humanitarian crises on the continent" and throughout
the world. He cites the case of the genocide in Darfur and
"unending fighting" in the Democratic Republic of

Mamaila maintains that at issue in the hypocrisy or double
standards of the West and its allies is "the need to
understand the lack of legitimacy of the anti-Mugabe
efforts." On the so-called invasion of the Zimbabwean land
by African Zimbabweans, his position is that those who
attacked Mugabe for "giving" Africans land "lacked
legitimacy because they have failed to condemn the
obscenity of fewer than 4000 white farmers owning more than
70% of the arable land."(20) These forces lack legitimacy
primarily because they are leaders and theoreticians of the
forces of the sagacious dispensation of legitimised
rapacity and sanctioned organised theft on an international
scale. This system structurally protects thieves who
transform themselves into legitimate owners who invoke the
rule of law and order upon establishing themselves in
possession of what they have stolen including the land.

Leaders of developed countries and their allies focus
exclusively on human rights issues in the country. Despite
governance, democracy and development challenges it is
facing, Zimbabwe since achievement of its political
independence in 1980 held elections every five years. Its
record of holding elections is more progressive than that
of a considerable number of African countries. Opposition
political parties participated in these elections. This
development has not been the case with some allies of the
United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain in
Africa. Some of them are unelected presidents of their
countries. Gordon Brown himself is an unelected prime
minister of his country. Seretse Ian Khama of Botswana, the
son of the country's first president, and Jose Eduardo dos
Santos of Angola are unelected presidents of their
countries. Some of their allies in the continent refuse to
subject themselves to procedural motions of transparent,
credible, free and fair elections. Leaders of developed
countries and their allies do not criticise them. When they
criticise some of them, their criticism is moderate if not

The United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain
demanded the immediate resignation of Mugabe and his
handover of state political power to Tsvangirai after their
satisfaction that their ally overwhelmingly defeated him in
the March 2008 presidential elections. This position was
articulated, among others, by the United States Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer. The
MDC maintained and defended this position. Its allies
regarded this development as their historical opportunity
to effect regime change in the country they have chosen for
this process. African countries refused to join developed
countries in their demand that Mugabe should leave office.
They are fully aware of their regime change agenda in the
country and their hypocrisy and double standards. The
United States initially supported the re-election of
President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya despite international
opposition to the obvious rigging that characterised the 27
December 2007 presidential elections and the national and
international popular position that the process was won by
Raila Odinga, the leader of the Orange Democratic Movement.
The Bush administration sent its glowing congratulations to
Kibaki and the Kenyan Electoral Commission urging "all
candidates to accept the Commission's results." Kibaki, the
leader of the Party of National Unity, a staunch ally of
the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and a leader of the "frontline state in the global war on
terrorism" had to be supported. The issue of their
interests is primary in relation to their declared
commitment to good governance and human rights including
transparent, credible, free and fair elections. Their
practice of hypocrisy or double standards applies to other
countries throughout the world.

Business Day in its 15 May 2008 editorial entitled,
'Scapegoats' maintains that "there is a convincing argument
that Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy" is directly responsible for
much of the influx of Zimbabweans."(xxi) Tony Leon, foreign
affairs spokesperson of the Democratic Alliance, quoted
approvingly The Economist statement of April 2008 that
"South Africa's president has prolonged Zimbabwe's
agony."(21) This position basically means that South Africa
is responsible for socio-political and economic problems
which have led not only Zimbabweans, but also people of
other countries to leave their countries for South Africa
and other countries. Mbeki and South Africa are used as
scapegoats for governance, democracy and development
failures of some countries.

According to this position, the African National Congress
(ANC), not the MDC, not to mention the Zimbabwean African
National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) which is
regarded as the problem, is central not only to sustaining
Zimbabwe's national problems, but also to their solution.
It is obvious that this position is incorrect and that it
degrades the people of Zimbabwe. Those who maintain and
defend it are fully aware of this reality. They do not
believe their propaganda. The fact that this position is
incorrect is not the issue. The issue is what it intends to
achieve. It is the tactical means to achieve the strategic
objective. Central to its demands is that the ANC
government should allow itself to be used as the
organisational means to effect regime change for the MDC to
be in power in Zimbabwe for the advancement of the
strategic interests of imperialism and its allies. One of
these demands is that the ANC should "play a role in
getting rid of Mugabe" for it to set "a precedent" for
itself and to see itself having "taken a step along the
road from revolutionary liberation movement to political
party"(23) or for South Africa not to implement the
theoretical understanding that "so long as imperialism is
in existence, an independent African state must be a
liberation movement in power, or it will not be
independent."(24) It is a tragedy of Zimbabwean politics of
opposition that as the leading opposition political party
striving to be in power, the MDC continues regarding
individuals maintaining these positions as its supporters -
individuals who have proved through their works including
writings that they are against the interests of Africa and
its masses of people. It has failed to mobilise the masses
of the Zimbabwean people into decisive mass action to
achieve its objective to be in power. Its only remaining
alternative to defeat ZANU-PF is through the ballot box. If
it assumes power, will it be able to meet the demands of
its powerful external supporters without meeting the
national popular demands, particularly of the working class
in the cities and urban areas which constitutes its crucial
support base? Will it not be regarded as lacking the
political will in the language of structural adjustment
programme in managing national affairs in its exercise of
political power?

Why has the MDC failed to provide
alternative vision and agenda of the future Zimbabwe to
that offered by leaders of imperialist countries and the
international organisations such as the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank controlled by these
countries? The strategic tasks confronting the masses of
Zimbabweans are primarily political, not economic. Who
should be their national president and why? How should
their national problems be resolved? What should be the
nature of the future Zimbabwe's relations with its regional
and continental African countries and the rest of the
world, particularly imperialist countries? How best and
effectively to improve the material conditions of the
millions of Zimbabweans? These are some of the questions
which should be answered to the satisfaction of the
majority of Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe's national problems
should be viewed beyond the conflict between the MDC and
the ZANU-PF and their leaders. The centrality of their
resolution is the issue of confronting them in the resolute
struggle against internal and external enemies and to
transform the society's governance, democracy and
development dynamics in the interest of the masses of its
people. Briefly, at issue is the struggle to effect the
fundamental socio-political, economic and ideological
transformation of the state and the society, not only a
rearrangement at the top of the society. It is on this
strategic issue central to the resolution of the Zimbabwean
national problems that the MDC is lacking. This explains
why a considerable number of individuals maintain that the
solution to Zimbabwe's problems lies within ZANU-PF, not
within the MDC. The struggle to resolve these problems
including power relations between imperialist countries and
the country are fought within ZANU-PF, not within the MDC.
Zimbabwe's contribution to the struggle against imperialism
regionally in Southern Africa, continentally in Africa and
beyond the continent will serve the country under the
leadership of ZANU-PF, not of the MDC.


* Dr. Sehlare Makgetlaneng is a social science researcher with Governance and Democracy research unit of the Africa Institute of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa.

1. Thabo Mbeki's statement at the Extra-Ordinary Southern
African Development Community Summit of Heads of State and
Government in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 29 March 2007.

Ian Phimister and Brian Raftopolous, "Mugabe, Mbeki and the
Politics of Anti-Imperialism," Review of African Political
Economy, Vol. 31, No. 101, September 2004, p. 385.

Dumisani Muleya, "Zimbabwe suffers in total paralysis,"
Business Day (Johannesburg), 12 May 2008, p. 11.

Barney Mthombothi, "Why Mugabe still wields power?" The
Star (Johannesburg), 3 November 2004, p. 14.

5. Khathu
Mamaila, "Double Trouble: Hypocrisy helps Mugabe to
maintain his grip on power," City Press (Johannesburg), 22
July 2007, p. 22.

6. Tendai Biti, "Zimbabwe: where to
now?" Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg), May 16 to 22, 2008,
p. 33.

7. Ibid.

8. Department of Foreign Affairs of
South Africa, Speech of the Deputy President of the
Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the Opening of
the Ministerial Meeting of the X11 Summit of Heads of State
and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, Durban, South
Africa, 31 August 1998, X11 Summit Conference of Heads of
State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, Durban
1998: Basic Documents, 29 August to 3 September 1998,
Durban, South Africa, Pretoria: Department of Foreign
Affairs, 1998, p. 230.

9. Jono Waters, "Failed 'big push'
on Mugabe exposes hubris of MDC," Business Day
(Johannesburg), 30 June 2003, p. 11.

10. Ibid.


12. William Bango, quoted in Waters, "Failed 'big
push' on Mugabe exposes hubris of MDC," p. 11

13. John
Makumbe, quoted in Susan Njanji, "'You can't be president
by remote control': Tsvangirai's stayaway is 'damaging his
credibility,'" Business Day (Johannesburg), 20 May 2008, p.

14. Bill Saidi, quoted in Njanji, "'You can't be
president by remote control': Tsvangirai's stayaway is
'damaging his credibility,'" p. 7.

15. Jonathan Moyo,
quoted in Njanji, "'You can't be president by remote
control': Tsvangirai's stayaway is 'damaging his
credibility,'" p. 7.

16. Nelson Chamisa, quoted in
Njanji, "'You can't be president by remote control':
Tsvangirai's stayaway is 'damaging his credibility,'" p.

17. Eldred Masunungure, quoted in Njanji, "'You can't
be president by remote control': Tsvangirai's stayaway is
'damaging his credibility,'" p. 7.

18. Address by Morgan
Tsvangirai, leader of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic
Change, to the Foreign Correspondents' Association of
Southern Africa, February 13, 2008
(, page 3
of 7.

19. Khathu Mamaila, "Double Trouble: Hypocrisy
helps Mugabe to maintain his grip on power," City Press
(Johannesburg), 22 July 2007, p. 22.

20. Ibid.

Business Day, "Scapegoats," Business Day (Johannesburg), 15
May 2008, p. 12.

22. The Economist, quoted in Tony Leon,
"South Africa and Zimbabwe," Business Day (Johannesburg),
29 April 2008, p. 9.

23. John Kane-Berman, "Good time to
reconsider ANC-Zanu (PF) kinship," Business Day
(Johannesburg), 15 May 2008, p. 13.

24. Amilcar Cabral,
Unity and Struggle: Speeches and Writings of Amilcar
Cabral, New York and London: Monthly Review Press, 1979, p.