by Omowale Clay
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
Jan. 30, the 54 nations of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government unanimously elected Robert G. Mugabe, president of the Republic of Zimbabwe, to its chairmanship. And with this chairmanship, which compliments his recent election to the chairmanship of the 14-member Southern African Development Community, Mugabe has emerged has one of the most powerful men in the world, representing Africa and its Diaspora.
Ironically, as most of the world applauds Mugabe in his new leadership roles, Western countries are still making him, the government’s leaders and the people of Zimbabwe targets of their “illegal” sanctions.
In his acceptance speech to the African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mugabe referenced the price one pays in holding true to the principles of the African liberation movement, stating, “Given that the continent is rich in mineral resources, such resources should be seen to contribute more meaningfully to Africa’s development … Since the majority of our people depend on the land for sustenance and livelihood, we need to ensure they have access to the land and that Africa’s vast agricultural potential is fully harnessed. The land reform program, that my government embarked upon since the year 2000, was precisely meant to achieve this, notwithstanding the political demonization that my country has endured from those who had selfish and vested interests in our land. The positive impact the program is having on some sections of our farmers has vindicated us. Our production in the tobacco sector, for example, has by far surpassed levels attained by former white farmers.”
In seeking to effect regime change in Zimbabwe, to reverse the land reform program’s transfer of stolen land back to its indigenous owners, the United States passed legislation (sponsored by Sens. Bill Frist, Jesse Helms, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton) called the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001. This legislation, passed to support private business interests in the U.S. and Britain that suffered monetary losses from Zimbabwe’s land reform program, is estimated to have cost the Zimbabwe economy $42 billion over the past 14 years.
The most recent presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe, held in 2013, where the people re-elected Mugabe by more than 65 percent and returned the ZANU-PF political party to an overwhelming majority rule in parliament, was certified by the African Union’s election observer team as free, fair, without violence or any significant irregularities.
In this light, the African Union, SADC, Non-Aligned Movement (103 countries) and the United Nations, along with many and various other international organizations and groupings, even within the U.S. and Western European countries, have called for the lifting of the “illegal” sanctions.
Here in the U.S., the December 12th Movement International Secretariat has consistently called attention to the injustice of ZDERA and the human rights abuses it has brought upon the people of Zimbabwe, where sanctions have halted medicine, medical supplies, agricultural supplies and fertilizers, access to international aid and loans, while creating the conditions for a cholera epidemic, food shortages and hyperinflation.
The ZDERA legislation gives the president of the United States, through executive order and certification, the power to lift the illegal sanctions against Zimbabwe and join the international community in respecting the people of Zimbabwe and the African Union electoral processes.
As we enter Black History Month 2015, we recall one of the adages of the late Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who instructed Black people, in our struggle for civil and human rights, “to use what’s in our hands”. Thus, the December 12th Movement International Secretariat, in heeding words of our former congressman, has launched a campaign called “Obama, With the Stroke of a Pen.” It recognizes that the first Black president of the United States has the power to recognize the will of Africa and the international community to do right by Zimbabwe and, with the stroke of a pen, lift the sanctions against Zimbabwe.
For further information on the campaign and Mugabe’s impact on the African Union, please call 718-398-1766.