OPED: America should really mind its own business

Harare (New Ziana) – Last week, the world woke up to a short and instructive tweet from the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry directed at the American embassy in Moscow which read: “Mind your own business.”

The angry reaction by Moscow was in response to the US diplomatic mission’s so-called concerns over alleged clampdown on media freedom in Russia.

“#Russia, through the eyes of the media in 2020 is a more current topic. Watching arrest after arrest of Russian Journalists- it’s starting to look like a concerted campaign against #MediaFreedom,” read a tweet by Rebecca Ross, a spokeswoman for the US mission in Moscow.

Moscow’s swift response was a clear indication that it was fed up with America’s unabated pontification about its supposed high democratic values, yet it has its own failings which need urgent attention.

This week, the “global prefect” took his bullying antics to Southern Africa, Zimbabwe in particular, following the arrest by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) of journalist, cum opposition activist Hopewell Chin’ono who was charged with inciting public violence.

Chin’ono, a rabid government critic, is alleged to be part of opposition plans to hold anti-government protests at the end of this month, in contravention of the country’s Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

“We have learned @PoliceZimbabwe officials are at Hopewell Chin’ono’s home now and are deeply concerned for his welfare,” the US embassy in Harare tweeted on Monday.

It did not stop there. The embassy, in an attempt to cower the ZRP into releasing Chin’ono – who looks more as a priced possession in the US’s regime change plot – went into overdrive and in the process unwittingly confirmed the long held view that he was more of an anti-government activist than a journalist.

“Activists Hopewell Chin’ono, @jngarivhume, #MDCTrio, @VOANews’@FrankChikowore and @263Chat’s @takawirasam answered @edmnangagwa’s call to end corruption yet the government prosecutes them instead of the culprits.”

Such open confrontation begs many questions, including whether the West is sincere in re-engaging the Zanu PF government and how and with what authority America assumes the role of the jury to demand the release of a person who was arrested lawfully for allegedly violating the laws of a sovereign country.

While in the past the Zimbabwe government has – in the spirit of the re-engagement agenda – kept a cool head, following similar incidences in which the U. S. has sought to exert itself unduly in Zimbabwe’s domestic issues, perhaps it is time too for Harare – just like what Moscow did – to call out the Americans and tell them to “Mind your own business.”

Perhaps, it is time too, for Zimbabwe and other countries that have suffered unwarranted bullying to stand up for themselves and put Uncle Sam in his rightful place?

“Not commenting on this international tiff, but Zimbabwe is also a victim of unrestrained foreign interference. It is also a victim of its citizens being turned into foreign agents. What is good for the goose must also be good for the gander,” Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Nick Mangwana tweeted on Thursday referencing a story in which a top British police official called for firmer spy laws in light of perceived increasing Russian “threat.”

The unjust bullying of Zimbabwe by the United States and its Western allies over the years has peaked in recent months, despite it having extended an olive branch through the re-engagement agenda, to mend soured relations.

The re-engagement agenda, a flagship policy thrust of Zimbabwe’s Second Republic, which was expected to yield re-entry into the Commonwealth grouping, and removal from EU and US sanctions, among other milestones, has been met with a lukewarm response by the West, not because Zimbabwe is unwilling to meet its end of the bargain, No.

While Zimbabwe was sincere in its overtures, the western world led by the US kept a sinister motive up their sleeves including secret alliances with opposition parties and maintained sanctions and pressed on the regime change agenda.

Re-engagement pre-conditions such as repealing harsh media laws including the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act have done little to sway them from their deeply cherished regime change agenda, thus keeping Zimbabwe waiting for its proverbial promised bride at the altar.

“We are concerned by the arrest of @dadyhope (Chin’ono) this morning and call for his immediate release. Journalism is not a crime, but a crucial pillar of any democratic society and of the fight against corruption. Journalists and freedom of expression deserve protection,” the EU embassy in Zimbabwe tweeted in unison with the Americans.

But common sense would dictate that those who preach democracy, the rule of law, constitutionalism, equality before the law and independence of the judiciary would allow the law to take its course rather than resort to bullying tactics.

The insincerity of the West’s actions betray a long held hostility which dates back to the implementation of the land reform program which saw thousands of landless black families being resettled on previously white owned farms.

Instead of taking to heart free advice proffered by a well-meaning global compatriot-Russia-to mind their own business-, the Americans and the West continue to harass other countries.

Yet it is especially important for America right now to mind its own business given the unprecedented challenges it is currently facing in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and out of control racially motivated street protests.

Today, America has recorded over 3.5 million confirmed cases of Coronavirus including 144 000 deaths.

Yet, in light of such grim statistics, it still finds time to poke its nose in issues which do not concern it.

In any case, when it comes to media freedom, the U.S. is a serial offender itself.

According to Al Jazeera, since May 26, 2020, the day after George Floyd was murdered by a policeman; more than 400 press freedom violations have been documented by the US Press Freedom Tracker.

“An unprecedented number of journalists were assaulted, arrested or otherwise prevented from documenting history,” the group said.

Launched in 2017, the US Press Freedom Tracker had three years of documenting press freedom violations under its belt when demonstrations which followed Floyd’s death ignited across America.

In the first weekend of the protests in May, the Tracker received more than 100 reports. “Nobody slept,” the managing editor, Kirstin McCudden, said.

“We have been quietly documenting [press freedom violations], and now we have catapulted into the international spotlight overnight.”

Between 2017 and 2019, the non-profit group had documented somewhere between 100 and 150 press violations each year.

Now, after only a few weeks into the protests, the group has received more than 400 incidents including harassment, arrests, equipment damage and physical and teargas attacks at media workers by the police.

“This is a scope and scale that we have not seen in the Tracker’s entire history,” McCudden said.

With such press freedom concerns of its own, one would surely question what moral ground the U.S stands on when blatantly accusing Russia and Zimbabwe of curbing press freedom.
New Ziana

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