The United States and Australian governments, colluding with Harare-based functionaries, are working hard to revive their discredited claim that Zimbabwe is in deep crisis and unready for foreign investment, it has been established.
Information gathered by The Sunday Mail over the past two weeks indicates Washington is trying to build an international case of an ungovernable country to pursue the secondary stage of its broad regime change agenda, which is to push out President Mugabe before he completes his first five-year term under the 2013 Constitution.
The plan is premised on three planks: politics, using opposition elements; the economy, focusing on frustrating access to FDI and discrediting local diamond mining; and civil society and the private media to spread the propaganda.
It is understood Washington and Canberra are funding NGOs to discredit Zimbabwe’s diamond mining sector ahead of the Kimberly Process Intercessional Meeting in Angola this month and elections for a new deputy chair of the KP Certification Scheme.
In April, there was an attempt to make it appear diamonds from Chiadzwa were being traded through illicit means, thereby disqualifying them from international trade.
This is because Zimbabwe is supporting the United Arab Emirates to take over the KP deputy chair post and is opposed to Australia’s bid.
Leakages of the precious stones have been acknowledged, but their scale is being misrepresented to discredit Zimbabwe. Government has identified diamond mining as a key pillar for economic revival.
The onslaught has been farcical to the point of claiming two firms – Africa Dune and Zimbabwe Diamond Opportunity – were registered to carry out illegal trade in diamonds and yet information from the Registrar of Companies indicates the pair do not exist as legal entities in the first place.
The “companies” were allegedly fronts for the Italian mafia and supposedly worked with unnamed senior Government officials to loot diamonds from Chiadzwa – claims that remain unsubstantiated.
Then Washington dispatched its deputy assistant secretary of state (African affairs) Shannon Smith to Harare three weeks ago under the guise of seeking re-engagement.
Officially, Smith met Government, business and civil society representatives to “get first-hand information on human rights, democracy and governance” since the adoption of the 2013 Constitution.
But sources indicated Smith also met opposition elements and embedded NGOs to craft a strategy to smear Zimbabwe’s image.
The sources said this interaction – read against MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s agitation last week for illegal vendors to defy Government and continue operating outside the law – showed there was appetite in the West for civil unrest in Zimbabwe.
It is understood activists are being sponsored to pose as illegal vendors protesting against regularisation of their activities.
The same week that these schemes were brewing, sacked Vice-President Joice Mujuru resurfaced to proclaim there were “undertones of national crisis”.
A Government source said all of this was “an escalation of a supposed crisis in Zimbabwe”.
“There are elements that want to create the false impression that the country is on the brink and that the economic and political situation is similar to that of 2008 and yet the nation has long since passed that phase and is firmly focused on socio-economic transformation.
“That is why all these things are happening simultaneously. This month, the KP will have a meeting, and all of a sudden we have stories of non-existent companies being linked to illegal diamond deals.
“This is all part of a grand plan to put Zimbabwe under the international spotlight and make it seem as though things are far from well here.”
The plot has gained momentum with Washington placing Zimbabwe under the US president’s Atrocities Prevention Board (APB), which focuses on instability hotspots.
An American inter-agency body, the APB was established three years ago by the Obama administration to place countries at the highest level of US government scrutiny.
The board comprises representatives of the departments of state, defence, treasury, justice and homeland security; the joint staff, USAid, the mission to the United Nations, the office of the director of national intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the office of the US vice-president.
Last Wednesday, a US house of representatives hearing of the sub-committee on Africa, global health, global human rights and international organisations sat in Washington to consider presentations on the future of US-Zimbabwe relations.
The eight-member committee, chaired by Republican lawmaker Christopher Smith, received presentations from deputy secretary of state Smith, Zimbabwean former commercial farmer Ben Freeth (fronting shadowy “pro-democracy” outfit Mike Campbell Foundation), and Solidarity Centre regional programmes director for Africa Imani Countess.
Smith expressed US authorities’ frustration at Africa’s continued support for Zimbabwe, adding that this had left the US in an “awkward” position.
He also bemoaned the fall from grace of Mujuru – who was fired from Government last year for colluding with other rogue elements to unconstitutionally unseat President Mugabe.
Mr Smith said: “As a hero of independence and a majority rule movement, however, Mugabe has enjoyed the support of many other African leaders who have considered him an honoured elder and have generally declined to join international efforts to sanction his Government.
“This has placed the United States in an awkward position with limited African support for economic and political reforms that the people so desperately need in Zimbabwe. As is the Government’s repressive tactics are not repressive enough, political jockeying in Zimbabwe including the dismissal of Vice-President Joice Mujuru places the succession of President Mugabe in doubt, which puts US policy in question.”
Deputy secretary of state Smith said the US government would work with NGOs to “promote our (US) values”.
And Countess bemoaned the US government’s cutting of financial support to NGOs in Zimbabwe by 40 percent, saying this had curtailed their operations.
On June 3, anti-Zimbabwe organisation, the Robert Kennedy F Centre for Human Rights, sponsored authoring of a sensational article on Zimbabwe calling on US intelligence agencies to remain close to developments in the country.
The article was titled “Ominous warning signs resurface in Zimbabwe” and it appeared in Foreign Policy magazine, an influential publication in the West.
It was co-authored by Jeff Smith of Robert F Kennedy Centre for Human Rights and Todd Moss of Global Development, and reads in part, “The Obama administration will need to keep a keen and close eye on the ongoing events in Zimbabwe, including tasking the intelligence services for an assessment of the potential for mass violence.”
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