The Sunday Mail
Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa
TOMORROW is Africa Day, a truly and deeply auspicious day on the continent’s calendar.
On this day, various leaders of African nations that had wrestled freedom and independence gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to proclaim the birth of the Organisation of African Unity. The speeches at the gathering of African luminaries focused on politics and economics as the major challenges on the road of the African development agenda.
Within this gathering, there was another more militant group led by Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere, among others.
They were casting their eyes further to the southern tip of Africa, where imperial hegemony and colonialism were underpinned by fascism, white settler minority dominance, racism and apartheid. Africa was on the march to a new era that was exorcising the ghosts of slavery, imperial conquest, colonial subjugation, white settler minority rule and neo-colonial economic exploitation. South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola were all groaning under the weight of European domination.
In the territories on the southern tip of the continent, there was the writ of the 1884 Berlin Conference on the partition of Africa.
Worse was the gritty determination of the local white settler elites to maintain their rule through enforcement of armed State apparatus ready to shoot, bomb and massacre the increasingly restless and resisting black African majority populations demanding to shape their own destiny once again.
At the core of imperial and racist arrogance was the military edge accorded by Europe’s headstart of the Industrial Revolution.
The accompanying invention of modern firearms meant African majority numbers could not count in confrontation. Indeed, the most ominous of the 1884 Berlin Conference clauses was the one that created a European firearms cartel shutting Africa out of these potent weapons of war. Indeed, weak imperial Portugal had been the main target of this firearms cartel.
Lisbon was forbidden from the proliferation of guns in its southern Africa territories of Angola and Mozambique. The threat posed by African population majorities was checked by denying them access to modern arms. Africa’s lucky escape owes tonnes of gratitude to Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Russia broke out of the arms cartel and extended modern firearms to other nations and populations chafing under European imperial hegemony. The militant core of the leaders gathered in Addis Ababa lost no time in setting up the OAU Liberation Committee to pursue armed confrontation with remaining bastions of foreign control. Their dictum was Africa is not completely free until freedom reached Luanda, Maputo, Harare, Windhoek and Pretoria-Tshwane.
Undaunted, they were not intimidated by the military reality of USA-led support of the imperial, fascist, racist and apartheid States and territories. They surmised that once the African majorities got access to modern weapons, population advantage would prevail even in the face of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) succour to these outposts of alien control.
The counterweight of Soviet-led Warsaw Pact powers and the rise of modern China underpinned a new confidence in the nascent military enterprise of the radical group.
President Julius Nyerere offered his country as the host of the OAU Liberation Committee.
Tanzania and Zambia assumed a frontline role. They established military training camps that were to host young men and women fleeing foreign rule at home for modern weaponry and training. Their politico-military judgement was spot on. The majority populations were keen not to disappoint as they offered the best, the brave and the visionary as the flower of their youths to the gods of war. Within a decade of the setting up of the OAU Liberation Committee, stunning victories were recorded on the African continent. By 1974, the rule of imperial and fascist Portugal had collapsed, delivering Angola and Mozambique back to the bosom of Africa.
With the two nations’ wins, these momentous victories excited magic and spawned widespread and ardent military passions.
In South Africa, militant youths poured onto the streets in bold and daring defiance of apartheid guns. The world would be appalled by the massacres of the 1976 Soweto Uprising.
The youths in Zimbabwe made a more strategic and potent choice. They spilled into the newly free Mozambique in their tens of thousands. Never had Africa ever witnessed such a spectacle of so many ready to sacrifice for the cause of freedom and independence.
They were all imploring President Samora Machel to give them arms and training.
Their burning desire was to quickly go back and confront the military aggressors on peer-to-peer military terms.
They were ready to wage asymmetrical warfare so they could unlock the majority population dividend. These youths already had a national template of guerrilla war success of the 1971-1974 North East Campaign.
Chairman Herbert Chitepo and General Josiah Magama Tongogara had allied with Frelimo guerrilla fighters to implant the seeds of a sustainable People’s War on Zimbabwean soil.
The fish were now swimming in water, to paraphrase Chairman Mao.
The combined Zanla-Zipra lost no time to make a military difference. A short four years later, the Rhodesian settler colonial outpost buckled into an armistice at the Lancaster House Peace Conference. Freedom would be sealed with a resounding electoral victory in 1980. Zimbabwe became a sovereign independent nation ready to assume its seat at the African Union and the United Nations.
It became a matter of time for the last two dominoes to fall. Namibia came back to Africa’s fold in 1989-90. South Africa, the big one, would follow suit in 1994 to clear the deck.
This has been a Long March indeed.
Zimbabwe has been particularly lucky in the face of post-independence vicissitudes.
Its plucky resilience in the face of the post-colonial onslaught owes a lot to the State apparatus born of a protracted and tenacious people’s war.
A sweet product is an organised population anchored in vision and fortitude.
For two decades, Washington has sought to uproot the Zimbabwe State and reverse the gains of Independence.
The 2002 ZDERA sanctions law imposed in concert with Europe has been the blunt weapon of coercion. The November 2017 glorious revolution of Operation Restore Legacy thwarted a menacing neo-colonial regime change agenda.
It is reassuring that America recently removed its debilitating sanctions on two of our banks, IDBZ and Agribank. This is a milestone well worthy of celebrations on Africa Unity Day.
Zimbabwe is born of the cradle of the OAU Liberation Committee.
The arrival of the Second Republic has restored the nation to its proper revolutionary traditions. We are poised and ready to contribute to the economic resurgence of Mother Africa under the banner of the continental free trade agenda. President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is a touch of refreshing tonic to the current flow of events. He has boldly embarked on pro-business policies and programmes to reverse economic decay and quick-start revival.
He is bringing back spunk and vision to fulfil the dreams of prosperity. He is an alumnus of the original cadreship of the OAU Liberation Committee. President Mnangagwa has personally walked the path of militant African independence before and into independence.
Along the way, he has developed friendship and camaraderie with sub-regional and continental political peers. He has been engaged in building the defence and security architecture of the sub-region. All said, President Mnangagwa has been through thick and thin swinging from the most sublime to the most menacing.
Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030 aspirations are firmly placed in the most proper and befitting of hands. Africa’s hour of prosperity beckons and Zimbabwe will be right there.
President Mnangagwa has been at the war front, languished in jail as a death row prisoner.
He came back to help in prosecuting the guerrilla war to decisive victory.