By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
The word ‘Coon’ is short for raccoon; — and in the old American South was (and, if we are honest, is) used as an insulting and contemptuous term for a black person. It is equivalent to ‘nigger’, but instead of being descriptive (black) it differently equates black people with animals, which is what the racists think anyway. Coons are niggers and niggers are coons.
On the other hand, the word ‘flake’ refers to a small, flat, very thin piece of something, typically one which has broken away or been peeled off from a larger piece. In the US however, it also refers to a crazy or eccentric person.
The Urban Dictionary says that ‘a flake is someone who generally makes plans with you, promises to do things with or for you but can never seem to follow through. When confronted with their behavior they usually get defensive and run away.’ A flake is therefore an unreliable person.
I promise I am not making this up, but a Mr Flake and a Mr Coons have introduced a Bill in the US Senate to amend ZIDERA, that law which imposed sanctions on our country. In light of the new dispensation, one would have thought such an amendment inevitable, but not this one.
This amendment does not bind the US to do much. Instead, it legislates what must happen in Zimbabwe. The BVR must be accepted by ‘all registered political parties’ to be valid, for example. All 100+ of them must sign off, otherwise it is not. If this was the only absurdity it would be bad enough, but no.
And it gets worse; all registered political parties must have equal media space. I can imagine this scenario, every political party gets 10 minutes on ZBC TV from 8pm, and to be fair we go alphabetically. The MDC would have their 10 minutes sometime around 2am, and Zanu PF maybe around 8am. Fair? This is what happens when laws are written by people with no knowledge of the place.
The Act goes further. Conditions for accountability around Gukurahundi, despite the fact that we have just started a constitutional process to address that matter, which is apparently not good enough for Messrs Unreliable and Niggers, sorry Flake and Coons.
The mistake would be thinking that this has anything to do with democracy. It doesn’t. The mistake would be thinking that this is even about the people of Zimbabwe. It doesn’t.
Henry Kissinger once said that the US has no permanent friends, just permanent interests. And was it Maya Angelou who said if someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them? America showed us with ZIDERA many years ago that they do not like the people of Zimbabwe, we should have believed them.
The US does not care about Zimbabwe, at least not the one that means our people, our future and our children. They care about the Zimbabwe of geological survey maps, the one that is replete with undiscovered diamond, lithium, oil and gas reserves. That is why they are building their largest embassy in Southern Africa here. It is not a shame to admit this: they clearly know more about our country than we do, and they like what they see below ground. Just not the people though.
If this was about our democracy, why didn’t they do all these amendments when Mugabe was there? Itai Dzamara didn’t vanish last week, but years ago, why make him part of this amendment now? Gukurahundi was more than 30 years ago, and the US did nothing at the time, why now, after we have started a process?
Is it by coincidence that this comes just as signs begin to show that ED is turning this country around? What has he done since November that they find so irksome that these new conditions are necessary?
Why pass a law talking about increased media space when that is already happening unless what you want is to muddy the waters? And what is the point of giving Lovemore Madhuku the same media space as ED and Nelson Chamisa? Would Chamisa agree to be given the same time as Kasiyamhuru or Nkosana Moyo or Barbara Nyagomo, or Madhuku, or Dzinemunhenzva or the 109 others l can’t think of right now?
Why pass a law on Gukurahundi when one of President ED’s first acts was to operationalise the Commission mandated to do just that (which Mugabe never did) and hold audience with chiefs from Matabeleand to talk about Gukurahundi? Why are they trying to pre-empt the work of the commission? Why are they taking a painful subject and making it a political issue?
There is imperialism and there is racism. This is both. Do we have problems in Zimbabwe? Of course. Are our problems of our own making? Largely.
But, that does not mean we should have our autonomy usurped from us through the back door. America is a country built by the labour of those whose autonomy was stripped from them. So they are used to treating black people as devoid of autonomy, aka slaves.
And, if we are honest, that is the mindset that must have influenced these two flakey characters. I bet neither has ever been to Zimbabwe, but that both regard themselves as experts on our country. Because to them, we are mindless beasts of burden that must have things done to and for them, in order to further American interests.
Of course it doesn’t help that some from our midst went to America and begged for “current US policy on Zimbabwe’ (also known as sanctions) to be maintained. But however much I disagree with Nelson Chamisa, I find it hard to believe that even he agrees with this obvious attempt at usurping our self determination and blatant interference with our internal affairs. But of course if he does agree with them then he is even more unqualified to be President than I thought.
The Americans have their own problems with fair elections. Black and Latino people find it hard to have their voices heard, because laws are passed that effectively disenfranchise them. States like Texas with huge Latino populations have no Latina representatives in Congress because districts are gerrymandered to ensure that whites are in the majority. And despite being close to a fifth of the population, blacks have only two of their own in the same Senate that these two gentlemen sit in. Blacks are well represented in prisons, again due to laws passed in that Senate but more so due to the judges that are approved by…the same Senate.
In Flake’s own Arizona all top elected officials are white, despite the fact that except for Scottsdale, in every district Latino people are likely a majority. It is in Arizona, while Flake was the Senator, that Sheriff Joe Arpaio ran a racial profiling approach to policing that targeted Latinos and resulted in his criminal conviction. Flake never once condemned Arpaio, or the pardon that the latter got from Trump. And this is the guy who must now lecture us on democracy?
There is no law that says only with American help can countries succeed. If being enslaved and stripped of autonomy is the price we must pay to develop, then l would choose to remain where we are, thank you very much. If being treated like mindless automatons that should have their processes gerrymandered from Washington DC is the price for American FDI, then l would gladly accept the Russians and the Chinese.
No Zimbabwean government or aspiring candidate should be okay with what these ignorant racists are proposing. This attack on our sovereignty must be condemned by all.
One good thing that has come out of this though is this, it clarifies the fact that the US will accept nothing short of regime change in order to engage with Zimbabwe. Despite bringing Zimbabwe back to the community of nations in record time, the Americans clearly do not want President ED to win the next elections.
The question is why? And the answer is obvious, he will not mortgage our country to them.
One candidate went to America the other day and asked for sanctions. He was then promised $16 billion if he wins. The other candidate is working flat out to rebuild our country: the Americans have hamstrung him so that he doesn’t succeed. American interests are not Zimbabwean interests. They have a candidate in our elections and so should we.
That is why #EDhasMyVote.
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a lawyer based in Gweru