The United States is changing its policy towards Africa in an attempt to counter the growing influence of China and Russia. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that in future the US ‘will not dictate Africa’s choices’, adding ‘neither should anyone else’.
Blinken was speaking on an African tour taking in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and South Africa. He said ‘African nations have been treated as instruments of other nations’ progress rather than the authors of their own’. He added: ‘Time and again, they have been told to pick a side in great power contests that feel far removed from daily struggles of their people.’
Blinken outlined two pillars of the new US strategy: ‘Openness, by which we mean the capacity of individuals, communities, and nations to choose their own path and shape the world we live in’, and ‘working with African partners to fulfil the promise of democracy’.
Bob Wekesa, deputy director of the African Centre for the Study of the United States at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, described the move as a ‘paradigm shift’. It came from a realisation that in a multipolar world African countries now have many more opportunities to choose from. As well as Russia and China, middling powers like Turkey and the United Arab Emirates had built African relationships in recent years.
Michael Shurkin, a former west Africa analyst for the CIA and now working for a consultancy based in Dakar, said US officials had realised that ‘it’s counterproductive to be hectoring countries about relations with China and Russia. The best way to compete is to shut up about it.’ He added: ‘Putin is probably snickering because he knows this is hard and he also knows he has some advantages over us. He can act like a spoiler. He’s not doing anything constructive in Africa, he’s just doing destructive things.’
Nick Westcott, director of the Royal African Society and a former British ambassador in Africa, said: ‘It’s an acknowledgment that Russia and China have gained influence, and it’s an attempt to counter that in a more intelligent way than saying, “you’re for us or against us”’. He added: “Africans wish not to be seen as subordinate to anybody.’ (See: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/1233-into-africa-softly-softly-as-us-seeks-to-counter-global-rivals-influence.)
- Crisis Coalition, which groups civil society organisations, has accused Mnangagwa of being hypocritical and unfair for describing non-governmental organisations as subversive and abusive (see: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-local-byo-222293.html). The EU has urged the government to have further consultation with the people on the controversial Private Voluntary Organisations’ Amendment Bill because it would restrict freedoms of civil society organisations (see: https://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-local-byo-222285.html).
- Zimbabwe is hardly known for its wine but nothing keeps Zimbabweans back. Four men who fled as refugees to South Africa have emerged as celebrated wine tasters. A film (called Blind Ambition) about how they rose to the top of their new profession, competing against the best sommeliers in the World Blind Tasting Championships has just opened in London (see: http://www.zimvigil.co.uk/vigil-news/campaign-news/1234-blind-ambition-the-refugees-who-conquered-the-wine-world).
- ROHR activists enjoyed a fundraising beach picnic / BBQ at Frinton-on-Sea today. This is a continuation of the efforts to raise funds for voter registration, mobilisation and education to ensure all eligible citizens exercise their right to vote without fear or manipulation to help ensure free, fair and credible elections in Zimbabwe. Those attending were: Enniah Dube, Daizy Fabian, Delice Gavazah, Isabell Gwatidzo, Etines Kapiya, Jonathan Kariwo, Chido Makawa, Ishmael Makina, Philip Maponga, Patricia Masamba and Ephraim Tapa. Thanks to those who contributed to the fundraising even though they were unable to attend: Simbarashe Jingo, Esther Munyira and Joyce Mbairatsunga. For photos, see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/albums/72177720301269686.
- For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
Events and Notices:
- Next Vigil meeting outside the Zimbabwe Embassy. Saturday 20th August from 2 – 5 pm. We will continue meeting on the first and third Saturdays of every month. On other Saturdays we will continue the virtual Vigil.
- The Zimbabwe Vigil’s 20th Anniversary. We will mark this at the Vigil on Saturday 15th October.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organisation based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organisation on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
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