Tuesday, May 03, 2005

BALANCE SHEET OF THE ZIMBABWEAN ELECTION--by Tiyani Lybon Mabasa (President, Socialist Party of Azania)

[Here's an interesting perspective on the situation in Zimbabwe, especially as regards the recent elections. (nb--Greg Elich has made some very important observations on this same scene, and a great exchange can be found on Mickey Z's blog @ http://www.mickeyz.net/news/mickeyz/comments/1656/)

Again, understanding the context in which these national destabilizations take place is all-important. And, more than anything else, the reign of terror that the West has imposed throughout the world since, say, the explosive ending of WWII--even before that, I suppose, but the old toupee begins to twirl if one goes too far back into the history of US geopolitical duplicity looking for the origins of the specious—Western state terrorism defines that context.

If one wonders at just how we all got so terrified; so terrified that we don't dare ask real questions about what is really happening to us, or even dare to imagine what might actually be driving current events, but just grimly accept each new but hackneyed government lie, each new but threadbare excuse for its craven policies or the smug but dull-witted rationales for its wanton, murderous barbarism: if one is truly curious about this, one might want to take a look at the rather clunky, sophomoric strategy that the CIA used in Nicaragua to destabilize the Sandanista government, which they saw as a Soviet proxy regime a thousand or so miles off the Texas border.

(from ‘Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, America, The Cold War, and The Roots of Terror’, by Mahmood Mamdani, Pantheon, 2004--pg 117)

Testifying before the World Court on September 8, 1985, David MacMichael,
a CIA national intelligence analyst on Central America from 1981 to 1983
who later became critical of the contra War, explained that the CIA expected
that contra raids would provoke the Sandinistas into three kinds of aggressions:
(1) "clamp down on civil liberties within Nicaragua itself, arresting its opposition,
demonstrating its allegedly inherent totalitarian nature and thus increase
domestic dissent within the country"; (2) provoke "cross border attacks by
Nicaraguan forces and thus serve to demonstrate Nicaragua's aggressive nature
and possibly call into play the Organization of American States"' and (3) provoke
"reaction against United States citizens, particularly against United states personnel
within Nicaragua and thus serve to demonstrate the hostility of Nicaragua towards
the United States."

As clunky as this might seem in 2005, it worked back in the day just as it was supposed to. But it worked not by provoking the Sandanistas into aggression (just as Serbia/Yugoslavia were never provoked into aggression), but it worked by so terrorizing the Nicaraguan civilian population, that they voted in a fat, bad-smelling US-backed banker to lead their country into destitution. They had been convinced, just as have the people of the US and the EU, that it’s better to pretend to fight imagined (Arab) terror out there, than to suffer very real (even if purely psychological) terror at home.

Now, if this rationale for committing terrorist crimes against civilian populations were projected onto, say, Russia/CIS, you’d have a pretty good explanation for why and how the US/NATO actually sponsored the Beslan school massacre. And it's no stretch at all to see this game plan in play (with varying degrees of success) in Yugoslavia, Rwanda/Burundi/Congo, Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, Palestine/Iraq, and Afghanistan—and, let’s not forget Zimbabwe here.

Professor Mamdani, himself, makes a great case for how the CIA/ISI/Mossad nexus of nefas put up the whole phantasmagoria of 'Political Islam' as a counterweight to Soviet Communism; yet he never mentions jihad with respect to Bosnia or Serbia. And as far as I can tell (because I'm still reading this most enjoyable compendium of dirt on US foreign policy--all the professor's snappy facts make the reader feel like he's hacked into the mainframe at the CIA--or, better still, at the NYRB), he makes no mention of how the US, through it’s proxy, Uganda, invaded Rwanda on 1 October 1990 and there established a four-year reign of terror—very much like that of his most favored example, The Contras—which eventuated in the assassinations of three Hutu presidents in six months and the now (in)famous Rwandan Genocide of 100 days--actually, Mamdani only counts 90 days as the duration of this already much-condensed version of a still on-going G. But then Prof M is a Kampala homeboy and probably no stranger to the sedative effects of state terrorism on the public intellectual’s critical imagination.—mc]

International Liaison Committee of Workers & Peoples (ILC)
P.O. Box 40009, San Francisco, CA 94140.
Tel. (415) 626-1175; fax: (415) 626-1217.
contact ILC at ilcinfo@earthlink.net
website: ILC section in www.owcinfo.org


(President, Socialist Party of Azania)

President Robert Mugabe and his party ZANU PF, like Chavez in Venezuela, have won an election which imperialism had willed that they should not win. The outcome of the election was decided by imperialism, led particularly by British and U.S. imperialism, long before even the announcement of the election date. Their declarations were quite simple: the story was 'heads they win, tails you lose'--a definite no win situation for Mugabe in their eyes. It was declared long before the elections that if Mugabe won, their position would be that the elections were not 'free and fair'; the only situation which would be acceptable to them was the victory of the MDC, the Zimbabwean opposition party that is firmly in the pocket of imperialism, and is committing treason according to a very old British convention that says, ' you commit treason if you take money from enemy regimes.' Surely Britain has made itself an enemy of the people of Zimbabwe and their government, if only by the fact that it was the very country that had colonised them and brought them untold suffering. It is today the very country that is supporting the opposition. To this end they went about provoking and advocating 'chaos and mayhem' in order to provide for themselves a smokescreen for their pre-planned verdict on the election.

However, the people of Zimbabwe, the majority Black people, the landless people and farmers saw through this ploy and conducted themselves in the most honourable manner, despite gross provocation, and voted overwhelmingly for Mugabe and his ZANU PF party. Like in Brazil and Venezuela, the people were voting in defence of what is left of social property; they were giving the mandate to the government to continue with agrarian reform--to seize land without compensation from white farmers and big corporations and to give that land to landless Black peasants and farmers. They want the Mugabe government to take full control of the land and wealth of Zimbabwe and to unleash all those resources to the benefit of Zimbabweans. This has created a major crisis for imperialism. It is an open secret that both the leaders of the U.K. and the U.S. want President Robert Mugabe and his party out of office, and they have, in certain quarters, threatened that they will use any means available to remove him. What then is the sin of Robert Mugabe? It is much the same question that was asked in relation to Chavez in Venezuela.

It is ironic that the very countries whose democracies are questionable, whose conduct and practice during elections leave much to be desired, are raising concerns about the Zimbabwean elections. The European Union, that august body that represent European imperialism, when refused permission to observe the elections, went as far as saying that if they are absent the election cannot be regarded as free and fair--again a typical example of western arrogance and paternalism. The so-called leading democracy in the world, the United States, continues to disenfranchise millions of Black people by throwing them in its jails and openly stealing the votes from them, as they did in the first Bush presidency. However, no one raises a voice about their open racism, much less makes a demand for foreign monitoring of the elections. Even this time around, after the debacle of the first election where the Bush administration openly cheated, there was still no hue or cry. Why is Zimbabwe treated differently? Is it because it is a country with a Black majority or is it the case of the subliminal white racism that Black people have to confront everywhere in the world? It is a known fact that the process of decolonisation in Africa was a hollow political ploy, where Africans gained independence without the attendant lands and wealth; and on top of that they have been saddled with the tyranny of a foreign debt that continued to tie the lot of African people to the apron strings of their former colonisers. Zimbabwe was no exception to this state of affairs. The Lancaster Talks and settlement were most particularly about that; this was a ploy aimed at allowing white people to consolidate their positions of privilege and power for ten years.

What is at issue has nothing to do with the number of years Robert Mugabe has stayed in office. There are many leaders who have assumed leadership in their countries for as long or even much longer than Mugabe, but nothing is said about them because they happen, at all times, to fully oblige the dictates of those who have decreed themselves rulers of the world. There was no problem with Mugabe so long as he observed that which was prescribed for him by imperialism. The issue of the poverty and hunger of Black people has never kept western countries awake and worried, but true independence, sovereignty and a government that prioritises the needs of its people does worry them. That is exactly where the paradox of good governance comes in: that is, the ability of a government to meet all its obligations, particularly those of debt repayment and total subordination to the global economy, with no particular consideration to the needs of its people, the citizens of that country.

Mugabe's worst sin was to take the side of his people--the war veterans, the landless Black peasants and farmers, who seized land from white farmers. Had Mugabe jailed and massacred these people he would have been hailed as a hero who respects the rule of law. The West has for many years supported the rule of real despots, like Mobuto sese Seko in the ex-Zaire, who subjected those they ruled to reigns of terror but were faithful in allowing the West to loot African resources, and dutifully and faithfully honoured their foreign debt. There were no threats or voices raised against them. Whereas, those who sought and fought for true independence and sovereignty, those who wanted to improve the lot of their people, were ruthlessly dealt with by the same governments that continued to support despots who had no respect for the rule of law. The fate of early African leaders like Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and many others clearly illustrates the point. As a matter of fact, this is the only known reason why, in South Africa, Steve Biko was killed in his youth while others were left to live to a ripe old age.

Despite the election having been peaceful, with no intimidation, the United States and Britain are determined to remove Mugabe at any cost, and under so many false pretences and reasons. They do not want to acknowledge that their only concern stems from the fact that Mugabe has supported those who have taken land, and has gone further by putting in place legislation that supports a progressive land reform which acknowledges that freedom is incomplete if the Zimbabwean people do not own their lands. A fact that is also acknowledged by President Thabo Mbeki and his South African government: that even in South Africa the new dispensation has not resolved the land question.

Many South African journalists who interviewed Zimbabweans were confronted with a situation where Zimbabweans accused them of living in a country that is neither sovereign nor owns its own land. The Zimbabweans said their struggle was for national sovereignty and that they had begun a process of owning their own land. This in itself highlights quite poignantly the fact that in South Africa there is no real Black majority rule, and the route to national self determination remains uncharted; a truly Black Republic that reflects the majority of the country's people has not as yet been set up. It is in this way that the struggle for land in South Africa is inextricably linked with the struggle for land in Zimbabwe. And this is especially pointed up by the fact that the white farmers and corporations owning land in Zimbabwe also own land in South Africa, and they are the same people whose ancestors ruthlessly murdered thousands of Africans in order to gain access to fertile and arable lands. Indigenous populations were systematically expelled from those lands. Today, the offspring of these thieves and murderers want Africans--Black people, the real victims, to be subjected to the whole fallacious principle of 'willing seller, willing buyer' as if at some time in history there was a gentleman's agreement, instead of murder and general mayhem.

Immediately after the war veterans, supported by Black peasants and farmers started to take land with the tacit support of the Mugabe government. Mugabe had immediately made enemies with people who had been totally indifferent to the plight of Zimbabweans since 1980. It did not matter whether they went hungry or were poor, so long as the Mugabe government honoured its international obligations and paid the debt, all was well.

The Bush administration started to put into place a program that will implode the economy of Zimbabwe and render it unworkable. This also included looking for a more agreeable leader in Zimbabwe than Robert Mugabe. So what is being seen today has been long conceived. Despite the fact that even the Commonwealth, which is a most stridently anti-Mugabe organization, acknowledged in its declarations that 'the land is at the core of the crisis in Zimbabwe and cannot be separated from other issues of concern', the U.S. put into place sanctions that would destroy the Zimbabwean economy, which until that time had been workable and reasonably flourishing.

In 2001 the Bush administration signed into law an act which was to be instrumental in imploding the economy of Zimbabwe. It was called the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, though it had nothing to do with democracy or even economic recovery for Zimbabwe but the opposite, and at the head of those who were pushing the bill through were two known right-wingers, who also are known to harbor very strong anti-black and anti-black majority rule sentiments, Senators Jesse Helms and his friend Bill Frist. The act was so terrible and racist that it prompted Atlanta Congresswoman Cynthia Mckinney to address Congress thus: 'Mr Speaker, when we get right down to it, this legislation [the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act] is nothing more than a formal declaration of US complicity in a programme to maintain white-skin privilege. We call it an 'incentives bill' but that does not change its essential sanctions nature. It is racist and against the interests of the masses of Zimbabweans..'.

She fully comprehended that which was supposed to be hidden from ordinary people: that the Act was not simply an attack on Mugabe in order to promote democracy, but a veiled attack on Zimbabwe and its people. The bill in essence was about the re-colonisation of Zimbabwe. It is this bill that prompted ZANU PF to use an election slogan that said: 'Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.'

The bill was signed into law by President George Bush on the 21st of December 2001. Its main objectives were supposed to have been the following: (1) to provide for a transition to democracy and promote economic recovery in Zimbabwe. (2) Block debt relief and other financial assistance to Zimbabwe from all international financial institutions until such time as President Bush authorises it. In its definition of terms, the Act describes 'international financial institutions' as the multilateral developmental banks and the IMF. By 'multilateral development banks', the Act means 'the World Bank, the international Development Association, the inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the inter-American Investment Corporation, the African Development Bank, the African Development Fund, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency.

Additionally, the Act authorises the US executive director to each international financial institution to oppose and vote against: (1) any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the government of Zimbabwe, and (2) any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the government of Zimbabwe to the US or any international financial institution. Any US official in these institutions who disobeys this law is liable to be prosecuted at home. To crown it all and complete this dis-empowering and racist program against the people and the government of Zimbabwe, President George Bush was further empowered and authorised to use provisions under the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to "support democratic institutions, the free press and independent media, and the rule of law" in Zimbabwe.

In this respect, $26m was immediately made available to him in 2001 just after the signing of the bill into law. $21m, $18m, $12m, $7m and $4m, these represent the annual allocations from 2002 up to 2006. All this money is meant to destabilise the people of Zimbabwe and their government. That is why it is not surprising that so many anti-Mugabe and anti-ZANU PF so-called independent newspapers and newsletters mushroomed. They formed part of the total strategy against Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe. Also many NGO's have come into existence supporting the same program, and we do not doubt that they too were beneficiaries of these funds.

The essence of the Act was partly to destroy any financial relationship the government of Zimbabwe might have had with any institution or country. Their partial dependence on tobacco and agricultural exports was also greatly hampered while carnivorous institutions such as the IMF and World Bank continued to demand debt repayment from Zimbabwe, which could not, or was not allowed to, do business even with the so-called African Development Bank. Imperialism had gone for the jugular and had hoped these hardships would make people forget the sacrifices of the struggle and desert Mugabe and his party.

This, therefore, is the background in front of which the recent elections took place. The attack on Mugabe and his ZANU PF has intensified. All western countries have bought the lie that the problem in Zimbabwe is a 'mad despot' who rules his people unjustly and is, therefore, unloved by them. The landslide victory has actually confounded them and sent them frantically looking for better excuses, especially at a time when the US government has just declared Zimbabwe 'an outpost of tyranny' along side Cuba, Iran, North Korea, etc. The US has not hidden its intentions tacitly to support any program of ungovernability that is proposed and put into motion by its puppet party led by Morgan Tsangarai, in much the same way as President Ronald Reagan supported the destabilization of Angola by Jonas Savimbi.

Despite attempts to discredit Mugabe, the people of Zimbabwe continue to be firmly behind him and his government. They support a break with imperialism and a break with the debt that is not of the Zimbabwean people. They support a political program that seeks to return all their lands to them.

Whereas, the opposition fought the election on the basis that they would stop the agrarian reform and return to white farmers and big corporations the lands seized from them, and also jail those responsible for those programs, Mugabe and his ZANU PF have been adamant about their not owing the West any apology and being duty bound to act in the best interest of their people, even when faced with a common front of western countries along with their media and financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank. The ploy used by the West in the recent Zimbabwean elections was to issue a veiled threat to the people of Zimbabwe: that a vote for Mugabe is a vote for lawlessness and general chaos, and also that the west will continue its boycott and embargo on anything that is Zimbabwean until such time as Mugabe is removed. It is much the same pressure that is put on Chavez in Venezuela. They no longer speak in hushed tones about the issue of 'regime change', because they are more than ever determined to find an obliging leadership that will subordinate itself to their wishes.

They seek for themselves leaders who, like Lula in Brazil, will give guarantees that they will honour the dictates of imperialism, even against the overwhelming will of workers, peasants and the landless people. Lula's mandate was to implement agrarian reform and give land to the landless people. The people also voted for Lula to effect a total break with imperialism by dislodging himself and Brazil from the tyranny of the debt. Despite his promises and commitments during the election campaign, Lula has broken ranks with the people and their mandate. Today he faithfully implements the dictates of international institutions of finance capital such as the IMF and the World Bank, and emissaries of his government continue to murder the leadership of the landless people's movement with total impunity.

It is in this context that we have joined millions of workers and landless people in Brazil who are calling upon Lula and his government to effect the mandate they voted him. The millions of workers and landless people voted for Lula and the Workers Party because they sincerely believed that a fresh start was possible. That it was possible to break with imperialism and the tyranny of the debt and give the people of Brazil the real break they have worked for and deserve. They had not anticipated nor even remotely comprehended a situation where Lula and Rossetto would conspire and throw in with big corporations, big business and landowners, who today even go to the extreme of murdering the leadership of the poor landless people. That is the struggle that today is being joined by workers and people all over the world, a struggle that must be sustained and supported. This struggle is, indeed, the same struggle that is crystalizing today in Zimbabwe, the struggle for land and the reconstruction of social property. The real criminals are not those who are engaged in this deadly struggle, but the real criminals are those who destroy countries and people through wars of destabilization: Those to whom it is not criminal to hold people in slavery; those who refuse people access to and control of their lands and wealth.

It is in that vein that we have endorsed the Appeal to Lula and Rossetto that they break with imperialism and implement the program of their election slate, and remember that the Workers Party is not the party of surrender and betrayal, but is the defender of the working class in Brazil. The party does not belong to big corporations, big business and landowners, but to the workers, the landless people and the poor--and it is their will and aspirations that should prevail.

Finally, now that the people of Zimbabwe have expressed their will, we can only urge the Mugabe government to, indeed, accelerate the pace of the agrarian reform. Our position is simple, though we might not agree with all the policies of Mugabe, or even Chavez, however, we support them totally and unconditionally against the imperialist onslaught. We understand that the defence of the Zimbabwean nation and its unity, the defence of the government against imperialism is central to the struggle for the anti-imperialist united front. Even after the elections the program of destabilisation by imperialism has not abated. We, therefore, have to continue our fight in defence of Zimbabwe because, by so doing, we are continuing our struggle to save all humanity from sinking into the abyss of barbarism, a course that imperialism is prescribing for all humanity.

Despite Mugabe's great success in uniting the people of Zimbabwe, today imperialism has become friends and supporters of those who speak in terms of the dominant 'Shona' and 'Ndebele' Tribes. Ethnicity and Tribalism have never been elevated to become a determining feature in the body politics of Zimbabwe. ZAPU and ZANU united to form today's ZANU PF in order to unite the people of Zimbabwe. It was under the pretext of tribalism and ethnicity that the victory of the MDC was predicted in Matebeleland, a predominantly Ndebele area. At each and every turn there was an attempt to portray Mugabe as enjoying no support from Ndebele-speaking people. Zimbabweans, for whatever it is worth, have proven that they are indeed united. That myth has been imploded by the past election. Tribalism, Ethnicity and Religion have become the main weapons of imperialist wars all over the world. This was, among others, the pretext under which Afghanistan was devastated and a new pro-US regime installed. It was, indeed, under the same pretext that the war against the people of Iraq was started.

It was no accident that the US administration has declared the Mugabe government 'an outpost of tyranny', because this is the only way they can justify whatever action they choose to take against the Mugabe government. Their minimum requirement is 'regime change,' the same sentiments being mouthed by the puppet MDC. They have deliberately placed Zimbabwe and the Mugabe government in a vulnerable position against all forms of destabilisation. It is a classic case of giving a dog a bad name and then hanging it. We believe what imperialism has in store for the people of Zimbabwe and their elected government can only be described as 'too ghastly to contemplate.' We witness daily the total destruction and destabilisation of countries that have been described thus by, most particularly, the US, which has always gone out of its way to install 'US imperialist friendly regimes.' It is for this reason, among others, that we stand in defence of the Zimbabwean nation and the right of its majority Black people to repossess their lands and all their resources. That is the essence of the mandate of the landslide victory in this election. We unconditionally denounce the politics of destabilisation of the Mugabe government waged by the imperialist forces. Imperialism is at work in Zimbabwe using their trusted 'weapon of mass destruction', particularly in Africa, which is 'Ethnicity and Tribalism.'

Finally, for the US to single out Zimbabwe is quite instructive, because, indeed, the US has realised the importance of what is happening in Zimbabwe today. Zimbabwe defines for us the struggles of the former colonies and developing countries. It is a classic case of a country whose lot has been tied to the apron strings of imperialism, most particularly through the tyranny of the debt. A country whose economy has been deliberately imploded, whose people have had poverty prescribed for them--these are the same people who today are being refused the right to self determination, or any semblance of democracy. Mugabe, like Chavez, is refusing to submit to the designs of imperialism. When the liberation war was 'won', it was won in order to take all power from an oppressive white minority. It was this power that should have returned all the land and wealth to the people. Nothing less, nothing more. If Mugabe pursues that program, even under these difficult conditions, just like Chavez continues to do in Venezuela, we have no choice but to unconditionally support and endorse them against all that imperialism continues to throw at them.


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