On September 23, 2010, brief talks were held, as part of the re-engagement process, between representatives of the governments of Zimbabwe and the US on the sidelines of the 65th UN General Assembly in New York.
The Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma, and Regional Integration and International Cooperation Minister Priscilla Misharirabwi-Mushonga represented the tri-partisan Zimbabwe delegation.
The main players representing the US Delegation were US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and Michelle Gavin who runs the Africa desk of the National Security Council.
In a briefing with Zimbabwean media, Minister Mangoma described the talks as civil and polite, and quoted Ms. Gavin as saying US president Barack Obama had a keen interest in Zimbabwe.
It appears that the US government officials are much more comfortable, engaging the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC exclusively. The term "fish out of water" best describes their mannerisms when engaging the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe.
The motivation for these talks from the perspective of the US government appears rather odd when one looks at the diplomatic overtures towards Zimbabwe, especially over the last few months.
In May of this year, the African Ambassadors group left their annual African Liberation Day, holding their noses in disgust after Ambassador Carson chose to use the platform to provoke the Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Machivenyika Mapuranga.
The funding for this gathering came from each African embassy, putting up somewhere in the neighborhood of US $700 a piece for the purpose of honoring a politically sacred day in our illustrious history, only to see the US government’s point person on Africa disrespecting our mother continent’s entire diplomatic core.
Whenever the US government seeks to damage control on the world stage, they call on their media lapdogs — the Voice of America — hoping that they can put a positive spin on developments that can never be logically justified.
Because the talks occurred on the heels of a decision to deny travel visas to the Director General in the President’s Office Happyton Bonyongwe and ZBC chief correspondent Reuben Barwe, the VOA decided to publish a quote from the spokesperson of Zimbabwe’s US Embassy Sharon Hudson Dean, which denied the allegation.
The tone of Ms. Dean’s language implied a hostile act of this nature, which would be totally out of character for the United States.
Only last year, visas for Happison Muchechetere of ZBC and Caesar Zvayi of the Herald, who intended to travel to New York to cover the General Assembly were denied without cause.
This was another senseless act of diplomatic aggression, especially when it is a known fact that based on the stipulation of the sanctions President Mugabe and his delegation cannot go 25 kilometers outside of Manhattan.
The US Government has repeatedly stated that travel restrictions only apply to President Mugabe and Zanu-PF cabinet members.
Since the formation of Zimbabwe’s inclusive Government, however, the presiding bishop of the Anglican Church of the Province of Zimbabwe, Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga continues to be part of this ridiculous list.
When it comes to the concept of diplomatic engagement, those who you send to the table to articulate your nation’s case are chosen based on their background and skills set.
Because the everyday US citizen swallows President Obama’s campaign promises hook, line and sinker, every member of his cabinet has to give the impression that they will live up to these expectations.
This is why sending Ambassador Carson and Ms. Gavin to host talks on Zimbabwe, in the spirit of peace and goodwill, can only be seen as a recipe for disaster.
The training ground for Ambassador Carson was the National Intelligence Council, which was established during the Truman administration for the purpose of providing the CIA with strategic estimates and direction.
What Ms. Gavin has used as her claim to fame, when posing as an expert on Zimbabwe, was her 1997 paper – “Planning for Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe” – that she wrote while working as a fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations.
What is more bizarre than the title of Ms. Gavin’s paper is that she had the audacity to present copies of this document to the delegation during the talks.
This was the equivalent of the current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beginning talks with the Palestinians, citing former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s repulsive quote, "There is no such thing as a Palestinian."
It is only fitting that Susan Page, the Deputy Assistant for the Bureau of African Affairs, would break the story to the VOA that the US would not be lifting sanctions on Zimbabwe, sounding like a disciple of former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
Before her current post, Page was the regional director for Southern and East Africa at the National Democratic Institute.
The talks occurred with President Obama’s unnecessary attacks on President Mugabe.
Serving as a backdrop that appears to be a ploy to show his opposition inside US borders, Obama’s attack on Africa’s boldest and most visionary head of state would help him pass the US imperialist litmus test.
The biggest mistake Obama and his cabinet are making over Zimbabwe is ignoring that the Reagan administration disregarded the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979.
This makes it impossible for anyone in the current administration to pass judgment on President Mugabe and Zanu-PF, and also deny that sanctions are a vindictive response to the land reform program.
The talks also came on the heels of the US government’s desire to sabotage Zimbabwe’s efforts to use their diamonds to revitalize their economy, which has felt the brunt of US-EU sanctions.
The Obama administration will learn that turning Zimbabwe’s efforts to genuinely re-engage them and their EU counterparts into a dog and pony show aimed at scoring points with Zimbabwe’s former colonial master Britain is no longer under the radar.