Zimbabwe election - a defeat for imperialism
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Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections, in the outcome of which imperialism had placed high hopes, have proved rather disappointing for it. ZANU(PF) won 62 out of the 120 contested seats, five more than were won by the so-called Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), headed by Morgan Tsvangirai, a revolting flunkey of imperialism. Of the 2.8 million people who cast their votes, the highest turnout since independence, 1.2 million (just over 50%) voted for ZANU(PF), while 1.17 million (just under 50%) voted for the MDC. With more than 50% electoral support, ZANU(PF) has far greater parliamentary legitimacy than any of the bourgeois parties in Britain has had for a very long time. The results reveal that whereas ZANU(PF) had solid backing in the countryside, the MDC's support was confined to the towns and Matabeleland. If seven ministers, including Justice Minister, Emmerson Munangagwa, and Home Affairs Minister, Dumiso Dabengwa, lost their seats, the leader of the war veterans, heading the movement for occupation of white-owned farms, Chanjerai Hunzui, won a seat to the new parliament. In accordance with Zimbabwe's constitution, twenty members will be appointed to the parliament by the President and 10 by traditional chiefs, with the result that ZANU(PF) will be able to command the support of 92 parliamentarians out of a total of 150 -- sufficient for it to form and run the government but insufficient to change the constitution without the opposition's consent.
Zanu holds off the challenge
Imperialist statesmen and media alike have characterised these results as a "significant step" by Zimbabweans towards "liberating themselves" from the "repressive" rule of Robert Mugabe and his ZANU(PF). As a matter of fact, barely beneath the surface of this bluster, lies a deep sense of disappointment on their part for, on top of "their man in Harare" Tsvangirai, failing to get elected, his MDC - much more important this - failed to emerge from these elections as the largest party.
Many, including those in the revolutionary movement in this country, will be surprised at the electoral inroads made by the MDC, a party launched only 9 months before the elections. Seasoned observers of the Zimbabwean situation, however, with knowledge of the circumstances surrounding these elections and the events leading up to them, ought not to be surprised by the outcome. Arrayed against ZANU(PF) were the combined forces of imperialism, with its powerful financial institutions, ubiquitous propaganda machine, intelligence services, economically powerful fifth column of white farmers, and the vile lackeys of the MDC headed by the execrable Morgan Tsvangirai. That ZANU(PF) has successfully held off the challenge from such a formidable reactionary alliance is a tribute to its resilience, steadfastness, skill and national liberation revolutionary credentials alike.
Circumstances surrounding the elections
These elections were held in the most difficult economic and political circumstances in the history of independent Zimbabwe. For years imperialism has tried to destabilise and remove the Zimbabwean regime, for no other reason than that the latter would not submit to imperialist diktat. At issue are the very questions of Zimbabwe's independence and sovereignty - who is to run its economy and for whose benefit, who is to direct its foreign policy, and who should own the land in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean administration, although it has made some concessions, refuses to go along with the unreasonable demands made upon it by the IMF, the World Bank and other financial institutions of imperialism. It refuses, to the great annoyance of imperialism, to withdraw its forces from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where they are helping the revolutionary democratic Kabila regime to fight off imperialist-inspired insurgents and foreign interventionist forces. And, being fed up with foot-dragging by the British and US governments, which promised as long ago as 1979, during the Lancaster House Conference that led to Zimbabwean independence, to fund to the tune of $2 billion a programme of land redistribution, is determined to seize land from the 7,000 white farmers, distribute it among half a million black farmers and leave the question of any compensation to be settled between the white farmers and the British government.
Such important questions cannot be settled amicably and peacefully. One side or the other must give in. Since the Mugabe government refuses to surrender, imperialism has been busy destabilising Zimbabwe through economic and political measures. In the period leading up to the election, imperialism, particularly British imperialism, turned up the heat. Our 'ethical' foreign secretary, Robin Cook, and his 'anti-apartheid' assistant, Peter Hain, used the press and also made almost nightly appearances on TV screens denouncing in the most racist and arrogant terms the Zimbabwean regime for its allegedly 'uncivilised' behaviour and for its alleged 'intimidation' and 'brutal suppression' of the opposition. Here is just one example of this imperialist and racist arrogance:
Writing in the Financial Times of 16 February, 2000, Peter Hain, this would-be modern-day Cecil Rhodes, having alluded to Zimbabwe's economic difficulties (with inflation at 70%, unemployment at 50%, a big balance of payments deficit, very low reserves), says that Britain, "other donors" and international financial institutions "stand ready to help". However, he says intimidatingly, the government of Zimbabwe must understand "that we will do so only if there is a real commitment to sound economic policies of modernisation and privatisation." This violator of the rights of asylum-seekers in Britain goes on to demand that the government of Zimbabwe show "respect for human rights" and "pursue policies of good governance." Dismissing as "spurious" the demand of the Zimbabwean regime that Britain pay compensation "for land confiscated from white farmers," he went on to demand that the then-impending elections be "free and fair". With nauseating hypocrisy he asserted that no one in the "international community" wanted to see Zimbabwe fall over the precipice - least of all Britain, "its oldest and closest friend"! If 100 years of oppressing Zimbabwe and depriving its inhabitants of their source of livelihood - land - is the sole qualification for Britain being characterised as "the oldest and closest friend", one might just as well describe Nazi Germany as "the closest friend" of the peoples occupied and ruled by them.
When there was a real violation of human rights in that country, when the Smith regime tortured black civilians, bombed refugee camps, used its might to protect 7,000 white farmers on 35 million acres of Zimbabwe's best land, and forced 500,000 black farmers to eke out a miserable existence on the 40 acres of the country's worst soil, these proceedings were never the subject of condemnation in the imperialist media as the worst examples of violation of human rights!
Imperialism runs MDC campaign
This pressure from outside was carefully co-ordinated with the reactionary forces within Zimbabwe, led by the MDC, who were supplied with the latest gadgetry and information and the wherewithal for co-ordinating its anti-government election campaign. "It has been Africa's first internet election," stated the Financial Times of 27 June. The MDC, having been "liberated by information technology," had "shown the developing world how to exploit e-mail and websites for political advantage." Two paragraphs further down, the Financial Times inadvertently makes clear that, far from the MDC revealing the secrets of modern technology to the developing world, it was imperialism using the latest marvels in communication technology to assist its servile lackeys in a third world country, in an effort to subvert the latter's government, institutions and independence. Let the Financial Times speak:
"Cheap, speedy e-mails have been a vital link between MDC leaders and supporters scattered across the country and abroad, assisting with fundraising and party organisation. Websites have broadcast the opposition case to an influential international audience, including foreign investors, overseas governments, human rights groups and the media.
"'We get as much from the internet as from our intelligence services,' says one London embassy closely monitoring events several thousand miles away" (Michael Holman and Victor Mallet, 'Zimbabwe's opposition wins the war on the web').
"One of the most effective websites is run by the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, whose patrons include three former British foreign secretaries and a former US assistance secretary of state for Africa, updated daily under the banner 'let the democratic will of the people flourish'.
A disappointing result for imperialism
In the face of the onslaught by such a combination of forces, ZANU(PF) did well indeed to win a majority of the seats and votes cast. Imperialism is very unhappy with this result and refusing to reconcile itself with the outcome. Lord Renwick of Clifton, former head of the Rhodesia department of the Foreign Office and subsequently Britain's ambassador to South Africa, has the audacity to declare openly that: "'so long as the present regime remains in power, Zimbabwe will be unable to attract any investment or further lending by anyone in their senses" (Financial Times, 28 June 2000).
Since 'free and fair' elections so insistently demanded by imperialism have failed to deliver results to its liking, imperialism is busy hatching a variety of schemes for destabilising and removing the Zimbabwean regime. These schemes range from inciting disloyalty among the Zimbabwean armed forces, instigating regional and tribal tensions, and skilfully pitting the urban against the rural population, to legal challenges to have the election results annulled in several constituencies, and tightening the economic screw through the IMF, the World Bank, the EU, etc., with the intention of causing economic collapse and political turmoil.
A torrent of propaganda has been unleashed by imperialist agencies about the alleged 'intimidation' exercised by the Zimbabwean government against the opposition and the elections being not 'free and fair'. If the elections were not 'free and fair', would the opposition have increased its strength in parliament from 3 to 58, and would 7 government ministers have lost their seats' Short of losing the elections, the government could not satisfy the imperialist bandits of the fairness of these elections. As to intimidation, it is the opposition which is more often than not guilty of it. Our own 'free' press occasionally allows us a glimpse of the truth. For instance, the Financial Times of 19 June reported an MDC pre-election rally in Harare's Rufaro stadium on 18 June. At this rally, "in full view of the media, MDC youths beat up three people suspected of being Zanu supporters, one of whom rashly [!] wore a Zanu T-shirt to the stadium". How democratic this MDC must be that it feels an overwhelming urge to beat up people because they were "rash" enough to wear a Zanu T-shirt!! And these are the people who, in unison with their imperialist masters, cry themselves hoarse protesting about the alleged "brutal state-sponsored terror" of the government of Zimbabwe. Yes indeed, gentlemen. You had better be careful, for if you carry on with your provocations, you may indeed end up by provoking the Zimbabwean regime into using revolutionary terror to put an end to your acts of counter-revolutionary terror.
Zimbabwean government's restraint
For the moment the government of Zimbabwe is acting with circumspection and restraint in the face of the most grave provocations. In his broadcast following the election result, President Mugabe said: "The results are out and these do bind us all, loser and winner alike". Emphasising the "peace that characterised our elections", and congratulating the people of Zimbabwe for their calm, he offered an olive branch to the opposition: "Victory and defeat are quick to reconcile, quick to connect and cohabit in the same national space for greater peace and togetherness."
He made it clear, however, that the government would press ahead with its land distribution plans:
"There are localised problems people want addressed in immediate environment of habitation: around the land, which is still to come to our people in a big way; around the economy, which is going through a bad patch and for which lasting answers have to be found."
It is most unlikely that counter-revolutionary imperialism and its local stooges will reach for the olive branch held out by Robert Mugabe. The matter will in all probability be resolved, as such matters almost always are, in the crucible of class struggle. Time will be the best judge of it.
In the coming period the duty of the socialist proletariat and progressive people everywhere is clear enough' to support the efforts of the Zimbabwean government to right historical injustice through redistribution of land, presently held by a tiny minority of white farmers, to black farmers, and to oppose all imperialist bullying and interference in Zimbabwe's internal affairs.
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