[Marxism] Stating obvious, SADC says Zimbabwe vote not will of people

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue Jul 1 00:25:59 MDT 2008


Jscotlive at aol.com wrote:
> I'm sorry you feel that an analysis which points to the role of Western  
> imperialism in Africa as leading directly to the current crisis in Zim is  
> simplistic. I wonder if you could tell me if you feel that Western imperialism  does 
> bear any responsibility for what is happening?
>   

Simplistic does not mean wrong, it means insufficient. Of course 
imperialism bears responsibility for putting unbearable pressure on Zim 
and other African societies, and I can send you a million words or more 
I've penned to document this. But it doesn't mean you can leave out (as 
do so many Mugabe-fronters) the compradorisation and neoliberal 
restructuring of the Zim economy that Mugabe and his cronies embraced, 
until repayment of WB/IMF debt became impossible in 1999. The way local 
overaccumulation crisis and post-liberation development policy were 
managed - into a classical structural adjustment attack on wages, social 
programmes and living standards, and the manufacturing economy - 
reflects imperialism's Bretton Woods redistributive agenda, which in 
turn built up a class of parasitical rentiers. As a result, Zimbabwe has 
Africa's highest rate of capital flight by elites, even higher in 
relative terms than Nigeria: 
www.*peri*.umass.edu/236/hash/61e07e4377/publication/301/

> ... You mention that pressure needs to be brought to bear against Mbeki.  What do 
> you think his reasons are for failing to criticize or come out  against 
> Mugabe up to now?...
>   

See below. And below that, some evidence of pressure by trade unions.

> Does Mugabe have any popular support either within or without Zimbabwe  from 
> any section of the people?
>   

Sure, he runs a patronage state (with 9 million % inflation so that 
can't continue) which takes care of a few thousand rich cronies, along 
with a few tens of thousands of police/army/bureaucrats, and quite a few 
more peasants and occasional beneficiaries of state pre-election 
vote-buying programmes (this year tractors and hoes were given out, 
though petrol, seeds and fertilizer are very hard to come by). But the 
majority of the country's 12 million people (perhaps 3 million or so of 
whom are outside Zimbabwe now) want him out, that's quite evident.

> Has there been any indication of a weakening in the resolve of the security  
> services and army in their repression? Any sign of them beginning to turn  
> against the regime? 
>   

Sadly, not much more than a few isolated cases of those with a 
conscience leaving for exile. Since Rhodesian times, the security force 
discipline, augmented the last decade by the paramilitary Green Bombers, 
grew to formidable levels.


***

http://www.counterpunch.org/bond03272007.html

March 27, 2007
Mugabe: Talks Radical, Acts Like a Reactionary
Zimbabwe's Descent

By PATRICK BOND

If you want to know what's going on in Zimbabwe, you could try taking 
seriously the view commonly argued by the independent left in this 
region, namely that Mugabe talks radical -- especially nationalist and 
anti-imperialist--but acts reactionary, especially to the urban poor and 
working people.

Fortunately, we have a fresh version of this argument, made to millions 
of viewers on Sky News Sunday Live with Adam Boulton on March 18.

Boulton interviewed Moeletsi Mbeki, the younger brother of South 
Africa's president Thabo Mbeki. Exiled from apartheid South Africa as a 
member of the African National Congress, Mbeki lived in Harare for many 
years, and was once a Mugabe supporter.

But explaining the current situation, he did not mince words:

Mbeki: Mugabe is prepared to use force, any amount of force, he's 
prepared to kill the opposition, he's prepared to do anything that he 
considers necessary to stay in power, so that's why he's still in power. 
He's prepared to rig the elections which he does when they are held, so 
those are the reasons why Mugabe is still in power, and as you saw the 
beating of the leader of the opposition and his other leaders of the 
opposition during the last few days.

Boulton: Whose job is it to do something about it? Is it simply a 
question of waiting for a movement within Zimbabwe? Should it be 
neighbouring countries like South Africa that increase pressure?

Mbeki: Southern Africa is the most industralised part of Africa and 
therefore it has a very huge labour force, working class labour force, 
wage earners. What is the new phenomenon we are seeing in southern 
Africa is that this labour force they are all joining trade unions, many 
of them are members of trade unions. Now these trade unions have become 
politically active and have started forming their own parties, so all 
the governments in southern Africa are faced with the threat to their 
power from the trade union movement. MDC, the Movement for Democratic 
Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, for example, was the leader of the Zimbabwe 
Congress of Trade Unions. In Zambia we saw a trade union setting up a 
political party which out voted the then President, Kaunda. So we are 
seeing in southern Africa the trade unions being the main opposition to 
the ruling parties and this is really the situation whereby all the 
countries have a vested interest, all the ruling parties in our region, 
have a vested interest in ensuring that the opposition does not win in 
Zimbabwe because they see this as a threat to themselves as well.

Boulton: And that would apply to Thabo Mbeki as well, the South African 
President, that effectively he's worried you would say about the MDC 
possibly infecting or strengthening a trade union movement within South 
Africa?

Mbeki: Well absolutely, the biggest opposition in reality in South 
Africa to the government is actually the trade unions and they have 
threatened to form their own party, they have threatened to encourage 
the Communist party, which is an alliance with the ANC to stand on its 
own and compete against the NC in the election. So it's not just South 
Africa of course, Mozambique, Botswana all of these countries, Namibia, 
are faced with the same challenge.

Boulton: Now I've spoken to President Mbeki about the situation in 
Zimbabwe a number of times and his argument always is first of all that 
the whole question of land reform is one which affects the whole region 
and therefore he has sympathy with what Robert Mugabe is trying to do...

Mbeki: There's no land reform in Zimbabwe, what there is, is a 
confiscation of private property owned by Zimbabwean citizens by a small 
clique that surrounds Mugabe. There is no land reform in Zimbabwe.

Boulton: So given that the situation is deteriorating do you think the 
time has come now for heavier intervention by South Africa?

Mbeki: Well as I explained to you, you are very unlikely to get any 
meaningful intervention by South Africa or other southern African 
countries, because all of them the trade union inspired political party 
led by Morgan Tsvangirai is a threat also to them.

Mbeki concludes that Tsvangirai -- who suffered a fractured skull in a 
police beating on March 11 (see it here: http:slowthoughts.wordpress.com 
-- is too optimistic about the beginning of Mugabe's end: "I know his 
willingness to use violence, he has an endless appetite for the use of 
violence and he sees this as a wonderful opportunity for himself, for 
the use of violence."

And as for big brother Thabo, Moeletsi is just as cynical: "You know our 
own government is faced with challenges from the trade unions, so if you 
are faced with that situation I think the priority for any politician is 
his own power, his own opportunity to stay in power rather than issues 
of conscience. So I think in terms of South Africa the issue of how to 
frustrate the trade unions taking power and challenging the power of the 
ruling parties is more of a priority than the beating of opposition 
demonstrators and their leader."

It may not warrant further elaboration, but Moeletsi Mbeki has reduced 
last week's arguments by Mr Stephen Gowans of Ottawa to nonsense, and in 
the process shamed the good name CounterPunch (and indeed 286 other 
outlets between 22 and 26 March, according to a Google search of 
"Milosevic" "Mugabe" "Stephen Gowans" -- though Gowans has rewritten 
this thesis for several years now with Milo as his reference hero).

To illustrate the selective analysis that fatally flaws Gowans' work, he 
cites only Zimbabwe's state-owned press (the Sunday Mail and Herald) and 
three western newspapers. This is as farcical as trying to draw truth by 
balancing two extremists with blatant political agendas.

Hence Gowans claims that the country's economic crisis is due to 
"sanctions [that] bar Zimbabwe from access to economic and humanitarian 
aid, while disrupting trade and investment."

What kind of "economic aid" to African countries get from the 
imperialist powers, one might ask? (Answer: not empowering to any 
ordinary folk.) And in reality there is plenty of humanitarian aid -- 
especially food--flowing into Zimbabwe, allowing people to barely 
survive. Moreover, aside from trivial personal sanctions against ruling 
party elites traveling to -- or maintaining foreign bank accounts 
in--the US or Europe, there are only minor financial sanctions against 
Zimbabwe in place today.

What are they? To be sure, the US Congress has prohibited the Bretton 
Woods Institutions from lending to Zimbabwe, but anyone wanting the IMF 
and World Bank back in Zimbabwe is no friend of the commoner. Other bank 
sanctions can be circumvented by cooperating institutions such as South 
Africa's ABSA and others which funnel vast amounts of remittances from 
exiled Zimbabweans back home. The Chinese government last year advanced 
a $200 million loan. Equatorial Guinea provides oil as thanks for 
foiling a 2004 coup plot.

To Gowans point that the MDC has a neoliberal streak, tell us something 
new. This was first witnessed in February 2000, when the party's then 
economic secretary promised to privatise all parastatals plus the 
educational system within five years. And the subsequent backlash 
allowed former Trotskyist student leader Tendai Biti -- now MDC general 
secretary--to successfully advocate a social democratic program instead.

Because Tsvangirai's MDC is a large multi-class front with backing from 
the Bush and Blair regimes as well as from the urban masses, it's not to 
be trusted if it takes part in some form of unity government--perhaps as 
early as March 2008, in the event Mugabe loses his grip on the ruling 
party, a distinct possibility in coming days.

But it's more likely, as Moeletsi Mbeki says, that Tsvangirai's people 
will suffer more of the state's thirst for violence that killed 20 000 
Zimbabweans in Matabeleland during the early and mid-1980s, a point it 
seems Mr Gowans does not want to reveal to his readers.

In contrast, those whose instincts are left and who are genuinely 
concerned about Zimbabwe's future would do better to consult websites 
like kubatana.net or Sokwanele.com or Pambazuka.org, and support the 
April 3-4 general strike called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade 
Unions, or aid regular protests by Women of Zimbabwe Arise and the 
National Constitutional Assembly, or talk up last week's occupation of 
City Hall steps by the Combined Harare Residents Assocation, or witness 
the progressive forces regularly assembling in the Zimbabwe Social Forum.

As far as I can tell -- sitting across the Limpopo River -- there is 
indeed a nascent left in Zimbabwe, it is beleaguered and beaten, and it 
doesn't need any distractions from lads in Ottawa who can't tell the 
difference between talk left and walk right.


Patrick Bond coauthored Zimbabwe's Plunge: Exhausted Nationalism, 
Neoliberalism and the Search for Social Justice. He directs the Centre 
for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South 
Africa: http://www.ukzn.ac.zaccs and can be reached at bondp at ukzn.ac.za

***

Violence on labour leaders in Presidential Run-Off
W.T. Chibebe, 30 June 2008

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has learnt with dismay the 
harassment of labour leaders during the Presidential Run Off by ruling 
party militia, supporters and State security agents. The current 
information we have is:

1. The ZCTU district chairperson for Chivhu, Tinashe Murau, was 
seriously beaten up by Zanu PF militia just before the 27 June 
Presidential Runoff and has had his hand broken and is currently seeking 
medical attention. He was beaten after the militia questioned why he 
wears ZCTU t-shirts and attends ZCTU meetings.

2. Forty-six (46) members of the General Agriculture Plantation Workers’ 
Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), an affiliate of the ZCTU, have sought 
shelter in Harare after being harassed and beaten up by youth militia. 
The members include men, women and children. The ZCTU and GAPWUZ are 
currently providing them with food. Indications are that more farm 
workers will be displaced.

3. The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), also an affiliate 
of the ZCTU, has closed its office after its officials have been 
harassed by unknown people since the start of the Presidential Run Off. 
Two cars (registration Numbers ABD8989 and AAC5574) visited PTUZ general 
secretary, Raymond Majongwe, but fortunately he was not at his home. At 
the same time, other cars with unknown people visited the PTUZ 
treasurer’s wife claiming that they wanted to take her for ‘a funeral’.

4. A ZCTU councilor, Rebecca Butau, based in Chegutu was also seriously 
beaten and had to seek medical attention. Those who beat her-up said 
they were looking for David Zunde, another union official from the food 
industry. Currently Zunde is on the run.

The ZCTU expects and influx of its members as they face retribution from 
ruling party militia and youths. We deplore in the strongest terms what 
appears to be the targeting of ZCTU officials and union members.

As per General Council Communiqué of 21 June 2008 which among other 
things, called on the government to stop violence against innocent 
citizens, and noting that none of the ZCTU demands were met, the ZCTU 
declares that the elections were neither free no fair.

W.T. Chibebe, ZCTU Secretary-General

***

Solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe
Jan Tsiane, 30 June 2008

The Congress of South African Trade Unions in Limpopo will hold a 
demonstration on Saturday, 05 July 2008 at the Beit Bridge Border Post. 
The demonstration is in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe. The 
people of Zimbabwe have been subjected to violence by a regime which was 
supposed to be a progressive government.

The recently held one-candidate elections in Zimbabwe were nothing but a 
violation of the democratic rights of the people to participate in 
choosing their own government without fear or intimidation. In this 
particular instance the people of Zimbabwe were subjected to torture, 
harassment and politically motivated violence; and as such could not 
have freely participated in the elections.

We take note of the current AU Summit that is taking place in Egypt. We 
hope that African Leaders who are gathered there will be able to come up 
with a permanent solution to the problems of Zimbabwe. As a Federation 
we will continue to act in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe until 
such time that they are able to determine their own leaders under 
conditions that are conducive to a free and fair elections.

Contact Jan Tsiane, COSATU Provincial Secretary, 015 291 2981/2, 082 448 
5099







More information about the Marxism mailing list