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The Zimbabwe Diaspora

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andybob

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A SPEECH BY ROY BENNETT,
TREASURER GENERAL OF THE MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRATIC CHANGE,
TO THE LONDON INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS CONGRESS,
23 NOVEMBER 2011

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

At first glance, the decision to invite me to speak at this conference
might seem somewhat unusual. The theme of the conference—
immigration and integration in an age of austerity—is a theme that
ostensibly focuses on the impact of migration in the West in this
time of global economic stress. But on closer examination, my
participation is not so strange. I come from Zimbabwe; indeed, like
many of my countrymen, I am a political exile living in the West—
and so I can speak with some authority about the other side of the
equation. I can provide some insight into push factors, some
insight into the reasons why people leave places like Zimbabwe
and come in numbers, both legally and illegally, to countries like
Britain.

In other words, it is not my objective to engage substantially in the
debate over multiculturalism—what it means and how to manage
it. That is to talk about the end product or the last link in a chain of
events and processes. Rather, I want to take a step backward and
look at some of the origins. I do not pretend to reduce all migration
issues to the type of experience that Zimbabweans have faced.

International migration is, of course, a complex phenomenon. But
the Zimbabwean experience is the one I know and—apart from its
own importance in terms of scale—I believe there are a series of
lessons to be learned from Zimbabwe that apply to many countries
and situations around the world.

So, to Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are, by and large, reluctant
migrants. It is critical to grasp this point. Of the millions of
Zimbabweans who have left the country over the last 10 years, the
majority have done so because they felt they had to, not because
they wanted to. Most Zimbabwean migrants live in South Africa.

There are an estimated 3–5 million Zimbabweans who have set up
camp within the borders of our southern neighbour. That figure
represents somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of Zimbabwe’s
total population, including the diaspora. During my own time as a
refugee in South Africa, I have spoken to hundreds of
Zimbabweans and nearly all of them want to go home. South
Africa is not their place; they feel like strangers and are treated as
such. Often they meet with open hostility and sometimes with
violence. Further abroad and in more comfortable settings,
Zimbabweans have perhaps become more ambivalent. Some want
to return, others don’t. Some have created new lives and new
opportunities and have lost the hunger to go home. Yet even those
in the West—and these are the minority—initially left under
compulsion.

What are these powerful push factors? What caused Zimbabweans
with homes and families to leave these things behind and cast out
into unchartered waters? Demographers typically like to make a
distinction between economic and political migrants, but the
distinction is somewhat artificial in the case of Zimbabwe and
Zimbabweans. The root cause of Zimbabwean migration, even
where it seems to be economic, is political. The great Zimbabwean
migration of the 21st century is directly and indirectly political.
Many Zimbabweans have fled under direct threat to life and limb;
others have been forced to leave as a consequence of systemic
collapse, but it is a collapse that has occurred for political reasons.
Allow me to provide some background. The Zimbabwean state is
the result of a long history of inequality, racism and exploitation.
The authoritarian, repressive and violent structures and groups that
we now have are the logical outcome of such a history. If you plant
the seedling you will grow the thorn tree. Zimbabwe is now ruled
by a mafia—a criminal syndicate that dresses itself in elaborate
forms of propaganda, but make no mistake, it is a criminal
syndicate. This lot, Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, strut around
in the vestments of anti-colonial liberation, but they are a bunch of
felons, pure and simple. Zanu-PF is the operatic performer among
Africa’s Cosa Nostra. All frills and shrills but at heart a common
crook and criminal, no less. She must be dragged kicking and
screaming to the penitentiary.

But I digress. Zimbabwe became independent in 1980. The
authoritarian strands of black nationalism and white supremacy
were interwoven beneath a Zanu-PF government led by Mugabe.
The most obscene kinds of violence and brutality soon surfaced
during the drive for a one party state, culminating in a massacre of
the Ndebele people in 1983 and 1984. The first major postindependence
dispersion of Zimbabweans occurred in this period.

Tens of thousands were internally displaced, fleeing to the second
city of Bulawayo, while others left for Botswana and South Africa.

Yet this crime against humanity was forgotten by the world as
quickly as it had arisen. Riding on the coat-tails of the international
anti-apartheid movement, Mugabe was viewed by many as the
poster-boy of the so-called Frontline States and it was years before
reality set in. Sadly, it took the brutalisation of the white
community in Zimbabwe to awaken the Western media to a
problem that had begun in 1980. It is shameful that we should
remain unmoved by black-on-black violence, beginning only to
make noise when whites are involved, either as victims or
perpetrators. I will return to this point a little later. For now it is
enough to note that Zanu-PF nailed its true colours to the mast
decades before the globally-publicised land invasions of 2000.

Another element that allowed Mugabe to retain a sanitised image
in the West was the strength of the economy he inherited. For
many years, corruption and human rights abuses sat alongside
relative economic prosperity. The white-dominated engine room of
the economy, principally built around commercial agriculture and
agri-processing, was left intact—and violence was also
geographically confined to the Matabeleland provinces of the
southwest. The beast in the basement, though busy, was out of
sight and out of mind. Internationally, the racial element also came
into play in the economic sphere because most Western economic
interests were left intact. Not only was the white community being
left alone, it was making money, as were the subsidiaries of
Western companies. And it was not only whites abroad who were
guilty of ignoring the screaming next door. These were the years
when whites in the north referred to Mugabe as ‘good old Bob’,
the Great Satan of the war years who had turned out to be their best
friend. Or so they thought.

The catalyst for the second major Zimbabwean migration occurred
in 1997 when the economy went into a rapid downward spiral. I
say ‘catalyst’ because it was not an isolated event; it had been a
long time coming—and it also set off a domino effect that will take
a generation to overcome, if we are lucky. First, the context. The
events of 1997 were all the more devastating because they
occurred against a backdrop of grand corruption and nepotism that
had sapped the nation’s economic strength. The coup de grace was
both a decisive moment and a symptom of a bigger problem. Black
veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence war, joined by a motley
crew of opportunists, engaged in a series of aggressive
demonstrations against the government, saying that they had been
living in poverty since independence while the top dogs had
become rich. When Mugabe capitulated to their demands for
gratuities and pensions—payouts that the fiscus could not afford—
the economy went into freefall. Ironically, the chairman of the war
veterans association, Chenjerai ‘Hitler’ Hunzvi, was later
prosecuted for embezzling from a war victims compensation fund
that allowed veterans to claim for disabilities suffered during the
war. Hunzvi had been paid out $43,000 (US) for a rating that put
him as 117 percent disabled. Brain dead would be more accurate.
Under this scheme, Mugabe’s brother-in-law had been awarded
$70,000 for a 95 percent disability that derived from a scar to his
left knee and alleged ulcers. The current Commissioner of Police,
Augustine Chihuri, was granted about $10,000 for ‘toe dermatitis
of the right and left foot’, while current Vice President Joice
Mujuru took around $35,000 for ‘mental stress disorder’ and ‘poor
vision’.

Those Zimbabweans who had wanted to forget about the country’s
politics after the war—and that was most of us—could literally no
longer afford to ignore the problem. As inflation, taxation and
unemployment began to rocket out of control, Zanu-PF had
become too expensive for those in the formal sectors of the
economy. A political opposition began to coalesce rapidly and
organically. But we were about to re-learn the lessons that had
been learnt by some during the war—that arbitrary and egregious
violence was the Zanu way—a lesson that the Ndebele had had
banged into them after 1980 while the rest of us preferred not to
know. This was to be no polite debate over the economy, followed
by a democratic change of government. To threaten Zanu-PF’s grip
on power was to threaten their raison d’etre—power and the things
that come with it are the very essence of their existence. The
enormous scale of the second Zimbabwean dispersion is a direct
function of the extremes to which Zanu-PF is prepared to go to
retain power and to plunder the nation’s wealth. These extremes
have been truly radical in nature. Many have few parallels in
modern history. The land invasions that began in 2000—
effectively a government-sanctioned looting spree—were a
desperate election ploy in reaction to the rapid rise of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC. Zanu-PF
was prepared to annihilate the vital organs of the economy to win
an election. Agricultural productivity declined by 80 percent
between 2002 and 2008. There were three years of national food
deficit in the 20 years from independence until the beginning of the
land invasions—and these three years were years of severe
drought. In the other years, the country had maintained an export
surplus. Since 2000, there have been 11 consecutive years of food
deficit.

This pattern of megalomania and pathological self-centredness was
repeated in almost every sphere of national life. Our infamous
hyperinflation—which is thought to have reached 89.7 sextillion
percent—was not simply the result of a collapse in productivity
and poor monetary policies. The regime actively used the printing
press to generate enormous fortunes for a small elite in a way that
they knew was destroying the remnant of economic life for normal
Zimbabweans. Money was pushed on to the black market by the
Reserve Bank and used to buy gold and foreign exchange for a
privileged few. This was money for jam if ever there was. Paper
and ink was the only cost to those with their hands on the levers
and they received vast quantities of gold and real cash in return.

The cost was borne by others. For everyone else, the value of life
savings and pensions was entirely wiped out and most of the
businesses that had survived the knock-on effects of the land
invasions went to the wall. Wage payments, banking and other
transactions that are usually taken for granted became completely
impossible. It is no exaggeration to say that many Zimbabweans
were driven back to the stone age. Barter took over and 80 percent
of our people were out of a job and out on the streets. Accountants
and school teachers traded cigarettes for tomatoes—and sweets for
matches. Others dabbled in the black market, much of which was
controlled and fed by those who had created the problem. Some
simply starved and died quietly in huts and shacks. The budgets of
public institutions were wiped out by hyperinflation within days of
their announcement. Hospitals and schools shut down because
there was no money for equipment and no money for wages. Most
of our public servants, those who supposedly had jobs, did not go
to work because the cost of a trip to the office was more than they
would make in a day or even a month. And Zanu-PF watched on—
and continued to loot.

These people drove over the ever-increasing potholes in their
Mercs and Hummers—and were unmoved by the sight of the
country falling down around their ears. Patriotism and pride meant
nothing to these people. But it was their hardness to human misery
that was most telling and most disgusting. And what misery it was.

Life expectancy plunged to the lowest in the world—37 years for
men and 34 for women. An estimated 3,000 people were dying
weekly of AIDS because they were not provided access to antiretroviral
drugs. There are now one million AIDS orphans out of a
resident population of around 12 million. One child in four has lost
one or both parents to AIDS. Meanwhile, up to 500,000 of the one
million farm workers booted off white farms died of a combination
of malnutrition and inadequate health services. Water supply and
sewage systems fell over and one of the largest outbreaks of
cholera in world history occurred in late 2008, infecting 100,000
people and killing over 4,000. Mugabe blamed the outbreak on the
British and airily advised the populace to avoid shaking hands. The
country’s jails became concentration camps. I know—I spent 8
months there in 2005 and an horrific 40 days in 2009. For many, a
petty offence or a false conviction became a death sentence. In
2009, six people starved to death in cells around me during my
stay as a guest of government. When queried over the state of the
jails and the prisoners dying like flies, Mugabe replied laughingly
that those who had been sentenced were getting what they
deserved.

Is it any wonder that Zimbabweans fled this tsunami? And I have
not yet described the violence unleashed during every election
since 2000. Political violence in Zimbabwe usually waxes and
wanes in relation to the electoral cycle. It accelerates during
campaigning and reaches a crescendo before the vote. Then it is
often reduced during voting days when observers and the media
are on the ground. Afterward, it is brought to another peak as
revenge attacks are made on those who have voted the ‘wrong’
way. The reason it follows such clearly identifiable patterns is that
it is carefully orchestrated and planned by the state. Mugabe’s war
veterans and plain-clothed state agents coordinate militia groups
that consist mainly of unemployed youth and trained thugs. In the
four elections since 2000, these groups—often numbering in the
hundreds—have terrorised the rural population, setting up torture
bases, raiding villages and attacking opposition rallies. Candidates
and activists for the Movement for Democratic Change have been
prime targets. Many have been savagely beaten and maimed; many
have been killed. In April 2000, two MDC officials, Tichaona
Chiminya and Talent Mabika, were stopped in their car and burnt
to death by state agents. These were two of the early tragedies—
and there have been scores since. At least 35 people were
murdered during the 2000 parliamentary elections and 60 were
killed in 2002’s presidential election. Observers noted that the
2005 elections were less violent than their predecessors—but they
spoke too soon. A few months later, 700,000 people had their
homes flattened or livelihoods destroyed by government
bulldozers—that is a UN figure—as retribution for urban support
for the MDC. This operation occurred in the middle of winter—the
poorest of the poor, tens of thousands of men, women and children
driven out into the elements. It is unknown how many died. More
faceless victims of the Zanu-PF killing fields.

The most recent elections—2008—were worse again. Zanu-PF had
written off the MDC, believing that a series of internal ructions had
discredited and disordered the party. So they toned down their
militia in the lead up to parliamentary elections which were timed
to coincide, for the first time, with a first round of the presidential
election. They received a rude shock. MDC defeated Zanu in the
parliamentary vote—the first time the ruling party had officially
been beaten since independence—and Morgan Tsvangirai gained
more votes than Mugabe in the presidential race, though he did not
receive more than 50 percent (at least according to the electoral
commission) so a second round of presidential voting was called.

This is when the dogs were let loose. Using polling station results
to target areas of opposition sympathy, huge groups of militia
roamed the countryside, beating, burning and killing people at
random. Torture bases were established, nightmarish holes where
the innocent were afflicted for days at a time. In this period, more
than 200 were killed, thousands beaten—hundreds of whom now
have lifelong disabilities—and tens of thousands were displaced.
This was revenge and pre-emptive action rolled into one. The
message was literally driven home that people had a choice
between Mugabe or death in the second round of the vote. Rightly
or wrongly, the MDC decided to pull out of the election with a
week to go, hoping to spare the people further suffering.

Since then, the MDC has entered a temporary shotgun marriage
with these serial abusers—and, of course, the abuse continues.
Mugabe’s security apparatus retains full control. MDC leaders and
activists continue to be arrested on trumped-up charges. As we
speak, the party’s Youth Assembly Chairperson, Solomon
Madzore, is being denied bail after he and 28 other MDC activists
were charged with the murder of a police officer. And in the
streets, the people are being harassed and beaten by Zanu-PF
militias that masquerade as common criminal gangs. These groups
are financed and coordinated by Zanu-PF—and they are becoming
increasingly active ahead of elections that may occur in 2012. We
are still some way from achieving peace and democracy.

To recap—these, then, are the primary causes of the Zimbabwean
dispersion. They are internal and political and are wholly manmade.
I have sketched them in some detail to highlight their
fundamentally domestic and political character—and to show how
deep and how powerful they have been. These home-grown causes
must remain at the front and centre of any analysis of Zimbabwean
migration over the past 10 years. Yet there are external factors that
have exacerbated the crisis. Some of these have been acutely
damaging because they have reinforced the core elements of the
problem. It is these reinforcing factors that I will focus on now. In
doing so, I do not excuse or minimise the fact that the abuse of
Zimbabweans by other Zimbabweans is the principal cause. But
outsiders have, in a variety of ways, played a particularly negative
role by giving succour (both intentionally and unintentionally) to
those maltreating their own people. Thus, to some extent, the size
and time-scale of the diaspora has been expanded by the actions of
outsiders.

The worst example of these destructive outside influences was the
administration of former South African president Thabo Mbeki. A
supposedly neutral arbiter, he sided with Robert Mugabe time and
again—and then he put massive pressure on the MDC to
consummate a unity government in 2008 after Zanu-PF and
Mugabe were shown the exit by the electorate. Mbeki was
supported by his kleptocratic and autocratic allies in the region.

How dare he second guess the people of Zimbabwe? How dare he
put personal loyalties and prejudices before democracy? Always
first to shout about outside interference when the West expresses
an opinion, Mbeki and his ilk have been the quintessential
imperialists when it comes to Zimbabwe. It is now for President
Jacob Zuma to deliver on his promises to create the conditions that
will allow Zimbabweans to finally choose their own leaders and
get on with rebuilding the nation. The Mbeki legacy means that
millions of Zimbabweans remain in South Africa and they are
placing severe strain on infrastructure, services and an already
tenuous social fabric. Zuma must now help South Africa by
helping Zimbabwe.

A second negative outside influence has been a group that should
have been the first to help. This group have been a negative
influence by their absence. Those who formed the backbone of the
international anti-Apartheid movement in the 1980s and 90s have
gone missing in action during the Zimbabwean crisis. Full of moral
outrage back then, they have done little or nothing in the face of
equally unspeakable black-on-black violence and oppression in
Zimbabwe. It is very difficult to avoid the conclusion that for many
of these people the struggle in South Africa was a fashionable
moral appendage rather than an enduring set of principles. Time
has shown them false. Many times I have spoken to the doyens of
this movement and received, frankly, little more than calloused
disinterest. They trade on an outdated reputation and do nothing.
Today, I want to challenge those who made much of Apartheid to
examine their consciences—and to prove to themselves and to us
that it was more than an exercise in self-righteousness. There is a
ready-made opportunity for them to get involved through the
newly-formed Global Alliance for Zimbabwe, or GAZ, of which I
am the chairman. GAZ has been modelled on the international
anti-Apartheid front and looks to mobilise funds and political
pressure for a democratic transition in Zimbabwe. More
information can be found online at globalallianceforzimbabwe.com

I move on now to Western governments. In some ways I am
hesitant to do so when many of these governments have
consistently supported the democratic cause for over a decade. It is
also true that democratic forces in Zimbabwe have often been a
disappointment in their disorganisation, their contradictions and
their failure to deliver. As such, I will try to speak with some
humility and as a friend. But I will be candid nonetheless. In my
view, the greatest weakness in Western policy toward Zimbabwe is
that assistance is often ill-targeted and it is too often symbolic
rather than substantial.

Western countries have given hundreds of millions in humanitarian
aid to Zimbabwe. We are grateful for this. Thousands owe their
lives to this generosity. But a sizeable portion of this aid should
have been directly targeted at political change. It is a false
economy to pour billions into aid over an extended period when a
fraction of those resources could be used to deliver change in a
fraction of the time.

The rub, of course, is that many Western governments are petrified
of the neo-colonialist tag. Yet I make no apologies for the call to
directly empower opposition groups. Zanu-PF and its supporters
will shriek and wail about imperialism and regime change, but this
is about empowering normal Zimbabweans to make or break
governments when they want. We must never be ashamed of
democracy or principle. Neither will we roll back the frontiers of
autocracy on an lasting basis by pussy-footing around and
tinkering at the edges. The groups capable of confronting
authoritarian regimes must be directly funded and resourced. Many
countries have a tradition of not funding political parties—but
times and needs change. No tradition is sacrosanct. Whether the
democratic change agent is a civil society movement or a political
party is immaterial—resources must go to the most effective
quarter. It should have been bleedingly obvious to any observer
that the MDC has enjoyed majority support in Zimbabwe and has,
till now, been the group most capable of overthrowing the regime.
And yet the MDC has been starved of resources while millions
have gone toward band-aid solutions. If a judgement is made that
the MDC is no longer capable of delivering democracy, then
fine—resources should go elsewhere. But all-too-often the criteria
for directing aid is not broad-based effectiveness, long-term valuefor-
money and long-term self-interest but the dictates of outmoded
traditions and the fear of short-term diplomatic fallout.

To put it differently, a by-product of these weaknesses is that we
end up with the politics of symbolism as opposed to the policies of
positive change. These symbolic interventions go beyond
overblown humanitarian aid budgets. The deficiencies of sanctions
on Zimbabwe are a case in point. I am all for sanctions that avoid
punishing normal people for the sins of those standing on their
backs. But smart and targeted sanctions can be much smarter and
better-directed. Prominent figures in the regime have been hit with
asset freezes and travel bans since the early 2000s, but this
intervention has remained frozen in time. Adaptation has been
needed—and it hasn’t really happened. Here, one of the glaring
issues is that nationals of countries that have applied the
sanctions—both individuals and companies—have continued
merrily supporting the regime and nothing has been done about
them. Therefore, you have the British and others punishing Zanu-
PF while failing to police their own citizens and—more often than
you would care to imagine—neglecting activities that are going on
in their own countries. Companies like Old Mutual were allowing
Zanu-PF functionaries to externalise huge quantities of funds
through share swaps between the Zimbabwe and London Stock
Exchanges. Always keen to make their filthy little fingers dirtier
again, Old Mutual also have joint ventures with the Government of
Zimbabwe—and this occurred before the formation of our pathetic
unity government—and yet nothing is done. What is more, these
are investments that are directly connected to gross human rights
abuses. Old Mutual has shares in a joint venture on the diamond
fields where over 200 panners in rags were gunned down from
helicopters in order to clear the decks for investors. There are also
numerous reports of ongoing abuses. And Old Mutual have the gall
to claim that any regrettable events pre-date their involvement!

Shame on them. Their corporate responsibility claims are a
catalogue of lies. And spitting in the other eye, they remain
invested in a number of Zanu-PF-controlled newspapers, filthy
little propaganda tools that spew out hate speech day-after-day. I
wonder that they didn’t invest in Adolf Hitler’s ‘Der Sturmer’. Old
Mutual has raised the skull and crossbones and kept them there in
spite of repeated warnings. Pirates in suits, we will not forget or
forgive them.

These corporate hypocrites are far from being alone. We had
CAMEC, a mining company led by former English cricketer Phil
Edmonds (what a fine ambassador he is)—in 2008, this mob
purchased from government a chunk of land extorted from another
mining company and in doing so poured tens of millions into the
pockets of the regime at a time when it needed election resources.

Like many other foreigners, they also cooperated with Zimbabwe’s
white trash—in this case a long-time supporter of the regime, Billy
Rautenbach. This scoundrel and their ilk continue their dirty work,
dining out on corrupt relationships with Zanu-PF identities, while
riding roughshod over anyone unfortunate enough to be in the way.

Then we have foreigners resident in Zimbabwe who are involved
in all sorts of vice and crime, but who remain under the radar. For
example, we have an Australian citizen who has been deeply
involved with Zanu-PF groups that were plundering the treasury
and assisting the militia to inflict massive violence during the 2008
elections.

Part of the problem here is that foreign ministries, treasuries and
other organs of state in the West do not have the resources to
police all these reprobates. The answer is to give them those
resources. A small investigative team on Zimbabwe could, in many
cases, be paid for by cutting or re-directing a fraction of
humanitarian aid. It is, again, a question of efficiency and
prioritisation. Given that many of these companies and individuals
have played a crucial and very practical role in keeping the regime
afloat, measures against them would be a genuinely effective way
of assisting the democratic process.

Drawing all this together, what are the basic reasons and lessons
that can be gleaned from a study of Zimbabwe’s diaspora? We
have seen that the overwhelming cause of this migration has been
internal and political. Zimbabweans have reluctantly left
Zimbabwe because of a regime that has raped, beaten and killed a
people and an economy in the pursuit of power and money. This
situation has been further exacerbated or elongated by outsiders
who have either failed to engage effectively or who have
deliberately supported the regime.

There seem to me to be a number of lessons that can be drawn
from the Zimbabwean problem and applied more generally—
including by policy-makers and thinkers in the West:

(1) Much international migration continues to have its roots in
misgovernance and oppression. Even so-called economic migrants
are, in effect, often political refugees given that they are commonly
running from the devastating impact of systemic collapse caused
by abusive regimes. Combining governance violations with
political violence, these regimes are a major driver of migration
flows and associated problems.

(2) In this day and age of globalisation, most people still want to
live and prosper in the land of their birth. Dealing with migration is
not simply a question of keeping undesirables at bay. Undoubtedly,
there will always be people who are temperamentally mobile, but
most people in most places want to stay at home. The best way of
giving them what they want—and of easing the burden of
migration on Western economies and societies—is to help them to
choose and change governments whenever they want to.

(3) It is incumbent on neighbouring nations to recognise that their
own self-interest lies in providing such help. Sacrificing such
common sense on the alter of personal loyalty, ideology or partisan
political gain will only serve to exacerbate core problems and
increase migration flows and the serious difficulties these cause in
their own countries. In Africa, solidarity among autocratic elites is
still a key reason why vicious regimes survive and export human
misery to the rest of the world.

(4) The West requires moral consistency and a clear-eyed longterm
vision of self-interest. Here, the choices are not simply
between soft and hard power. We often hear of the use of force
versus the provision of aid, as if these are the only alternatives.

More needs to be done to explore the use of what might be termed
‘the hard edge of soft power’. Indigenous and effective democratic
change agents must be given resources to remove authoritarian
governments. Cancer is not removed by massage, nor are brutal
elites pushed out by drilling boreholes or conducting seminars.
Committed people on the ground who are prepared to bleed for
freedom are the only ones capable of doing that job. Far too often,
they are neglected and sidelined in favour of compatriots whose
roles are palliative or completely useless. For as long as this
neglect continues, the West must continue to expect a poor return
on their investment across the developing world and increased
migration pressures at home. Put differently, the West must
jettison traditions and practices that are symbolic but insubstantial
and inefficient. To the extent that wisdom is about long-term self
interest, I question the wisdom of assistance that is geared to
showing that ‘we are doing something’, or the wisdom of gearing
99 percent of aid to development and humanitarian issues, or the
wisdom of placing short-term diplomatic relations before
democracy, or the wisdom of adhering rigidly to age-old
conventions such as a prohibition on political funding. Western
foreign policy is too often incapable of adaptation and innovation
in a world that is changing rapidly. It is good and right—and, over
the long haul, expedient—to stand for what is right, but it is foolish
to become methodologically inflexible.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for taking the time to listen and
hope that some of it has been useful
 

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