Peter Hain at Odds with Zimbabwe
The Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Peter Hain, who is
Kenyan-born, has been engaged on a week-long tour of southern Africa.
Last Thursday he accused Zimbabwes government of
perpetuating the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He said in an
interview that some members of the Zimbabwe government were profiting from
human misery by acquiring lucrative diamond and mineral concessions in the
Congo. "Zimbabwe has got involved in commercial interests, diamond
concessions and so on and army commanders and some senior figures in the
government have private interests," he said. "That is very serious.
Once the war is privatised once you start making profit on the side, then you
are likely to stay there even though it is bleeding your public finances
dry." He also said that peaceful countries like Kenya and Tanzania were
becoming affected by the conflict because of the proliferation of small arms in
the region, laying the blame for the arms sales, in defiance of an
international embargo, at the door of former members of the Soviet Union,
singling out Belarus and Ukraine.
Peter Hain is speaking in the manner of the 19th century
imperialists, who took up the "white mans burden" and blamed
everyone but themselves for the plight of the colonised peoples. It seems to
have slipped his mind that Britain, as a colonial and imperialist power,
extracted and continues to extract vast wealth from the rich African continent
and has bled it white while subjecting the mass of the African peoples to
poverty and starvation. It was only in 1980 that Zimbabwe gained independence
from Britain. Not only that, the British arms industry is notorious for selling
arms to African countries. One only has to recall Sierra Leone when the British
government itself was supporting the forces opposed to the then government.
Peter Hain has in recent months maintained a barrage of
invective against the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, accusing him of
pursuing disastrous policies. In this, the Foreign Office Minister is taking up
the refrain of official British government foreign policy which is that only
countries which follow the Eurocentric values of multi-party democracy, a
free-market economy and rights based on private property will be supported and
should have any right to exist. It is reported that Hain has also written to
the IMF requesting it not to release any funds to Zimbabwe because of
"lack of democracy and human rights abuses". The IMF suspended an aid
programme for Zimbabwe last year, citing concerns over government policies and
in particular its deployment of 11,000 troops in the DRC.
John Nkomo, the National Chairman of the party in power in
Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF, reminded Peter Hain, when told by him that the Zimbabwean
government should be forward looking instead of reverting back to history, that
"the history he wanted us to forget had a bearing on the present status
quo and that we can only solve the present problems by addressing the
injustices of the past".
The Zimbabwean newspaper the Sunday Mail reported in its
most recent edition that the British government is resisting Zimbabwes
efforts to compulsorily acquire land for re-distribution because some of its
top official, including Peter Hain, own land in Zimbabwe. The compulsory
acquisition of farms was one issue in the referendum held in Zimbabwe two weeks
ago, in which the proposal for a draft constitution which would have vested
power in the government to do so was rejected. British Deputy High Commissioner
in Zimbabwe Ian Hay Campbell said that he needs enough time to verify whether
there are any British top officials who own land there. Peter Hain has denied
the allegation and the Foreign Office issued a statement denying that Hain
owned land in Zimbabwe.