For a decade now, President Mugabe has been demonised as an unscrupulous dictator by the imperialist propaganda machine, and the ZANU(PF) government of Zimbabwe has been routinely referred to during these years as a lawless and uncivilised administration, constituting a threat to regional stability. To use the words of Margaret Thatcher, a former British prime minister, from being “the perfect African gentleman”, Robert Mugabe has been transformed by the imperialist lie machine into the devil incarnate, a power-hungry dictator and a white-hating racist. What lies behind this 180 degree turn in the attitude of the imperialist powers towards Mr Mugabe and his party, ZANU(PF), and his government? The answer lies in the following:
1. First, after having suffered their devastating effects for years, the Zimbabwean government in August 1999 decided to reject the Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) advocated by the World Bank/IMF combine.
2. Second, the Zimbabwean government’s dispatch of troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to aid the progressive Kabila government’s fight against US-backed invasion by Rwanda and Uganda (in which 3 million Congolese perished) managed to upset the US and other imperialist powers.
3. Third, when after Tony Blair’s Labour government decisively reneged on the British government’s promise, given during the Lancaster House Conference that led to Rhodesia’s decolonisation, to aid the Zimbabwean government financially to enable it to buy out white land owners, President Mugabe’s government decided to expropriate the white landowners, all hell let loose.
Since then, the imperialist campaign of vilification of Robert Mugabe and ZANU(PF) has been unrelenting. This campaign is ratcheted up and reaches a crescendo each time elections are held in Zimbabwe. So it was during the parliamentary and presidential elections at the end of March (29th), earlier this year. In the run up to these elections, we were told by the imperialist misinformation agencies and imperialist statesmen alike that Mugabe was determined to steal the elections; that these elections were just an exercise in rigging the result; that in the conditions prevailing in Zimbabwe, free and fair elections were simply an impossibility.
All the same, the elections were held in the most peaceful of conditions and the results surprised ZANU(PF) and imperialism alike. ZANU(PF) lost the parliamentary election, while President Mugabe trailed behind the MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, by a margin of 4 percentage points. With no candidate securing the requisite 51%, the run-off second round was scheduled for 27 June.
Run-off presidential election
After a great deal of dithering, Morgan Tsvangirai decided to contest the second round of the presidential poll. However, Mugabe’s party, jolted out of its complacency by the results of the March election, galvanised itself into action by mobilising tents of thousands of its supporters to connect with the Zimbabwean masses, while Tsvangirai busied himself on a lengthy foreign tour. On his return to Zimbabwe, he was horrified to discover that ZANU(PF) had recovered much of the ground it had lost earlier. In view of this, he and his imperialist masters orchestrated a virulent campaign against ZANU(PF), alleging that the latter was guilty of practising violence against the MDC, that the Zimbabwean state was guilty of using the police and armed forces in a campaign of terror against the opposition, 70 of whose supporters, it was alleged, had been killed.
None of this barrage of imperialist lies cut any ice with the Zimbabwean masses, who had no difficulty in realising that in the majority of cases violence was being instigated by the MDC against ZANU(PF) supporters. The government does not look kindly on anyone – ZANU or MDC – using violence. This is why the police have arrested 390 MDC and 156 ZANU supporters for using violence.
One of the tactics adopted by the MDC has been to steal and don ZANU(PF) regalia, to steal campaign material, before disrupting their own rallies solely in the interests of creating conditions for intervention by imperialism in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe. The MDC claimed that ZANU(PF) had disrupted an opposition rally to be held in Harare on Sunday 22 June. This is a stronghold of the opposition. In the circumstances, would ZANU want to expose its supporters to the tender mercies of the MDC hooligans at such an event?
Tsvangirai pulls out
Perceiving that the MDC’s anti-Mugabe campaign of malicious lies, backed to the hilt by imperialism, was not working, and facing a humiliating electoral defeat at the hands of President Mugabe, Tsvangirai on Sunday 22 June withdrew from the presidential run-off, citing violence by Mugabe supporters as the reason for his decision. He said “We will no longer participate in this violent sham of an election”, adding that “we can’t ask the people to cast their vote on June 27 when that vote will cost their lives”. This is a bizarre accusation.
Millions of Zimbabweans voted for the opposition in March this year without any harm coming to them. Why should it be different this time? The MDC has a majority in parliament; its parliamentarians go about their business without any interference or harassment. Leading spokesmen of the MDC hold public meetings and press conferences in the centre of Harare at which they routinely speak of President Mugabe in the most abusive of terms and call for his overthrow. This being the case, why should any Zimbabwean feel threatened for exercising, in complete secrecy, his right to vote for any candidate of his own choosing?
Tsvangirai’s decision, announced through a press statement instead of in a letter to the Electoral Commission (ZEC), was timed to coincide with the United States’ chairmanship of the UN Security Council with a view to getting the Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the Zimbabwean presidential run-off as being flawed. The following day, in a melodramatic move, he took shelter in the Dutch Embassy in Harare, alleging that he feared for his life. However, since then he has been reported to have been moving in and out of his sanctuary, giving press conferences, while his supporters have been distributing his election material calling on the voters to vote for him. Although on Tuesday 24 June he sent a letter to Justice Chiweshe, chairman of the ZEC, notifying him of his withdrawal from the contest, the ZEC is going ahead with the run-off on Friday 27 June, for Tsvangirai’s withdrawal notification was too late, and therefore a nullity under Zimbabwean law.
Imperialism piles on pressure
Refusing to accept facts, imperialism, led by the US, continues to pile pressure on Zimbabwe. It managed to get the Security Council at its meeting of 23 June to pass a unanimous resolution calling for the scrapping of the second round of the presidential election in Zimbabwe as the conditions for a free and fair election were absent, allegedly because of campaign of violence and restrictions on the opposition. The Security Council further expressed concern over the impact of the crisis on the region – in an obvious attempt at laying the basis for future intervention in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe on the pretext of the situation there constituting a threat to regional stability.
Levy Mwanawasa, President of Zambia and the current chairman of the 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), at the prompting of the gang of imperialist bloodsuckers pretending to be the ‘international community’ was forced to say that the situation in Zimbabwe is “a matter of serious embarrassment to all of us” and that it would be “scandalous for SADC to remain silent”.
Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, who acted for years as an errand boy in what has become the colonial office of imperialism since the collapse of the Soviet Union, namely the UN, has weighed in with the assertion that a “victor emerging from such a flawed process will have no legitimacy to govern Zimbabwe”.
The favourite black parson of imperialism, Desmond Tutu, has called for sanctions against Zimbabwe to force President Mugabe out of office. Jacob Zuma, the current leader of the ruling ANC and likely next President of South Africa, obviously in an effort to placate the US and Britain and to make sure that these two bloodthirsty and tyrannical imperialist powers don’t put obstacles in the way of him succeeding Thabo Mbeki, has felt obliged to join the herd baying for President Mugabe’s blood and has said that the situation in Zimbabwe “has gone out of hand, out of control,” when he knows fully well that this is not the case.
Even more shamefully, COSATU, the South African trade union federation, has issued a statement demanding that leaders in neighbouring states “withdraw their recognition of a ‘government’ that has no mandate but is clinging to power”. The blatant falsity of this statement can be gauged from the fact that COSATU dared to make this statement before the conduct of the run-off election. Since no candidate secured the 51% share of the votes cast in the presidential election of March, thus making way for the second round, what, besides a combination of malice, ignorance and short-sightedness, made COSATU so bold as to characterise Robert Mugabe’s government as being bereft of a mandate – even going to the contemptible length of putting inverted commas around the word government?
Even Nelson Mandela, in London in connection with celebrations for his 90th birthday, arranged by the very imperialist circles who connived with his persecution and imprisonment for 27 years by the South African apartheid regime, and who never tired of calling him a terrorist, felt pressurised to say that the situation in Zimbabwe was a “tragic failure of leadership”. These four words of his are now being repeated by every imperialist news agency and media outlet throughout the world.
All this to the accompaniment of the characterisation of Robert Mugabe as a brutal dictator, a tyrant, a despot and an autocrat, and calls for the expulsion of Zimbabwe from the African Union and SADC, as well as the trial of President Mugabe before some kangaroo court set up by imperialism to try and convict those whose only crime is to oppose imperialist brigandage and act to safeguard the sovereignty and independence of their respective countries.
It is just as well that the leadership of ZANU comprises a sufficient number of men and women possessed of nerves of steel, who are able to stand steadfast in the face of tremendous imperialist pressures brought to bear on it. In response to the unreasonable demands made on Zimbabwe by imperialism and its African henchmen, President Mugabe has firmly stated that SADC exists simply as a forum for the various countries concerned to operate in it, “however, those who seek to impose themselves on us and make idiotic noises would not bother us”. He added: “We are a sovereign nation and the elections are ours. We will accept judgment on the basis of objectivity. If you harbour any ulterior motives then keep your judgment to yourself. The verdict is ours as the people of Zimbabwe They can shout as loud as they want from Washington and London, but our people will deliver the verdict.”
Making it perfectly clear that his government will not tolerate interference from any quarter and that Zimbabweans alone will decide whether the election is free and fair, that Zimbabwe was ready to repel and resist any threat or hint of interference by outsiders in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe, Mr Mugabe expressed surprise at the fact that some African countries had failed to appreciate the difficulties that Zimbabwe has had to face because of illegal sanctions imposed on it by imperialism. He went on to point to the lamentable and shameful fact that “not a single African country has been bold enough to say that illegal sanctions imposed by the West should be lifted or tell them not to interfere in our internal affairs. If we can allow that to happen then as Africa we are not independent”, adding that, for its part, Zimbabwe refuses to be subjected to such domination and humiliating treatment. (The above quotations of Robert Mugabe are taken from Xinhua of 25 June 2002).
Furies of private interest
Imperialism is orchestrating a veritable campaign against Robert Mugabe and his party, ZANU(PF), under the guise of democracy, rule of law and good governance – all the concepts which were completely alien to Rhodesia, whose white minority, with full support from imperialism, ruled with a rod of iron and indulged in the wholesale theft of the Zimbabwean people’s land. It was ZANU(PF), under the leadership of Robert Mugabe, that waged an armed revolutionary liberation struggle which brought to Zimbabwe, for the first time in nearly a century, not just the concepts but the practice of democracy, the rule of law and good governance. Zimbabwe is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa which, since its liberation in 1980, has regularly and punctually held parliamentary and presidential elections, in which the opposition parties regularly take part, and in which the government by no means has the monopoly of the media.
If in spite of all this imperialism still continues to target and victimise Zimbabwe, the reason for this is that the Zimbabwean leadership alone in Africa has taken the bold step of expropriating the tiny white minority of farmers who, or whose ancestors, had stolen the Zimbabwean people’s land at gunpoint. In this context, one cannot fail to recall the following profound observation of Marx:
“In the domain of political economy, free scientific enquiry meets not merely the same enemies as in all other domains. The peculiar nature of the material it deals with summons as foes into the field of battle the most violent, mean and malignant passions of the human breast, the Furies of private interest. The English established church, for example, will more readily pardon an attack on 38 of its 39 articles than on 1/39th of its income. Nowadays atheism itself is culpa levis [a minor sin] compared to the criticism of property relations” (Preface to the first edition of Capital, Vol 1).
It is the Furies of private interest which have roused the most violent, mean and malignant passions in the breasts of the imperialist gentry and which continue to inform its attitude, policy and actions towards the Zimbabwean authorities who had the temerity to look after the interests of their own people by expropriating a handful of descendants of the bigtime thieves of the Zimbabwean people’s land. Further, this same gentry are petrified at the prospect of Zimbabwe’s example infecting other parts of Africa, especially South Africa. It is this that motivates imperialism’s propaganda crusade, filled with hatred, vituperative invective, as well as economic sanctions, against Zimbabwe.
By the device of sheer repetition of lies, in the fashion of Nazi propaganda chief Dr Goebbels, the imperialists even manage to fool the people by exploiting their gullibility and ignorance for, in the words of the great German poet, Goethe, “The man in the street does not notice the devil even when the devil is holding him by the throat”.
Imperialism is precisely the devil incarnate which is holding the people of the world by the throat. And it is the job of the revolutionaries to make people conscious of this fact, to make them recognise the devil and fight to destroy it. At the present, this task should not be so difficult as Anglo-American imperialism is busy consummating a gigantic genocide in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. Even if, for the sake of argument, one were to accept (and we certainly do not accept) as true the accusation put forward by the imperialist politicians and the mercenary journalist fraternity – the Jeremy Paxmans, Kirsty Warks, John Humphryses and dozens of other lickspittles, whose wallets are stuffed with imperialist loot – that nearly 80 Zimbabweans have been killed through state-supported violence during the present election campaign in Zimbabwe, what is this figure in comparison with the 1.5 million Iraqis slaughtered, 4 million displaced, the wholesale destruction of the Iraqi economy and its infrastructure, the misery, unemployment and destitution visited on the population of that country since 2003? What is this figure when set against the daily massacres of the Afghans by the imperialist armies of aggression, or the massacres daily perpetrated by the Israeli Zionists against the Palestinian people, whose country has been stolen from them and who are now being collectively punished and starved for daring to resist the colonial occupiers of their country?
One would have thought that these self-appointed guardians of truth and a free press would have some very tough questions with which to face the political leaders of imperialism, who are engaged in massive campaigns of extermination, death and destruction, in our name, instead of picking on those in the oppressed countries who are trying their best to lift their peoples from the poverty and destitution bequeathed to them by decades of colonial slavery and exploitation.
On the same day that Tsvangirai withdrew from the presidential contest, The Sunday Times broke the news that the British forces in Afghanistan have used thermobaric Hellfire missiles, one of the world’s most deadly and controversial weapons, to fight the Afghan resistance. The use of this weapon, which creates a pressure wave that sucks the air out of victims and shreds their internal organs and crushes their bodies, is condemned by human rights groups as brutal. This weapon is so controversial “that MoD weapons and legal experts spent 18 months debating whether British troops could use them without breaking international law” in the end deciding “to get round the ethical problems by redefining’ the weapon, calling it “an enhanced blast weapon” rather than a thermobaric one, which is what it is. One would have thought this was a significant piece of news to attract the attention of our media and journalists, with their professed concern for truth, human rights, the rule of law and accountability of governments for their actions. But no. As was to be expected, this news fell on deaf ears and was greeted with deafening silence. And this for the simple reason that giving publicity to this item, far from serving it, instead harms the interests of imperialism by portraying it in its true colours and bringing into the open the daily barbarity so characteristic of it. Our mercenary journalists know it. So they prefer to look the other way, concentrating instead on imaginary outrages in Zimbabwe, Tibet or anywhere else.
It is the duty of the proletariat, and their revolutionary vanguard parties in the centres of imperialism, to expose this hypocrisy and double standards of the imperialist spokesmen – politicians and journalists alike; to expose the crimes of imperialism. It is equally their duty to defend the rights of the oppressed people to resist imperialist bullying, exploitation, domination and aggression. It is for this reason alone that Lalkar, in its capacity as an anti-imperialist journal published in the world’s oldest imperialist country, while denouncing imperialism’s attempts to effect regime change in Zimbabwe by replacing a proud nationalist revolutionary like Robert Mugabe with a servile lackey such as Tsvangirai, is proud to stand side by side with Robert Mugabe and ZANU(PF), to defend them against the campaign of lies and slander propelled by the Furies of private interest of the robber barons of finance capital.