An letter to Against the Current

Patrick Bond pbond at
Sun May 20 05:23:25 MDT 2001

Just away in Accra all last week; a report coming soon...

> Date:          Fri, 18 May 2001 21:57:07 +0200
> From:          Grinker <grinker at>
> Jared is right.  The argument of e.g. most of the left in South Africa is
> that, as the MDC supports the imposition of western sanctions, so should we.

No, since the MDC and civil society are too scared (really!) to
support sanctions, there are no leftists I know of in South Africa
who are pushing the line... but that may change...

> > Macdonald:
> >The Cliffite thinkers would
> >have me believe the MDC is an organisation of workers, and that this is
> where
> >radicals *automatically* are.
> The "Cliffites" have one entrist MP in the MDC who is about to be booted out
> because he has - against the general MDC line - supported Mugabe's recent
> radical anti-imperialist rhetoric.

That's true, sort of. Munyaradzi Gwisai (MP from a Harare township
constitutency) supports the recent physical attacks on white capital
in Zim, but says that the war vets doing so are hypocrites because
they support a leader (Mugabe) and party (ZanuPF) which is imposing a
"draconian" anti-labour bill in parliament. (The pro-government
newspaper this week reports on Gwisai, below.)

Anyhow, the left currents go far deeper in the MDC and amongst its
civil society allies. And so too do the pro-neoliberal currents. (My
long paper on this is now up, I think, at )

> It is not the business of a
> principled left to interrogate the politics of  nationalist leaders in
> countries under active threat from the west while the last remnants of their
> sovereignty are in the process of being whittled away.  Support in such
> cases must surely be unconditional.

Come off it, comrade Russell, this aversion to quality control is
what gives the left a bad name. Mugabe a "nationalist leader"
when his economic policies--in league with the WB/IMF for most of the
last two decades--have wrecked national sovereignty? And his brutal
political authoritarianism disqualifies unconditional support.
The urban proletariat hate Mugabe's guts, you know that. And last
June during parliamentary elections I travelled the entire eastern
province of the country top to bottom and have never -- not in
Port-au-Prince, Chiapas, SA townships -- seen such evidence of terror
as I saw in those rural hamlets.

> Defending Zimbabwe doesn't have to mean political identification with
> Mugabe - practical opposition to all forms of western intervention is what
> is needed.

Ah, Russell, would you therefore oppose Clare Short's recent
imposition of aid sanctions?


Zim Daily News, 12 April

                UK scraps $200m aid

                Staff Reporter
                4/12/01 7:10:01 PM (GMT +2)

                THE British government has withdrawn aid worth more
                than $200 million to the Privatisation Agency of
                Zimbabwe (PAZ) and another programme aimed at
                strengthening trade policy capacity within the
                government in yet another slap in the face of Harare
                by a key development partner.

                British Secretary of State for International Trade
                Clare Short told the House of Commons last week that
                London had written to the Zimbabwe authorities
                informing them of the cuts in aid to the PAZ and the
                Trade Policy Capacity Building programme because of
                Harare's failure to implement policies that could
                reverse the country's economic crisis.

                "We have today written to the Zimbabwe government
                informing them that we are ending our support to the
                Privatisation Agency and to a Trade Policy Capacity
                Building programme," Short told lawmakers in response
                to a question whether her department had reviewed the
                effectiveness of British aid to Zimbabwe because of
                Harare's policies.

                There was no comment on the issue this week from
                Zimbabwe's foreign ministry.

                Under a two-year programme agreed in 1999, Britain had
                pledged to give the PAZ more than $160 million towards
                building and strengthening the technical capacity of
                the unit, set up by the Harare authorities to oversee
                the unbundling of its loss-making parastatals.

                London had in August last year also undertaken to
                provide over $40 million to build and strengthen
                capacity to analyse and implement trade policy within

                A spokesman for the British High Commission in Harare
                said this week that part of the money under the two
                aid programmes had already been disbursed but further
                aid worth several more millions of dollars would now
                be withheld.

                London's decision to cut the two aid packages is one
                of several such actions by virtually all of Zimbabwe's
                key trading and development partners, including the
                International Monetary Fund and the World Bank which
                are withholding billions of dollars in aid because of
                Harare's failure to uphold the rule of law.

                Harare is also being penalised for its refusal to
                implement a transparent and legal land reform plan,
                whose principles were agreed between the government
                and international donors in 1998.

                Britain has already cut defence cooperation with
                Harare, slapping an arms embargo on the southern
                African nation a year ago.

                Zimbabwe has in the past bought considerable amounts
                of armaments and accessories from the British arms
                industry, especially spare parts for its fleet of
                British-made Hawk fighter jets.

                Earlier this year Britain withdrew its military team
                involved in advisory and training services which had
                been in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

                The team had been credited with playing a pivotal role
                in merging pre-independence liberation guerrilla
                armies and the Rhodesian army into a unified and
                professional force.


Zimbabwe Herald, 15 May

I am ready to relinquish seat if constituents desire: Gwisai

                Herald Reporter

                CONTROVERSIAL MDC legislator, Mr Munyaradzi Gwisai,
                will soon decide on whether he should stay in the
                party or quit.

                But he indicated his preparedness to relinquish the
                Highfield seat if the constituency wanted him out.

                Mr Gwisai said yesterday only a handful of individuals
                in the party disliked him.

                His public utterances, that have often contradicted
                MDC policies, have ruffled some feathers in the party.

                Some of the party's supporters were calling for his

                Mr Gwisai said he would make a final decision on
                whether to remain in the MDC or not when members of
                his organisation, the Zimbabwe chapter of the
                International Socialist Organisation meets next week.

                "I went to the MDC not as an individual but as a
                member of ISO and on behalf of workers, so the
                decision on whether it is still necessary to remain in
                the party will be made by ISO members," said Mr

                He said a coalition of forces within and outside the
                MDC wanted to ensure his demise and that of ISO.

                "But we are not in any way disturbed because we are
                aware that the time for a revolution is never set out,
                it just happens," he said.

                Mr Gwisai said the majority of MDC supporters in
                Highfield still wanted him to represent them.

                "It is obvious that 120 people cannot represent the
                whole constituency.

                "What is happening in Highfield is not new because
                when you attack a bourgeoisie system it is bound to

                He conceded that the move by the Highfield executive
                to pass a vote of no confidence in him had caused
                unnecessary confusion and anxiety in the constituency.

                In the event that Mr Gwisai is expelled from MDC, he
                ceases to be a Member of Parliament and the party
                would need to make formal representation to the
                Speaker of Parliament informing him of the decision.

                "After receiving the letter, I will then declare the
                seat vacant and a by-election would be held
                henceforth," said Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Speaker
                of Parliament yesterday.

                Contacted for comment, MDC president Mr Morgan
                Tsvangirai said: "I can't speak about Gwisai, talk to
                Jongwe the MDC spokesman."

                Although Mr Learnmore Jongwe insisted that the party
                was still to receive a formal complaint from the
                Highfield executive, it is understood that some senior
                executive members wanted Mr Gwisai expelled from the

                ``Gwisai was given to us by the people of Highfield
                and it is the people of Highfield who will determine
                his fate," said Mr Jongwe.

                Senior executive members in MDC were alleged to be
                masterminding Mr Gwisai's ouster.

                The officials were reportedly fuelling discontent
                among members in the constituency.

                Said one senior official: "It's true that the people
                of Highfield want him out but the executive still
                needs to make a formal representation to the province
                before the matter could be heard and endorsed by the
                national executive.

                "But the feeling is that he just has to go even if it
                means losing the seat to Zanu-PF."

                The official claimed the national executive, including
                its president Mr Tsvangirai, wanted Gwisai out.

                "Once a person has gone beyond the limits of democracy
                and keeps on contradicting the party's policies, it is
                by definition anarchism.

                "Democracy entails following the views of the majority
                and not imposing one's personal views," said the

                Mr Gwisai has landed in trouble in the past following
                his utterances in support of the land reforms.

                He was alleged to have said, as a socialist, he
                believed that landless Zimbabweans would never get
                land from commercial farmers through negotiations.

                Mr Tsvangirai immediately warned Mr Gwisai saying that
                his party would censure him and would not hesitate
                calling for a by-election in Highfield.

                The MP was again in the news for labelling the MDC an
                elitist and bourgeoisie party.

                He said the party was faced with a major crisis of
                disillusionment and lack of confidence. He was lucky
                to have escaped censure when the national executive
                met to review his fate.

Patrick Bond (pbond at
home: 51 Somerset Road, Kensington 2094 South Africa
phone:  (2711) 614-8088
work:  University of the Witwatersrand
Graduate School of Public and Development Management
PO Box 601, Wits 2050, South Africa
work email:  bond.p at
work phone:  (2711) 717-3917
work fax:  (2711) 484-2729
cellphone:  (27) 83-633-5548
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