Honors American Government
Honors American Government PSCI 1051
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Date Created: 10/25/15
Foreign Policy in Africa A Closer Look at Zimbabwe Brenna Loweiy PSCI 1051 452009 FOREIGN POLICY IN AFRICA A Closer Look at Zimbabwe Zimbabwe has often been discarded in the media as a troubled state with no roots for hope However the underlying causes to its current problems are often overlooked and forgotten As a result American foreign policy towards this particular region has been disengaged and oversimplified Before reevaluating US foreign policy in Zimbabwe an understanding of the country s history and years of mismanaged economy is crucial The overwhelming situation of dealing with Zimbabwe might be easier than imagined A BRIEF HISTORY Zimbabwe was settled in SouthCentral Africa by the Shonaspeaking people in 350 AD In fact the term Zimbabwe derives from a Shona phrase meaning stone houses which dominated the region for thousands of years before colonization A site called the Great Zimbabwe was built between AD 1275 and 1550 no doubt by the local natives however later Europeans assumed the region was established by Portuguese Arab Chinese and Persian explorers The stone works of the Great Zimbabwe show evidence of extensive labor and the use of mines for gold trade In 1890 a British explorer by the name of Cecil Rhodes sent pioneers to occupy south of the Ndebele Kingdom a powerful warrior nation There they searched and exploited gold mines leading to the destruction of important archaeological sites Rhodes received a concession for mineral rights from local chiefs and from there the British South African Company decided it should be under their sphere of in uence The colony of Rhodesia was officially established in 1895 In the 1920 s white settlers ruled the colony of Southern Rhodesia through their own system of parliamentary government Reader 1997 In 1934 the first series of land apportionments were established reserving the most valued areas of agricultural land for Europeans Although there was some speculation over combining Northern now Zambia and Southern Rhodesia African leaders began to nd their own voice and objected the white minority rule that dominated the northern region They chose the name Zimbabwe from their ancestors to replace the hated name of their British founder Cecil Rhodes The first prominent African leader went by the name Joshua Nkomo and in the 1950 s began the Zimbabwe s African People s Union ZAPU alongside Ndabaningi Sithole and Robert Mugabe Robert Mugabe split from ZAPU in 1963 to form his own party Zimbabwe African National Union ZANU By then the United Kingdom was prepared to grant independence to Rhodesia but wanted assurance from the authorities of the colony that their intention was to move towards a majority rule in government The minority group of white Rhodesians objected afraid that they would lose land in the new land reapportionment which would inevitably follow a black government The white minority government was at times ruthless and cruel to the black majority as has been the case with several postcolonial African settlements With these people refusing to step down Robert Mugabe and his followers assumed that violence might be the only way to go and began an anticolonial civil war officially conducted by ZANU Shillington 1995 The United Nations determined the Rhodesian minority government illegal and pressure was put on Prime Minister Ian Smith to ensure a peaceful settlement transition Although some issues faded away antigovemment guerilla activity still prevailed with the support of groups like ZANU By the seventies the United Kingdom agreed to lift sanctions against the government in Zimbabwe if they complied with a transition period under British rule Elections were held under close observation from British authorities and ZANU ended up gaining the absolute majority vote Assuming that guerilla violence was no longer necessary the British stepped aside and granted formal independence to Zimbabwe on April 18m 1980 Zimbabwe also became a member of the UN that fall Lake 1976 The government under Mugabe was considered generally successful the first two years of office Mugabe stated that he did not support the apartheid circulating in South Africa and sincerely wanted to work towards a long term socialist transformation with equality in government and land appropriation With this in mind Zimbabwe worked towards a good education program and still upholds the best record of literacy in Africa However problems did occur Nearing the second year of government Joshua Nkomo was accused of plotting to overthrow Robert Mugabe and was expelled from the Cabinet Speculation might assume that Mugabe took on a more paranoid view of politics after this incident which has since followed him and even increased in its own shadow CHANGES AND LAND REFORM UNDER THE MUGABE REGIME In 1987 the two main leaders Nkomo and Mugabe made a new attempt to resolve the nation39s divisions by merging their parties as ZANUPF making Zimbabwe effectively a one party state At the same time the constitution was changed to give Mugabe the role of executive president As executive president Mugabe stuck to his Shona roots and planned to move towards a more equitable land redistribution act for the Africans NGO and civil society leadership involvement in Zimbabwe failed to take up demands of peasantry for land redistribution leaving the task up to the state Under the colonial makeup of the land whites had a good hold on their own process for development which frequently excluded Africans Ironically seventy percent of Zimbabwe s population lives in rural areas dependent on land and natural resources Zimbabwe s entire wellbeing depends on agriculture including 66 of industry The country s nance commerce and tourism market depend on agriculture as well Many problems Zimbabwe faces now have deep roots in the problematic handlings of agriculture through colonialism Mainly colonialism caused an increase in soil degradation by poor land husbandry of settler farmers There was also a great deal of land alienation since 1900 from livestock pressure and growing human population in communal areas that declined soil fertility Overgrazing is detrimental to the soil in obvious ways and heavy majority of the poor population in Zimbabwe only have access to cattle with poor land to raise them on Bureau of African Affairs 2009 White settler farm sectors underutilized land and expropriation of land for white settlers agriculturalists produced land pressures within communal areas that resulted in the degradation of farmland and natural resource bases In the beginning tourism involved wildlife management which white settlers took more control of land and managed it inefficiently Before any land program 4000 white commercial farmers controlled 28 percent of arable land while the majority of poor communal farmers were given land in semiintensive cultivation and cattleranching districts allowing little room for selfsustainability or improvement Communal lands were settled with densely populations by farmers with inadequate resources for efficient management Failures of economic reform and land reform increased poor relations between government and the donors those of which Zimbabwe desperately depended on To make up for these new problems Mugabe then tried to establish a new economic program From 1990 Zimbabwe implemented the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme in an attempt to address the negative scal growth rate and macroeconomic difficulties associated with high debts high interest rates increased in ation and poverty These economic reforms excluded meaningful land redistribution and led to deindustrialization alongside broader elite accumulation The ESAP framework was abandoned in 1996 following deindustrialization and increased poverty Since 2000 economic policies have shifted towards a more heterodox framework involving government controls of the prices of foreign currency goods and services and increased state participation in production and distribution Amanor 2008 Failure and decline of ESAP increased demand for access to land and economic growth was limited to large landowners and industries Besides that Zimbabwe facing recurrent droughts and the combination of expropriation of land in the nineties has compromised the ability to feed the nation from domestic output alone missing targets necessary to implement economic and social sustainable development In the meantime Mugabe and his party ZANUPF won elections in 1990 1995 and 1996 Parliament approved legislation allowing the compulsory acquisition of land by the government but a lack of funds slowed the land resettlement program With continuing failure of the economy political unrest ensued while students and trade unionists held antigovemment demonstrations In 1997 50000 war veterans demanded and received a huge compensation This immense and unbudgeted expenditure created a large fiscal deficit and the Zimbabwe currency lost half of its value Bureau of African Affairs 2009 In 1999 opposition to the government was led formally by Tsvaingirai of the Movement for Democratic Change That following spring a referendum was held to draft a new constitution that would allow the government to seize whiteowned land grant immunity to government officials from prosecution and ensure Mugabe s regime for another 12 years Although the proposal was defeated the government continued to seize and occupy land from thousands of white farmers forcefully and violently Though Mugabe had stated that these lands would be filtered back into the peasantry most farms stayed in possession of Mugabe s supporters and government officials with no farming experience The lack of food production unrealistic price controls and exchange rates created an undesirable climate for foreign investors forcing Zimbabwe to rely on imports alone Gilpin 2008 From this poor mismanagement of the economy agriculture is no longer considered the backbone of the Zimbabwean economy Crops such as corn cotton and tobacco historically large export crops have been nearly destroyed Even mismanagement of gold deposits has collapsed the key foreign currency source Since 2008 in ation has been calculated as more than over 200 million percent Zimbabwe has been found to have a large number of coal reserves However poor economic management and low foreign currency reserves have led to serious fuel shortages The country is also generously supplied with rich mineral resources including gold diamonds chrome coal coalbed methane gas platinum nickel and copper The opportunity of exporting these minerals to foreign investors gives hope to some chance of economic recovery in Zimbabwe Bureau of African Affairs 2009 POLITICAL TURMOIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES Although Zimbabwe holds democratic elections it is obvious that Mugabe has been exercising his power in many wrong ways His political support party Zimbabwe African National UnionPatriotic Front have constantly harassed and tortured members and supporters of Mugabe s opposition party The Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai Tsvangirai was close to winning the majority of votes in the nation s election back in June 2008 Since the election was so close it was scheduled for a runoff between him and Mugabe although the crimes committed against Tsvangirai supporters caused him to pull out of the race in fear for his constituents Mugabe has given Zimbabwe a very difficult time by not stepping down from power stating that only God could remove him USIP 2003 Tsvangirai has recently just agreed to the position of Prime Minister next to Mugabe although he was cautious in his acceptance The new power sharing government was a less than perfect arrangement for sure but the MDC concluded that it had no choice but to try to continue the fight against Mr Mugabe s ZanuPF from within Biles 2009 Besides political turmoil the daily atrocities acted upon Zimbabweans are ghastly Mugabe s complete disregard for granting clean water to his people has resulted in over 16000 cases of cholera Refusing to admit that the epidemic is a problem experts say that a projected 60000 could be infected without proper care This is not the only health problem in Zimbabwe Life expectancy has plunged to 37 years from 60 years in 1990 largely due to the HIVAids pandemic Much of the outbreak has been instigated by the raping of local women by Mugabe s regime quotWe have been caught unaware by this political crisis where women and girls are being abused and raped in the areas the ruling party has sealed offquot a victim said Bakwa 2008 Situations like this are especially prominent with any opposition to Mugabe In January alone 58 abuses to human rights have been reported including unlawful detention torture intimidation rape attempted murder kidnapping and disappearance Zimbabwe NGO 2009 Over the past seven years 32352 human rights violations have been reported the majority of cases being torture property violation political discrimination displacement assault and unlawful arrest and detention Almost all of these acts were conducted towards members or supporters of the MDC Even out of the political spectrum Zimbabweans are being affected directly through their denial to shelter by the regime s raising of shacks denial to food access and violations against freedom of speech Many people are reduced to picking grain off the road from passing nearby trucks In response to these conditions approximately 1A of the Zimbabwe s population has ed the country And what s more Mugabe doesn t seem to care AFRICANSINO RELATIONS A STEP FORWARD Since independence Mugabe has kept close ties with revolutionary states and organizations such as China Iran and Cuba China now holds the title as Zimbabwe s second largest trading partner next to the United Kingdom However relations with Britain have been very strained in the past years by Mugabe s tendency to blame the British for Zimbabwe s economic crisis Mugabe s paranoia over western in uence has caused him to look east for support mainly from Malaysia and China In fact in 2006 Zimbabwean officials and representatives of the China MachineBuilding International Corporation CMEC signed a 13 billion dollar deal to help Zimbabwe relieve energy shortages in exchange for chrome BBC 2006 Zimbabwe currently holds 31 of the world s chrome reserves Swain 2009 Resources are not the only things China has provided for Zimbabwe China has reportedly finalized a deal to supply the African nation with fighter jets and other military goods worth 200 million Swain 2009 During the decadelong war against the whitedominated government of Southern Rhodesia 7 as Zimbabwe used to be called 7 it was China that supplied Mugabe s ZANUPF liberation army with arms training logistics and funding But as China attempts to take a larger role on the global stage particularly in Africa it is increasingly sensitive to foreign opinions The South African trade union confederation linked to that country39s ruling African National Congress ANC had also condemned the shipment warning that delivery of guns and ammunition to the army in Zimbabwe under current circumstances would threaten peace in Zimbabwe By responding to changing African opinion 7 which appears increasingly impatient with South African President Thabo Mbeki s quotquiet diplomacyquot toward the Mugabe regime 7 Chinese leaders seem willing to temper their old revolutionary support when it suits their larger economic and diplomatic interests Baldauf 2009 China is known for its handsoff policy in foreign relations in regards to human rights requirements with countries it trades with and in general operates in its own self interest Although America s interest in Southern Africa has historically been rooted in containing communism China s recent involvement in Africa has no implications of spreading a communist ideology In fact China as a nation is acting in its own best interest to gain minerals and resources The US has condemned China for its relationship with Sudan as supporting human rights abuses but we cannot deny that we have had our share in the exploitation of Africa With the emergence of China as a major world power it is not in the United States best interest or a plausible solution to sti e or control what China does In any case it has to be understood that Africa is losing ownership to their own resources whether from outside in uence or from inside corrupt political regimes In some cases 70 of the new workforces are required to be Chinese and many countries have had trouble with the Chinese employing indigenous people at all Since the Chinese are providing infrastructure Africans are reluctant to resist because in some cases this new relationship provides the only hope they have seen in awhile Although China s involvement in Africa is slowly building up the economy in the long run what sustainability is left for the Africans themselves AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IN ZIMBABWE For the most part the US has kept a distanced involvement in Zimbabwe from World War II onward American Presidents have seemed to have kept the traditional stance of opposing minority rule although their history of foreign policy towards the region suggests that concentrating on Zimbabwe was not their topmost priority to say the least In 1965 the United States closed several organizations from the country including its Agency for International Development In 1971 despite Administration opposition the US Congress passed legislation permitting the United States to import strategic materials such as chrome from Rhodesia Although this was of little real economic benefit to the Rhodesian economy the United States continued to enforce the sanctions after the legislation had been repealed Carter 1982 In the seventies the United States supported outside sources of in uencing Rhodesian authorities to accept majority rule although Nixon himself held a limited disapproval towards the Rhodesian white minority First of all US policy makers did not view Southern Africa as containing vital American interests Rhodesia simply fell out of the arena of EastWest con ict because the Soviet Union involvement in the region was insubstantial The area appeared to be of political stability even with the white minority in place and what s more the white minority regime seemed to be keeping the Soviet Union ideologies at bay Even though this environment was potentially harmful for USAfrican relations the containment of the Soviet Union still continued to consume our attention However the oil boycott launched by the Arab states in the midseventies increased US interest in mineralrich Southern Africa Secretary of State under Nixon Henry Kissinger thought that the Soviet Union would use guerilla insurgency in Southern Africa for their communist advantage and quickly tried to organize negotiation in the Rhodesian civil con ict His pressure on Prime Minister Ian Smith at the time hastened the demise of whiteminority rule and the creation of Robert Mugabe s leadership Jimmy Carter attempted to take an accommodating approach to Zimbabwe to try and identify with the Africans in the region but was actually concerned with Soviet in uence in the region Carter 1982 This contradiction undermined Carter s credible intentions and served no groundwork for actual change Ronald Reagan on the other hand was blatant about his intentions in Africa His interests included the securing of sea lanes near Southern Africa access to strategic minerals and wanted desperately to maintain credibility as a global power This led his foreign policy in concentrating on limiting the Soviet in uence in Africa especially in the region of Angola This global containment strategy was viewed as insensitive to the dynamics of regional affairs by some political scientists One wrote Because global containment views everything through the prism of EastWest con ict it distorts the nature of threats to American interests and obscures the existence of regionally based constraints on the achievement of policy objectives A policy posture toward Southern Africa that is oriented primarily to the region as an arena of EastWest confrontation will directly or indirectly align the United States with the maintenance of racial rule The result will be a loss for the United States in terms of its diplomatic and economic position throughout sub Saharan Africa and a substantial gain in prestige and in uence for the Soviet Union It is hard to imagine how credibility of the United States as a global power would be enhanced in such circumstances The Southern Africa context has revealed that only by accepting a complex and variegated notion of USSoviet relations can the United States hope to mesh its policies with the pluralistic reality of regional politics and thereby maintain and expand upon its own interests Carter 1982 After independence in 1980 the United States set up an Embassy in the capital of Harare but handled relations in a limited nature of commitment through the Ambassador to the UN in New York Despite this uninvolved policy the US government contributed over 500 million dollars to development in Zimbabwe but withdrew aid in 1986 as a result of uncivil and undiplomatic statements and actions by the Government of Zimbabwe in the United Nations and elsewhere Carter 1982 Since 2002 any US aid to Zimbabwe has gone strictly towards humanitarian interests Any political interaction has been to condemn the Mugabe s government and his followers During George W Bush s presidency American foreign policy towards Africa was characterized by an unexpected enlarged involvement His PEPFAR plan President39s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief created new models for delivery of foreign aid and established public health as a dominant foreign assistance concentration Ironically the US in uence in Africa actually declined as a result of unstable political climate such as Zimbabwe s Barack Obama has even recently renewed the Zimbabwean sanctions stating that some members of the government of Zimbabwe continued to undermine democratic processes and institutions These actions and policies pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States BBC 2009 Although the US has attempted to isolate Zimbabwe Mugabe still nds support from several African countries especially South Africa Those who do support Mugabe have a fundamental discomfort with the prospect of condemning a leader of a historic struggle and want to shield the government from similar international approbation of autocratic regimes Gavin 2008 President Mbeki of South Africa recently stepped down so sanctions established by the UN might be able to affectiver apply pressure to the Mugabe regime Nolan 2005 As of 2009 the Department of State issued the main priorities in relations with African nations in general which can be applied to Zimbabwe speci cally First of all they plan to provide security assistance programs in three levels The African Union the subregional level and individual states Secondly they want to promote democratic systems and practices as well as sustainable and broadbased marketled economic growth health and social development Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants to look forward to a partnership with Africa supporting African leadership and African solutions to African problems Carter 2009 While it makes sense to keep the pressure on the regime the United States cannot compel President Mugabe and his loyalists to step aside According to Dorina Bekoe criticism of the Zimbabwean regime from outside Africa has become an entry point to a larger argument about Africa s relationship with the West eclipsing the discussion of the Zimbabwean crisis Zimbabweans themselves will ultimately decide though other Southern African states may well in uence how and when political change will come Gavin 2007 POSSIBLE OUTCOMES AND SOLUTIONS Although many solutions have been debated the international community has yet to come up with a solid approach to the situation in Zimbabwe It is possible that an Africa brokered deal would allow Mugabe to step down and exile somewhere in Africa where a government of national unity would then be created to manage Zimbabwe until free and fair elections could be held Morrison 2001 Increased military involvement is also an option although this could potentially be a negative development by setting back the prospects for democratic governance Obama cannot continue the duplicity of the Bush administration that continues to have security and intelligence sharing with the government of the Sudan while maintaining that it is working to end the genocide in Darfur Peace in Africa and demilitarization in the United States are two sides of the same coin Gavin 2007 A more simple solution but not guaranteed anytime soon is the agonizing wait for Robert Mugabe s death or retirement It is likely that the new leader would be the now Prime Minister Tsvangirai however just because Mugabe might eXit the picture does not guarantee that his followers will not still try to exercise their old power Since much of Zimbabwe s problems stem from economic roots it is not a nite solution to just wait for a transition government Policy and institutional reforms might help revive Zimbabwe s enterprising class and attract needed investment but without a solid economic reform policy the country cannot ourish Once Mugabe leaves land redistribution needs to be reevaluated to where the true farmers are equally and fully recognized However Western in uence in this area would prove biased and should be avoided with caution A new economic reform that is rightfully promoted by Zimbabwe s own people will ensure opportunity for economic development and an end to the ever long majority struggle Morgan Tsvaingarai himself seems hopeful in regards to the new powersharing agreement Although he recognizes that the new government is not perfect he seems confident that it has been one step in the right direction In a recent statement he said The West has been and continues to be the most generous provider of humanitarian support of which all Zimbabweans are aware and grateful for As a proud nation we look forward to the day when we can develop our relationship with the West beyond merely being a beneficiary of emergency aid We want to become a true economic partner and an investment opportunity for those who respect the true value of our natural resources and our sovereignty over them Tsvangirai 2009 As far as the international community goes immediate opportunities for change are few The African Union has discussed the situation in Zimbabwe in detail however nearby countries are cautious to intervene in fear of starting a civil war However public criticism by African states of the violence in the leadup to the 2008 runoff election has begun to provide stronger and clearer leadership Bekoe 2008 CONCLUSION It may be a step forward if the United States is willing to incorporate the acceptance of its previous foreign policy mistakes but if not how can we legitimize our newfound interest in a continent that we have historically exploited and ignored Perhaps we do not hold the rights to fix Africa or even a rightful obligation to intervene The US needs to step back and reevaluate its intentions and expectations for Zimbabwe be patient with the new powersharing agreement and yet still provide humanitarian aid although perhaps not directly Spreading American foreign policy involvement too thin has been problematic in following through with our initial intentions What may be best for our foreign policy interests right now might just once be best for Africa as well A multilateral approach with other nations may it be through the United Nations or the African Union will give Africa room to breathe and let us rebuild our trust and reputation within the international spectrum Zimbabwe s future should be put in the hands of Africans and no one else The direct in uence of Western power has done enough damage as it is Though Zimbabwe s history has caused difficult problems the future will not remain bleak if the right steps are taken It is more important to concentrate on cooperating with stable African countries to support their own ways of raising Zimbabwe up to a sustainable level Works Cited Amanor Kojo Sebastian Land and Sustainable Development inAfrica ZED Books Copyright 2008 Bakwa Poterai Eye Witness Raped for Opposing Mugabe BBC News June 20m 2008 Baldauf Scott China Slammed for arming Zimbabwe s Mugabe The Christian Science Monitor April 2008 Bekoe Dorina Zimbabwe s Electoral Violence United States Institute of Peace 2008 Biles Peter Tsvangirai s Touch Choice BBC News February 1 lLh 2009 Bureau ofAfrican Affairs Zimbabwe US Department of State January 2009 Carter Gwendolen International Politics in Southern Africa Indiana University Press Bloornington Copyright 1982 Carter Phil US Policy in Africa in the 21st Century US Department of State 2009 Dixon Robyn Corruption fuels hunger in Zimbabwe Los Angeles Times December 11 2007 Dugger Celia In Zimbabwe Survival Lies in Scavenging The New York Times December llLh 2008 Gavin Michelle Looking Toward Zimbabwe s Future Washington Post 2007 Gavin Michelle The Crisis in Zimbabwe and Prospects for Resolution Council on Foreign Relations 2008 Gilpin Raymond Depoliticizing Zimbabwe s Economy Solutions for Two Million Percent United States Institute of Peace August 2008 Lake Anthony The Tar Baby Option American Policy Toward Southern Rhodesia Columbia University Press Copyright 1976 Morrison Stephen Time for International Action on Zimbabwe Center for Strategic and International Studies Africa Notes 2 2001 NGO Forum Political Violence ReportJanuary 2009 Zimbabwe NGO Human Rights Forum February 27Lh 2009 Nolan Robert Viewpoints Moving Forward in Zimbabwe Foreign Policy Association 2005 Obama Renews Zimbabwe Sanctions BBC News March 5th 2009 Reader John Africa A Biography of the Continent Vintage Books Copyright 1997 Shillington Kevin History ofAfrica 2 01 Edition Macmillan Education Copyright 1995 quotSpecial Report Zimbabwe and the Prospects for Nonviolent Political Change United States Institute of Peace 2003 216 Swain John Africa China s New Frontier The Times February 10 quot 2009 Tsvangirai Morgan Don t Make Us Pay for Working with Mugabe The Times April 15 2009 quotZimbabwe signs China energy deal BBC News June 2006
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