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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Open Your Eyes Zimbabwe

allAfrica.com -- Zimbabweans should open their eyes to what is happening to them, through attempts by the metropolitan powers to use them as pawns in pursuit of metropolitan interests like they did in Ghana in 1966 when they engineered economic hardships to overthrow Kwame Nkrumah, says Editor of the New African magazine, BAFFOUR ANKOMAH who was the rapporteur at the just ended Zimbabwe International Book Affair (ZIBF). The following is an excerpt of his speech.

The Americans and British so happen to be the same people who are the most vociferous in preaching human rights to the African.

African human rights are not respected by those who claim to teach us human rights; historically, they have demonstrated time and again that they don't care about our human rights.

They only care when they want to use us as pawns in pursuit of their national interests.

Just look at this irony. There is a Prime Minister in Ethiopia called Meles Zenawi. His government held elections two months ago and, as I speak, they have not been able to announce the final results. And when people went into the streets to protest, over 30 of them were shot dead in Addis Ababa.

And what did the champions of human rights, democracy and good governance do? They rewarded him with an invite to the G8 summit in Gleneagles! Did they shake his hand when he arrived? Did they wine and dine with him?

The same people would not shake the hand of President Robert Mugabe! Imagine - you just imagine - if elections had been held here in Zimbabwe, and for two months the Government had not been able to announce the final results, and when people went into the streets to protest, over 30 of them had been shot dead in Harare!

Imagine how American cruise missiles would by now be falling on Harare from Fort Bragg in the United States and all these other places in the name of protecting democracy, human rights and good governance! But in Addis Ababa, they reward the Prime Minister with an invite to the G8 summit!

I have always wondered where human rights had gone - on holiday perhaps - when nearly five million people died directly and indirectly from the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo - a war that would not have been possible if America and Britain had not given copious political, financial and military support to Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The Americans even sent African-American soldiers to go and fight on the side of Uganda and Rwanda - the invaders.

All this is documented officially in Congressional testimonies!

Interestingly, have you ever heard the champions of African human rights ever chastise the Ugandans and Rwandese for violating the human rights of the five million Congolese who died in the war?

They don't care because Uganda and Rwanda were supposed to serve Western interests in the Congo. Rather, the Zimbabweans who were invited by the legitimate government of Congo to come and help them repel the Ugandan and Rwandese invasion, became the ones to be vilified internationally and punished via the imposition of economic sanctions.

I have been looking at the British and American national archives in recent weeks.

On December 27, 1957 - only nine months after Ghana's independence - the US foreign espionage arm, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), did an assessment on Ghana for the American intelligence community, and admitted that: "The fortunes of Ghana - the first tropical African country to gain independence - will have a huge impact on the evolution of Africa and Western interests there."

So they knew even from those early days, that if Ghana achieved economic independence - a human right due to the African - other African countries would follow suit.

So what happened?

This is where I would like to call upon Zimbabweans to open their eyes to what is happening in their country today, and the attempt by the metropolitan powers to use them as pawns in the pursuit of metropolitan interests.

It happened in Ghana in the period 1960-66, and all that the Ghanaians did was to put the blame on Nkrumah alone. The economy had collapsed; there were hardships, so it must be Nkrumah's fault. Alone!

In 1999, the Americans declassified their documents on Ghana pertaining to this era, and please allow me to take you through some of the highlights.

One of the documents shows that on February 6, 1964 - two full years before the coup that overthrew Nkrumah's government - the then American Secretary of State Dean Rusk and the CIA director John McCone had met in Washington and hand-picked Ghanaian General J. A. Ankrah as the man to take over from Nkrumah.

From that meeting, the action snowballed into America recruiting Britain and France to help break the back of Ghana's economy by manipulating it from afar, in order to create disaffection among the Ghanaian people and hasten Nkrumah's downfall.

And what did they use? The cocoa price. I have checked - in 1961, cocoa was selling on the world market at £748 per tonne, by 1965 the price had collapsed to £80 per tonne. Ghana was a mono-crop economy, dependent on cocoa. With the price gone, Nkrumah's dream of achieving the human right of economic independence for Ghana and, by extension, Africa went with it.

Many years later, the BBC did a documentary on Ghana in which they interviewed the then governor of the Bank of Ghana, Frimpong Ansah. He told the BBC on camera that at one meeting, the finance minister told Nkrumah how much foreign reserves Ghana had at this very difficult time.

Foreign exchange, has it got any resonance with Zimbabwe today?

But you wait. Ansah told the BBC that Nkrumah turned round to him, as the governor of the central bank, and said:

"Frimpong, the finance minister says we only have this much, but I think he has forgotten some zeros at the bank, isn't it."

Ansah said he told Nkrumah: "Mr President, the finance minister is right. That is all that we have as a nation."

Ansah said Nkrumah then excused himself, left the room, went to the adjacent room, and wept!

Any time I tell this story tears well up in my eyes. This is a man who had his nation and continent at heart. And his back was deliberately broken by the same people who now preach human rights, democracy and good governance to us.

In January 2000, The Times (of London) did an article on the release of the papers of Viscount Montgomery in which the kind viscount, after touring Africa 30 years previously, had insisted that the African, being a savage, had no capacity to rule himself. Challenging that notion, The Times admitted, perhaps for the first time, that "Nkrumah was brought low by the cocoa price". And who did it?

Let's go back to the declassified American documents. One of them shows - again on February 6, 1964 - the then director of the State Department's West African Desk, one William C. Trimble, had written a memo entitled: "Proposed Action Programme for Ghana" and sent it to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, G. Mennen Williams, saying:

"Although Nkrumah's leftward progress cannot be checked or reversed, it could be slowed down by a well conceived and executed action programme. Measures which we might take against Nkrumah would have to be carefully selected in order not to weaken pro-Western elements in Ghana or adversely affect our prestige and influence elsewhere on the continent."

Trimble continued: "US pressure, if appropriately applied, could induce a chain reaction, eventually leading to Nkrumah's downfall. Chances of success would be greatly enhanced if the British could be induced to act in concert with us."

Trimble recommended that: "Intensive efforts should be made through psychological warfare (and I want all of us here this afternoon, especially the Zimbabweans among us, to note these two words - 'psychological warfare' - and other means to diminish support for Nkrumah within Ghana and nurture the conviction among the Ghanaian people that their country's welfare and independence necessitate his removal."

On February 12, 1964, a high-powered American and British meeting on Nkrumah was held at the White House in Washington, attended by: on the American side - President Lyndon Johnson, Secretary of State Rusk, Under-Secretary of State Harriman, and the Special Assistant to the President on National Security Affairs, McGeorge Bundy.

On the British side were Prime Minister Alec Douglas Home and Foreign Secretary Butler.

The minutes of the meeting show Butler saying after the meeting: "One could not be sure how long Nkrumah would last."

On February 26, 1964, another meeting on Nkrumah was held at the White House. Present this time were the CIA director McCone, his close friend Edgar Kaiser (the same man who was helping Nkrumah build the Akosombo Dam in Ghana was helping plan a coup against him), and William P. Mahoney, the US ambassador in Ghana. The declassified documents record McCone as having said at the meeting: "I asked Ambassador Mahoney if he felt that the CIA was operating independently of his office (in Accra). . . Mahoney answered absolutely and positively no."

Mahoney then returned to Accra after the meeting and went to see Nkrumah on March 2, 1964. According to the declassified documents, he reported back to Washington in these words:

"I said (told Nkrumah) that I am in full control of all US government actions in Ghana. I could assure him without hesitation that during my incumbency absolutely nothing has been done by any US agency which could be construed in any way as being directed against him or his government. Nkrumah replied with words to the effect: 'I will take your word for it'."

Mahoney continued: "I repeated that there had been no conceivable activity on our part to subvert or overthrow him. I pointed out how inconsistent our entire aid effort, aimed at assisting and strengthening his government is, with wild accusations in (the) Ghanaian Press that the US (is) acting against him. I added that, speaking frankly, our main intelligence effort is to keep an eye on his Soviet and Chinese friends, whose activities are really large-scale. . . (A) beginning has been made in an effort to dispel some of Nkrumah's misconstruals on (the) role of CIA, (but) pressure should be kept up."

On March 23, 1964, Mahoney again sent a telegram to Washington from Accra, saying: "I believe someone has to keep hammering him (meaning Nkrumah)."

On April 9, 1964, acting on Mahoney's advice, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, G. Mennem Williams, wrote an action memo to Under-Secretary of State Harriman, saying the US should "keep continuing pressure (on Nkrumah) to maintain his relations with the US on a tolerable basis. . . We shall consult with the British in the next few days to discuss what contribution they may be able to make in this area."

On March 11, 1965, CIA director McCone and others, including Ambassador Mahoney, met again in McCone's office to take the "Nkrumah project" a step further. According to the declassified documents, the topic that day was "Coup d'etat in Ghana".

The minutes of the meeting show Mahoney telling McCone that Western pressure was working against Nkrumah. "Popular opinion is running strongly against Nkrumah," Mahoney reported, adding, "the economy of the country is in a precarious state."

However, Mahoney was "not convinced that the coup d'etat now being planned by Acting Police Commissioner J.W.K. Harley, and Generals Otu and Ankrah would necessarily take place".

Yet, on the other hand, Mahoney was sure that "one way or another, Nkrumah would be out within a year". That was March 11, 1965.

According to the minutes of that meeting, the CIA director asked Ambassador Mahoney: "Who would most likely succeed Nkrumah in the event of a coup?" Mahoney responded that "initially, at least, a military junta would take over".

He was supported by Robert W. Komer who had replaced McGeorge Bundy as President Johnson's National Security Adviser. An old CIA hand (at the meeting), Komer said:

"We may have a pro-Western coup in Ghana soon. Certain key military and police figures have been planning one for some time and Ghana's deteriorating economic condition may provide the spark. The plotters are keeping us briefed and State Department thinks we are more on the inside than the British.

"While we're not directly involved, I am told we and other Western countries, including France, have been helping to set up the situation by ignoring Nkrumah's pleas for economic aid . . . All in all, looks good."

Soon after the New Year in 1966, having finished his job of softening the ground in Accra, Ambassador Mahoney was recalled home. In his place, Washington sent a black man, Franklin H. Williams, an African-American who was Nkrumah's schoolmate at Lincoln University (the class of 1941).

Williams was barely two months in Accra when the coup happened on February 24, 1966, while Nkrumah was on his way to Hanoi via Beijing on a peace mission to mediate in the Vietnam War, a trip that President Johnson himself had blessed.

Years later, John Stockwell, a former CIA officer, told the BBC in a documentary on Ghana:

"Howard Banes, who was the CIA mission chief in Accra, engineered the overthrow of Nkrumah. Now, obviously, you can look at it in different ways. A Ghanaian might say: 'I thought we did it.' Inside the CIA, though, it was quite clear: Howard Banes had a double promotion and an Intelligence Star for having overthrown Nkrumah in Ghana.

"The magic of it, what made it so exciting for the CIA, was that Howard Banes had enough imagination and drive to run the operation without ever documenting what he was doing, and to sweep along his bosses in such a way they knew what he was doing, tacitly they approved, but there wasn't one shred of paper that he generated that would nail the CIA hierarchy as being responsible."

So where was the Ghanaian's human rights in all this, our right to economic independence?

At the time of the coup, Nkrumah had built 68 state-owned factories producing virtually everything we needed. Forty years after his overthrow, almost all the factories have died; they were first either privatised or left to go to ruin.

Today, except perhaps wives and husbands, Ghana imports almost everything it needs. In the process, the country has been exporting employment, because the more we buy from abroad, the more the countries we buy from create employment for their own people. Our own factories which Nkrumah built that should have expanded over the last 40 years and created employment in Ghana for our ever-expanding population, are all dead.

Ghana has had the added disgrace of declaring itself a "Highly Indebted Poor Country" (HIPC) before getting aid and debt cancellation. We are now beggars, expecting crumbs from the high tables of the metropolitan powers who did not help us develop after using us to overthrow Nkrumah!

Can you see any echoes in Zimbabwe today?

What are we doing about it as Zimbabweans? Are we waiting 40 years into the future to say, like Ghanaians are now saying: "Had we known"?

2 comments:

Dimitri Tsafendas said...

Important publication, please provide link to New African magazine.

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