Zimbabwe at Crossroads - tragedy & hope

marksimonbrown mark at tlio.org.uk
Wed Jun 25 21:12:42 BST 2008

Much like the rest of Africa, the black population of Zimbabwe is
still suffering from structural underdevelopment. Socio-economic inequality is embedded, with a dispossession of access to a basic array of assets (such as land, access to credit) & general socio-economic dispossession historically a legacy of colonialism, but also due to locally and regionally determined corruption and economic mismanagement. It is a situation further ingrained by other factors contributing to socio-economic deprivation such as debt peonage, non-mutually beneficial international trade practices, enforcement of neoliberal policies which enforce narrowly-focused economic policies which have dogmatic attachment to privatisation and financial liberalisation, the monopolizing acts of transnational corporations, a lack of priority given to research and investment in smallholder agricultural development for domestic economic development, and a thin tapestry of infrastructural development related to essential services such as water, sewage, roads, transport, health and education. 
While ZanuPF have mismanaged their economy and brutally supressed the
opposition, they tightened their grip over the country through, as
Simon Jenkins in the Guardian describes, by running the economy as "a
basket case of pseudo-socialist kleptomania"(!); Mugabe had the chance
to make Zimbabwe truly independent through slow transition and gradual
land redistribution in 1998, but he blew it, and has been crashing the
economy just to keep the politbureau's head above water ever since. 
Doubts remain over the financing of the MDC by western backers and
their enthusiasm for privatisation, with western financial capital
looking to ride on the coat-tails of the installation of MDC into
power. The extent of the accusation that the MDC is seeking to
facilitate the recolonisation of the country claimed by Mugabe
sympathisers is, however, unsubstantiated, since much of the talk of
privatisation and shrinking the amount of state employees is really
all about reducing the nepotism and flabby bureaucracy familiar to
many post-independence bureaucratic-heavy "socialist" African states
of which Zimbabwe is the last remaining. At the same time,
consideration needs to be given to the fact that whilst the free
competition promised by global capitalism only applies to rich and
powerful countries, in Africa, nation states have to make commitments
to pro-Western standards of democracy measured by good governance,
accountability and transparency - standards which some Western
countries themselves do not meet. The hypocrisy of President Bush
denouncing Zimbabwe's alleged election irregularities of 2002 was not
lost on anyone.

this email is rather long (so save it and read later on if not now),
because it includes:
1). Zimbabwe: a history
2). Both sides of the equation:
Resumes of the record of ZanuPF and the MDC
3). "We've done enough damage. All we can do is send food", by Simon
Jenkins, The Guardian, 25/06/2008

What the Western Media don't tell you:
The coverage of what is happening in Zimbabwe has consistently
refrained from offering any in-depth analysis of the deeper historical
situation in the country, the HIV crisis in Zimbabwe whereupon by
1997, 25% of the population was infected, the legacy of massive
inequality and impoverishment, with news reporting back in 2000 only 
substantively concentrating upon the plight of the white farming community with hardly any recognition of the extent of unequal land distribution in the country and the long-standing socio-economic implications experienced by the majority of the black Zimbabwean population as a result of it,  nor the IMF's austere, narrowly focused neoliberal instruction which brought about the collateral damage of slow economic strangulation of the domestic economy during the 1990s, reversing the expansion of social and public services which the Zimbabwe government had embarked upon after independence. 

Zimbabwe: a history:
In 1889, a Royal Charter was granted to the British South Africa
Company to settle and administer what was to become Southern Rhodesia
(now Zimbabwe). The Company granted large tracts of land to the
pioneer white settlers with no regard to the distribution of the
native African population. As early as 1894, the Company started
setting aside land in Matabeleland for exclusive occupation of
africans in areas that were dry and previously uninhabitated. The
official view was that land of inferior quality was more suited to
native than to European occupation. The policy marked the beginning of
the setting up of 'reserves' for the exclusive occupation of Africans.

In 1925, a Land Commission chaired by Morris Carter concluded that
"until the native had advanced very much further on the paths of
civilisation, it is better that the points of contact ...should be
reduced" (Land Commission Report, 1925, p 4-5). The Commission's
recommendations were given legal effect by the Land Apportionment Act
(1930). The Act was to become the most contentious piece of
legislation ever passed by a Rhodesian Government. The right of an
African to land ownership anywhere in the country was rescinded. Under
the provisions of the Act, no African could hold or occupy land in the
designated European Area. The position regarding 'reserves' did not
change except that they were increased to ninety-eight. The foundation
was laid for a society divided into two sharply demarcated and
virtually closed social sections. Land segregation based on race was
complete with mutually exclusive legal occupation of whites and blacks
in their respective areas. This blatantly discriminatory and palpably
unjust legislation condemned millions of blacks to 'reserves' that
were unsuitable for commercial farming both in terms of
agro-ecological conditions and remoteness from the market centres in
towns and mines. 

Historically, land has been for over a hundred years the soul of
African politics in Zimbabwe. The bitterness towards the creation of
'reserves' intensified following the passage of the Land Apportionment
Act, 1930. The Industrial and Commercial Workers' Union, the Bantu
Voter's Association and the Matabele Home Society expressed their
hostility towards the acquisition of land by white settlers. They were
deeply resentful of the fact that blacks had to be forced into the
'reserves' and would be allowed to buy land only in the marginally
productive Native Purchase Areas. [1. Munjomo]

One of the most fiercely contested issues during the armed campaign in
the 1970s was land. Chimurenga (the Liberation Struggle) was a war for
land. The Patriotic Front (comprising Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu - the
political wings of the guerilla movements) foresaw the need to acquire
land to resettle people who had been displaced by the war and other
landless people, numbering 162,000 families by 1980. Under the
provisions of the Lancaster House Agreement (1979), the Patriotic
Front undertook to guarantee the existing property rights in return
for the British Government agreeing to underwrite half the costs of
the resettlement programme. Land for resettlement had to be acquired
on the basis of 'willing seller and willing buyer'. The agreement
endured for ten years, expiring in 1990.  

The Lancaster House Agreement was replaced by the 1992 Land
Acquisition Act, which removed the "willing buyer, willing seller"
clause, empowering the government to "buy land compulsorily for
redistribution, and a fair compensation to be paid for land acquired".
The act stipulated that landowners were given 30 days to submit
written objections, which is what happened with about 500 of the farms
which the government intended to acquire (landowners could also
challenge in court the price set by the acquiring authority). However,
Zimbabwe found itself increasingly cash-strapped as an economic
structural adjustment programme (SAP) set by the IMF imposed a series
of austere measures on the economic management of the economy. Due in
part also to resistance from the white farming community, between
November 1987 and the start of 2000, only 78 farms totalling 166,415
hectares were acquired for the resettlement of 1685 families
(Munjomo). Land which was brought forward for redistribution was
invaribly of marginal productivity. 

Whilst some of the IMF's measures were designed to improve the
efficiency and performance of the Zimbabwean economy such as a 40%
devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar and the removal of price and wage
controls, the IMF's SAP caused damage to socio-economic conditions in
Zimbabwe. The SAP struck at the very heart of the political and
economic programme followed by Mugabe's government since independence.
This was to expand social and public services while leaving the white
settler community's share of the country's land, wealth and income
intact. By cutting social provision, structural adjustment removed the
very limited safety net for the nation's people at the same time as
increasing the overall level of poverty. SAP reforms also reduced
government involvement in the production, distribution and marketing
of agricultural inputs and commodities, which included the
liberalisation of the Grain Marketing Board and grain prices in 1995.
Liberalisation measures involved the dramatic reduction in the number
of GMB collection points which rural smallholders and farmers
traditionally sold to GMB depots, from where it had been distributed
to retail outlets, with a reserve held as the country's Strategic
Grain Reserve. The GMB reduced the number of depots in rural areas to
zero by 1996, which coincided with the setting up of a regional
trading team in Harare by global Transnational Grain Corporation
Cargill in the same year). (3. source: SAPRI).

The IMF SAP was imposed as conditionalities to be implemented in
return for repayments of a debt to the IMF which amounted to £5
billion by 2000, the source of which came originally from the
intensification of conflict in the 1980s from Apartheid South Africa
against Zimbabwe as well as Angola, Mozambique and Zambia (increased
debt resulted as the government borrowed to finance the growing
defence budget and more resources were needed to ensure that the
influx of refugees fleeing from Apartheid wars in Mozambique were housed).

During the 1990s students, trade unionists, and workers often
demonstrated to express their discontent with the government. Students
protested in 1990 against proposals for an increase in government
control of universities and again in 1991 and 1992 when they clashed
with police. Trade unionists and workers also criticised the
government during this time. In 1992 police prevented trade unionists
from holding anti-government demonstrations. In 1994 widespread
industrial unrest weakened the economy. In 1996 civil servants,
nurses, and junior doctors went on strike over salary issues.[4]

In 1997, the UK's new Labour government announced they would be
changing the terms of an agreement related to the provision of a
financial assistance package from the UK and other donors to support
compensation and related aid assistance for land redistribution in
Zimbabwe, subjecting it's terms to a review (the UK is said to have
contributed £44m between 1980 and 1990, though Timothy Stamps,
Zimbabwe's British health minister, says only £17m was contributed by
Britain; UK contributions in terms of aid to Zimbabwe stands at half a
billion pounds since independence). The programme had expired in 1996
and the terms for this assistance were re-assessed to redress what the
UK viewed as Zimbabwe's poor record on poverty and transparency, not
convinced that Zimbabwe had a serious poverty eradication strategy or
that it was giving priority to land reform to help the poor, though
the impact of IMF structural adjustment had indirectly undermined
measures to alleviate poverty. Awareness of a hypocritical process at
play underlying what was a genuinely well-intentioned focus from the
UK government likely gave Zanu PF legitimisation to ignore the logic
of land sale compensation to white farms.  

The new stipulations from the UK were the principles enshrined in the
'Land Reform and Resettlement Conference' of 1998 - commitments agreed
to there by Zimbabwe to poverty reduction and transparency in the
disposal of funds for land redistribution to ensure the continuation
of the financial assistance package. The Conference was attended by 48
countries and international organizations, where there was unamimous
endorsement of a land programmme which entailed the compulsory
purchase over 5 years of 50,000 km² from the 112,000 km² owned by
commercial farmers (both black and white), public corporations,
churches, non-governmental organizations and multi-national companies.
The Land Reform and Resettlement Conference of 1998 had agreed a very
sophisticated set of mechanisms within an institutional framework
involving both the Zimbabwe government in collaboration with the UNDP,
funded by the donor assistance programme, involving state institutions
and civil society bodies (including NGOs with technical expertise,
farming & women organisations). Innovative approaches to land reform
and resettlement were to be to piloted, with the Zimbabwe government
in charge of the technical support unit responsible for delivery,
supervised by an inter-ministerial of resettlement and rural
development, with technical advisory services provided by a team of
independent technical experts. [5]

As much as anything else, Zimbabwe may well have viewed such
sophisticated arrangements with distrust, perceiving them as some kind
of external colonial interference. However, most prominant was the
fact that as the UK government started to exert these conditions, Zanu
PF's political elite became aware that the principle of transparancy
would see an end to the appropriation of some of this money which they
had been benefiting from for a number of years until 1996.
Intriguingly, the 1998 deal which earmarked 50,000km-sq to be
compulsorily purchased out of a total area of 112,000km-sq in the
first 5 years suggests that if the 4500 mainly white commercial
farming community who owned 42.7% of the country - an area of 24
million acres or 97,124km-sq - was less than the 112,000 figure, this
might suggest another reason why ZanuPF was against the deal, namely
that land belonging to black capitalist farmers associated with ZanuPF
was under threat within the very same deal.

Of course, the transparency stipulation also neccessarily would have
made it difficult for ZanuPF to easily deliver land to all members of
it's support-base, with pressure coming from Zanu-PF's knife wielding
powerbase - Zanla ex-combatants, the war veterans - who were
increasingly getting impatient with Mugabe and Zanu PF to deliver land
redistribution. On December 9, 1997 a national strike had paralyzed
the country. Mugabe was panicked by demonstrations by the war
veterans, who had been the heart of incursions 20 years earlier in the
Bush War. He agreed to pay them large gratuities and pensions, which
proved to be a wholly unproductive and unbudgeted financial commitment
(in 1998, the IMF rejected the government's application for a new
loan on the grounds that up to 3% of GDP was being given to the war
veterans). The discontent with the government spawned draconian
government crackdowns which in turn started to destroy both the fabric
of the state and of society. This is turn brought with it further
discontent within the population. Thus a vicious downward spiral

It was in this background that Mugabe then exploited the political
capital out of resisting the whole arrangement with the UK just as
Zanu PF's own domestic mandate was under threat from the resergent MDC. 

The MDC's star had grown from the early 1990s onwards, from the
growing movement of dissent amongst workers' movements against
structural adjustment policies of the IMF, which fostered union-based,
student and other smaller-scale resistance, eventually leading to the
formation of the 'National Constitutional Assembly' and then the
'Movement for Democratic Change' (MDC). The dominant strategy of this
accumulated resistance was bounded within a dominant constitutional
and legal framework - i.e. to seek, through existing societal and
state institutions, an expression of growing popular demands for
changing the character and content of those institutions; ie, they set
about to campaign for a new constitution. [7]

In response to these moves by the National Constitutional Assembly, a
group of academics, trade unionists and other political activists, the
government drafted a new constitution. The draft was discussed widely
by the public in formal meetings, and amended to include restrictions
on presidential powers, limits to the presidential term of office, and
an upper age limit of 70 years for presidential candidates. This was
not a suitable outcome for the government, so the proposals were
amended to remove those clauses and insert new ones to compulsorily
acquire land for redistribution without compensation, grant government
officials immunity from prosecution, allow President Mugabe to seek
two additional terms in office,  and authorise government seizure of
white-owned land. The drafting stage of the constitution was largely
boycotted by the opposition.
The referendum was defeated. Shortly thereafter, the Government pushed
through a constitutional amendment (to clause 57) through parliament,
to allow compulsory acquisition of land without compensation. Although
many whites had left Zimbabwe after independence, mainly for
neighbouring South Africa, those who remained continued to wield
disproportionate control of some sectors of the economy, especially
agriculture. In the late-1990s whites accounted for less than 1% of
the population but owned 70% of arable land. Twenty years after
independence, a minority of 4000 white farmers were part of the 4500
strong commercial farming community who owned 42.7% of the country -
an area of 24 million acres, averaging 2500 hectares per unit, whilst
conversely, the peasant sub-sector had more than 750,000 units
averaging between 2 and 4 hectares of arable land plus common
grazing). In 1999, the Commercial Farmers Union freely offered to sell
the government 15,000 km² for redistribution. However, landowners
continued to drag their feet. By 1999, fewer than 70,000 of the people
of Zimbabwe had been resettled, most without the necessary
infrastructure to work the huge commercial farms on the 12 hectare
plots they had been allocated.

With the historical colonial legacy of massive inquality in Zimbabwe
resulting in entrenched socio-economic deprivation for the majority of
the population, further stretched to breaking point by IMF austerity
measures, the stress of working-class revolt and the impatience of the
war veterans combined to alter the political consensus of toleration
for the white farming community's continued priviledge of gross
concentrations of land ownership - increasingly viewed as an
burdensome luxury and a boil that needed to be lanced.  Mugabe and
ZanuPF raised this issue of land ownership by white farmers for their
political advantage. In a naive, but populist move, he began land
redistribution, which brought the government into headlong conflict
with the International Monetary Fund. Amid a severe drought in the
region, the police and military were instructed not to stop the
invasion of white-owned farms by the so-called 'war veterans' and
youth militia. This led to a mass migration of White Rhodesians out of

Through a loosely organised group of war veterans and youth militias,
an aggressive land redistribution programme spread around the country,
often characterised by forced expulsion of white farmers and violence
against both farmers and farm employees, as a means of consolidating
power (especially in the rural areas) and covering the creeping
dictatorship in the cloak of an incomplete 'national democratic
revolution'." As the "liberation" continued, the seizing began to take
on a more aggressive aspect. They claimed to have "seized" the
farmlands. A total of 110,000 km² of land was seized. It was these
scenes which were widely denounced by the UK, US, Western media and
other Commonwealth nations, as white farmers retreated from what was
what they previously considered to be their land. It is reported by
independent sources other than the MDC or the western media that
hundreds of expropriated white farms ended up in the hands of cabinet
ministers, senior government officials and wealthy indigenous

By virtue of the war-state the country had already been in for several
years, first beginning with IMF austerity and then the military
intervention in the Congo, clearly land was a bargaining chip which
Mugabe was forced to give out to his main fighting force (including
the war veterans). The plain fact is, however noble it was for
Zimbabwe to engage in wider political struggle in the Congo, to reject
the UK's revised conditionality for the continuation of financial
assistance was a needless folly, resulting in the dramatic reduction
in export receipts and food producing capability as a result of a
rushed land redistribution process. Prior to 2000, land-owning
farmers, mostly white, had large tracts of land and utilized economies
of scale to raise capital, borrow money when necessary, and purchase
modern mechanised farm equipment to increase productivity on their
land. The reforms broke this land into smaller tracts (thereby
destroying the economies of scale) and gave it to former black
farmworkers and peasants, who had little knowledge of how to run the
farms efficiently or raise productivity. The refusal of banks to lend
them money further limited their ability to purchase equipment or
otherwise raise capital. As a result, the drop in total farm output
was vast (made substantially worse during 2002 during the famine; Mugabe's expulsion of the international media prevented full analysis of the scale of the famine and the resultant deaths). What is not in dispute is that a country once so rich in agricultural produce that it was dubbed the "bread basket" of Southern Africa, within a couple of years struggled to feed its own population. A staggering 45% of the population is considered malnourished. Furthermore, even though the main basis of the country's economic wealth had been cash-crop farming, ensuring the country was a neocolony for the west, the fact remains that Mugabe hadn't done enough to develop and prepare the country's domestic agricultural development and expertise prior to 2000. Whilst the IMF is partly responsible for the shrinkage in the state's capability to invest for the future, the fact is that the Mugabe government's expenditure on agricultural development, having increased at independence, declined during the second half of the 1980s - well before the IMF measures came into play in 1990. Mugabe was ill-prepared to drag his country further into the war state because he'dd neglected to nurture the domestic economy and domestic food producing capability of his own country (he could have sought to find ways round stringent IMF rules, but instead his primary consideration was always to materially appease members of his patronage networks in and around Zanu PF). 

Horace Campbell and Eusi Kwayana : "It was only after the massive
opposition from the working people in 1997 and after the loss of the
referendum of February 2000 that the ZANU leadership opportunistically
launched the Fast Track Land reform process. This opportunism has only
been surmounted by the fact that the best land went to the political
elite who were not real farmers. Opportunism and cronyism exposed the
reality that for land reform to be beneficial for the mass of the
population, reform must involve the political empowerment of the poor,
especially farm workers. The new black landowners did not treat the
farm workers any better than the previous settlers. If anything, this
experience exposed the reality that the issues of the health and
safety of farm workers and their children are just as important as the
question of land ownership. Farm workers whether working on farms
owned by blacks or whites must be paid a living wage and must have
adequate protection from pesticides. They must be accorded full
political and economical rights instead of being forced to live in a
semi-slavery state. The experiences of land acquisition in Zimbabwe
pointed to the reality that land reclamation by itself could not solve
the problems of the Zimbabwean society. There had to be transformation
of the credit, transportation, agricultural marketing, seed
production, distribution of fertilizers, water management and all of
the aspects of economic relations associated with agriculture." (8).

Furthermore, Mugabe government's mismanagement of the economy was
traced to it's intransigence in maintaining an artificially stable
currency, causing an acute shortage of hard cash and the emergence of
a parallel market for foreign currency. Zanu PF's unswerving
indignation that they knew best meant that even constructive,
pragmatic choices of basic economic management in awareness of the
basic economic fundamentals of the world market were ignored, viewing
any external advice neoliberal nor surrendering their independence to
neocolonialism. It has been an misconceived vanguard that, in the
absence of Soviet patronage which may have helped them to a limited
extent in the 1980s, considered itself entirely independent of the
world economy. This may have been possible if complete economic
minmanagement had been avoided such as the excessive printing of
currency which has created hyper-inflation and the agricultural sector
was producing enough food for it's own needs. The fact that ZanuPF
have been even unable to even maintain food self-sufficiency is a
crippling indictment of their administration.
Thomas Munjomo: "In Zimbabwe, agriculture may be regarded as the
engine of the economy, providing the impetus for growth. Land
redistribution must, therefore, be implemented cautiously in order to
limit any adverse effects on present levels of productivity. Wide
pre-reform changes may be necessary and these may include
restructuring supporting services such as agricultural credit,
marketing, research and extension, input supply and processing and
storage. This could help to ensure increases in productivity without
which redistribution alone achieves modest and/or temporary benefits.
land reform, therefore, must be regarded as a process and not an end
in itself. It is neither easy, nor costless; nor is it necessarily a
complete panacea." (taken from "This Land of Africa", by Munjomo, 2000).

Basic economic management also means not printing loads and loads of
currency in excess of the underlying productive resources of the
country. Patrick Bond: "According to Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono, 67 trillion Zimbabwean dollars (US$33 million at the effective
exchange rate in January) were in circulation but could not be traced
inside the financial system.The banks had only Z$2 trillion cash on
hand. Said Gono, "The rest of the money is with cash barons who have
opened mini-central banks at their houses. Unfortunately the people
doing that are influential citizens with leadership positions."

It is clear that Mugabe and ZanuPF's socialist and anti-colonialist
rhetoric does partially stand up to reasonable critique in his
governments' subsequent resistance to the multilateral order of the
IMF after 1998 (all debt was paid off by 2006), Zimbabwe's support to
the anti-apartheid struggle, and of course, their role in the
independence struggle. However, Zanu PF's hold on power, necessarily
steadfast because of their foremost role in the independence struggle,
subsequently led to their own concentration of political power. ZanuPF
are described as having risen to the top after Zimbabwe's independence
in 1980 by being more centralised, conspiratorial and ruthless than
all its rivals (Julian Borger, The Guardian, 23/06/2008). This
ruthless streak was exhibited in the civil war in Matabeleland in 1987
when ZanuPF went to war against it's main political rivals and former
joint compatriots in the independence struggle - Zapu. In one
operation known as the Gukurahundi (Shona for "the early rain that
washes away the chaff"), atleast 10,000 Ndebele were killed,
spearheaded by a notoriously brutal North-Korean trained army unit
called the Fifth Brigade (Borger).

Fellow African nations' continued support for Zimbabwe was most
voicefully put on record at the 2007 Extra-Ordinary Southern African
Development Community Summit of Heads of State & Government, 28th -
29th March 2007, on the political situation in Zimbabwe. This
Extra-Ordinary Summit recalled that free, fair and democratic
Presidential elections were held in 2002 in Zimbabwe, reaffirmed its
solidarity with the Government and people of Zimbabwe, and reiterated
the appeal to Britain to honour its compensation obligations with
regard to land reform made within the Lancaster House Agreement.
Finally, the Summit appealed for the lifting of all forms of sanctions
against Zimbabwe. 

Zimbabwe's fellow neighbours gave Mugabe and Zanu PF the benefit of
the doubt before now by virtue of their unwavering support in
solidarity with the anti-colonial movement and in recognition of Zanu
PF's foremost role in it and the spirit (rather than the execution) of
the land redistribution programme. However, events in 2008 have shown that the abuse by the military and militia has been more brutal now more than ever and election procedures have been so clearly breached, and have led to condemnation from Zambia, Tanzania, Angola and Botswana. In Harare where the MDC won 45 of the 46 local council seats and Emmanuel Chiroto of the MDC was elected as Mayor of Harare by the councillors on June 15th, on the night of June 16th, Chiroto's house in the suburb of Hatcliffe was attacked and destroyed by ZANU-PF supporters. Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local Government, has not sworn in the new local administrations, and because the elected Harare councillors were not allowed to meet at Harare's Town House, they met elsewhere to elect Chiroto on the 16th June. Chiroto believed that petrol bombs were used. Chiroto's wife and son were taken away by the attackers, although his son was delivered to a police station on June 16th.

On April 17th, the state-owned Zimbabwean newspaper The Herald
published a letter said to be from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
to Tsvangirai, along with allegations that Tsvangirai was plotting
"illegal regime change" with British assistance, Tsvangirai countered
on that the allegations were "outrageous" (1). The letter purported to
be from Brown was dated April 9 and was said to have been sent in
response to a letter from Tsvangirai on April 3; Brown's purported
letter said that the United Kingdom would lobby SADC and the United
Nations Security Council to impose further sanctions on Zimbabwe. The
British Embassy denounced the letter as a forgery and said that
"faking documents for crude propaganda purposes" "reflects the
regime's desperation".
Source:  Sapa-AP and Hans Pienaar, "Tsvangirai reacts to plot
allegations", The Star (IOL), April 18, 2008, page 1.

Mugabe's has honed his manipulation of half-truth's to a fine art,
especially where he blames Britain for every problem in his midst,
where it is clear many of his problems he brought upon hmself. Knowlng
full well that hyper-inflation is crippling the economy, on March 5th,
Mugabe said at a rally in Mahusekwa that some businesses were raising
prices with the intent of causing the people to suffer, hoping that
they would blame the government for their suffering and vote for the
opposition as a result. The timing of ZanuPF's passing of the
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill, which requires all
businesses to be majority owned (at least 51%) by black Zimbabweans,
was obviously more of a political gesture in view of this, as Mugabe
warned that "profiteering" white-owned businesses would be taken over
by the government. As in previous elections, Mugabe timed the playing
of the race card in speeches, claiming that Tsvangirai and Makoni
would reverse land reform and that "white farmers were poised to move
back onto their old farms on the announcement of a MDC victory".
Tsvangirai dismissed the reports as nonsense, but the post-election
impact was successful for Mugabe in re-mobilising his support base,
sparked into action by a new wave of paranoid state propaganda, with
war veteran's occupying some farms.

Whereas before, in the same fashion as most fellow governments of
African post-independence nation states, the evolution of ZANU-PF
demonstrated the incapacity of the bourgeois national liberation
movements to exert the slightest independence, operating in a world
capitalist economy characterised by global integration and
transnational production, with these movements transformed into direct
instruments of finance capital (Shaoul, 08/1999), now Zanu PF, having
capitulated to the fervour of their support base, neglecting a more
holistic, sustainable transition which the UK, UNDP and other donor
nations had drawn up with them in the 'Land Reform and Resettlement
Conference' of 1998, misconceived itself as having a self-sufficiency
economic model able to exist independent of the world economy which
left the country economically stranded with a woefully negligent
attitude to the plight of it's own people. Hunger, starvation, severe
economic hardship, financial competence and basic rule of law were all
expendable to Mugabe and Zanu PF's remorseless desire to hold onto
power withever the cost and right the wrongs of colonial injustice,
irrespective of the consequences to the long-term health of the
country. Zimbabwe's plight may well have been made far worse because of sanctions, but it primarily came about because of the collapse in agricultural production - the heart of the economy, and which directly came about as a result of the way Mugabe's government handled the land reform process. Mugabe government's inadequate investment and preparation of the domestic agricultural economy meant Zanu PF's alternative largely-self sufficient economic model had absolutely no foundation, leaving Zimbabwe subject to the vagaries of the world economy with drastically reduced foreign-exchange earning capacity while still paying off the IMF, meaning bankrupcy.  A combination of economic mis-management, and the onset of sanctions has severely worsened the situation in the country. And this rushed land redistribution took place as a result of ZanuPF's capitulation to their tribal support base/patronage network - the war veterans and army - who had become impatient for material advancement and land, and to retain power, he was forced to capitulate to their demands at the expense of taking a position which had more consideration for the long-term economic management of the economy which would have meant reaching a compromise with the UK however unsavoury that would have been in the short-term

The plain truth is that Zanu PF primarily represent an elitist black
bourgeois and petite bourgeois and that Mugabe's regime is exposed as
being primarily focused upon the protection of patronage networks
predominantly within the ruling Zanu PF party, such as the war
veterans. As in Guyana, anti imperialism and vanguardism has been used
to cover up the repression of it's own citizens. The political leaders
have accumulated wealth in such a conspicuous manner that their
consumption of luxury goods stands out in a country where more than
80% of the eligible workers are unemployed. Millions more Zimbabweans
have been rendered as economic refugees in Africa and beyond. 

Mugabe's government is a dictatorship through it's manipulation of
poll votes, selective delivery/non-develivery of food aid and brutal
suppression. The upper echlons of Zanu PF represent a cowardly
bourgeois and petite bourgeois. Mugabe has, infact, only held onto
power so long because there are some army generals who are afraid of
Morgan Tsvangarai's pronouncements that he will form a commission
which could convict generals if they were to be found guilty of human
rights abuses, going right back to the civil war in Maatabaleland. 

1). This Land of Africa, by Thomas Munjomo Bsc, Dip.L.E., M.L.E, Phd,
Department of Land Economy, St Mary's Kings College, University of Aberdeen (2000).
2). IMF tightens the screws on Zimbabwe
By Jean Shaoul, 18th August 1999

Ref:  http://www.saprin.org/zimbabwe/research/zim_agriculture.pdf

4). "HISTORY OF ZIMBABWE", History World, 4 May 2007.  

5). Land reform & resettlement in Zimbabwe: A proposal for a
Cooperative agreement with the Land Tenure Centre

6). "From Corporatism to Liberalization in Zimbabwe: Economic Policy
Regimes and Political Crisis, 1980–97", International Political
Science Review, Vol. 26, No. 1, 91-106 (2005).

7). "Zimbabwe and the strategy of resistance" by Dale T. McKinley*

8). Pan-Africanists: Our Collective Duty to Zimbabwe
by Horace Campbell and Eusi Kwayana

9). Julian Borger, The Guardian, 23/06/2008
10). Sapa-AP and Hans Pienaar, "Tsvangirai reacts to plot
allegations", The Star (IOL), April 18, 2008, page 1.


Both sides of the equation:

Record of ZanuPF:

ZanuPF represent a ethnic (Shona) capitalist bourgeois elite, propped
up by their tribal support base, that have:
- successfully led the independence struggle alongside Joshua Nkomo's
mainly Ndebele PFZapu against Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front, also known
as The Second Chimurenga, or as Zimbabwe's liberation war, resulting
in a negotiated settlement through British initiated negotiations
culminating in the Lancaster House Constitutional Agreement in 1979.
- Involvement in border clashes against South African Afrikaner forces in the Border Wars of the 1980s
- committed war crimes within an internal civil war between ZanuPF forces and Zapu guerillas in Matabeleland during the 1980s, when the 5th brigade killed 10,000 Ndebele
- corrupted the land redistribution process, and in turn, sacrificed
the long-term food producing and currency earning capability of the
country, destroying the central dynamic of the Zimbabwean economy
- Completely mismanaged the economy by allowing cash-baron
beneficiaries of Zimbabwe's patronage networks to print loads and
loads of extra currency, so that the total currency in circulation was
vastly in excess of the underlying productive resources of the
country, leading to hyper-inflation
- financially enriched a priviledged elite and maintaining high
salaries for the military, state police and civil service whilst
neglecting public sector workers and allowing the mass of the
population to endure hunger, starvation and severe economic hardship,
- hoarded land amongst their patronage networks and cronies, at the
expense of the majority of the rural poor during the 1990s, when
financial constraints meant the land redistribution process even after
the 1992 Land Acquisition Act, was always going to be limited under
the shadow of IMF austerity
- allowed the new capitalist farming entrants to treat the farm
workers no better than the previous settlers
- and exhibited a woeful record on investment in agricultural
infrastructure such as credit facilities, transportation, agricultural
marketing, seed production, distribution of fertilizers and water
- alleged suppresion of opponents and election irregularities in the 2000 and 2002 election in Zimbabwe
- The paying off of all outstanding debts to the IMF in 2006
- The introduction of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill, legislation which stipulates that every company operating in the country must have at least 51% of its shares owned by indigenous Zimbabweans, in 2008
- election irregularities and brutal suppression of Zanu PF's political opponents in the run-off election has been so severe that even countries within SADC such as Zambia, Tanzania and Angola have broken ranks from the previous "benefit-of-the-doubt" consensus afforded to Zimbabwe, criticising the manner in which the election run-off has been handled in recognition that the excesses of the Zimbabwean state's brutality now have no bounds under Mugabe

Record of MDC:
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is a Zimbabwean political party. It was founded in 1999 as an opposition party to the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party led by President Robert Mugabe. The MDC was formed from many members of the broad coalition of civic society groups and individuals that campaigned for a "No" vote in the 2000 constitutional referendum, in particular the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. 

Allegation about the MDC:
' The establishment of a new opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), in September 1999, found instant support from
Western leaders. Significant funding from Western sources enabled the
party to rapidly grow to the point where it won 57 out of 120 seats in
the June 24-25 2000 parliamentary election, less than one year after
its creation. Ostensibly based in the labor movement, the program of
MDC reads like a call for a return to ESAP. A policy paper issued by
the party spelled out its plans for privatization. Upon taking power,
the party plans to appoint a "fund manager to dispose of
government-owned shares in publicly quoted companies." The boards of
all public enterprises would be "reconstituted," and the new boards
would be "required to privatize their enterprises within specified
timetables...with an overall target of privatizing all designated
parastatals [public companies] within two years." The interests of
Western capital would not be ignored. "In areas where a high level of
technical skill is required, foreign strategic investors will be
encouraged to bid for a majority stake in the enterprises being
privatized." A primary principle of the program would be that "all
sales of major state assets will be conducted through open,
international [that is, Western], competitive bidding." In order to
counter opposition from workers made redundant, the National
Privatization and Procurement Agency would be instructed to "carry out
public awareness campaigns regarding the privatization program in
order to generate public awareness and support for the exercise."
Implementation of its program, the MDC feels, will mean "that foreign
direct investment will take place on a substantial scale." (10) As a
further incentive for Western investors, the MDC plans to review
income and corporate tax levels "for regional competitiveness." (11)

The MDC appointed an official of the Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries, Eddie Cross, as its Secretary of Economic Affairs. In a
speech delivered shortly after his appointment, Cross articulated the
MDC economic plan. "First of all, we believe in the free market. We do
not support price control. We do not support government interfering in
the way people manage their lives. We are in favor of reduced levels
of taxation. We are going to fast track privatization. All fifty
government parastatals will be privatized within a two-year frame, but
we are going far beyond that. We are going to privatize many of the
functions of government. We are going to privatize the Central
Statistics Office. We are going to privatize virtually the entire
school delivery system. And you know, we have looked at the numbers
and we think we can get government employment down from about 300,000
at the present time to about 75,000 in five years." (12)
''The MDC party split in 2005 due to disagreements over participation
in the senate elections of that year.

One faction was led by Morgan Tsvangirai, and another by his deputy
Gibson Sibanda with the support of Welshman Ncube, Gift Chimanikire
and spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi (now led by Professor Arthur

Since the split there have been allegations of intra-party violence.

The party split of 2005 was blamed on acts of violence perpetrated by
MDC-T. David Coltart decided to join the Mutambara faction of the MDC
citing `deep concerns about violence in the MDC-T faction.

I was so concerned about our failure to get to the bottom of the
violence that I prepared a statement that was tabled at the next
meeting of the National Executive held on the 15th July, said Coltart
in 2006.

MDC-T thugs were also blamed for an attack on Trudy Stevenson, then an
MDC-M legislator. She was attacked with a machete and hospitalized
with four other MDC-M members in 2005.

According to Paul Themba Nyathi, of the MDC-Mutambara, the thuggish
behaviour of Tsvangirai's supporters has largely escaped the attention
of observers and the press because the big prize is still to rid the
country of Mugabe.'


The two factions reunited for the 2008 elections. 

The extent of the accusation that the MDC is seeking to facilitate the
recolonisation of the country claimed by Mugabe sympathisers is
unsubstantiated, since much of the talk of privatisation and shrinking
the amount of state employees is really all about reducing the
nepotism and flabby bureaucracy familiar to many post-independence
bureaucratic-heavy "socialist" African states of which Zimbabwe is the
last remaining. The quote that the MDC plan to privatise virtually the
entire school delivery system would appear a very excessive plan if
this were true; but, if the country is now so cash-strapped, you could
perhaps understand why this might now be an increasingly possible
option as each month passes in Zimbabwe's descent into economic ruin.

In general, there is a logic to privatisation; it allows private
borrowing to fund investment and remove the short-term constraints of
government budgeting. If further efficiency in the running of certain
state industries will compromise the interests of workers so severely
(lay-offs, paycuts), it would be a strange argument that the MDC don't
care about their labour unions, for this would be an odd position
considering the labour unions comprise a substantial base of the MDC
membership. More likely, labour rights will be guaranteed and there is
a recognition that some of these state sectors (particularly in the
civil service) and state industries are being run so inefficiently
that privatisation will actually be a viable option.



We've done enough damage. All we can do is send food

Mugabe has a point on imperialism. Britain has no option but to sit
out the Zimbabwean tragedy, impotent on the sidelines

by Simon Jenkins
The Guardian
Date: Wednesday June 25, 2008
Ref: www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/25/zimbabwe.foreignpolicy

Robert Mugabe is making a mockery of liberal interventionism. He has
become God's gift to cartoonists, politicians and commentators. He is
depicted wielding clubs dripping in blood. He stands triumphant over a
pile of skulls. He is Bokassa out of Idi Amin out of Charles Taylor.
He is that old familiar, the African heart of darkness, monstrous,
buffoonish, grotesque and evil. If Britain, as Kipling jeered, were
ever capable of "killing Kruger with your mouth", Mugabe would long be

There is a sense in which Mugabe's hysterical anti-British analysis of
his predicament is correct. His Zimbabwe is a creature of British
imperialism and post-imperialism. The last governor, Lord Soames,
regarded him as an affectionate regimental mascot, a "splendid chap",
as he told me in an interview shortly before handing power to him in 1980.

Britain duly tolerated the suppression of Mugabe's enemy, Joshua
Nkomo, and Zimbabwe's conversion into a one-party state. It turned a
blind eye to the 1983 Ndebele massacre by Mugabe's Shona Fifth Brigade
under its warlord, Perence Shiri, who some say is Mugabe's present
master. Margaret Thatcher's Whitehall gave Harare lavish aid and barmy
advice, helping turn a viable economy into a basket case of
pseudo-socialist kleptomania - well charted by the Guardian's Andrew
Meldrum in his memoir, Where We Have Hope.

Now Zimbabwe is declared outrageous. Though Mugabe is hardly the worst
dictator in the world, he is regarded as "our" dictator and therefore
our business. The public asks: "What is to be done about him?" Sated
on having "done something", presumably glorious, about Bosnia, Sierra
Leone, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, public opinion is hard-wired to
such a question. So what is to be done?

The government's answer is splutter. Abuse is heaped on Mugabe's head
in a ministerial cascade of brutals, bloodthirsties, illegitimates and
revoltings. I have lost count how often the Foreign Office has
excoriated him with that lofty, impotent putdown, "unacceptable". As
for sanctions, we must listen to the sad incantation of trade bans,
VIP travel restrictions, Harrods accounts, London kindergartens and
cricket tours - the ceaseless chatter of sanctions chic.

Such sanctions are the weapons of cowards and hypocrites. They never
work in any meaningful sense, and are on a par with not eating South
African oranges or not buying Brazilian coffee. By mildly
inconveniencing the powerful and destituting the poor, they supposedly
make us feel good. In countries such as Cuba and Iraq, they have
condemned whole generations to poverty and isolation.

The much-abused history of commercial sanctions shows that any
protracted squeeze leads only to internal economic adjustment. Control
of money and goods shifts from merchants to rulers, driving the former
to exile and increasing the wealth of the latter. As sanctions made
Saddam Hussein and his family rich, so they have made Mugabe and his
cronies rich.

The only sanction that works is one that works overnight. It is
conceivable that if South Africa and Zimbabwe's other neighbours were
able to cut petrol and electricity supplies they might precipitate
some sort of coup. But by whom? Anyone seizing power at present would
be anyone with petrol - and that is the army, which has power already.

Instead we have that sure sign of panic in London, the tentative
murmur of the M-word, military. Ever since the Liberal leader, "Bomber
Thorpe", suggested that Ian Smith's Rhodesian revolt be ended by force
in 1967, Zimbabwe has excited leftwing machismo. This week Lord
"Paddy" Ashdown followed in typically allusive fashion. If there were
genocide in Zimbabwe, said the old swashbuckler, and if the UN
approved, and if the Africans did the fighting for us, then we should
offer "moral support". So much for Douglas Fairbanks swinging from a
House of Lords chandelier.

Neither South Africa nor neighbouring states of the African Union have
shown the slightest inclination to force regime change on Harare,
however much they may condemn Mugabe. African rulers regard the
interventionist precedent as unappealing. Nor is there any British
stomach for an airborne assault, from wherever it might be launched
(Diego Garcia?). It is inconceivable that planes would be allowed
refuelling or overflying rights in southern Africa. Such is the
collapse of Britain's moral authority after Iraq.

Toppling Mugabe would require a force strong enough at least to
decapitate his army and, presumably, install the opposition leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, in power. What kind of power would that be,
achieved with foreign guns? It would probably be a prelude only to
civil war, which must be the last thing Zimbabwe needs just now.

The truth is that Britain and the west have grown tired of this sort
of thing. They could not summon up the muscle even to land aid in
Burma's Irrawaddy delta, hardly the most drastic of interventions. The
Labour bombast of Baghdad and Kabul is now reduced to nuanced caution.
The crusader cry, "You can't just leave the poor Albanians (or Shias
or Pashtuns) to their fate," has degenerated into a diplomatic
monotone of demarches and resolutions.

There is no alternative for Britain to sitting out the Zimbabwean
tragedy, impotent on the sidelines. If Africa wants to help its own,
it will. If not, so be it. We cannot starve Mugabe into submission,
since that is his own strategy towards his people. We take comfort by
endlessly declaring his country "close to collapse", but that is idiot
economics. Subsistence and remittance economies do not collapse.

We can portray Mugabe in the press as a bloodthirsty gorilla and
impose so-called smart sanctions, in order that Gordon Brown, David
Miliband and the rest can feel a little better, but our fine feelings
are hardly central to Africa's predicament.

So-called liberal interventionism is a will-o'-the-wisp, a vapid,
feel-good refashioning of foreign policy in response to a headline
event, motivated by self-interest or passing mood. We should send food
to the starving of Zimbabwe because that is something we can do,
however much Mugabe distorts the supply. But as for dreaming of
toppling him, those days are over. Britain has done enough damage to
Zimbabwe over the years. Prudence tells us please to shut up.

simon.jenkins at guardian.co.uk

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