This May 25, which is celebrated as African Liberation Day and commemorated worldwide, marks the 56th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. The OAU represents the independent struggles on the African continent against colonialism, neocolonialism and imperialism, and for a united Africa, both in the past and in the present.
The Brooklyn-based December 12th Movement and Friends of Zimbabwe will be pay tribute to the legacy of ALD with a protest on May 25 in Washington, D.C., demanding an end to the criminal sanctions on Zimbabwe. This African nation, once known as Rhodesia after the brutal English colonizer Cecil Rhodes, fought a heroic guerrilla war for liberation for many decades. Rhodes first conquered Zimbabwe with the gun in the late 1800s.
Guerrilla fighters from the Zimbabwe African National Union and Zimbabwe African People’s Union jointly formed the ZANU-PF (Patriotic Front) to resist the colonial regime of Ian Smith. The Lancaster House Agreement, signed in December 1979 with the Smith regime, forced a compromise from the apartheid-like regime, which stated that the majority of the millions of acres of land stolen from the Indigenous people should be returned to them by the white racist landowners. Rhodesia became the independent African state of Zimbabwe in 1980, but the settlers retained much of the land.
For over 20 years, both U.S. and British imperialists have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe as punishment for negotiating the distribution of the land back to its rightful owners, many of whom had been guerrilla fighters in the war for independence.
Brutal impact of U.S. sanctions
The May 25 protest will begin at the African-American Civil War Museum Plaza in Washington and then march to the White House. It will highlight the impact of these sanctions — an act of war that is meant to turn the Zimbabwean people against the democratically elected government.
According to a press release from the December 12 Movement International Secretariat, these sanctions have caused:
- Shortages of medicines and medical supplies.
- Inability to purchase water treatment chemicals and mechanical parts.
- Increases in cholera and diabetes.
- Signiﬁcant deterioration of Zimbabwe’s balance of payments position.
- Blockage of international access credit markets.
- A significant buildup of external debt arrears.
- These increased government debt arrears resulted in Zimbabwean private companies finding it difficult to access offshore lending, thus crippling their operations.
- Lack of medical treatment of and/or screening for HIV/AIDS.
- Declining external budgetary support (Zimbabwe’s deficit has largely been financed from domestic borrowing, which has triggered high inflation).
- A radical decrease in life expectancy.
- An historic increase in unemployment, which ultimately hurts the overall quality of living.
- Zimbabwe being falsely perceived as an unsafe and risky country to visit, thus drastically reducing the number of tourist arrivals.
The press release goes on to say: “The United States’ Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZIDERA) and its sanctions violate international law and the United Nations Charter in its blatant interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. A land-locked, developing African nation like Zimbabwe, of 16 million people, poses no existential threat to the ‘national security interest’ of the United States. It is being punished for the example it has set for other African countries in their fight for land reform — the only road forward for development.”