Zimbabwe: MDC Had to Get In Or Change Course

1 February 2009

I was not surprised to see the MDC joining the Government of National Unity. In fact, I concluded so the moment that party president Morgan Tsvangirai decided to go home from Botswana earlier in the month. When an opposition party takes the option of armed struggle off the table and vests all its energies in an internal solution after all nonviolent strategies have failed, there is indeed no choice other than to participate in the GNU or sink into oblivion. The MDC National Council’s decision to participate in the GNU—whether an elopement with Zanu (PF) or traditional marriage where the festivities of a church ceremony are not the main issue but paying lobola—was merely a coup de grace. My verdict is that Mugabe had already tactically and strategically outwitted the opposition, from the very moment that the MDC agreed to participate in the talks. When you plunge into a crocodile-infested pool, make sure you know how to swim.

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Zimbabwe: What does the GNU hold for the MDC?

1 February 2009

In a piece written before the opposition MDC joined Robert Mugabe’s Government of National Unity in Zimbabwe, MIT assistant professor Clapperton Mavhunga (also a Zimbabwean national), writes that “… if the MDC decides to go in, it must not do so blindfolded, otherwise it will seal its own fate. If it stays out, it must change course.”

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The Africanist Positions on Military Funding and Service in the National Interest in African Research, Service and Studies

1 February 2009

The concern about military and intelligence funding of African studies first arose in the African Studies Association in the late 1960s, coming to a head at the ASA’s annual meeting at Montreal in 1969. As a result of alleged intelligence linkages of some ASA members and officers, the association distanced itself from Washington and security agencies of government.

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A Greater Voice for Africa in the United States: An Analysis and Proposed Agenda for Africanist Scholars (1993)

1 February 2009

Africa is in danger of being discarded as “the Fourth World,” irrelevant to the global economy, and of being abandoned as hopelessly mired in insoluble problems. The continent has been utterly marginalized on the U.S. policy agenda by the end of the Cold War and by a new domestic fixation in the U.S. electorate. Yet Africa’s human needs are real and its problems are not isolated. Rather they are linked to the world economic recession, a global glut in many African agricultural commodities, and the effects of years of regional militarization.

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Activist Scholarship (1988)

1 February 2009

What should Western-based movements do to facilitate African liberation? There are several important measures. One is opposition to military build-ups. Another is lobbying for the conversion of armaments expenditure to investment in genuine development efforts. Similarly, pressure on Western governments to adopt a non-interventionist policy in countries undergoing fundamental structural change is essential. But policy makers do not usually act against the interests of the groups that put them in power. To ask capitalists to refrain from expansionism is to ask them to cease being capitalists. This is not to suggest that tactical decisions are predetermined. Surely the anti-war movement influenced the U.S. decision to withdraw from Vietnam. Nonetheless, it is not enough to stop Western states from interfering in Africa.

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On Scholar Activism (1988)

1 February 2009

I remember vividly a conversation with the late FRELIMO President Samora Machel in my garden in Dar es Salaam in 1972. I had done a variety of odd-jobs for the Mozambican liberation movement during the seven years of my teaching tenure in Tanzania and a few weeks earlier Machel had arranged for me to accompany FRELIMO guerrillas on a trip into the liberated areas of Tete province. Now he had com to bid me and my family goodbye as we packed to leave Tanzania.

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ACAS Ten Years On: Reflections on a Decade or so (1988)

1 February 2009

It seems that, at least since 1945, every decade has been “fast moving” in Africa. The period since 1975 has not been less so. We must first appreciate it by reference to the previous decade. 1965-66 was in fact a bad year for Africa: the rash of coups which toppled Nkrumah, Modibo Keita, Ben Bella (the stalwarts of the old “Casablanca” powers), the closing-out (at least momentarily) of Congolese social revolution with the coup by Mobutu, the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of the Rhodesian white settlers.

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Statement of Dr. Jean Sindab (1986)

1 February 2009

This is quite an exciting time for those of us who have struggled so hard, for so long, to bring an end to apartheid and U.S. support for that racist system. Last year, we saw a tremendous leap forward, both in the struggle inside South Africa and in this country. With the Free South Africa Movement building on years of anti-apartheid grassroots activity, it became the catalyst for igniting the spark of mass opposition to apartheid which has swept this country. Those loud protests succeeded in raising the visibility of the apartheid issue to force the international community to intensify its opposition to the Botha regime. Here in the U.S. we have dealt a death blow to the policy of constructive engagement by forcing Reagan to sign the Executive Order – no matter how weak – imposing sanctions on South Africa. Clearly, it is not enough, and we must go much, much further. Because of our success, our enemies have recognized our strength and our power and they are fighting back.

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What might a better US policy towards Zimbabwe look like?

31 January 2009

Obama’s inaugural remarks did seem in some direct way to be pointed towards Robert Mugabe: “To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

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Food Crisis Debates: Open Letter to Paul Collier

22 January 2009

Paul Collier advocates “slaying three giants” to end the food crisis: peasant agriculture, fear of scientific agriculture, and the myth of biofuels from grain to overcome US oil dependence. His analysis is, however, very much grounded in the agriculture of the last century.

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