By Takura Zhangazha*
Zimbabwe is one among a number of African countries that assisted the United States of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in its notorious rendition programme. This emerged from a recent report that the USA Senate made public last week. The role that our country is said to have played in these torture processes is related to transiting various terror suspects from Malawi and detaining them for a month before onward secret rendition to Sudan.
The scale of the operation is indeed shocking, coming as it does from the worlds sole global superpower which claims to respect the rule of law and human rights.
What is even more shocking however is that our publicly shrill 'anti-imperialist' government worked in tandem with its long standing ‘enemy’ in secretly moving and detaining terror suspects without habeas corpus and with the strong possibility of turning a blind eye to their physical torture.
In this, some components of the US Senate Intelligence Committee indicate that ‘lump sums’ of money may have exchanged hands.
Given the fact that our government has railed against sanctions and the agents of imperialism since the passing of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZIDERA) in 2001 this yet to be disputed role it has been playing with the CIA is a very unpleasant surprise.
It would immediately mean that our ministries of foreign affairs, defence and intelligence have been publicly denouncing what is otherwise a country they secretly treat as an ally in the ‘war on terror’.
While it is the language of international relations experts to refer to such insidious situations as being a case of ‘no permanent friends, but permanent interests’, it is difficult to fathom what Zimbabwe’s interests in this case are.
Even if we were trying to curry favour and get sanctions lifted, the very fact that there was limited movement on the same in the last fourteen years means this was an exercise in not only futility but in violation of international human rights laws.
Moreover, the fact that our foreign affairs policies have been predicated on giving the impression that we are not only Pan-Africanist, anti-imperialist and committed to preventing liberal interventionism especially in this age of the ‘global war on terror’, this report points to serious hypocrisy on the part of our government.
It is no way consistent with pan-Africanism, let alone any serious attempt to prevent the global expansion of neo-liberalism and liberal interventionism if we participate in the secret rendition and detention of suspected terror suspects.
The further fact that government has not responded directly to these allegations leveled against it by the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, indicates that perhaps there is something to hide.
Perhaps the government appears to have forgotten that it was the same CIA that was involved in regularly undermining liberation movements across the continent. In some cases it has been accused of direct and indirect involvement in the assassination of African revolutionaries like Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Analysts have written of how the contemporary Zanu Pf leadership has sought more often than not to project itself as ‘Pan-Africanist’. Well this particular version is not in keeping with what many founding fathers and mothers envisioned. We can cooperate with any other country on anything but torture if we are to keep the humanity propositioned by Pan Africanism in its truest noble sense.
In claiming to be Pan African, our government appears to have been ‘papering over the cracks’ of its opportunistic foreign policy. If we want to assist the ‘war on terror’ we still have and had the option of the Unitied Nations, the African Union and even SADC. And in this, to do so in tandem with public accountability, respect for the rule of law and human rights.
Whatever ‘moral authority’ the government of Zimbabwe felt and feels it has in standing up to imperialism is lost.
Until such a time there is a public denial together with attendant evidence put before a competent court of law or Parliament, we would be forgiven for thinking that all along our government has been working with the United States of America, contrary to claims of the latter’s ‘imperialist machinations’.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha.blogspot.com)