On 31 July 2013, Zimbabwe held its presidential and parliamentary elections. Two days later (3 August) the results were announced by Zimbabwe’s Electoral Commission declaring that, while the presidential election had been won by the veteran leader, Robert Mugabe, the contest for the National Assembly had decisively gone to his party – ZANU(PF).
In the presidential race Robert Mugabe received 61% of the vote, while his opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T), secured 34%, with the breakaway MDC of Welshman Ncube getting nearly 3% and two other candidates managing less than 1% each.
As for the parliamentary poll, ZANU(PF) emerged victorious with a massive majority – 160 seats out of 210, while the MDC-T managed to secure just 49 seats. The strength of ZANU(PF) in the newly-elected National Assembly enables it to change the constitution, if need be, without the support of other parties. ZANU made surprising inroads into what were traditional MDC strongholds.
To the chagrin of imperialism and its Zimbabwean puppets, the results of the elections were endorsed as transparent, free and fair by election observers from the African Union (AU) and the regional trade bloc, the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Although, for reasons of their visceral hatred of President Mugabe’s government, the observers from the imperialist countries were not allowed in, the AU and SADC had been accredited with an extensive presence to monitor the conduct of the elections. To the further annoyance of the various imperialist powers, South African president Jacob Zuma, following the endorsement of the result by the AU and SADC, sent his profound congratulations to Robert Mugabe on his fifth electoral victory in a row.
Both ZANU(PF) and MDC-T had entered the contest full of confidence in their respective side’s victory. Tsvangirai even went to the extent of invoking the authority of the Almighty to assert that he was bound to win against Mr Mugabe this time. Launching his campaign in the eastern city of Marondera, he boasted that the election would bring to an end the 33-year rule of Robert Mugabe, telling his supporters that it was God’s will that MDC-T should win this time, forgetting that it takes more than faith, enthusiasm and prayers to win against an impressive figure like Robert Mugabe, who survived brutal colonial rule, a bloody guerrilla war, attempts without number to unseat him, as well as innumerable plots physically to liquidate him.
Robert Mugabe, too, entered the contest sure of winning and full of ideas to offer to the electorate. In a rare interview on the eve of the election, he dealt with concerns about his age in the following terms: ” The 89 years don’t mean anything. They haven’t changed me, have they? They haven’t withered me. They haven’t made me senile yet. No. I still have ideas, ideas that need to be accepted by my people”.
What is more, he promised to accept the result, even if he lost – something that his opponent has always refused to commit to.
Twice as many people voted in this election as in the one held in 2008. According to the figures of the Election Commission, Robert Mugabe benefited most from the flood of new voters. The total number of votes cast in his favour doubled, while the level of electoral support for Tsvangirai remained the same as before.
No sooner had the election results been announced than the MDC-T, as well as spokesmen of imperialism, chimed in with accusations of electoral fraud on the part of the winning party. To MDC-T and its imperialist patrons, every election is fraudulent and rigged unless Robert Mugabe and his ZANU(PF) lose.
“It was a sham election that does not reflect the will of the people”, asserted Tsvangirai, who obviously is as little acquainted with the will of the Zimbabwean people as he is with the will of God. He added: “In our view, that election is null and void”. Speaking at a press conference at his residence, he asserted in hysterical and hyperbolic tones that ” the fraudulent and stolen election has plunged Zimbabwe into a constitutional, political and economic crisis”. He knows fully (and if he does not, one has reason to doubt his mental stability) that following these elections there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, for these elections have gone a long way towards laying to rest any constitutional and political crisis, as well as providing the right conditions for carrying forward the economic achievements made by the country in the face of non-stop imperialist demonization of Robert Mugabe’s government and the economic sanctions to which Zimbabwe has been subjected.
Tsvangirai demanded a new election so that Zimbabweans could “freely and fairly elect a government of their choice” – and this after an election in which the Zimbabweans freely, fairly and decisively elected a president and a National Assembly of their choice!
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, who is busy effecting regime changes in countries whose governments dare to pursue independent economic and foreign policies in defiance of the imperialist diktat, has naturally thrown his government’s weight behind Tsvangirai with this assertion: ” In light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by local and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results announced … represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people”.
One is at a loss to know which regional observers, allegedly reporting substantial electoral irregularities, Kerry has in mind, for the AU and SADC have endorsed the election results. The truth is that, as the foreign secretary of the most powerful imperialist power, Mr Kerry is hankering after domination, not freedom. He is no more bothered by such a triviality as the will of the Zimbabwean people than he is bothered by the will of the Syrian people who have been subjected for over two years to a horrendous slaughter unleashed by US imperialism, its junior imperialist partners, and its stooges in the Middle East, from Turkey to the medieval relics of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, through several fundamentalist outfits and purveyors of obscurantism and jihadist terrorism. If to the likes of Mr Kerry these human-organ eating cannibals represent the will of the Syrian people, it goes without saying that neither the Zimbabwean government of Robert Mugabe, nor the Syrian regime headed by president Bashar-al-Assad measure up to the high standards of democracy set by US imperialism. The refusal of regimes like these to bow down to the demands of imperialism evidently makes them inherently incapable of representing the will of their people, howsoever clearly expressed.
Mark Malloch Brown, a former British minister for Africa and a former head of the UN Development Programme, writing in the Financial Times of 4 August 2013, without a shred of evidence accused the Zimbabwean government of tampering with the electoral rolls, as a result of which, he asserted, ” the opposition could have lost one million votes”. Further, in an election declared by all impartial observers to have been the most peaceful, fair, transparent and free, Brown claimed that the “…oppositionists were harassed and intimidated” – a claim not even made by the MDC-T.
But he has a problem, which he finds rather irksome, namely, that the AU observers’ chief, former Nigerian president Olesegun Obasamjo, has blessed the conduct of the election and, along with SADC, has endorsed the result. In endorsing the election result, the AU and SADC, he says, in a thinly disguised accusation of dishonesty levelled at them, that they have chosen stability over democracy.
Much more plausibly one could say that Brown and his ilk in the imperialist camp want neither democracy nor stability, neither of which they care a damn about in their pursuit of domination in every corner of the globe.
Stating that “development and freedom are not mutually exclusive”, as if anyone maintained otherwise – though doubtless Brown’s notions of freedom and democracy are merely a screen for denying real freedom and democracy to people waging a heroic struggle to free themselves from imperialist domination and exploitation – he goes on to express himself in the following optimistic, not to say threatening, vein: ” The new middle class, a feisty civil society [a euphemism for imperialist-funded NGOs that do the dirty work for imperialism in our times that was done by missionaries in an earlier period], and the disruptive power of the markets and capital will ultimately prevail over the stability-at-all-costs mindset that appears to have allowed Mr Mugabe to steal yet another election” (‘The dying art of stealing elections, Mugabe-style’).
Instead of hurling baseless accusations at the AU and SADC of allowing Robert Mugabe to steal yet another election, for Mr Mugabe has stolen neither this nor any earlier election, Mark Malloch Brown needs to get into his head the simple reality that Zimbabwe is not Rhodesia any more, ruled by a tiny minority of whites as the local representatives of British imperialism; that to reach the present state of affairs, the Zimbabwean people had to win their right to freedom through a bloody war of liberation in which several tens of thousands of Zimbabwean people lost their lives; that the right of Zimbabwe to exist as an independent state rests on this hard-won revolutionary struggle and not on some constitutional nicety introduced by British imperialism, let alone the goodwill of imperialist flunkeys in the mould of the Browns and Kerrys of this world.
President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF contest elections in Zimbabwe, not in Britain or the US. It is in Zimbabwe that they have to win. They win because they are popular with the people of Zimbabwe. And they are popular for two reasons: first, Robert Mugabe was the leader of the armed liberation struggle which resulted in the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980 from British imperialism and its surrogates – the white minority rulers of Rhodesia. As such he is held in high regard, and rightly so, not only in Zimbabwe but also in large parts of Africa. Not for nothing does he get rapturous applause on every occasion he makes an appearance before a large crowd in South Africa.
Second, by expropriating the tiny group of white farmers and restoring the land to its rightful owners, who were deprived of it at gunpoint by the colonialists, Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF have restored the most important means of livelihood, as well as self respect, dignity and pride to Zimbabwean people. This is now recognised even by those who are not at all well disposed towards Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF:
” Tens of thousands of families have benefited from Mr Mugabe’s land reform programme, under which white-owned farms were seized and transferred to black Zimbabweans”, wrote Mr Andrew England in the Financial Times of 2 August 2013 (‘Tsvangirai criticises election as farce’), as he tried to explain the support Robert Mugabe and his party command amongst the people of Zimbabwe.
Besides, far from the chaos which according to the imperialist media characterises the Zimbabwean economy, it is actually doing rather well. It grew by 10.5% in 2011 and by 4.6% last year, while this year it is expected to grow by 3.4% – more than the British economy is expected to grow over the next three years (see Andrew England, ‘Zimbabwe’s voters head for the polls’, Financial Times, 1 August 2013).
In this same article Mr England says that “the focus [in the election] for many is the poor state of the economy, as the country struggles to recover from years of economic chaos, in part triggered by Mr Mugabe’s land reforms that led to the seizure of white-owned farms”. However, not only does the alleged economic chaos not sit easily with the growing economy of which Mr England writes in the same article, but also is completely contradicted in the Financial Times of the following day (cited above) by the same Mr England, in which he speaks of thousands of families who “benefited from Mr Mugabe’s land reform programme…” Either it is a different Mr England who wrote the article of 2 August from the one who wrote the one on 1 August, or by 2 August he had forgotten what he had written the previous day, or he expects his readers of the 2 August article not to remember the content of the one written the day before.
Instead of writing about the economic chaos, Mr England and other members of the notorious imperialist journalist fraternity should be writing about imperialist attempts to throttle the Zimbabwean economy through a regime of imperialist sanctions. In the light of imperialist sanctions, Zimbabwe has reoriented its trade, commercial and industrial relations towards China, as a result of which it has managed to nullify western sanctions, while the soaring prices of minerals, such as diamonds, platinum, nickel and gold, have served to help the economy further still.
ZANU-PF has emerged from a very difficult period much strengthened. In the first round of the 2008 presidential election, Tsvangirai polled more votes than Robert Mugabe, a fact which jolted ZANU-PF out of its apathy and complacency. As a result it galvanised its support base for the second round, only to find that Tsvangirai, sensing that he would lose the re-run, refused to take part in it. As a result, Robert Mugabe won.
Tsvangirai had pinned his hopes to remove president Mugabe from office through a combination of pressure by the leading imperialist powers and members of SADC, especially South Africa. What actually transpired was a great disappointment to the imperialist powers who were bent upon regime change in Zimbabwe. In 2009, with the help of SADC, the two contenders agreed to form a unity government, with Robert Mugabe staying as president and Tsvangirai becoming prime minister, while the latter’s deputy, Tendai Biti, was given the finance portfolio.
During the 5 years of the unity government, while the economy strengthened and a new constitution was written and approved in a referendum, the MDC leadership was found to be mired in corruption and grown comfortable with the trappings of office. Various scandals and splits in its ranks further weakened the MDC, which was shown to have had no programme other than “Robert Mugabe must go”. It had nothing else to offer the electorate. Welshman Ncube, a former MDC leader, who has since 2005 led a smaller breakaway, also called the MDC, rejects ” a coalition of convenience, a coalition of opportunists”, whose main agenda is to remove Robert Mugabe rather than, as he puts it, to build a new Zimbabwe on the basis of “democratic values” that Tsvangirai does not share.
With the election out of the way, and the economy improving, ZANU-PF means to carry forward its indigenisation policy, requiring 51% of banks, mining companies, food, tobacco and other crucial enterprises to be owned locally. ” Now that the people of Zimbabwe have granted us a resounding mandate in the governance of the country”, says president Mugabe, “we will do everything in our power to ensure that our objective of total indigenisation, empowerment, development and employment is realised. This is our final phase of implementing the ideals of the liberation struggle” (quoted by Andrew England in ‘Africa – Mugabe undaunted’, Financial Times, 16 August 2013).
Saviour Kasukuwere, minister in charge of indigenisation, has correctly stated that this process of economically empowering the Zimbabwean people is ” meant to undo years of colonialism. If there is anybody scared, they had better stay away” (ibid.)
Far from scaring investors, driving foreign capital away, isolating Zimbabwe and being a hindrance to the progress of democracy, ZANU-PF’s electoral victory and its economic policies are bound to lay the basis for further economic consolidation and advances, and in the process promote real democracy by empowering the Zimbabwean people – economically and politically.
The latest electoral victories of Robert Mugabe and ZANU underline the utter failure of the attempts of imperialism and its stooges to effect regime change in Zimbabwe through economic sanctions and demonisation of the Zimbabwean regime on a grand scale.
We send our heartfelt greetings to Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF on the occasion of their historic victory and wish them further successes in the difficult, but noble, task of building a strong, prosperous, independent and proud Zimbabwe.