by Hannes Wessels
As far as I can ascertain I don’t have any British blood running through my veins. My family has been in Africa for almost 400 years so there may be some Bushman or Hottentot blood but no British. Despite that, and despite being a descendent of Afrikaners interned in Boer War Concentration Camps and having been on the receiving end of British duplicity in the course of the Rhodesian imbroglio, I have remained respectful of the country and its people. To a large extent this is because, unlike the majority of people today, I believe the British, with their excellence in the art of governance, during their tenure as an imperial power, made a massive contribution to making the world a better place for many millions of people. And I do still think that when the Royal Navy ruled the waves, the world was in a better place for it.
With this in mind, reading a recent report from Todd Moss, a former United States, State Department official about Her Majesty’s government’s dabbling in the murky waters of the Zimbabwe political establishment, some three years ago, has been deeply distressing. With successive British governments closely watching events unfold in the country, and after 37 years of horrendous rule under an administration whose bloody accession to power they orchestrated, I thought they would surely have learned something and would finally try to do what was in the best interests of the majority. Well the truth serves as a reminder; not only am I naïve, but I am also stupid, because, once again, I am utterly mistaken.
Leading this disgraceful initiative at the time, was the British High Commissioner in Harare, Ms Catriona Laing, a silly liberal with a misty-eyed view of a world where whites are the root of all evil, while African misrule is more a media creation than fact. It appears, almost immediately upon her arrival, she let it be known, that she would have little or nothing to do with the struggling MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) opposition while making no secret of her strong affection for then Deputy-President Emmerson Mnangagwa whom she quickly identified as her preferred ‘go to guy’. When she ‘liked’ a Tweet stating that “too many freedoms have been extended for Zimbabweans and need to be trimmed” she also indicated her willingness to endorse, even encourage anti-democratic behaviour.
What was now been revealed by former US State Department official Todd Moss, is that, at the same time, British officials were also working hard behind behind the scenes, along with commercial banks to help the delinquent Zimbabwean government settle the billions in arrears owed to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as a result of a self-inflicted economic catastrophe. This is the same British government, that has not offered nor spent a penny assisting the farmers and their thousands of workers, killed, ethnically cleansed and impoverished by the land invasions, despite the fact that some of the blame for this outrage lies unquestionably at its doorstep.
In an interview with the NewsHawks, Moss reportedly said:
“Going back pre-2017 if you go back to what was called the Lima plan in 2015 it was clear that the British were trying to (facilitate) a re-engagement process and tried to give ZANU PF a window to show that they could reform. Some of the power-creditors went along with that, some did not. The United States was highly sceptical, and I think history has shown that the scepticism was warranted. I think that this is a signal that the British recognise that that opportunity is now gone.
“On the one hand I think the British government and certain embassy officials owe the Zimbabwean people an apology for their behaviour. I doubt that they will do that but in a fair world that would happen.
“But I do think that the authorities in London have come around and now view Zimbabwe very similarly to those in Washington DC which is that the prospects for reforms with the set of leadership in Zimbabwe are very poor and putting money in Zimbabwe to support them will not encourage the reform process but actually encourage the opposite which is to further entrench the regime in place.”
As if this was not bad enough, it now looks very much like, the British government was part of a cunning plan to profit from this misguided political gambit. I suggest this because while this process was unfolding, Lord Peter Mandelson (AKA the Prince of Darkness) former cabinet minister in the Tony Blair administration, arrived quietly in the country ostensibly on a private ‘courtesy’ visit, to be gaily welcomed by a beaming Ambassador Laing which is a most unusual occurrence for someone on unofficial business. It now appears he was in the country representing investment bankers, possibly at the behest of the Foreign Office. It was all about making money out of a nefarious, and ultimately, ill advised, political agreement, that would have done nothing to help poor Zimbabweans, while making a rich white ruling class in London, even richer. It seems British perfidy has no boundaries.