ZIMBABWE CRISISLeave a comment
26/01/2018 by socialistfight
By Cde Zim in Harare
Coup President President ED Mnangwagwa
It is well understood that under the system of capitalism the current social, economic and political situation in Zimbabwe which is degenerating into an unending fleapit is a result of historical material contradictions. Events, including the economic performance prior to the coup, in the absence of extraordinary interventions, were pointing to one direction – social uprising. The military intervention was therefore such, though evil, a necessity and in the interest of capital, to avoid the inevitability of economic, social and political explosion.
Following the military takeover (coup) which many people celebrated in the hope for a better Zimbabwe, things have however proved to be going in the exact opposite direction and worsened.
Prices of basic commodities are spiralling out of control, it is clear that inflation is rising, inequalities among social classes is increasing, the polarisation that existed between these social class is continuing unabated, bank queues are still the order of the day, yet the government seemed clueless. The decay and incompetence of the system has been comprehensively exposed by the cholera outbreak that is threatening to spill out of control.
With running battles being witnessed on a daily basis between law enforcement agents on one hand and pirate taxis, vendors and illegal money changers, it is only a matter of time before the delayed explosion explodes.
At his inauguration, the interim President, ED Mnangwagwa, emphasised job creation, but there is no sign of any jobs to date. On the other hand, the government has intensified its clean-up campaign. Despite spirited resistance, the government have given informal traders a 48-hour ultimatum to vacate the streets or face the wrath of soldiers. The very soldiers who were marching side by side with the masses demonstrating against Mugabe are today commandeered to turn their guns against their yesterday fellow comrades. The first 100-day plan is fast approaching with nothing tangible to show.
All pointers are showing that the government is clueless on how to turn things around yet there is a crisis of expectation from the people. The President made concrete promises for a quick fix, yet we get nothing but statements.
Following the coup which was dubbed operation restore legacy by targeting “criminals” around the former President and as a tool to cool the anger of increasingly impatient citizens, the government has resorted to selective arrests of a few alleged corrupt ministers. They have also retired or dismissed some senior officials in the security system who were seen as allies of the former President.
These arrests and changes have only been regarded as witch-hunts by the military government; the most affected being the police force where a large number of their top leadership were affected and also in the Presidents’ Office. In government also, there are unprecedented summary dismissals of perceived opponents of the current system who are being relieved of their duties and being replaced by allies.
As all these changes happen potential conflict is brewing as there is apparent friction and thereby disturbing the smooth running of government business.
In the party (military-ZANU(PF)), there is an emergence of factionalism, this is between the military referred to as COSLEG and the civilians (LACOSTE) within. Cosleg and Lacoste are led by Chiwengwa and Mnangagwa respectively. Cosleg is the name of the fusion of two military investments when Zimbabwe deployed its army in the 1990s to defend of Congolese leader L Kabila against Uganda and Rwanda backed rebels. As ‘spoils of war’ the military is taking up most of the positions in ZANU(PF) and government.
Retired and serving military personnel are holding influential positions in both the party and government replacing civilians and War Veterans who were the most vocal group and in the forefront fighting Mugabe’s continuing in power. The War Vets, for instance, wanted the Commissariat Post, a powerful position, and a fair share of the government positions. They did not get it, they lost it to retired Lieutenant General Engelbert Rugelje.
It is, however, the issue of parliamentary, council and municipality seats that has fast-tracked this rift, although it was inevitable due to the nature of how the current government came to being. Although the civilian part (in ZANU(PF)) cannot openly show their disquiet, stories are emerging to that effect, anonymously, very reminiscent of what happened yesteryear.
MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and NPP leader Joice Mujuru signing the memorandum of understanding in April 2017.
The so-called G40 cabal (defeated faction of ZANU(PF)) which was pushed out of the party is regrouping and coalescing now around the opposition parties mainly the former Vice President Joice Mujuru who was herself a victim of ZANU(PF) factionalism. Mujuru’s National Peoples Party (NPP) and Morgan Tsvangiri’s Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai (MDC-T) formed an alliance to fight the 2018 elections in April 2017.
Back in 2004 Mugabe had bowed to pressure from a ZANU-PF faction led by Mujuru’s husband, General Solomon Mujuru, to give a woman the second vice-presidency post—effectively sidelining Speaker of Parliament ED Mnangagwa. This ZANU-PF reshuffle was dubbed “the night of the long knives”. Key leaders of the G-40 cabal are in self-exile and daily basis they issue threatening statements; the new administration is no longer settled.
In defence of its legitimacy President Mnangagwa is globetrotting trying to give a picture that all is well in Zimbabwe, promising free, fair and credible elections. He is inviting the UN, EU and interested countries to monitor the elections. He is desperately looking for customers who will buy Zimbabwe, another Berlin. His daily sermon is Zimbabwe is ready for investment and as proof, he is promising compensation to former white farmers who were dispossessed of “their” land during the land reform program. Some have already returned to “their” land.
In the interior, he is reaching out to as many stakeholders, business, private media, youth chiefs etc but so far has avoided labour (the workers). The telling point in his public relations mission is when he visited the ailing leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, where he made a handful of offers, including returning Tsvangirai’s diplomatic passport which was repossessed by Mugabe regime, assuring him that the government house, worth millions of US dollars, where he is staying will not be repossessed, he will be given his pension ostensibly in recognition for the role he played during the Government of National Unity.
Please note; (benefits on retirement or when one leaves office) our constitution is silent on benefits to the Prime Minister, it only talks of the President and his deputies. One wonders why this gesture to Tsvangirai, is it a bribe or a buy-out of active politics. It is also during this visit where the new administration proposed a three year’s delay in the elections which are due by July.
The condition of Opposition Political Parties, Labour and the Social Movements
There are simmering contradictions in the main MDC, three distinct factions are jostling for the top post due to the failing health of their veteran leader. The factions are coalesced around Tsvangirai’s three deputies all of whom have shown interest in replacing him.
The jostling is fast affecting the possibilities of a formidable Alliance of opposition parties to defeat the military-ZANU(PF) alliance. The in-fighting is worsened by growing suspicions that the other faction of the MDC-T, fronted by Nelson Chamisa, the youthful Vice President of MDC-T, is allegedly winning the military.
Meanwhile the unstable Alliance has chosen Tsvangirai as its Presidential candidate; however, his health is betraying him. It is rumoured that ZANU(PF) and MDC-T (Chamisa faction) are warming to the idea of postponing the elections which are due by latest July. It is said is in the interest of both parties. ZANU(PF) need a delay to be able to sell its “unelectable” candidate, on the other hand the MDC-T hopes Tsvangirai will recover from his illness or alternately allowing time for Chamisa become Presidential material, which might only take six months. In terms of Zimbabwe laws, a Presidential candidate must be at least forty years old.
They feel the need to postpone the election because no party have so far produced its manifesto. Thus, their urgings for citizens to register to vote is in one sense mere politicking but it is also strategically preparing in case elections go ahead as scheduled.
The State of the Labour Movement
The Labour Movement has degenerated and is heavily compromised since the formation of Government of National Unity in 2008 – 2009. Its reaction, as usual, is informed by the conditions of the main political parties. Currently there are four federations, two are appendages of main political party formations. They no longer command an independent agenda of the workers, an agenda which is for, by and in the interest of the workers.
The other two have no permanent political home yet but vacillate, with no informed ideological fundament principles, and change with the direction of the political wind. This is the reason workers blindly supported and had illusions in the capitalist factional fights of November 2017.
How workers unconsciously supported an agenda of representatives of their bloodthirsty class enemies, thanks to the conspiracies of the middle-class section which took advantage of the absence of a militant, disciplined and class-conscious workers’ leadership to lead an independent worker movement. Their deception drives workers to support one or another represented faction of capital in Zimbabwe.
The November 2017 events, although on another note, awakened, motivated and build confidence of an otherwise disgruntled population which has been for decades subjected to poverty and grinding hunger. This can best sum up as the greatest counter-revolutionary act by capitalist in Zimbabwe to date, the system of minority represented by ZANU(PF) was exploding prior to the coup and the country was pregnant with great social revolutionary possibilities.
Towards 2018 Election:, The Three Anti-Working Class Possible Scenarios
A military staffed rejuvenated ZANU(PF) romping to a victory, leading to liquidation of the opposition parties in Zimbabwe, the Ethiopia case, followed with massive austerity measures, retrenchments (redundancies), privatisation of state owned enterprises, and an anti-worker labour law reform process to promote labour flexibility.
Militarisation of the already Zanuficated key state departments is a clear sign of the intention of the military-ZANU(PF), that, it is not prepared to leave party and government power anytime soon. In fact, by allowing active involvement of serving members of the military into civilian affairs (serving soldiers, in terms of the constitution, are not allowed to contest for positions in parliament, council or municipality, there are supposed to be partisan, demonstrate the extent and direction the junta is prepared to take in consolidating its stay in power.
Victory by a militarised ZANU(PF) is a recipe for undermining democracy and death of constitutionalism in our country, potentially giving a bad precedence to the entire region. The army can be used as a tool by despots, on behalf of capital, to thwart any democratic demands of the tooling masses.
It is unlikely that elections will be held under free, fair and credible conditions. In these conditions a united opposition could defeat a militarised ZANU(PF). Under these conditions the least expected result will be a hung parliament which may cause the formation of a unity government. However, if MDC-T, the biggest opposition, opts to go it alone, it will not defeat the junta supported ZANU(PF).
With elections now earmarked on or before July 2017, the opposition’s maximum program (unless they unite) seemed to maintain its current relevance by winning few representative positions in councils, municipalities and parliament especially in urban areas.
Afraid of facing a united opposition and losing their borrowed power, the military- ZANU(PF) may resort to what it knows best, violence. However, political turmoil is exceptionally needed by both sides (ZANU(PF) & MDC-T (Alliance)) to justify creation of another looting Government of National Unity the only difference this time it will include other parties like NPP (Mujuru’s) or at the very least cause election postponement. Like the previous GNU other parties will play junior partners because the military-ZANU(PF) is already controlling key civilian positions in government.
Proposed tasks for the workers and social movements
- Identification of all progressive organisations which are still seriously willing to fight capitalist hegemony and (despite their diversity) build a class movement founded on socialist principles to give a real alternative to both ZANU(PF), different factions of MDC and other neo-liberal political parties.
- Call for an immediate assembly of these like-minded organisation to draw a road map towards formation of the above movement.
- Capacitating progressive (leftist) trade unions in the country and encourage them to work together, not merging, on united front basis.
- Immediately call for a two-day Anti-Neoliberalism – Anti- Capitalist Conference with delegates drawn from members of the identified progressive organisations. Regional and international comparison lessons and analysis to be shared by inviting international delegates.
- Actively participating in the elections by denouncing the anti-poor policies of participating parties
The situation in Zimbabwe can best be described as a storm brewing in a teapot. There nothing for the people but for a few elite, people are now starting to realise that they were celebrating with a wolf in sheep’ clothing.
When people marched alongside soldiers demanding the immediate removal of Mugabe little did they know over two months later things will improve but would rather be worse than before.
Even in parliament there is discontent on why the so called new dispensation retained the same old faces in cabinet, most of whom are not trusted by the public because of some allegations of corruption. ▲