Mugabe - the chameleon

msbrown at msbrown at
Sun Aug 18 22:14:04 BST 2002

Mugabe, originally motivated by purely political neccessity to quell the 
working class uprising against Zanu-PF in 1998, was forced to take on the land 
issue to retain his power base. Inadvertantly, he has let the genie out of the 
bottle; the issue of land distribution and the colonial legacy pertaining to 
it, is sweeping like wildfire through the collective consciousness of the 
continent’s millions of poor, impatient and downtrodden people. Even Mugabe can 
only watch to see the huge ramications his party has unleashed on the whole of 
the continent. Mugabe is a thug; but while he has set off a chain of events 
that will historically overshadow any short-term misdemeanours of his brutal 
regime, the same cannot be said of his privatisation agenda. For that, he is 
being more underhand than the MDC, and also dishonest in his essentially 
tokenist motivations to the landless majority who, as Brendan suggests, it 
remains to be seen he will actually give any due regard to in terms of 
equitable land distribution. 

A few weeks ago, a number of us had the good fortune to speak and listen to 
Munyaradzi Gwisai, who was touring around the UK and is a member of the 
International Socialist Organisation. The ISO are a radical Trotskyist 
organisation in Zimbabwe based upon the principles of worker’s self-activity 
(who successfully sparked the first wave of strikes in 1996 which further 
spread in 1997, setting off a chain of events and working-class uprising which 
eventually  culminated in the forcing of Mugabe’s hand on the land issue). The 
ISO became a subsidiary political group within the pro-western hijacked MDC. 
Despite their open hostility to the leadership of the MDC, which they see has 
having been hijacked by the neoliberal middle-class intelligencia (rather like 
New Labour), Munyaradzi and others stood for elections in 2000 as MDC 
candidates. I am not certain Munyaradzi ran for election this year for the MDC, 
having been MP for the high-profile constituency of Highfield, as the ISO 
withdrew their support for the Tsvangirai’s leadership and his MDC cronies.

Here is what he has to say about Mugabe, taken from an extract from the new 
book “Class Struggle & Resistance in Africa; Chapter-7:

“Zanu-PF remains a party dominated by the black national bourgeoisie who, in 
the context of the weak private capitalism prevelent in peripheral states like 
Zimbabwe, have sought to use the state like their white colonial predecessors, 
as a channel for accumulation. This gives Zanu-PF a contradictory relationship 
with the free-market that dominates the international economy: it resists the 
forced reduction of its capacity to develop economic policies that enable its 
own state-based accumulation, but at the same time greedily eyes the potential 
gains it can make from privatisation . Opposed to the black national 
bourgeoisie are the lower structures of the party, especially those around the 
radicalized war veterans, whose underlying aspirations are clearly similar to 
those of the working class. As the economic and political crisis worsens, under 
western pressure, these tensions can only grow”. 

“As in the 2000 elections, Zanu-PF achieved a narrow victory thanks to its 
violent and intimidatory rural campaign, but also due to Mugabe’s opportunistic 
land policy, a position helped by the MDC’s conservatism on the issue. The 
MDC’s election defeat marks a disillusionment with the middle class 
opportunists who hijacked the rising Trade-Union based movement of 1997-98”.

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