Zimbabwe: ISO and popular frontism

Patrick Bond pbond at SPAMwn.apc.org
Sat Mar 10 00:30:41 MST 2001

> Date:          Sat, 10 Mar 2001 15:34:57 +1300
> From:          Philip Ferguson <plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz>
> In the case of Zimbabwe, this particular popular front is especially
> dangerous.  This is because usually most capitalists - and certainly world
> imperialism - don't support popfronts (they're usually confined to a
> minority of the bourgeoisie), but in the case of the MDC it is supported by
> key elements of the Zimbabwe bourgeoisie and by world imperialism.  So it
> is far more dangerous than the usual popfronts.

Comrade, Phil, this may be (probably is) true. (Though the white
bourgeoisie has been playing footsie-footsie with Mugabe for two
decades and isn't yet ready to formally endorse the MDC, even if the
vanguard elements are trying to pull them in.)

But yours is not a sufficient argument, for many of the Zim
lefties, to distract them from their primary task: removing Mugabe
and his high command. A good many of these comrades have been hit
hard, in day-to-day struggles for democracy and bread, by Mugabe's
paramilitary and police thugs. It's probably the case that if Morgan
Tsvangirai wins the upcoming presidential election, the climate of
repression would ease. This would give the genuine left some space to
do the kind of advocacy on socio-economic problems that they've had
to backburner so as to just stay alive these past couple of years.

That, anyhow, is what I hear. But of course the worry is that, like
Chiluba's Zambia, the trade unionists and other poor/working folk who
OVERWHELMINGLY support the MDC, won't have any vehicles for their
material interests, if the MDC line merely remains "good governance"
with no radical programmatic approach to land redistribution,
supplying people with basic needs, etc etc...

If anyone's in Jo'burg on 27 March, we're having an excellent
solidarity evening with lefty films about Zim and a superb speaker,
Tawanda Mutasah (founder of the Zim National Constitutional
Assembly). The Jo'burg-Pretoria-Harare axis is crucial for figuring
out where pressure can be put on Mugabe. For what appear to be
largely defensive-Bad-Nationalist reasons (and fear of a workers'
party splitting off the ANC here within the next decade), Mbeki is
still coddling Mugabe. The lefties in Zim have called,
half-heartedly, for sanctions. They will have to make it a mass call
from the urban proletariat before Cosatu trade unionists drive six
hours up to the border at BeitBridge and block the road, as they have
done a few times on the SA-Swazi border in recent years when asked by
Swazi democrats and trade unionists...

So, this abstract talk of solidarity with Zim comrades -- and here we
certainly include MDC parliamentarians Munyaradzi Gwisai and Tendai
Biti, both of whom have been harrassed by the regime -- might one day
get real.

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