Open Letter to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

3 June, 2003

Dear President Mugabe,

We are writing today to implore you to seek a peaceful and just solution to your country's escalating national crisis. Those signed below are Americans of Africa descent - many of them representing major organizations of civil society in the United States - who have worked for decades to support the liberation movements of Africa and the governments that followed independence which promoted and protected the interests of all of their nation's people. We form part of an honorable tradition of progressive solidarity with the struggles for decolonization, and against apartheid and imperialism in Africa.

We have strong historical ties to the liberation movements in Zimbabwe, which included material and political support, as well as opposition to U.S. government policies that supported white minority rule. In independent Zimbabwe we have sought to maintain progressive ties with the political party and government that arose from the freedom struggle. At the same time our progressive ties have grown with institutions of civil society, especially the labor movement, women's organizations, faith communities, human rights organizations, students, the independent media and progressive intellectuals. In Zimbabwe today, all of our relations and our deep empathy and understanding of events there require that we stand in solidarity with those feeling the pain and suffering caused by the abuse of their rights, violence and intolerance, economic deprivation and hunger, and landlessness and discrimination.

We do not need to recount here the details of the increasing intolerant, repressive and violent policies of your government over the past 3 years, nor the devastating consequences of those policies. The use of repressive legislation does not, in our respectful view, render such actions justifiable or moral, because of their presumed "legality". We represent a long tradition of opposition to unjust laws. We have previously expressed to your representative in Washington, DC, our humanitarian concerns about the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Zimbabwe as well as that of the famine triggered by the recent southern African drought and exacerbated by the economic policies and food distribution practices of your government. We have shared our concerns that land redistribution in Zimbabwe be used to fight the poverty of the majority and not to promote the narrow interests of another minority. But most of all, we have communicated clearly that we view the political repression underway in Zimbabwe as intolerable and in complete contradiction of the values and principles that were both the foundation of your liberation struggle and of our solidarity with that struggle.

Today, Mr. President we call upon yourself and those among the ruling party who truly value democracy, and wish to protect the future of all of Zimbabwe's citizens to take extraordinary steps to end your country's political crisis and place it upon a path toward peace. We ask that you initiate an unconditional dialogue with the political opposition in Zimbabwe and representatives of civil society aimed at ending this impasse. We call upon you to seek the diplomatic intervention of appropriately concerned African states and institutions, particularly South Africa and Nigeria, and SADC and the African Union, to assist in the mediation of Zimbabwe's civil conflict.

Mr. President, the non-violent civil disobedience that is growing in your country - such as that which took place on Mother's day in Bulawayo - is increasingly met with police brutality and excessive force. Such trends in the abuse of human rights are not only unacceptable, they are threats to your country's stability and they are undermining the economic and political development your people desire and deserve. We believe that a peaceful solution is possible for Zimbabwe if you find a way to work with others in and outside of your government to create an effective process for a transition to a more broadly supported government upholding the democratic rights of all.

Sincerely yours in struggle,

William Lucy, President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Willie Baker, Executive Vice President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

Salih Booker, Executive Director, Africa Action

Bill Fletcher, Jr., President, TransAfrica Forum

Horace G. Dawson Jr., Director Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center, Howard University

Patricia Ann Ford, Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Julianne Malveaux, TransAfrica Forum  Board Member

Rev Justus Y. Reeves, Executive Director Missions Ministry, Progressive National Baptist Convention

Coordinating Committee, Black Radical Congress

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Issue Number 51
July 31, 2003

Other commentaries in this issue:

Cover Story - Analysis: The Debate on Zimbabwe Will Not Be Throttled... African Americans must debate the issues of human rights and economic development in Africa among themselves

The DLC’s National White Man’s Conversation - Let the rich rump of the Party go where they belong

Cartoon: Halliburton Coming and Going

Bush Uses IRS To Push Around Poor People - ACORN fights fed's proof-of-poverty scheme

e-MailBox: Hip-Hop Hits Back... Killing Africans as Policy... Bush Mental Disorder Catalogued... Obama’s name off DLC list

No safety without peace, no peace without change - A speech by Cynthia McKinney, Former U.S. Rep. (D-GA)

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Contents of Issue 50 - July 17, 2003:

Cover Story: Barefoot, Sick, Hungry and Afraid - The real U.S policy in Africa

The Consequences of Believing Your Own Propaganda by Mamadou Chinyelu

Cartoon: Hollywood's Magic Negro

Think Piece: The Pretense of Hip-Hop Black Leadership By Dr. Martin Kilson

Affirmative Action as a Tool of Imperialist Expansion and Aggression by Mark P. Fancher, Guest Commentator

One Bush Too Many in Africa by Kweli Nzito, Ph.D., Guest Commentator

You can read any past issue of The Black Commentator in its entirety by going to the Past Issues page.