At the invitation of ZANU(PF), Harpal Brar, Editor of Lalkar and Chairman of Zimbabwe Solidarity Front, attended a Conference in Harare, April 20-23, with the theme The Liberation Struggle Continues. Based on his participation at the Conference, the papers presented at it, as well as other information, he wrote an article on the land question in Zimbabwe. The first part of this article appeared in the previous issue of Lalkar – September/October 2004. The second, concluding part, is reproduced below.
Imperialist response to the Fast Track Land Reform and Resettlement Programme (FTP)
The imperialist response to the land acquisition programme in Zimbabwe was violently hostile. Britain, the US and the EU launched a concerted hate campaign to intimidate and destabilise Zimbabwe, to ruin its economy and to remove ZANU(PF) from the seat of power – especially President Mugabe. They accused the Zimbabwean government of poor government, economic mismanagement, corruption, human rights violations, political violence and intimidation, abolishing press freedom and rigging elections. The list of Zimbabwe’s alleged crimes is endless. Turning facts on their head, the defenders of monopolist privileges were conducting a malicious campaign of lies against a regime which was valiantly, and successfully at that, getting rid of the monopolisation of Zimbabwe’s land by a tiny group of settlers. They damned the land reform programme as the politics of lunacy and the economics of suicide.
The British government intensified its efforts to isolate Zimbabwe by enlisting the help of the US, the EU, the Commonwealth, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the AU and a host of other organisations where Britain wielded any influence. Mugabe and his ‘wild’ war veterans were by their actions hurting British interests, influence and prestige. They had at one stroke rendered nugatory all the gains made by Britain at Lancaster House; therefore they could not be allowed to succeed. What is more, their example could prove dangerously infectious in the neighbouring countries (South Africa and Namibia), where land ownership is similarly skewed, consequent upon the ravages of colonialism and the colonial legacy inherited by the newly independent regimes. Zimbabwe’s open flouting of one of the most scared principles of capitalism, that of private property and the right to exploit (the only true ‘human rights’ in the capitalist code of morality) outraged the economic, political and intellectual representatives of capitalism in the imperialist countries without exception.
In violation of the accepted procedures of that organisation, Britain was instrumental in securing the suspension of Zimbabwe, in March 2002, from that hangover of the colonial era – the Commonwealth. In the end, when that suspension was confirmed (7 December 2003) Zimbabwe, angered by the discriminatory treatment it received, quite correctly and wisely decided to quit this organisation.
German imperialism joins the fray
German imperialism, fearful of the Zimbabwe example spreading to Namibia, a former German colony where white farmers of German descent own vast amounts of land, joined the Zimbabwe hate campaign, through the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FEF) which worked out a strategy and a detailed plan for the removal of the ZANU(PF) government and President Mugabe. Written by its Director in Zimbabwe, and entitled Zimbabwe – a Conflict Study of a Country Without Direction, the FEF report was presented to the EU’s Africa Working Group (AWG) in December 1998, to serve as a basis for recommending action on Zimbabwe.
With great candour, this report singled out Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and its support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as the reasons for hostility towards the Zimbabwean regime. In addition it blamed all the real and imaginary ills of Zimbabwe on its government, especially on Robert Mugabe, adding arrogantly that to put matters right, the ZANU(PF) government and President Mugabe had to go – either voluntarily or be forced out. To that end, the report outlined a programme of engineering economic decline in Zimbabwe to produce hardship and civil disturbances and thus make the country ungovernable. Tellingly, the report stated: “without economic deterioration, there would hardly be any social protest”; “without social protest, there would be no pressure for political change”; and “without political change, the economic issues cannot be effectively addressed”.
Cooperation between government and media
The British media, including especially the BBC, so keen on presenting itself as the guardian of gospel truth and objectivity, naturally collaborated with the British government’s Zimbabwe hate campaign. Nor could it be otherwise, for the ‘free’ media are owned by financial magnates, and exist to protect the interests of the kings of finance and robber barons of monopoly capitalism, and not in the furtherance of truth. In close cooperation, the government and the media coordinated a plan for the removal of the government of Zimbabwe and President Mugabe through a scurrilous campaign of lies, slander and vilification against the Zimbabwean leadership; economic sabotage; inciting civil disturbances and ethnic strife; fomenting a coup d’état; attempting a split within ZANU(PF); and assisting the founding of a new opposition party.
Richard Dowden, Editor of the Economist, in an article in November 1998, outlined a plan for the removal of the government, suggesting “developments along Indonesian lines”, with a worsening economy, growing mass dissatisfaction, a possible five-day strike by trade unions to demand early elections. He added that if “… the government banned the unions and arrested their leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, furious crowds would take to the streets. After bloodshed the government might fall”. He went on for good measure: “or there could be a palace coup against Mr Mugabe … one faction could conceivably decide to seize power”.
This same Dowden played a leading role at a meeting, on 24 January 1999, of the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House under the provocative title: Zimbabwe – Time for Mugabe to Go. Having identified the land reform programme and the dispatch of troops by Zimbabwe to the DRC as the cause of the organisers’ hostility towards Zimbabwe, the meeting rehearsed the already enumerated scenario for the removal of President Mugabe and his regime.
A seminar with the similar counter-revolutionary aim of overthrowing the Zimbabwean government was held two months later, on 23 March 1999, at the US State Department under the title Zimbabwe at the Crossroads. The plan of action elaborated at this gathering was little different from that described above.
Zimbabwe Democracy Trust and Westminster Foundation for Democracy
A year later, in April 2000, Morgan Tsvangirai visited Britain ostensibly for fund-raising purposes. During this visit, a letter in support of the MDC appeared in The Times – the list of signatories to this letter is a veritable Who’s Who of leading counter-revolutionary spokesmen of imperialism, including three former British Foreign Secretaries – Lord Howe, Lord Carrington, Lady Chalker of Wallasey, Malcolm Rifkind, Douglas Hurd (all former ministers under Margaret Thatcher), former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker, and Evelyn de Rothschild from the notorious banking family. Several of these signatories are members of the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy Trust (ZDT), a select group of top British and US politicians and fabulously rich businessmen, some of them with direct economic interests in Zimbabwe. ZDT has advised and funded the MDC extensively. The British government, through the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD), which received 95% of its funds from the British government and whose governing body is graced by the representatives of the three major bourgeois parties (Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat), with Tony Blair as its patron, also provided funds to the MDC.
The above imperialist-orchestrated campaign has given rise to the application of double standards in judging events in Zimbabwe. If there are food shortages in Zimbabwe, these are attributed to the land reform programme. The truth, however, is that as a result of the severe drought conditions for two consecutive years, there were crop failures in several countries in southern Africa. As a result, many countries – not just Zimbabwe – suffered from food shortages. If the imperialist stooges of the MDC are defeated in the elections, that must be because of rigging. The truth is that no election in Zimbabwe would be regarded by imperialism as free and fair unless ZANU(PF) and President Mugabe lost it. Everywhere in the world, including Britain, authorities require advance notification of any planned demonstrations, for reasons of public order as well as traffic control. In the case of Zimbabwe, such requirements are condemned as attempts to deny the right to free assembly and demonstrate. The requirement for newspapers and journalists to register, while a common practice in practically every country, in the case of Zimbabwe is regarded as an infringement of freedom of the press. And so it goes on.
Thus Zimbabwe, its government, and its president, are subjected to this vile campaign of lies, of vitriol and vituperation, of economic sabotage and sanctions. Through its economic sanctions, on the one hand, imperialism damages the economy of Zimbabwe and, on the other hand, blames Zimbabwe’s economic mismanagement for the intended harmful consequences of its own deliberate acts of economic strangulation. The programmes of the Voice of America’s Studio 7 radio, and that of the UK-based SW Radio Africa, daily and hourly beam scandalous broadcasts to Zimbabwe calculated to rouse dissent, disaffection and rebellion among the Zimbabwean masses against their government.
All the same, Zimbabwe has managed to survive and come out of this baptism of fire much steeled and much strengthened. No matter what happens, the land question has been decisively settled in favour of the peasant masses of Zimbabwe. The land will remain with them, never to return to a handful of European settlers.
However, to achieve this victory, ZANU(PF), the government of Zimbabwe and President Mugabe, had to have nerves of steel, display great vigilance inside the country and wage a vigorous offensive abroad to keep on board its foreign friends. In the words of comrade Mudenge: “The media war of ‘awe, terror and saturation bombing’ was unleashed on little Zimbabwe by the bully boys of the West. It is a mark of the maturity of SADC, AU and NAM [Non-aligned Movement] that they have remained solidly behind Zimbabwe in spite of the above onslaught, as well as blandishments and at times naked political and economic pressure. Britain could not successfully spread its hate message beyond the white-race solidarity grouping. The majority in the international community supported Zimbabwe. To survive Zimbabwe had to win the battle for international opinion”.
The Role of Social Democracy and Trotskyism
Social democracy, both ‘left’ and right, and its variant, Trotskyism, have played, not unexpectedly, a most shameful role on the question of Zimbabwe, in particular its land reform programme. With the collapse of the former USSR, ‘left’ social democracy and Trotskyism, throwing off their radical ‘left’, even Marxian mask, have degenerated into being cheer-leaders of imperialist aggression and open advocates of neo-liberalism, in which guise present-day imperialism attacks the working class and the national liberation movements. They have become the new missionaries of democracy and fervent supporters of the selective application of the doctrines of human rights and good governance, which are applied by the imperialist countries to gauge the creditworthiness or otherwise of the poor nations through the WB/IMF combine – behind which stand the giant monopoly corporations which are firmly rooted in the centres of imperialism. In the apt words of comrade Mudenge: “Is it not ironic that the values of democracy for which the people of southern Africa fought and died, are now being abused and subverted into instruments of their conquest and re-conquest?” (Western Socialists’ view of ex-liberation movements, hereafter, WS).
We have already cited the November 1997 letter of Clare Short, the darling of the Troto-revisionist gentry. On the question of Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, the most vehement opponents of this programme in the European Parliament are led by Glenys Kinnock, wife of the former Labour leader – not by any Conservative or Liberal Democrat. The British Labour government set itself the task of engineering the downfall of the ZANU(PF) government and that of President Mugabe. During her one-day visit to Zimbabwe in early January 1998, Clare Short behaved haughtily, refusing to meet any Zimbabwean official other than the Finance Minister, Dr Herbert Murerwa, who had been his country’s High Commissioner in London. Later in the day she attended a reception at the residence of Jim Drummond, head of the British Department for International Development (DFID) in Harare. As she waddled about the lawn, within earshot of DFID officials, she provocatively remarked that “Mugabe should be overthrown!” These are the four words with which British imperialism, through one of its most loyal flunkey Labour ministers, announced to the world its intention to destabilise Zimbabwe as a prelude to the overthrow of its government and its president.
Manipulation of trade unions
Being unable to exert pressure on the governments led by the leaders of the former liberation movements, and taking their cue from the counter-revolutionary role played by Lech Walecha’s Solidarity in Poland, and in view of the baleful influence exercised by the British TUC and its counterparts in other imperialist countries over the trade union movements in former colonies, the advocates of regime change in Zimbabwe and elsewhere resorted to subverting trade unions in these countries by identifying trade union leaders who could be used as tools for replacing independent regimes with those compliant to imperialist demands. Thus, Frederick Chiluba in Zambia, Chakufwa Chihana in Malawi, Ben Ulenga in Namibia, Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa, and Morgan Tsvangirai in Zimbabwe, were singled out for the role of suitable flunkeys of imperialism, and whose trade union connections and positions could be used in the furtherance of imperialist interests in these countries. The 1991 defeat of the Zambian President Kaunda by Chiluba was a source of great encouragement for social democracy to pursue this path vigorously.
Why should imperialism want to overthrow regimes in southern Africa? The answer lies in the mineral riches of this region, which can justly be called the mineral “Gulf Region” of the African continent. It offers fantastic opportunities for the export of capital and exploitation of cheap local labour. Strong, independent regimes present an obstacle to imperialism’s quest for domination of the region and the control and looting of its vast mineral resources. Hence the hankering by imperialism after compliant rulers who could deliver this region, endowed with fabulous wealth, on a platter to the vultures of monopoly capitalism in the latter’s never-ceasing quest for the maximum of profit and world domination. The oil rich Angola, Nigeria, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and, particularly, the mineral-rich DRC, likewise are in the unenviable position of being targeted by imperialism.
Social democracy and Trotskyism have gaily joined the imperialist attack on the Zimbabwean regime. Literally a month before the Labour Party was voted into office in May 1997, a Zimbabwe-accredited diplomat during a visit to the Republic of Ireland was informed by a prominent Irish trade unionist that the European trade unions had already singled out the then Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Morgan Tsvangirai, as their presidential candidate in Zimbabwe against Robert Mugabe (information in this and the following few paragraphs is taken from Dr. Mudenge’s WS).
The Danish Trade Union Council (DTUC), the “cooperating partner” of ZCTU, had already, towards the end of 1996, posted Georg Limke to Harare as it regional representative to ensure the success of this project – it being Limke’s mission to transform the Zimbabwe trade union movement into a political party. In 1999, Tsvangirai requested Limke to extend his three-year assignment with the DTUC by six months to help facilitate the final phase of the transformation of the ZCTU into an opposition party that would challenge ZANU(PF). “On the technical-political side, I would like to mention that the secretary-general of the ZCTU has expressed the need for my services during the transitional period of the ZCTU when the leadership is changing. … This will be in the form of technical support of the expected new phase and in the form of strategic consultations and services in the broader spectrum of the activities of the ZCTU”, Limke wrote to his headquarters.
However, in later October 1999, after his cover was blown, Limke was withdrawn and replaced by Mrs Gitte Vesterlund.
Rudolph Trauber-Merz, the Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FEF) in Harare until the end of 1998, wrote a report at the beginning of 1999 on his evaluation of the political situation in Zimbabwe. It is patently clear from this report that he already knew that the ZCTU, which he preferred to characterise as “the umbrella body”, would be transformed into a political party in 1999. He wrote: “ZCTU functionaries would have to relinquish their posts before they switch over to party posts”.
Role of SWP
The Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), the largest Trotskyist organisation in Britain, characteristically ignoring the extensive support furnished by imperialism to bring into being the MDC, greeted the latter’s formation as a step forward for the working class of Zimbabwe. Instead of seeing through the imperialist manipulation of the trade-union movement in Zimbabwe, as would be obligatory on any socialist organisation worthy of its name, the SWP asserted that as the ZCTU had been involved in setting up the MDC, the latter could represent, and advance, the social and political interests of the working class. The International Socialist Organisation (ISO), SWP’s sister party in Zimbabwe, made the boastful, not to say shameful, claim that it had been one of the first civic organisations to “encourage the ZCTU to form a workers’ party to remove ZANU(PF)”.
In a revealing interview, which appeared in the September 2000 issue of the SWP journal Socialist Review, Munyaradzi Gwisai, a leading member of the ISO elected to the Zimbabwean parliament on the MDC platform, explained that as from 1997 FEF gave substantial financial support to the National Consultative Association (NCA), a precursor of the MDC, with the aim of exerting its influence and advancing the possibilities for getting rid of the ZANU(PF) government.
Fully laying bare the counter-revolutionary politics of the SWP and the ISO, the interview proved beyond reasonable doubt that the MDC was the creation of imperialism and that the ZCTU was being manipulated so as to prevent the development of a truly radical and impendent working-class movement in Zimbabwe. In this interview, calling it “an influential social democratic organisation”, Gwisai observed that the FEF “had a strategy for building a viable party by getting people to work together without calling it a political party. … I think it was felt that there was a danger of radicalization of the working class … and this is how Morgan [Tsvangirai] was then brought in as a figurehead leader of the NCA. … He lent credibility to the NCA, which was well funded”.
It is clear that in the formation of the MDC, imperialism was creating, through the combined efforts of European social democracy and its trade union offshoots, as well as a host of NGOs, a pro-business outfit for the twin purposes of disarming the working class of Zimbabwe and removing the radical nationalist regime of ZANU(PF) and the latter’s most steadfast and representative spokesman, to wit, President Robert Mugabe. Nor could it be otherwise. It is beyond belief that an organisation like the FEF, notorious for subverting working class and national liberation movements the world over, would ever consider giving any support to a genuinely militant working-class organisation.
Friedrich Ebert Foundation
Founded in 1925 by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) of Germany, “to honour the legacy of Friedrich Ebert”, who died in the same year, the aptly-named FEF has continued to propagate and promote the counter-revolutionary work of the notorious betrayer of the working class after whom it is named. During the First World War, Ebert, along with the overwhelming majority of the leadership of the SDP, deserted the working class and went over to German imperialism under the slogan of the “Defence of the Fatherland” – a slogan used by opportunist renegades of several imperialism countries to betray the working class in the service of imperialism. At the end of the war, Ebert became the first President of the Weimar Republic. Along with Phillip Scheidemann and Gustav Noske, in January 1919 he successfully led the social-democratic government’s effort to prevent the revolutionary overthrow of German imperialism, freely using guns and bayonets to drown working class demonstrations in Berlin in blood. Several hundred revolutionaries, including Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, were massacred on the orders of Ebert who notoriously said: “I hate revolution!”
Resuscitated in 1947, the FEF has ever since been an important tool with which German imperialism defends its interests on a global scale. Armed with a budget of $90 million a year, a workforce of 700 at its headquarters and an additional 2,000 elsewhere in the world, maintaining offices in 74 countries, it boasts the possession of the largest archive on the working-class movement in Europe, a vast research centre and a publishing house. It trains and tames diplomats, academics and trade unionists favourably inclined towards imperialist interests, German imperialist interests in particular.
During the 1970s, the FEF played a significant role in subverting the revolutionary movements in Spain and Portugal – guiding them along reformist channels through the setting up of reformist social democratic parties. It continues to do its dirty work in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America in furtherance of the interests of imperialism under the pretext of promoting “democracy”, “good governance”, “rule of law”, “political freedom”, “human rights” and suchlike subterfuges.
This is no way to deny the part played by the mistakes of the Zimbabwean government in the rise of the MDC. The acceptance by the government in the early 1990s of the WB/IMF prescribed SAPs, and the consequent freeze on wages accompanied by price liberalisation, led to the further impoverishment of the poor and restlessness among the people, especially the working class, which imperialism and its agents were able to exploit with great adroitness. Here is just one example of the skilful manipulation by the rich privileged minority of the discontent in the ranks of the working class. In December 1997, trade unions in Zimbabwe staged a five-day strike. The following perceptive observation made by the South African Daily Mail and Guardian of 17 December 1997 is truly revealing in this regard: “The strike drew on a deeper discontent which has given trade unions common cause with other interests, including employers who encouraged their workers to join the protest and white Zimbabwean farmers whose farms are threatened with seizures” (‘Zimbabwe’s Unholy Alliance’).
Belatedly, in 1999, the government abandoned the SAPs, further antagonising imperialism. Better late than never. It was the correct thing to do.
Precisely because the MDC was to be a vehicle for furthering the interests of imperialism, organisations such as the FEF were showering it with financial assistance, advice and all other kinds of support facility. This simple truth has somehow managed to elude Gwisai who naively complained that the alleged working-class character of the MDC was “not captured in the Manifesto”, that while being characterised as a movement of “working people”, the MDC was permitted “…to include the bosses”. Contradicting himself at every step, he asserted that the MDC had been “hijacked” by the capitalists, expressing the forlorn hope that through the mobilisation of the mass of workers it could be won over to a socialist programme. He added, as if to annihilate his earlier assertion, that there was “… real disillusionment, and there was a danger of us socialists being swamped”.
While maintaining that he had agreed to contest the Highfield constituency on the MDC platform because the ISO hoped to be able to use the election campaign “as a platform for building a revolutionary alternative”, with not a little unintended irony, he admitted that, although originally chosen to fight the election for the Harare area, he was moved to Highfield “because of the hostility from the party leadership and its bourgeois party sympathisers about a socialist standing in the central business district”.
From the above it is clear as daylight that the SWP and its sister organisation in Zimbabwe, the ISO, hitched themselves in Zimbabwe to the chariot of imperialism. In this context, it would not be amiss to quote the following words of Dr. Mudenge, with which this revolutionary nationalist delivers truly stunning blows to what is at least nominally a working-class organisation – the SWP: “Despite its socialist rhetoric, the British Socialist Workers’ Party has rallied behind pro-imperialist policies and helped trade-union bureaucracy and the MDC to foment opposition against the government of Zimbabwe. While the working class is a viable social force that can advance a programme on which to take forward a struggle for democratic rights and social equality, to do so it must begin by acting independently of the political representatives of capital. Instead, Zimbabwe’s urban working class have been dragooned into a common organization with their oppressors, a tragedy which the majority of the people of Zimbabwe have beheld with utter disbelief, and which the workers themselves are beginning to exhume themselves from ” (WS).
Dr Mudenge goes on to observe correctly that the abuse of trade unions by SWP-type fake socialists “… in our region threatens to polarize our communities and plunge us into unprecedented dangers posed by a political divide between urban workers on the one hand, and rural workers and the peasantry on the other. This polarization … breeds violence, undermines … nation-building efforts, and threatens to roll back our advances in democracy” (WS).
More than that. It is counter-revolutionary to the core. For further advances in Zimbabwe, as indeed throughout southern Africa, the working class needs the closest alliance with the peasantry, without which it cannot lead the latter. Those who would cause distrust among these two classes, those who work for a rupture between them, in the name of some pure and imaginary socialism, can only play a sorry and reactionary role.
MDC continues on its reactionary course
Meanwhile, the MDC, created by imperialism and supported by ‘left’ social democracy and Trotskyism alike, continues to do the imperialists’ bidding. In January this year (2004), Gibson Sibanda, Vice-President of the MDC, travelled across Europe. While there, he distributed an MDC policy document with the title MDC International Briefs and Consultation – First Quarter, January to March 2004. The preamble to this document makes the following shameful admission: “At the Zimbabwe Consultative Meeting held on November 17, 2003 in the House of Lords in London, a blueprint for the MDC’s internal political strategies and external diplomatic outreach activity for the year 2004 was unveiled and discussed” (emphasis added).
One could not wish for a clearer admission as to where the blueprint for the MDC’s internal strategy and external activity is made. It is manufactured in that centre of reaction – the British House of Lords, one of the oldest centres of aristocratic privilege and big money. Not surprising then that, after unveiling this blueprint, Mr Sibanda denounced SADC as an old boys’ club, living in mortal fear of being replaced by trade union based political movements. The reason for his outburst against the leaders of SADC was the latter’s support for Zimbabwe. He called upon the ‘international community’, that is, a tiny group of blood-sucking imperialist Draculas, to put pressure on, and punish, the SADC governments in order to force them into line as per the diktat of international monopoly capital.
ZANU(PF) emerges victorious
Thanks to the steady nerve and steadfastness of the ZANU(PF) government, especially those of President Mugabe, the MDC has failed to make a success of the goal set for it by its imperialist masters. The closest it came to success was in the parliamentary elections of June 2000, when it won 57 seats as opposed to the 62 won by ZANU(PF). With 30 further seats occupied by presidential nominees under the Constitution, the government was easily able to conduct its business in the 150-seat parliament.
The opposition’s success during this election, far from cowing the government, only made the latter more determined than ever to settle the land question through the FTP as from 15 July 2000. The rejection of the draft Constitution a few months earlier had had the same effect.
Now that the land question has been irreversibly settled in favour of the Zimbabwean masses, the government’s stock has risen higher among the people and it can look forward to a decisive victory in the parliamentary elections next year. In contrast, the MDC’s star has dimmed. Its stance on the land question has, to the disappointment of imperialism and the former owners of large commercial farms, become ambivalent – to say the least. Initially it promised to bring clarity and transparency into the land resettlement programme. That has become irrelevant, since the government itself executed the programme with clarity and transparency. Now that the land has been given to the black masses, as well as black commercial farmers, it would be suicidal for the MDC to promise to return land to the European settlers. So, in an interview with a South African newspaper, MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, stated recently that he would not give land back to Joe Bloggs who left Zimbabwe for Australia. On being asked whether he would return land to Joe Bloggs in Borough Dale (a rich residential area in Harare), he was at his wits’ end for an answer. This has made him unreliable for imperialism.
In any case, whatever the results in future elections, whatever the fate of the ZANU(PF) government and President Mugabe, the land resettlement in Zimbabwe is irreversible. Imperialism and its stooges are going to have to live with this reality. It is to the undying credit of ZANU(PF), in particular to its undisputed leader, President Mugabe, that they have solved this, the most difficult problem of the Zimbabwean people. Theirs is the first non-communist government, since the Great French Revolution of the late 18th Century, to have solved the land question in such a revolutionary way. Let imperialism and its stooges fulminate and heap abuse on ZANU(PF) and Robert Mugabe. The whole of progressive humanity has every reason to join the joyous masses of Zimbabwe on this historical occasion of their tumultuous return to their land – nay, to their country.
We cannot but associate ourselves with the following sentiments, expressed by President Mugabe during an interview with Cuban journalists in Harare on 15 March 2004; “We feel that our land has now been liberated. It is now the land of our people. It [the land] gives the people a sense of belonging and ownership”.
He added ominously: “The people love their soil. No amount of pressure – political, economic or military – would sway them and the government to relent on the land reforms which were now spreading to other countries in the region with similar land ownership disparities between white farmers and the indigenous blacks”.
Words like these, which frighten the daylights out of imperialism and its stooges, are a source of inspiration and encouragement for the expropriated black masses throughout southern Africa and beyond. This is what explains the popularity that President Mugabe enjoys throughout southern Africa, notwithstanding, or perhaps because of, his demonisation by imperialism. His government’s stance is a constant reminder to the black masses of South Africa, where 12 % of the population holds 80%of the land, that they too can solve the land question in their country through radical measures in the fashion of Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe and ZANU(PF) are thorns in the side of imperialism, for they never cease to remind their former colonisers that the original expropriation of the land of the people of Zimbabwe took place, not on the basis of the willing seller/willing buyer principle, so dear to them today, but through greed, fraud, deceit, extortion, trickery, violence and conquest, which in some instances ended in the near total extermination of the local people. Anglo-American imperialism works itself into a frenzied rage over Zimbabwe, for the simple reason that President Mugabe and his regime, questioning the very legitimacy of the colonial conquest, never cease to assert that what was conquered and stolen by the sword must return to the people of Zimbabwe – by the sword if necessary.
In his 18 April 2004 speech at the National Sports Stadium, marking the 24th anniversary of Zimbabwe’s Independence, President Mugabe outlined his government’s programmes and achievements during the preceding four years. These range from continued efforts at electrification of the countryside, irrigation projects, rural infrastructure (clinics, schools and water supply facilities), to the development of the mining sector and tourism, and a national housing delivery programme. He laid special emphasis on fighting HIV/Aids pandemic, which he described as, “by far the biggest challenge facing the country”. He referred to the intensified public education and awareness programmes, the distribution of funds from a National Aid Levy, the allocation by the government of 10 billion Zimbabwean dollars for fighting AIDS, and the availability of affordable anti-retroviral drugs – with Harare and Mpilo Central Hospitals leading the way. The reality obviously is very different from the myths propagated by the imperialist rumour mill, especially the BBC, which unashamedly churns out half-truths and straightforward lies in regard to Zimbabwe.
Referring to the corruption prevalent in some sectors of the economy, and the need to fight this cancer vigorously, he went on: “Our economy has been badly bruised by some in our midst given to greed and corrupt practices. The situation that has been obtaining in the financial sector is simply disgusting and has required a very robust response. Equally, the mining sector has shown serious lapses in integrity. For more than five years, our gold was being smuggled out of the country through a well-organised racket of international criminals. We have had incidents involving theft of our platinum and nickel export consignments in South Africa, which clearly smack of organised pillage.
“Millions in foreign currency have been externalised through a variety of fraudulent activities practised by highly placed people we had trusted to manage our economy. Now we are very clear that far from deserving our trust, these fraudulent and thoroughly dishonest people are the real enemies of our country and people, whose place and permanent home is the prison.
“We shall continue to bring them to book and no person who robs this country should be allowed to get away with it. In the drive to end corruption, no one will be too big or too small. The law is rough with criminals, and we shall shed no tears for them.”
The greatest achievement of the Zimbabwean government over the last four years has, doubtless, been the completion of the land resettlement programme. “The last four years”, said Mr Mugabe, “presented a number of challenges and real trials for our country. Yet they have been years also of break-throughs arising from our firm and indomitable stand on matters of national sovereignty and economic freedom, the high point being the fulfilment of our liberation war goal of recovering and regaining the ownership and control of our land, and distributing it to our people.
“Expectedly, this far-reaching policy has not endeared us to those countries of the West, led by Britain and America, forcibly linked to us by the cruel history of colonial occupation and other forms of imperial plunder”.
To the great annoyance of imperialism, but to a thunderous applause from the 70,000 people listening to him at the Stadium, and to the applause of progressive humanity the world over, he added:
“We will not compromise our principles of freedom and national sovereignty, no matter who gets upset. Zimbabwe is not for the convenience and pleasure of any country, less still of adventurous bloodthirsty and domineering neo-colonialists. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again! Never, never ever!”
The Zimbabwe government of President Mugabe has set a brilliant example, which other countries in southern Africa are bound to follow sooner or later. History will record the not inconsiderable contribution made by the government of President Mugabe, and the people of Zimbabwe, to the struggle of the peoples of the world against the legacy of colonialism and against imperialist attempts at intimidation and subjugation of small nations.
In writing this article the author is indebted to the following sources, on which he relied for a great deal of the information here presented:
The Report of the Presidential Land Review Committee, under the chairmanship of the former Cabinet Secretary, Dr Charles Utete, August 2003.
Zimbabwe’s Land Reform Programme (The Reversal of Colonial Land Occupation and Domination): Its Impact on the country’s regional and international relations. Paper presented by Dr I.S.G. Mudenge, Zimbabwe Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the Conference ‘The Struggle Continues’, held in Harare, 18-22 April 2004.
‘Western Socialists’ Views of Ex-Liberation Movements’, also by Dr Mudenge at the above Conference.
‘Land Reform: The Zimbabwean Experience’, paper presented by Dr J.M.M. Made, to the above Conference
Several articles from the Zimbabwean Sunday Mirror by Dr I. Mandaza, who writes in that paper under the pseudonym of Scrutator.
Conversations with Paul Vanlerberghe, a Belgian comrade who has lived in Zimbabwe for over a decade.