US calls Zimbabwe among ‘adversaries’ stoking unrest – and here is the déjà vu

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By Tichaona Zindoga

This is one of the strangest things you will likely hear this year.

The United States of America has just accused Zimbabwe of fomenting the unrest currently taking place in the US over the death of George Floyd, who was killed by a white police officer last week.

The incident sparked nationwide unrest of rioting and looting while opening wounds of cruel race relations.

Amid the cacophony – including ferocious tweeting by President Donald J Trump who on Saturday was forced to hide in a bunker at White House after protesters took action to his doorstep – America’s intelligence community came with a rather bizarre account.

National security adviser Robert O’Brien accused foreign powers of seeking to exploit the incendiary situation.

“I want to tell our foreign adversaries, whether it’s a Zimbabwe or a China, that the difference between us and you is that that officer who killed George Floyd, he’ll be investigated, prosecuted, and he’ll receive a fair trial.

His remarks followed closely tweets by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio — the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who said the US noted “very heavy” social media activity on nationwide demonstrations and counter reactions linked to at least three foreign adversaries.

“They didn’t create these divisions. But they are actively stoking & promoting violence & confrontation from multiple angles,” he wrote.

From outpost of tyranny to foreign adversary

The naming of Zimbabwe among “foreign adversaries”, alongside China and Russia, immediately lit up discussions on social media at home and abroad.

And for the record, yes, there had been frenzied discussions on Zimbabwe’s social media about the unfolding situation in the US.

The debates centred around race and police brutality.

Zimbabwe is often accused of gross human rights violations, including police brutality and the US is among the first to condemn the southern African country – and condemn and strongly it often does.

The US maintains sanctions on Zimbabwe which are predicated on the latter’s alleged rights abuses.

So, many supporters of the Government and other neutrals took the George Floyd incident to get back at the US.

And the super power felt the smack, apparently.

Naming Zimbabwe as among US’ foreign adversaries brought a sense of déjà vu.

Fifteen years ago, in January 2005, the then Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice under President George W Bush branded six countries, among them Zimbabwe, as “outposts of tyranny”.

During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, vowed to use diplomacy to address “the threats to our common security” and to “spread freedom and democracy throughout the globe.”

“To be sure, in our world, there remain outposts of tyranny, and America stands with oppressed people on every continent, in Cuba, and Burma, and North Korea, and Iran, and Belarus, and Zimbabwe,” she said.

Three years prior, Bush had made an equally forceful designation of US adversaries naming them “Axis of evil”.

On Sunday, Zimbabwe government spokesperson, Nick Mangwana tweeted:

“Zimbabwe does not consider itself America’s adversary. We prefer having friends and allies to having unhelpful adversity with any other nation including the USA.”

*Writer is a Zimbabwean journalist