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Black activists speak on Zimbabwe crisis

Published Apr 12, 2007 12:13 AM

The Brooklyn-based December 12 International Secretariat held an emergency community forum in Harlem on April 5 on the current and ongoing crisis that the Robert Mugabe-led government in Zimbabwe faces from U.S.-British imperialist threats.

Left to right, Monica Moorehead, D12 members
Colette Pean, Omowale Clay, Roger Wareham,
Viola Plummer and Coltrane Chimurenga April 5.
WW photo: John Parker

The majority Black, well-attended meeting included well-known activists such as Elombe Brath of the Patrice Lumumba Coalition and New York City Councilperson Charles Barron. Barron had publicly welcomed President Mugabe to New York’s City Hall in 2005 when he came to the city for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, but the majority of the City Council boycotted the event.

The April 5 meeting was held at Mount Olivet Church, the same venue where President Mugabe spoke to thousands of people in 2005.

Omowale Clay from D12, who chaired the forum, spoke about a March 11 prayer rally held in Zimbabwe and organized by the Movement for Democratic Change, an anti-Mugabe opposition group that has the full backing of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush. A struggle ensued which reportedly resulted in one MDC member dying and 30 Zimbabwean police being injured.

Following this incident, a debate took place at a session in late March of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, between a representative of Britain and a representative from Zimbabwe. A portion of this debate was shown at the Harlem meeting. The British representative raised the March 11 incident and called for imposing more economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean representative defended his country’s right to sovereignty and stated that sanctions are being used to strangle the already fragile Zimbabwean economy and to isolate the country from the rest of the African continent.

Following this film clip, the rest of the Harlem meeting was devoted to opening up the floor to hear questions and comments from the audience. D12 leaders Viola Plummer, Coltrane Chimurenga and Roger Wareham, along with Clay, fielded the questions. All four of these leaders have traveled to Zimbabwe on a number of occasions, including before the last election when Mugabe won another term in office.

A number of important issues raised by these leaders point to the real reasons why the U.S. and British governments want a “regime change” in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is the only country in Africa where the land, stolen by white colonialists beginning in the late 1880s, has been returned to the Indigenous population in a systematic way.

During the height of anti-colonial struggle in Southern Africa decades ago, Zimbabwe was the first country to hold a caucus of the national liberation movements on the continent. Both China and North Korea have friendly relations with Zimbabwe in the areas of trade and economic development. President Hugo Chávez from Venezuela has pledged to President Mugabe to provide oil to Zimbabwe.

D12 explained that one consequence of the Western-imposed economic sanctions is that Zimbabwe is denied technologically advanced equipment to develop its land to grow enough food for the population, especially during long periods of drought that chronically plague regions in Africa. These sanctions have helped to deepen hunger in Zimbabwe.

As a follow-up to the meeting, D12 Movement and Patrice Lumumba Coalition called for a march and rally in Harlem beginning at 1 p.m. on April 14 to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the liberation of Zimbabwe. The main theme of this protest will be “Mugabe is right! Zimbabwe will never be a colony again!”

The march will begin at the Harlem State Office Building at 125th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. Endorsers of this activity include Africans Helping Africans, the All African Peoples’ Socialist Party, Black Men’s Movement, Nation of Islam, African Liberation Support Committee, CEMOTAP and International Action Center.