Zimbabwe & the Dilemma of the Left and Progressive Politics.

Alec Grange alec.grange at ntlworld.com
Wed Nov 27 12:53:16 MST 2002

Many on the Left are really confused about the political situation in
Zimbabwe. This confusion dates from the general support given to the
people of Zimbabwe during the Rhodesian Civil War: the 2nd Chimurenga.
Clearly, the Rhodesian regime in 1980 fell with only the 240,000
Rhodesians people of European origin, feeling that it was the end of the
world as we know it, indeed their could have been tens of thousands of
blacks who felt similar emotions. Many of us in those days demonstrated
at Rhodesia house in London  and  elsewhere trying to highlight the
challenge that the liberation movements made, largely on the one hand
Joshua Nkomo's . ZAPU and Robert Mugabe's ZANU.  So in the course of
events the significance of the Lancaster House Agreement in 1979
represented the end of colonial rule in Rhodesia. Many of us felt that
under Mugabe and Zanu PF there was hope that the future would be bright.
We should have known better. Unlike others I am not going to give
endless quotes from useful sources, I have no wish to itemize points
from written sources, though I will due that in due course given time,
this piece is written from someone who lived and worked in the country
for ten years, due to marriage to a Zimbabwean citizen I have many
relatives in the country and it is a country that I know well.

Mugabe's methods were always dictatorial and arrogant, he belongs in the
same league of tyrants as Joseph Stalin. The signs were always there,
the murders of leaders like Herbert Chitepo, the mysterious
circumstances surrounding the death of General Josiah Tongogara the real
brains behind Zanu's strategy. We were warned also during the 1980
election campaign, reports given to the then British Governor Soames of
Zanu PF intimidation and harassment of civilian populations were treated
as propaganda from the Rhodesians, but they were true.  A few years
later,  we saw the massacres thousands of the Ndebele in Matabeleland
and the unleashing of the North Korean trained 5th Brigade of the
Zimabwean National Army (ZNA) . Joshua Nkomo was forced to flee for his
life. Democracy and freedom which so many hoped for was no more, if it
ever existed.

By 1989 we witnessed the Zapu & Zanu PF unity pact, this was the merger
of the two nationalist parties into Zanu PF. Mugabe desired a one party
state, he left it rather late as one party statism had become
unfashionable in Europe and elsewhere, even in China the communists
stared at the coming of the end.  By now Mugabe's instruments of
repression: the CIO - the secret police, the state media were as hated
as anything the Rhodesian state had indeed the CIO was a Rhodesian state

Yes, there were parliamentary and presidential elections, but these were
often moments of repression too as many people began to learn that
voting Zanu PF and for Mugabe was essential and opposition must always
be crushed. Indeed, I can remember  a radio commercial for Zanu PF that
included a the sound of a car coming to a stop with screeching breaks
and hitting something, the ominous  voice-over was this could happen to
you if don't vote Zanu PF, that was when the Zimbabwe Unity Movement
(ZUM) led by Edgar Tekere campaigned against Mugabe. In the rural area
where I lived and worked people I knew would come to me and explained
how frightened they were during elections, they often feared the Zanu PF
youth wing, young thugs who stamped fear into the povo's (the peoples' )
hearts. ZUM would never rise to be a threat to the state, perhaps in
part due to its leader Edgar Tekere a confused individual if ever there
was one. Opposional politics fell to Ndabaningi Sithole and Bishop Abel
Muzorewa. By 1989 corruption was well entrenched as the scandal over
imported cars broke out. These corrupt acts were often used as themes by
many popular musicians: Thomas Mafumo and Solomon Skuza being two
popular singers known for criticism of Mugabe's state.

Come the 2000 parliamentary elections a new powerful movement came along
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). It is a home grown opposition
movement, led by Morgan Tsvangirai who was the general secretary of the
Zimbabwe congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU). Trade Unions in the 1990s
became a focus for opposition to the state and it was no surprise in
1999 that the trade unions would be the main force behind the MDC. By
the year 2000 the MDC had reached out to all those who felt left out and
betrayed by  Mugabe's state, in the rural areas many peasants,
farmworkers and commercial farmers became attracted to the MDC.

It was a referendum on constitutional change that led Mugabe  to
threaten land seizure from the Whites. He clearly was alarmed by the
success of the MDC in uniting many people from various ethnic groups.
Despite the fact that Zanu PF enjoyed fabulous wealth and controlled the
state media and organs of power Mugabe was clearly shaken by the
opposition winning 52 parliamentary seats. The readers needs to also
understand that Zanu PF enjoys revenue not only from its own business
interests in the country, receives funds from overseas, but also from
the state treasury as there is state political party funding though only
Zanu PF enjoys such wealth. The MDC has still not received its share of
state funding.

Mugabe's rediscovery of land reform was a handy political weapon, it is
his last ditch weapon. Land reform for Mugabe has always been for his
friends and not for the povo. This land reform is a fallacy. Many of you
will be aware of events since 2000. Mugabe is only concerned with
maintaining himself and his party of thugs in power and like Adolf
Hitler  is quite prepared to sit in his bunker and watch as his country
disintegrates before his eyes.  Anyone on the left who imagines Mugabe
and Zanu PF are heroes is deluding him/herself. Many of us on the Left
have rightly denounced the single party sates of Eastern Europe, many of
us know that Joseph Stalin's rule in the USSR was brutal and murderous.
Mugabe and his pals, like Mobutu, Emperor Bokassa and Idi Amin have
become hated, why on earth cannot many on the Left wake up and denounce
Mugabe for what he is an arrogant, brutal and murderous dictator.

All the hate references Mugabe makes to the UK, to neo-colonialism is
sheer nonsense, it's well known jargon to appeal to those on the Left
who will feel it explains everything when it explains nothing.

I hope to find time to produce a piece fortified by research.

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