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Zimbabwe: Mainstream Media Demonizes Mugabe

Western Support Damns Opposition

By Ayinde

Posted: March 25, 2007
Updated: March 27, 2007

This is a response to Raffique Shah's article "No place for monster Mugabe" that was published in the Trinidad Express on March 25, 2007 and also reproduced on Raffique's website at

From the onset let me say that given the sources of information most people are basing there opinions on, I am not surprised by nor am I opposed to people criticizing President Robert Mugabe or anyone else for that matter. It seems that, for the most part, many of Mugabe's critics resist any other views than the sordid ones they are presented with and that is what they share. I receive hate-filled emails from them and from the tone of the emails most are from a White point of view.

I am acutely aware that the West's interest in condemning and demonizing President Mugabe is motivated by their racist desire to ensure that the example Zimbabwe set by reclaiming land is not followed by other African nations and also to punish Zimbabwe for moving away from the IMF and World Bank policies.

The US has demonstrated this kind of conduct throughout its history in dealing with leaders who do not subscribe to their political agendas. They first fear that people could be inspired by a leader who challenges the status quo, and then they engage in a demonizing campaign in order to discredit that leader. They apply sanctions to the country and do all in their power to ruin the economy of that country. Then they blame the leader for destroying their own economy and hurting the people.

The most prominent earlier history of this conduct is with regards to Haiti. Current US actions towards Zimbabwe and president Robert Mugabe parallels with how the US president, Thomas Jefferson dealt with the Haitian Revolution and its leader, Toussaint L'Ouverture. Douglas Egerton, Professor of History at Le Moyne College in the discourse "Douglas Egerton on the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L'Ouverture, and Jefferson" had this to say:
[Thomas] Jefferson was terrified of what was happening in Saint Domingue. He referred to Toussaint's army as cannibals. His fear was that black Americans, like Gabriel, would be inspired by what they saw taking place just off the shore of America. And he spent virtually his entire career trying to shut down any contact, and therefore any movement of information, between the American mainland and the Caribbean island.

He called upon Congress to abolish trade between the United States and what after 1804 was the independent country of Haiti. He argued that France believed it still owned the island. In short, he denied that Haitian revolutionaries had the same right to independence and autonomy that he claimed for American patriots. And consequently, in 1805 and finally in 1806, trade was formally shut down between the United States and Haiti, which decimated the already very weak Haitian economy. And of course, Jefferson then argued this was an example of what happens when Africans are allowed to govern themselves: economic devastation, caused in large part by his own economic policies.
They have repeated this same action with Haiti culminating in the ouster of its first democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004. (See: Haiti Coup of 2004)

In Trinidad and Tobago, just like in many other countries, the critical African voice is not in the mainstream. The main sources of news and views on what takes place in Africa and other parts of the world come to Trinidad and Tobago via Western commercial media that takes their news from BBC, Reuters, and Associated Press.

As we know, once these main news feeds take a position on any issue, they bury opposing views as was the case during the 2002 attempted coup in Venezuela and the ouster of the Haitian President, Jean Bertrand Aristide from office in a February 2004 coup.

Today, it is no different concerning Zimbabwe. Added to the blackout of historical perspective on the issues in Zimbabwe and with the constant unsubstantiated yet demonizing reports of President Mugabe both in the local press and on the internet, it is no wonder most people actually believe what they read and hear from these Western sources.

Look at most of the pictures included in articles on Zimbabwe that are published by BBC, Reuters and Associated Press; we see a deliberate plan to use the worst possible images of President Mugabe in their efforts to advance their demonizing agenda.

How do people, especially those outside of Zimbabwe, know that President Mugabe ordered the police to beat harmless protesters at a prayer meeting? They get that information from the same mainstream media that demonizes President Mugabe at every turn.

Were the protesters really innocent people engaging in a prayer meeting? No. They used a Christianized front of praying to solicit sympathy from the Western audience as an attempt to appear pious in their efforts. In reality, the opposition has stated that they would try to remove the government by any means, with one opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, already stating that he would use violence: "What we would like to tell Mugabe is please go peacefully. If you don't want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently" (Opposition warning to Mugabe BBC 2000). The opposition groups were taking part in an illegal protest that the police attempted to stop. Several police officers were also beaten by protestors in that exercise. It was dishonest for the opposition to call that protest a prayer meeting. (See: Eyewitness: Harare's brutal clash BBC 2007)

As Stephen Gowans reminded us in his article "Mugabe Gets the Milosevic Treatment":
Last year Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of an opposing MDC faction, and eight of his colleagues, were thrown out of Zambia after attending a meeting arranged by the US ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, with representatives of Freedom House, a US ruling class organization that promotes regime change in countries that aren't sufficiently committed to free markets, free trade and free enterprise.
Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters were not innocent victims of the Zimbabwe government's aggression as the western media is making them out to be.

As Stephen Gowans further reminded us:
The timing of the MDC rally was suspicious (it coincided with the opening of the latest session of the UN Human Rights Council.) Its depiction as a prayer meeting is flagrantly disingenuous. Those of an unprejudiced mind will recognize it for what it was: a political rally, held in already volatile conditions, whose outcome would either be insurrection or a crackdown that could be used to call for tougher sanctions, even intervention.
Critics have also called into question Mugabe's wisdom in spending what was reported in the western press (yet to be confirmed) of around 1.2 million US dollars on his birthday celebration. But if we follow the same western media reports of this apparent extravagant party, we would see that the affair was more of a political campaign rally and celebration done to make political statements and to motivate his supporters (See: Zimbabwe's Mugabe vows to combat "regime change"). There were thousands of people present at this birthday celebration/political campaign. Mugabe's critics would of course not want him to spend any money campaigning, which leaves them to campaign with vast sums of dollars supplied by organiztions such as Freedom House funded by George Soros, the US State Department, the US Congress's National Endowment for Democracy and USAID.

Most political parties in power spend vast sums of money on entertainment and political campaigns and the US is no exception. Summaries of spending for the US 2004 presidential and congressional elections were projected to cost nearly 4 billion US dollars according to published reports on the internet. People often say that the US is a rich country and can afford those extravagances. Tell that to the poor Black victims of Hurricane Katrina or the other poor people daily victimized as the result of these and similar "extravagances".

Of course, I object to the obscene amount of funds that usually go into entertainment and campaigning that could have been better spent on the people. So any condemnation I have of this exercise (if the figures in the mainstream press are to be believed) is in context with the general nature of such spending. Depending on which side of the fence one sits on, one will either praise or fault this exercise, but this is not the reason the West is against President Mugabe: they are simply using every means available to demonize Mugabe.
"The United States government says it will continue to support opposition parties in Zimbabwe, with or without Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe president's approval." (US talk tough on Zimbabwe)
Now that the US has insolently declared that it will continue to support opposition parties whose goal is to bring down President Robert Mugabe's government, all of those opposition groups the US is assisting will never be able to command the support of the majority in Zimbabwe.

The US government in their ignorance and arrogance could be feeling they can simply give money to opposition groups to stir up unrest in the country and suddenly the masses will be on board. The grassroots in Zimbabwe know quite well who is responsible for their hardship; they know the draconian policies of the World Bank and IMF, introduced by the West, have never served their interest. They also know whose interest these opposition parties serve.

US, British and other European support for political groups in Zimbabwe is to further their imperialistic agendas and this spells doom for those parties in Zimbabwe. Much the same is true in Somalia, Haiti and many other countries today. When the US throws their support behind groups in those countries, the US is guaranteeing that the only way those groups can come to power is through coups or other undemocratic means.

It would be hard to believe the US is naive about this. It seems to be part of their plan to end democracy in countries to facilitate US influence through boughten regime changes. The US government knew that Jean-Bertrand Aristide had popular support in Haiti and all their efforts to demonize him did not diminish that grassroots support. They had to organize a rebellion and coup in order to get him out of office. The same holds true for President Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

It means nothing to US and European governments that President Mugabe democratically won elections and commands the support of the majority.
The ruling ZANU-PF Party of President Robert Mugabe increased its share of parliamentary seats in elections held last week that were widely condemned in the West as rigged. ZANU–PF won 78 seats out of a possible 120, whereas the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won only 41 seats–17 fewer than it won in 2000.

Criticism in the Western media focused on the refusal of Zimbabwe's government to allow international observers from the European Union and the Commonwealth to monitor the poll. Observers from the African Union, South Africa and other southern African countries claimed that the elections were "free and credible," and voting apparently proceeded without much violence, unlike elections in 2000 and 2002. (See: Western powers dispute Mugabe's victory in Zimbabwe poll by Chris Talbot 2005)
The US and European governments want their neocolonial policies in place and they also want the White minority to maintain economic and land control in Zimbabwe.


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