Why don’t we learn from America?
MY TURN with TICHAONA ZINDOGA
The MDC party and a phalanx of NGOs, which are sponsored by the US, Britain and other Western governments directly or by proxy would surely in America’s book be instruments of an “unusual and extraordinary threat”. Certain people here have been seen to “wilfully commit, wilfully attempt to commit, or wilfully conspire to commit” acts that serve the hostile foreign interest.
Not many people would know Prince Asiel Ben Israel.
No, he is not a citizen of the infamous country whose name he carries, although with a historical link to that part of the world.
He is, apparently, not also a prince in the strictest sense.
He is American and comes from Chicago.
There, he is known as a religious leader of the Hebrew Israelite black-Jewish movement.
His family reportedly runs a well-known vegan soul food restaurant.
He is also known as a lobbyist and activist.
Ben Israel is 72 years old.
He will be going to jail – for seven months.
A judge named Elaine Bucklo last week found Ben Israel guilty of “illegally” lobbying American politicians to press for the lifting of US sanctions against Zimbabwe.
That was around 2008-2009 when he, together with one C. Gregory Turner, and another, sought to take advantage of the ascendancy of the first black president Obama to remove the sanctions imposed by George W. Bush in 2001.
They reportedly met a number of times with Zimbabwean Government officials, including, according to the reports President Mugabe and then central bank governor Gideon Gono.
They agreed to some payment for the consultation and lobbying, not long though, before they fell into the hands of the FBI.
Earlier this year, Ben Israel pleaded guilty to the charge, hoping for probation and sparing his family from the ravages of court, while Turner maintains his innocence.
VOA reports that Ben Israel’s lawyers had appealed for probation, “but the judge said the seriousness of the offence warranted some prison time”.
It could have been worse, as we shall demonstrate here.
There was no reaction or comment from Ben Israel after the judgment but earlier this year he defended himself then in the following words: “I believe in giving people clean water, I believe in giving people rights to live after more than 100 years of being oppressed by a foreign power, England, to their own rights to live in their own country and land, and I continue to believe that justice must be served.”
Matter of War and Defence
When the charges against Ben Israel and Turner were unsealed in August last year, a statement on the website of the FBI Chicago said both defendants were charged with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
This law, classified under War and National Defence is invoked to “to deal with any unusual and extraordinary threat, which has its source in whole or substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States, if the President declares a national emergency with respect to such threat”.
What it stipulates, basically, are what we generally know as sanctions relating to transactions with persons and institutions that are designated.
The law then says: “A person who wilfully commits, wilfully attempts to commit, or wilfully conspires to commit, or aids or abets in the commission of, an unlawful act described in subsection (a) of this section shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than US$1 000 000, or if a natural person, may be imprisoned for not more than 20 years, or both.”
That is the law.
And to demonstrate the gravity of Ben Israel’s crime a scary-sounding (if you watch those American movies) officialdom descended on him.
According to the FBI,:“The arrest and charges were announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney-General for National Security; Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and James C.
Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The Justice Department’s Counter-espionage Section assisted in the investigation . . .”
There is a woman called Cynthia McKinney and, again, not many people have heard about her.
McKinney has a couple of things in common with Ben Israel, being a black American as she is, in fact having been a Congresswoman at that.
McKinney was one of the few people that opposed sanctions against Zimbabwe, the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Act, when they were imposed by the George W. Bush regime.
Opposing the Bill, she said: “When we get right down to it, this legislation is nothing more than a formal declaration of the USA’s complicity in a programme to maintain white skin privilege. We can call it an ‘incentive Bill’ but that does not change its essential sanctions nature. It is racist and against the interests of the masses of Zimbabwe. In the long run ZDERA will work against the USA having a mutually beneficial relationship with Africa.”
She further educated her colleagues on the history of the land question in Zimbabwe, noting that “… that land was stolen from its indigenous people through the British South Africa Company and that any ‘titles’ to it were illegal and invalid”.
Zimbabwe had just embarked on the land reform programme to correct a historical wrong, which of course upset the former coloniser Britain whereupon she rallied the racist Western world to punish Zimbabwe and the US responded by imposing sanctions.
America imposed sanctions despite the moralistic pleadings of Cynthia McKinney.
She berated the Congress for “squeezing an economically devastated African state under the hypocritical guise of providing a ‘transition’ to democracy”.
Nobody listened to her.
Nor, today, has somebody given a damn about Prince Asiel Ben Israel who, knowing the colonial history too, moralises about “giving people clean water, I believe in giving people rights to live…in their own country and land”.
America gives such people a rude finger – much like it goes on war misadventures that are largely disapproved at home.
That is why it decides to label a young, peace-loving and hopeful country like Zimbabwe as constituting an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to it!
Learning from America
Not that America is stupid.
It knows where its interests lie and how to protect them from a micro-level to global hegemony.
One cannot help but have some dark admiration for America.
It is actually curious why authorities in this country and elsewhere seem not to learn from trailblazing America.
See, we have a problem in Zimbabwe, in the form of foreign-sponsored individuals and organisations whose declared and undeclared intentions have been to cause the change of the Government for the benefit of foreigners.
The one foreigner is America itself, which sponsors these organisations and movements, and does not care about the history of injustice, dispossession and racism that present-day leaders of Zimbabwe are seeking to reverse.
The MDC party and a phalanx of NGOs, which are sponsored by the US, Britain and other Western governments directly or by proxy would surely be in America’s book be instruments of an “unusual and extraordinary threat”.
Certain people here have been seen to “wilfully commit, wilfully attempt to commit, or wilfully conspire to commit” acts that serve the hostile foreign interest.
Morgan Tsvangirai called for sanctions against this country and citizens and defended them to the hilt, along with his regime change cohorts.
Would nothing happen to him if he were an American in America?
Zimbabwe’s monies are hounded across the globe by OFAC, yet the country leaves fifth columnists to be sponsored to wreck our country?
America considers itself at war with Zimbabwe – in a state of emergency – and we say we are at peace and behave as if nothing is happening?
A state of emergency requires emergency measures, which a vigilant America applies against us.
We should be very dumb not to learn a thing or two, even when we have a Bin Israel example.
Or is it a crime to follow the example of the global leader?