By MAFA KWANISAI MAFA
[Note: Comrade Mafa is a university worker and leader of Chimurenga Vanguard, or Vanguard of the Rebellion, which is the Zimbabwean organisation affiliated with the Organising Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International / OCRFI. The article below was published in Zimbabwe on 21 August 2018.]
On 30 July 2018, Zimbabweans went for the much-awaited harmonized elections after the removal of Robert Mugabe from power by the 18 November 2017 revolution. For the first time in the history of the country there were 23 candidates in the presidential race, and for the first time many people registered to vote, especially the youth, who constitute 60% of the registered voters.
The major contenders were Zimbabwe African National Union (Patriotic Front) Emmerson Mnangagwa (age 75) and Movement for Democratic Change Alliance Nelson Chamisa (age 40). Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZANU-PF was declared the presidential winner by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, with 50.8% of the vote, while Nelson Chamisa obtained 44.3% of the vote Other smaller parties combined made up the remaining 4.9%.
Peasants Vote Massively for ZANU-PF
This election saw Mnangagwa winning mostly in rural areas, where more than 67% of the population lives, according to 2012 Census statistics. The reasons for his support is attributed mostly to the ZANU-PF redistributive policies to rural-based farming and peasant communities in the countryside. They get free farming inputs for their subsistence farming from the government.
Most of them are the major beneficiaries of the land revolution which decongested them from arid, dry, and/or disease-infested reserve regions where they were forced to settle by the settler colonialists. Most of them suffered the brunt of the liberation struggle against colonial bondage and they gave sanctuary to the freedom fighters during the protracted struggle for Zimbabwe. Most of them have sentimental and emotional attachment to the former liberation movement.
Nelson Chamisa got most of his votes from cities and towns, where most of the youth are jobless because of mismanagement of the economy by the ousted Robert Mugabe regime and principally due to the impact of the economic sanctions by Western imperialism. There are almost no workers to talk about in Zimbabwe because of the massive closure of the industries. The effects of the draconian embargo are mostly felt in the cities and towns: capital flight, companies’ closures, high cost of living, poor and stagnant salaries, cash shortages in banks, poor service delivery, unemployment, lack of health care facilities and medications, and high cost of education.
For the parliamentary seats ZANU-PF pocketed two-thirds majority of the 210 contested seats, meaning ZANU-PF won 144 seats and MDC Alliance won 61. Mnangagwa’s narrow victory has been vehemently rejected by Nelson Chamisa and his party, the MDC Alliance, which has since filed a petition with the Zimbabwe Constitutional Court to nullify the results or to declare him the winner. The verdict of the case is expected this week, 22 August 2018. [Note: Chamisa’s appeal was rejected and Mnangagwa was reaffirmed as the winner — Ed. Note.]
The Sanctions by Western Imperialism and the Drive to Reverse the Land Reform
Just before the results were announced, Chamisa had declared himself the winner and he and his supporters took to the streets to violently demonstrate, smashing windows of ZANU-PF offices and destroying property, vehicles and buses. In the process six people were shot dead as riot police were trying to contain the situation.
These riots were triggered by the MDC Alliance leadership in order to cast aspersions on ZANU-PF and taint the whole electoral process, thus providing a rationale and grounds for the continued embargo by the Western governments against Zimbabwe. MDC got protest votes; the hungrier and poorer our people, the more votes they get — hence the demands for sanctions to continue. The MDC leadership has been globetrotting, lobbying for sanctions just before the elections and even after elections.
U.S. President, Donald Trump signed into law the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act (ZIDERA) of 2018, which is an amendment to the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic recovery Act of 2001. This was done soon after the announcement of the ZANU-PF victory. U.S. imperialism wants to force and facilitate a Government of National Unity — which is why they are renewing the sanctions game plan. The United States and CIA want to effect a regime change in Zimbabwe.
Many people are misguided to think that if Zimbabwe complies with the democratic and economic “reforms,” ZIDERA would be lifted. At the core of the law is a more controversial issue — land reform. At a recent meeting between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Brian Nichols, the new U.S. ambassador, Nichols mentioned “land tenure” as one of the areas that U.S. imperialism wants to change. Land has been the fundamental issue that necessitated the enactment of this punitive law.
A central demand of the updated ZIDERA is that Zimbabwe must enforce the rulings of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) tribunal on land reform. The SADC tribunal issued several rulings in favour of the white farmers, which the U.S. members of Congress behind the new amended ZIDERA now want enforced as a precondition for re-engagement with the U.S. government.
We Oppose the Agricultural Counter-Reform
As Socialists we are against the agricultural counter-reform, which serves the interests of the white settlers. The land belongs to the Black poor peasants — not to the capitalists. We don’t support compensation of white farmers as a pre-condition to lift economic sanctions.
Labour Member of Parliament from the UK Kate Hoey, who campaigned for the Zimbabwean sanctions before, is now calling for the further isolation of Zimbabwe. It is time that the imposition of economic sanctions should be seen as a war crime against humanity since it involves the collective punishment of millions of innocent civilians who die and are reduced to living off scraps from the garbage dumps. Sanctions kill more people than bombs because they go on for years and their effect is cumulative.
As Socialists we demand the unconditional removal of the economic sanctions and we lobby the international working class and other progressives to escalate and amplify its global campaign to save Zimbabwe from the bullying and tyranny of the USA.
We feel it is the duty of the international proletariat to assist the oppressed countries in their war against the imperialists. According to the Transitional Programme, which was written by Leon Trotsky, the central issues of the colonial and semi-colonial countries are agrarian revolution — i.e., the elimination of the feudal legacy — and national independence — i.e.. the overthrow of the imperialist yoke. Both tasks are closely interconnected.
Should the country be opened to rapacious imperialist exploitation?
Mnangagwa has promised to “renew” the country by implementing neo-liberal reforms, austerity programmes and other reforms aimed at lifting the punitive economic sanctions slapped on the country 20 years ago.
It looks like the major global powers are warming up to President Mnangagwa’s administration and his open-to-business mantra, which is supposed to benefit the poor and working class. But to us Socialists opening up the country to global powers and the “free world” means opening up to rapacious exploitation of the natural resources for the benefit of white monopoly capital.
The 2018 elections in Zimbabwe were largely non-beneficial to the poor and the working class in general. The ideas purported by the two protagonists in their election manifestos largely betray socialist ideas, it was a titanic battle of capitalist interests in the form of neo-imperialism.
Indigenous economic growth is better than foreign aid. We should be wary of being enticed by the West into believing that they are genuinely willing to assist us; they have permanent interests not permanent friends.
We must fight for the poor, peasants and the working class taking over and controlling the means of production. As we mark the 78th anniversary of Leon Trotsky’s assassination, the fight for Trotsky’s ideas remain as relevant as ever as we commemorate the life and ideas of this inspiring revolutionary, theoretician and leader.
More than ever it is necessary to have a strong independent international center to help the vanguard of the working class worldwide to orientate independently.
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Zimbabwe, with a population of 14 million people, borders South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia.
In 1890, the defeat of the first Chimurenga (rebellion, in Shona language) against the British colonisers led to the expulsion of the Black population from its lands. The country became a British colony: Southern Rhodesia.
In 1965, the white minority proclaimed an “independent” state, Rhodesia, supported by the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa.
In 1966, a second Chimurenga was organised by the African National Union of Zimbabwe (ZANU) supported by China, and by the African People’s Union of Zimbabwe (ZAPU), supported by the Soviet Union.
In 1979-1980, negotiations were organised by the former British colonial power. Under the Lancaster Agreements, white minority representatives accepted to hold elections in which the Black majority could vote; they also accepted Zimbabwe’s independence. The representatives of ZANU and ZAPU agreed to renounce the struggle for agrarian reform, protecting the interests of white farmers.
In 1987, ZAPU and ZANU merged into a party called ZANU-PF (ZANU-Patriotic Front) led by Robert Mugabe. In 1997-1998, a powerful movement of land takeovers by the Black majority emerged, which the ZANU-PF government was forced to recognize.
In November 2017, Mugabe was removed as president by part of the ZANU-PF leadership, including Emmerson Mnangagwa, who became president.
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