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Zimbabwe: "Democracy is Not a Privilege"

AfricaFocus Bulletin
May 26 , 2008 (080526)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"Africa waged a century-long struggle against colonialism and apartheid precisely to establish the principle that governments should derive legitimacy through the consent of the governed. Democratic institutions are therefore not privileges that may be extended or withheld at the discretion of those who wield power." - Pallo Jordan

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from this May 18 commentary by ANC National Executive Committee member Pallo Jordan, as well as from commentaries from other long-time supporters of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle who reject the charge that progressive opposition to the current regime should be identified with the views or objectives of the British and American governments. In addition to Pallo Jordan, these include Bill Fletcher, Jr., Executive Editor of The Black Commentator; and Grace Kwinjeh, an NEC member of the MDC and the Chairperson of the Global Zimbabwe Forum. For the full text of these commentaries see the sources cited below or the web version of this Bulletin at http://www.africafocus.org/docs08/zim0805b.php

For another important related commentary, made prior to the election in Zimbabwe and reflecting on democracy in the region, see "Perspectives on Liberation and Development in Southern Africa," Lecture at the Dag Hammarskj”ld Foundation in honour of Sven Hamrell by Sten Rylander, Ambassador of Sweden to Zimbabwe, at http://www.dhf.uu.se/rylander.html. Rylander also previously served as Sweden's Ambassador to Angola, Namibia, and Tanzania.

Note that this web version is longer than a normal AfricaFocus Bulletin, including the full text of each commentary. The version sent out by e-mail contains excerpts only, for reason of length.

Another AfricaFocus Bulletin sent out today contains a summary report from the election observer mission by TransAfrica Forum and Africa Action, as well as links to previous AfricaFocus Bulletins and Africa Policy E-Journals on Zimbabwe.

For ongoing coverage of and commentary on current developments, AfricaFocus particularly recommends Zimbabwean sites http://www.kubatana.net and http://www.sokwanele.com, and international sites http://www.pambazuka.org and http://allafrica.com/zimbabwe

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

Democracy is Not a Privilege

African National Congress (Johannesburg)

18 May 2008

By Z Pallo Jordan

Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200805180001.html

Z. Pallo Jordan is a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of South Africa's ruling African National Congress. This article is written in his personal capacity.

Speaking in parliament during the budget debate of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2003, amongst other things I said:

"Like peace and stability, democracy and good governance are developmental issues. Africa waged a century-long struggle against colonialism and apartheid precisely to establish the principle that governments should derive legitimacy through the consent of the governed. Democratic institutions are therefore not privileges that may be extended or withheld at the discretion of those who wield power. They are an entitlement; a right that the people of this continent waged struggle to attain and won at great cost!"

"In the ANC's continuing interaction with the political parties in Zimbabwe, we have warned against the subversion the rule of law as we have about the heightening of tension."

"We have also warned against the temptations of recklessness that could easily precipitate armed conflict. We have consistently appealed to the values and norms that the national liberation movement in Zimbabwe waged struggle to attain - the values of democracy; accountable government; the rule of law; an independent judiciary; non-racialism; political tolerance and freedom of the media. Not a single one of these values was observed under British colonial rule, let alone under the UDI regime of Ian Smith and his cronies. We consider it a scandal that they are now being undermined by the movement that struggled to achieve them."

Consequently I was deeply shocked, if not alarmed, by an article on Zimbabwe from the pens of Eddie Maloka and Ben Magubane carried in City Press on Sunday 4 May 2008.

I was shocked by the suggestion of the two authors that the criteria we normally employ in judging the behaviour of governments are extremely flexible and are so malleable that what we judge as criminal in one instance we should find quite acceptable, even defensible, in another.

I thought it was common cause, within the ranks the ANC that the legitimacy of a government derives from the mandate it receives from the people. That mandate is usually expressed through free and fair general elections. The record will show that the ANC has consistently adhered to these principles since its inauguration and re-affirmed them in "The African Claims" of 1943; the Freedom Charter of 1955, the Strategy and Tactics document adopted at Morogoro and in every subsequent document setting out its aims and principles, including the 1987 "Constitutional Guidelines for a Democratic South Africa". What is more, we have also insisted that these are principles applicable to all countries, including Zimbabwe.

Anyone familiar with the history of European colonialism in Africa and Asia knows that at the core of the colonialist project was seizure and control over the natural resources of the colony. In the white settler colonies of Africa, like Kenya, Zimbabwe and Namibia, seizure of the land was invariably the means of acquiring such control. The reproduction of the long quotations from The Guardian in the City Press article thus serves no other purpose but to remind the forgetful of that reality. But, the information they contain adds neither light nor weight to the principal thrust of the two authors' line of argument.

Opposition as counter-revolution

Underlying the line of argument which the two authors advance is the suggestion that since the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) came into existence after independence, that political formation is necessarily suspect. They try to buttress this by suggesting that given that, like Britain, the revanchist "Rhodesian" whites, the USA and the European Union, the MDC is not happy with the ZANU (PF) government, there is an indissoluble link amongst them and they all must be pursuing the same agenda. Proceeding from these highly flawed premises, they go on to argue that it is therefore incumbent on anti- imperialists to support ZANU (PF).

There are disturbing parallels between these two writers' line of argument and the all too familiar ones emanating from former US Presidents like Teddy Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and, in our day, George W. Bush. Step back a little, invert the names, and the line of reasoning can be seen for what it is. Justifying unqualified US support for right wing dictators in Latin America, Teddy Roosevelt declared: "Somoza (the former banana-republic dictator of Nicaragua) is a bastard, but he is our bastard!" The authors also deploy the same guilt by association, so loved by anti-Communists and other rightists when they repress dissent. Virtually echoing the sentiments of Senator Joe McCarthy: "If someone sounds like a duck, associates with ducks, and walks like a duck, can it be unfair to infer that he is a duck!"

But perhaps the most alarming suggestion of all is that opposition to ZANU (PF), irrespective of its merits, is ipso facto illegitimate and necessarily counter- revolutionary, and therefore pro-imperialist.

This curious line of reasoning dominated in the Communist parties of the Soviet Union and other east European countries. When workers complained about the conditions of work (as they did in Poland) that was characterised as counter- revolution. If intellectuals complained about rigid censorship and the repression of the free flow of information, ideas and knowledge, that was counter-revolution. Even youth, yearning to enjoy rock and other forms of popular music produced in the rest of the world, that was counter-revolution.

Is it any wonder that those countries are now governed either by right-wing coalitions or by anti-Communist liberals who want to hitch their countries firmly to the EU or to US-led alliances like NATO?

Proceeding from the tried and tested principles of our liberation movement, I contend that democracy is not a luxury, perhaps affordable in a few rich countries, but far too expensive for peoples and countries emerging from decades of colonial domination. What is more, I insist that democracy is not merely the right to participate in elections every few years; it is a complex institutional framework that serves to secure the ordinary citizen against all forms of arbitrary authority, whether secular or ecclesiastical.

It is an undisputed historical fact that colonialism denied the colonised precisely these protections, subjecting them to the tyranny, not only of imperialist governments, but often to the whims of colonialist settlers and officials. All liberation movements, including both ZANU (PF) and ZAPU, deliberately advocated the institution of democratic governance with the protections they afford the citizen. All liberation movements held that national self-determination would be realised, in the first instance, by the colonised people choosing their government in democratic elections. Hence Kwame Nkrumah: "Seek ye first the political kingdom!" The content of anti-imperialism was precisely the struggle to attain these democratic rights. In the case of Zimbabwe, democratic rights arrived that night when the Union Jack was lowered and was replaced by the flag of an independent Zimbabwe.

The questions we should be asking are: What has gone so radically wrong that the movement and the leaders who brought democracy to Zimbabwe today appear to be its ferocious violators. What has gone so wrong that they appear to be most fearful of it?

Maloka and Magubane brush such questions aside with a breathtaking recklessness. To invoke the memory of Patrice Lumumba in this context can only be an example of woolly thinking. Lumumba, let us remember, was democratically elected by the majority of the Congolese people. To subvert the will of the Congolese, as expressed in general elections, the imperialists stage-managed Mobutu's coup, kidnapped Lumumba and had his enemies murder him.

The same applies to Salvador Allende of Chile. The CIA subverted the expressed will of the Chilean people by staging a coup to overturn the democratically elected government of Chile.

Maloka and Magubane want us to ignore the will of the Zimbabwean people, as expressed in elections, and do what the imperialists did in Congo and Chile. Such action, they claim, would be anti-imperialist. In other words, we must behave like the imperialists to demonstrate our commitment to anti-imperialism.

'For us or against us'

Rather than raising and attempting to answer such tough questions, they skirt around them by marshalling a mixture of emotive arguments and outright political blackmail, again reminiscent of the far-right and its adherents. You are either with ZANU (PF) in the anti-imperialist camp, or against it (and therefore with Blair, Bush, the DA, etc).

If that has familiar ring, it is because the Bush administration has employed it repeatedly in support of its aggressive actions against all and sundry. To quote them: "You are either with us, or against us!"

It cannot possibly be right that, while we in South Africa expect our democratic institutions to protect us from arbitrary power, we expect the people of Zimbabwe to be content with less.

If ZANU (PF) has lost the confidence of a substantial number of the citizens of that country, such that the only means by which it can win elections is either by intimidating the people or otherwise rigging them, it has only itself to blame. Nobody doubts the anti-imperialist credentials of ZANU (PF), but that cannot be sufficient reason to support it if it is misgoverning Zimbabwe and brutalising the people.

Let all recall that the people of Zimbabwe endured a 15-year war of national liberation, during which the colonialist regime employed every device from beatings, to torture, to executions and massacres to repress them. They did not waver. Yet it is being suggested that today, for no apparent reason, they have fallen under the sway of the helpers and agents of that colonial power. I think that betrays a worrying contempt for the ordinary Zimbabwean. A contempt reminiscent of the colonialists' contention that the people rose against them because they had been incited by "outside agitators"! By the Russians! By the Chinese!

I do not support the MDC and my track record in the struggle against imperialism speaks for itself, but I differ most fundamentally with Maloka and Magubane. It is precisely my commitment to the anti-imperialist agenda that persuades me that our two comrades are wrong.

We will not assist ZANU (PF) by encouraging that movement to proceed along the disastrous course it has embarked on. Offering it uncritical support because it is anti-imperialist will not help ZANU (PF) to uncover the reasons for the steep decline in the legitimacy it once enjoyed. That party would do well to return to its original vision of a democratic Zimbabwe, free of colonial domination and the instruments of that domination - such as arbitrary arrests, police repression of opposition, intimidation of political critics, etc.

Given the outcome of the recent elections, ZANU(PF) should surrender power to the party that has won. Another anti-imperialist movement, the Sandinistas of Nicaragua, lost an election in 1991. Today they are back in office having won an election that even the US was unable to subvert. In order to win the Sandinistas had slowly to win back the confidence of the people, who then voted them back into power. Any attempt by ZANU (PF) to cling to power through overt or covert violence will only compound its problems by stripping it even further of the legitimacy it won by leading the Zimbabwean people in their struggle for independence, freedom and democracy!

Commenting on the dilemma faced by the Bolsheviks after their victory in October 1917, that great internationalist and Communist, Rosa Luxemburg, wrote:

"Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party - however numerous they may be - is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical concept of 'justice' but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when 'freedom' becomes a special privilege."

Maloka and Magubane would do well to weigh her remarks seriously. Perhaps, had the Bolsheviks been a bit more attentive to such constructive criticism from an unimpeachable revolutionary, we might not be complaining of the demise of the Soviet Union, but could possibly be celebrating its triumphs.


"Z" is for Zimbabwe: Turmoil & Silence as a Country Potentially Unravels

Black Commentator
http://www.blackcommentator.com

April 17, 2008 - Issue 273

By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is Executive Editor of The Black Commentator. He is also a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies and the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum.

Much of Black America stopped discussing Zimbabwe after its liberation in 1980; at least, we stopped discussing it for a while. After years of regular coverage of the liberation war, details regarding Zimbabwe became harder to obtain as attention shifted to struggles in Mozambique, Namibia, Angola and South Africa. Not to be misunderstood, it was not that facts were being withheld for us here in Black America, so much as we paid less attention to developments, and did not dig for information.

President Robert Mugabe, the leader of ZANU (later ZANU [PF]) was, of course, a hero to so many of us insofar as he was the main, though not only, leader of the liberation struggle. He seemed, at least at first, to be oriented toward the development of an independent and, at least theoretically, socialist-oriented Zimbabwe, with land redistribution, workers' control, and black power all on the agenda.

So many of us chose to ignore developments, however. We ignored purges that had taken place within ZANU prior to Liberation. We ignored the violent crushing of a rebellion in the early years of the Mugabe administration. We ignored President Mugabe's adoption of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank formula of "structural adjustment", despite its economic theory running contrary to a pro-people economic transformation. And, we ignored the fact that the land was not being redistributed. We ignored this and other unsettling matters while the focus of much of Black America was on events unfolding in other parts of Southern Africa.

It was only after the seizures of white farms in 2000 that a new discussion of Zimbabwe emerged, albeit a much distorted one. For many it was as if they had jumped through a time portal between 1980 and 2000, oblivious to the development of the country and the challenges that it had encountered. President Mugabe, it seemed to many, was finally seizing the land and completing Liberation at least, that is what many of us thought. But what was missing was a broader context to understand developments and too many well-intentioned African Americans interpreted Zimbabwean developments through our lens here on the opposite side of the Atlantic. Instead of reviewing the actual developments on the ground, many of us fell prey to interpreting facts based on what we would have liked to have believed was unfolding rather than what was actually playing out.

Many well-intentioned supporters of Zimbabwe ignored or were oblivious to the growing protests that had swept Zimbabwe in the 1990s among workers who stood in opposition to the economic policies of structural adjustment that were impoverishing them. We were further prepared to ignore, or forget, that President Mugabe had been quite delayed in taking steps to redistribute the land in the first place, even factoring in that the British and USA reneged on pledges that they had made to subsidize a "willing seller, willing buyer" land transfer. And some of us closed our eyes to who was actually benefiting from land redistribution and who was not.

In 2003, several African American activists - including this writer - penned a letter of protest against the policies of President Mugabe. Each of us had been supporters of ZANU (PF) and had been reluctant to voice public criticisms. Our criticisms were aimed at the repression being conducted against opponents of the Mugabe administration and their supporters. We also questioned how - but not whether - land was being redistributed and who was gaining from this. We made it abundantly clear that our criticisms bore no resemblance, in either form or content, to those voiced by US President Bush and British then-Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The response we received was, let's say, quite remarkable. Some pro-Mugabe individuals and organizations, despite knowing the histories and work of the signatories, declared us to be CIA agents and/or agents of the US State Department (a difference without a distinction for our critics). Some people even went so far as to suggest that we were being paid by the Zimbabwean opposition. We were vilified for even questioning what was transpiring in Zimbabwe, even though in some cases we had first hand knowledge of brutal repression.

The other response was just as interesting. Quietly we were applauded by many African Americans who were pleased that someone(s) had spoken up, though they, themselves, were not necessarily prepared to publicly do so. While this was encouraging, it was equally unsettling in that it evidenced a fear within Black America about having a genuine debate on such an important issue.

Nevertheless, in the aftermath of this verbal/written slugfest, little real exchange took place. The atmosphere had become so charged that many people decided that it was not worth saying one more thing about Zimbabwe. Rather, too many of us just sat back and watched in silence.

So, we watched. Colleagues of mine in Zimbabwe, individuals whose progressive work I was familiar with, were jailed and tortured by the Mugabe administration, but I was expected by pro-Mugabe activists in the USA to say nothing, and indeed, to deny everything. Any hint of criticism was immediately construed as allegedly giving aid and comfort to the Bush administration and its mania for regime change. In a brief visit to Zimbabwe I had the opportunity of speaking with a group of Black Zimbabwean trade unionists. I found myself attempting to explain to them why many African Americans were silent in the face of President Mugabe's repression, or in some cases, actively supported President Mugabe. They shook their heads in collective disbelief.

Over the last two weeks we have seen events surrounding the Zimbabwean election and it feels surreal. I must, however, ask some tough questions. What does it mean that an incumbent administration fails to reveal the ACTUAL election results, yet demands a recount? One need not be a supporter, and I am not, of the principal opposition party in Zimbabwe - the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) under Morgan Tsvangirai - to sense that all is not right with the world following the election. One's attitude toward the MDC should actually be secondary to whether one believes in the notion of free and fair elections. To put it bluntly, if one is going to call elections, they should be transparent; if one does not want transparent elections, don't call them in the first place.

The MDC is politically inconsistent, and outside of Zimbabwe there are very mixed feelings about them within Southern Africa. Though originally planned as a labor party, the MDC became a sort of united front of opponents of President Mugabe, ranging the political spectrum from the revolutionary Left to some conservative white farmers. The economic views of the MDC are themselves difficult to ascertain at various moments. But this is a matter for the people of Zimbabwe to resolve. Whether we like or dislike the MDC, or President Mugabe for that matter, holds second place to whether there is a political environment that advances genuine, grassroots democracy and debate in Zimbabwe. If that environment does not exist, then all of the revolutionary rhetoric in the world will not amount to a hill of beans on the scale of things.

The Zimbabwe political crisis threatens to go from bad to worse. A reenactment of the events in Kenya following their stolen election a few short months ago is not beyond imagination. The role of the African Union, and particularly Zimbabwe's neighbors, becomes all the more important in attempting to resolve the crisis. Threats by Britain and the USA are not only counterproductive, but they are insulting since the administrations of neither country possess the moral authority to actually entertain or offer a positive solution. But supporting the African Union would be a positive step.

There is something that I believe that African Americans can and should do, and in some respects it might represent an important chapter in our continuing relationship with Zimbabwe. This is a variation on a proposal I made once before. We should offer to assist the African Union in mediating the talks toward a peaceful resolution of the on-going crisis. Specifically, the Congressional Black Caucus should contact the African Union and offer to constitute a mediating team to work with the African Union. This should not be interference and should not be construed as interference, but it could be a genuine act of solidarity.

Within Black America, we have to be prepared to have more open and constructive debates without resorting to the "nuclear option." I have seen a variant of this in the discussions surrounding the candidacy of Senator Obama. Someone voicing a reservation or concern, let alone a criticism, is open to being called everything but a child of God. This infantile approach to controversy WITHIN our community must end; indeed, it must not be tolerated. The stakes are far too high.

Let me apologize to some in advance: I cannot maintain silence for fear of upsetting an opponent. As I said, the stakes are too high.


Zimbabwe in context

2008-05-19

Grace Kwinjeh

*Grace Kwinjeh is an NEC member of the MDC and the Chairperson of the Global Zimbabwe Forum.

Pambazuka News

Source: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/372

Arguing that Mugabe has been "talking left" while "walking right" Grace Kwinjeh analyzes Zimbabwe through regional, African and global capitalism.

The post election crisis in Zimbabwe and the SADC region is a manifestation of much deeper, complex issues to do with global capitalism and its vampire-like tendencies.

At the root of the problems is the failure of our nationalist governments to deal with these dimensions of the global crisis: food shortages and price hikes; oil speculation; financial meltdowns and higher interest rates. These manifest themselves as rising inequality and unemployment and competition between very poor people in places like Alexandra, Tembisa, Diepkloof and the Johannesburg inner city for scarce resources.

It is only by addressing these issues that we can meet the aspirations of the masses for freedom and decent lives.

Forces both local and global may seem to be worlds apart in the definition and context of the Zimbabwean struggle but we African citizens are all in an awkward position.

Global Capitalism

While we are fighting the Robert Mugabe dictatorship, we Zimbabweans have not been spared from the negative impact of global capitalism on our livelihoods especially in poor communities - as we are currently witnessing, in the current xenophobic attacks against us in South Africa.

The xenophobia exposes not only working-class people's fears of lower wages, higher crime and new cultural influences, as is the explanation at first blush. In addition, we can see in the attacks on non-nationals the duplicitous role our national elites play in pushing us further to the mercy of capitalist forces while they label us in the opposition - puppets of the West.

The attacks are being condemned by progressive forces in SA, including COSATU Secretary General, Zwelinzima Vavi, who said: "I want to send out this message: It is not the Zimbabweans (exiles) that cause the problems (of the poor)".

He cited the capitalist system as the problem and argued that South Africa should focus on building an economic system that could: "seriously eradicate poverty".

The same position reiterated by the Anti-Privatisation Forum:"Let us not forget that it is South African corporate capital - through the framework of NEPAD - that has, over the last decade, moved into other African countries, most often causing many local, smaller businesses to close down and thus contributing to a situation in which many poor people have lost their jobs."

Three Million Exiles

There are over three million of us eking out a living outside Zimbabwe's borders, a result of the failure of our national leaders to deliver both politically and economically for us at home. The situation gets more ridiculous when looked at within the context of the aspirations spelt out in the reformed African Union, in the New Partnership for Africa's Development, and its dream of an African Renaissance.

These programmes are again full of empty rhetoric framed, more to attract international donor funds and less to deliver dignity to African citizens, negating our 'ubuntuness', which espouses values to do with compassion, value for human life, respect for each other and harmonious existence.

Even as Frantz Fanon prophesied back then on the dilemma of African Unity in post-colonial Africa: "Now the nationalist bourgeois, who in region after region hasten to make their own fortunes and to set up a national system of exploitation, do their utmost to put obstacles in the path of this 'Utopia'. The national bourgeoisies, who are quite clear as to what their objectives are, have decided to bar the way to that unity, to that coordinated effort on the part of two hundred and fifty million men to triumph over stupidity, hunger and inhumanity at one and the same time."

Fanon's insight helps us understand the failures of Mugabe and his allies beyond their "leftist" rhetoric. They are forever trapped in the awkward "talk left - walk right" jive as they remain arguably the best custodians of capitalist/imperialist forces, in our countries.

Mugabe flirted with the US military for many years, and until 1998 was considered amongst the highest-performing of World Bank and International Monetary Fund puppets, earning a "highly satisfactory" rating from the Bretton Woods Institutions in 1995. Did he not use $205 million in hard currency in 2006 to repay the IMF for failed loans?

In Zimbabwe today those suffering under the yoke of Mugabe's oppression are us black citizens. We are the homeless, the jobless, the battered and the bruised.

Majority Not Respected

We are in the majority of those whose vote is not respected, in a negation of that very national liberation struggle aspirations of 'one man one vote.'

At the moment, Zimbabweans are just as good as people who did not go out to vote. We remain at the mercy of the dictatorship, as Mugabe is determined at each turn to reverse our hard-earned victories.

The elections did not deliver change. Instead, the moment of triumph against Mugabe and his cohort soon turned into a nightmare. The opposition won against one of the most entrenched liberation movements on the African continent. We romped to victory with a narrow parliamentary majority, equal seats as Zanu PF in the Senate and a majority votes in the Presidential election count. It was a great achievement given the odds placed against any possible opposition electoral victory.

Devastating Retribution

"One group grabbed a 79-year-old widow, yanked up her skirt, then lashed her bare buttocks with barbed-wire whips as two dozen terrified relatives looked on. The woman, Martha Mucheto, said she cried in pain and shame. 'If none of you confesses, we will hit this granny until she's dead,' Mucheto, a great-grandmother and former nurse's aide, recalled hearing. She spoke from a hospital bed in Harare."

The story of Mugabe's retribution against innocent civilians gets more devastating each day - from abductions, torture to cold blooded gruesome murders.

Old grannies such as gogo Mucheto are not spared in this brutality. Young men are killed in cold blood. The latest case is of Better Chokururama who was shot once and stabbed four times around the chest area by Mugabe's thugs. Chokururama was buried on 17 May 2008, one of at least two dozen MDC members killed for their beliefs in recent weeks, and one of several hundred since 2000.

Most affected are the already-struggling and impoverished rural folks. Scores are being displaced our national leaders to deliver both politically and economically for us at home. The situation gets more ridiculous when looked at within the context of the aspirations spelt out in the reformed African Union, in the New Partnership for Africa's Development, and its dream of an African Renaissance.

These programmes are again full of empty rhetoric framed, more to attract international donor funds and less to deliver dignity to African citizens, negating our 'ubuntuness', which espouses values to do with compassion, value for human life, respect for each other and harmonious existence.

Even as Frantz Fanon prophesied back then on the dilemma of African Unity in post-colonial Africa: "Now the nationalist bourgeois, who in region after region hasten to make their own fortunes and to set up a national system of exploitation, do their utmost to put obstacles in the path of this 'Utopia'. The national bourgeoisies, who are quite clear as to what their objectives are, have decided to bar the way to that unity, to that coordinated effort on the part of two hundred and fifty million men to triumph over stupidity, hunger and inhumanity at one and the same time."

Fanon's insight helps us understand the failures of Mugabe and his allies beyond their "leftist" rhetoric. They are forever trapped in the awkward "talk left - walk right" jive as they remain arguably the best custodians of capitalist/imperialist forces, in our countries.

Mugabe flirted with the US military for many years, and until 1998 was considered amongst the highest-performing of World Bank and International Monetary Fund puppets, earning a "highly satisfactory" rating from the Bretton Woods Institutions in 1995. Did he not use $205 million in hard currency in 2006 to repay the IMF for failed loans?

In Zimbabwe today those suffering under the yoke of Mugabe's oppression are us black citizens. We are the homeless, the jobless, the battered and the bruised.

Majority Not Respected

We are in the majority of those whose vote is not respected, in a negation of that very national liberation struggle aspirations of 'one man one vote.'

At the moment, Zimbabweans are just as good as people who did not go out to vote. We remain at the mercy of the dictatorship, as Mugabe is determined at each turn to reverse our hard-earned victories.

The elections did not deliver change. Instead, the moment of triumph against Mugabe and his cohort soon turned into a nightmare. The opposition won in their own areas while others find their way to towns, many being victims of torture.

Zanu PF, the liberation movement that defeated the colonialists in a protracted struggle, somehow concluded that they should hold state power in perpetuity. The era of democratization has not yet arrived. The elites in Zimbabwe, like their despotic friends elsewhere in the world, disdain the notion that elections are the process through which people elect leaders of their choice.

Elections remain a privilege that is denied to the masses. As Zimbabwe prepares for a run-off on the 27th of June, we expect once again to be fed nauseating fascist propaganda on good citizenry and patriotism. Mugabe has declared war against the people of the world.

We have an obligation to organize ourselves and fight back. As Fanon advised: "... we must understand that African Unity can only be achieved through the upward thrust of the people, and under the leadership of the people, and that is to say, in defiance of the interests of the bourgeoisie."

The marches on 17 May 2008, led by COSATU, helped to strengthen people-to-people solidarity. The way our SATAWU comrades exposed and fought against the 'ship of shame' and stopped it from offloading its cargo of arms in Durban, is a show of solidarity that the people of Zimbabwe will forever remember.

Zimbabwe does not need arms. We are not at war. We want decent jobs, homes, schools and food.


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