U.S Envoys Have Gone, What a Disappointment! [opinion] (allAfrica.com)

The two top United States government officials who came into the country last week on a four-day visit left without causing any earth-shattering incident as per anticipation of some political analysts and activists.

The visit by the US deputy assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Shannon Smith, and Stephen Feldstein, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, raised much expectations of a serious confrontation between the zanu-pf Government and the emissaries over the so-called human rights abuse and the disappearance of one Itai Dzamara.

The media was awash with agenda setting headlines such “US officials to quiz Mugabe on ‘abducted’ activist Dzamara”, “No Dzamara return, no removal of sanctions – US”, “US envoys: America unhappy with continued Zimbabwe human rights violations”.

However, there was no quizzing whatsoever. What a great disappointment!

Infant teachers would hold it with me that the behaviour exhibited last week is typical of the first or second graders in an elementary school.

The teacher is always inundated with complaints from the infants who try to curry the teacher’s favours by reporting each other.

These children get disappointed, even to an extent of crying, if the teacher does not beat the “accused”.

It was a great disillusionment for the infants in the opposition camp.

The envoys did not measure up to the opposition’s expectations as they were indeed in a listening mode. Their chief objective for visiting Zimbabwe was to explore investment opportunities.

The US’ renewed enthusiasm to re-engage Zimbabwe has seen the opposition quaking in their boots.

The anti-Government elements attempted to throw spanners in the process. Thus, they used Itai Dzamara’s disappearance as an arrow in the quiver.

The US cannot use the disappearance of Dzamara to shape their attitude to Zimbabwe; neither can it be used as a pointer of human rights violations. It is a fact that Dzamara disappeared more than two months ago but the perpetrators are not known and so is the motive behind that kidnapping.

The Government has repeatedly made its position clear. It is equally concerned about the disappearance of the young man.

The zanu-pf Government is rather more troubled than those who are crying more than the bereaved. As a Government, it is doing its best to bring to book the perpetrators.

Speaking in Parliament, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa said: “We are a democratic society and anybody in this country who commits a crime must account for the crime committed.

“This is why we have institutions like the Zimbabwe Republic Police to deal with those who commit crimes of this nature. Everything must be done to apprehend and bring to book whoever is responsible.”

zanu-pf had no issue with the young man who, like many in the civil society, was trying to earn popularity and eke out a living through the hackneyed “Mugabe must go” activism. He was not in any way a national threat to warrant abduction.

It would be strange for the US and any other country to tense up their already frosty relations with Zimbabwe over the missing of a single person. Worse still, the accusation that zanu-pf is behind the disappearance has remained untested.

It is up to the US to base its policy on Zimbabwe on such unfounded allegations.

Whatever the case, life will still go on for Zimbabwe.

The country had a life without the US for the past 14 years. Zimbabwe will continue to do business with the progressive nations.

However, the US will regret one day when they will wake up to see how other countries have tremendously benefited from their engagements with Zimbabwe, a country abundantly blessed with natural resources.

The contemporary political leadership in that country will have to explain to posterity why they took that retrogressive decision.

In any case, the US has done business with countries where similar disappearances are the order of the day. According to the United Christian Action and the Medical Research Council reports, 89 murders are committed, on average, every day in South Africa. Interpol claims even higher numbers of murder.

In addition, South Africa was recently rocked by a spate of xenophobic attacks where several foreigners were killed. Nevertheless, there are US conglomerates in South Africa. As of 2012, US foreign direct investment (FDI) in South Africa was $5,5 billion. In the same year, US goods and services trade with South Africa totalled $21 billion.

The US has many awkward allies with dismal records on democracy and human rights.

The US National Security Adviser, Susan Rice offered a remarkably candid insight into the US foreign policy. “Let’s be honest. At times we do business with governments that do not respect the rights we hold most dear,” she said in December 2013.

The Politico Magazine assembled America’s 25 most awkward allies. Among the allies are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraqi.

In Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah and his family exercise unchecked power with no parliament, no election or political parties. There is harsh treatment of women. For instance, they are prohibited from driving. Religions other than Islam are banned. Torture and detention are common in Saudi Arabia but it is an embarrassing close ally of the US because it controls a fifth of the world’s oil reserves. Saudi Arabia is the biggest buyer of American weapons.

Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Yemen, Jordan and Uganda among others are some of the US allies with documented human rights violations record. The US does business with these countries and its interest in these countries centres on counter-terrorism partnership.

The US showers Egypt with $1.3 billion in military aid each year despite coups and the unconstitutional ouster of leaders in that country. Mass death sentence was handed over to over 100 people including the ousted leader, Mohammed Morsi, in an unprecedented speedy mass trial. The regime has already hanged six of Morsi’s supporters while the US is calmly observing.

The US itself is not clean on issues of human rights violations. Its invasion of Iraq, which brought about the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, was nothing more than an attempt to gain control of Iraqi oil.

The US government distorted its laws and ignored international laws to allow it to imprison and torture any Iraqi, anyone, they wished. It was the same in Vietnam, only then over two million Vietnamese died.

Although the US condemns Bashir al-Assad for use of torture and calls him a vicious enemy, there has been evidence of high level of military collaboration between the US and Syria. The US has an ‘extraordinary rendition’ policy where foreign terrorist suspects are sent to countries where safeguards against torture are loose. Terror suspects have been sent to Syria to subject them to torture and other abusive methods of interrogation that are illegal in the US.

Some have been sent to detention and interrogation facilities in Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

Robert Baer, a former CIA agent in 2004 said: “If you want a serious interrogation, you send prisoners to Jordan, if you want them to be tortured you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear, never to see them again, you send them to Egypt.”

With the aforementioned awkward alliances, the disappearance of Dzamara cannot be a genuine excuse for maintaining a hostile foreign policy with Zimbabwe.

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