By Cde Chris Mutsvangwa
Last week, His Excellency Comrade Robert Mugabe had a historic State visit to China, the 13th such trip to the large and friendly nation since he started going there in 1977.
Then he was as a revolutionary leader who had in 1975 sneaked through the common border into newly-independent Mozambique of Frelimo’s Samora Machel.
His goal was to lead the war effort from where the fallen Herbert Chitepo, the Zanu Chair and intellectual founder of the Zanla forces, had left after being assassinated by enemy forces in Lusaka in 1975.
He now was in charge of that epic fight to dislodge a well-armed and deeply entrenched white racist minority that was the Rhodesian offshoot of the mighty British Empire.
The local Press – ever keen to fawn on behalf of erstwhile losing predators – has swung into full gear with the graphic fiction of a new imperial power called China and a prostrate victim called Zimbabwe being offered for sacrifice to Beijing by the cunning and West-hating statesman called Robert Mugabe.
One can understand the gnashing of teeth by the servile local apologists of a long lost empire. This trip number 13 should never ever have been, according to the script of Tony Blair, the Iraq War disgraced ex-British Premier.
Buoyed by the collapse of the Berlin wall and its engendered new triumphalism, he sought inspiration from yester-year British imperialists like Cecil John Rhodes to revive the Empire through the “awe and shock” doctrine of modern warfare against weak states.
By 2002, Robin Cook, his Foreign Secretary, had issued an ultimatum to Stansilaus Gorerazvo Mudenge to a fellow university aluminus during a Sadc meeting held in Maputo. Zimbabwe must forsake its game-changing land reform in favour of the majority indigenous blacks or Zanu-PF will be removed from power.
The bold, tenacious and steadfast revolutionary called Mugabe stared straight back into the menacing enemy and said “No, nada”.
Riding on the unipolar world power status of the US, Blair’s Britain sought ways to persuade, cajole and even threaten China to leave strong-headed and cheeky Mugabe to a fate wrought in London.
Years of experience and networking by British diplomacy as the lead nation of the modern Industrial Revolution in the advent of the modern nation state were now marshalled to squat the young land-locked but defiant Zimbabwe. Memory may recall the self-styled Blair Commission on Africa where some international luminaries and retired statesmen were hand-picked by the egoistic Tony Blair.
He even had the temerity to attempt to organise Blair Commission hearings in Beijing, excluding Zimbabwe.
Of course, as Zimbabwe’s Ambassador, I thwarted all that nonsense as I enjoyed full support from the host Chinese government.
Undeterred, Blair and successive British governments persisted with this futile endeavour until Mugabe’s fateful Zanu-PF victory in the July 31 elections of 2013 dashed all hopes with the demise of Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.
All along, the British foreign policy wonks at Whitehall had not heeded to decade-long quiet but sound advice from Beijing diplomats that taking on Mugabe’s Zanu-PF would not be a walk in the park even for seasoned British post-imperial designs. It is with this background that one needs to understand the 21-gun salute and sense of triumphant jubilation that was evinced in the just-ended State visit of President Mugabe to China.
Like the proverbial cat with nine lives, revolutionary Zimbabwe had once again fought, persevered and emerged victorious. Along the way, China’s friendship had shown an uncharacteristically open hand in the 1997 joint Moscow-Beijing veto of a Security Council Chapter 7 Resolution tendentiously contrived by London.
It is now dawning even on the allies and close friends of Britain that London’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Zimbabwe is premised upon a futility that is increasingly inflicting self-pain on the West as the global landscape changes.
The self-assuredness and very purposeful deliberations of the recent Sadc Summit at Victoria Falls where Mugabe was accorded Chairmanship of the influential regional group clearly marked the end of an era of post-imperial machinations in Southern Africa.
Indeed, since 1980, Zimbabwe has never had such a glorious time as the one it is enjoying today. This is Harare’s Finest Hour. For it has once again triumphed against the crush of the crocodile jaws or was it the python squeeze of Mighty British Albion and her allies in the West?
I take great pleasure in applauding the enlightened Zanu-PF Youths who are planning to go and welcome their all-conquering hero at the Harare International Airport on his return today.
I hope they present His Excellency with a hallowed garland. He more than deserves it.
Make no mistake, the heroic Zimbabweans have finally dispensed with a century-old enemy hewed in the means of imperial violence and schooled in post-imperial intrigue and trickery and menace. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!
As for the detracting stories of Zimbabwe, the new colony and China the new Empire builder, these are as much a product of gullible propaganda as they are of willful ignorance from the likes that never bother to understand the country’s epic military struggle to defeat British imperial order in Zimbabwe.
The quotes above from both the venerated New York Times and the imperial poet Kipling are clear homage to the role discharged by the Maxim machine gun in Britain’s empire-building.
The so-called Matebele War which destroyed the Ndebele Nation of King Lobengula was the first battle trial of the potency of this game-changing weapon of war.
Zimbabwe was conquered by force of very modern arms. Zimbabwe had to be recovered by exactly the use of the means of its original subjugation. That is why the country must always salute those that lie at the Shrine of the Heroes’ Acre with particular focus on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Special mention goes to the thousands of youths of the 1973-1979 period who responded to the call of the nation by offering their only lives to the national liberation war. It is shameless dishonesty to say their work wrought in blood can be reversed by mere human intellectual cunning even by the Chinese no matter their attributed guile.
Zimbabweans can only (lose) their country again by an act of war after their illustrious military record of the famed period of that critical mass generation of brave fighters. As there is no Chinese army marching within the vicinity of the landlocked nation, so how on earth can we be colonised by Beijing? Even history has no record of the Chinese occupying foreign land by force.
For us, who fought, such talk is specious nonsense by those who think colonisation is an act born of intellectual jousting. If that were the case, many of us would never have left classrooms and lecture theatres to go and seek the guns. Thus, we knew better: our live bodies had to do the terrible work at hand.
And many among us never survived that carnage of the war. Lest it be overlooked, no armchair revolutionary ever scored a victory. By the same token, no armchair critic can render us a lesson on how a battle-won country can be stealthily re-colonised. Lest it be forgotten, our army founded from the sacrifice of the revolutionary martyrs and those of their colleagues who survived the national liberation war, stands ever ready in alert vigilance to thwart any such wayward ambition by any foreign invader of whatever hue or stripe.
So before we can even surmise on what may be on the mind of the Chinese about Zimbabwe, let’s begin by our commitment to defend that which is ours by all means inclusive of force of arms.
Young Zimbabweans, including those of the critical mass generation, were motivated in their desire for national freedom because of the deprivation of the colonial epoch. As a subjugated and conquered nation, we just had no opportunities at prosperity and self actualisation. All avenues of wealth creation were the preserve of the white racist minority including our land, with its farming, tourism and mineral offering.
Not surprisingly, lesson 101 of the national liberation political ideology covered national grievances. This course offering was the core offering of those unique universities at Nachingwea and Morogoro in Tanzania, Chimoio and Tembwe in Mozambique, Freedom Camp in Zambia, Tatek in Ethiopia and many others where fighters were offered military and political training.
Business entrepreneurship is the way that a country builds prosperity. Contrary to brainwashed colonial inculcation, Zimbabweans have for millennia been a very enterprising people. That is why we were the world’s leading gold producer by the 12-13th centuries. Unprecedented prosperity lay at the founding of Mapungubwe, Great Zimbabwe, Khami, Nalatale and the many other dzimbahwes dotting this African plateau.
The Indian Ocean free trade attracted dhow sea-going merchants from all over the littoral and linked them to businessmen from before and after the famed dynasties of the Munhumutapa kings.
They were trading relations with to Egypt, Arabia, Iran, India, Indo-Malaya and even far away China.
Portuguese and later British imperial mercantilism stifled and then fatally checked our global business ambition. The arrival of these better armed imperial invaders with their potent naval ships ensured we lost our trading ports on the Indian Ocean. Cut off by these earlier commercial sanctions, we atrophied, lost influence and our civilisation went into terminal decline.
No wonder, thereafter we built no more citadels that would attract the coveted Unesco Heritage Site honours. The colonisers were ever so keen to create more business space for their own benefit and that of their home country. This they achieved by squeezing indigenous people into unrewarded labour, land depredation and robbing of mineral rights.
This unsavoury state of affairs created the grievances that would engender revolt and armed riposte leading to the great victory of 1980.
Cde Chris Mutsvangwa is Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zimbabwe’s former Ambassador to China, and a war veteran
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