Is it over for Robert Mugabe, the 93 year old dictator of Zimbabwe? Because on 15-11-2017, the army of Zimbabwe took control over the country. They raided the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and declared that Mugabe and his family were ‘’safe’’. This could mean that the army has ended the regime of one of the most hypocritical dictatorial leaders of Africa. Mugabe and his Zimbabwean African National Union – Patriotic Front, came to power in 1980. Back then the party was revolutionary leftist on the Stalinist top down model. When that system failed, Mugabe introduced austerity and social cuts. The worst came after 2000, when the economy fully collapsed after years of mismanagement by corrupt ZANU-PF bureaucrats. The old dictator played on systematic oppression to remain in power. His rhetoric is anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, but the working class of Zimbabwe is oppressed, exploited and enslaved by people like Robert Mugabe and his elitist family!
The Republic of Zimbabwe is a very poor and unequal nation. Poverty and mass inequality are the result of massive government corruption created by the Zimbabwean African National Union – Patriotic Front, the party of Robert Mugabe. Like the African National Congress in South Africa, ZANU-PF started as a national liberation movement against white minority rule. Mugabe used many elements of Maoism in his struggle. This is why the People’s Republic of China was his biggest supporter. The Soviet-Union did not fully supported ZANU, their ideological ally was another liberation movement called the Zimbabwean African People’s Union (ZAPU). It is an irony that Mugabe’s ZANU was a split from the original ZAPU in 1963!
During the 60’s and 70’s both ZANU and ZAPU fought the regime of Ian Smith, the white leader of Rhodesia. At its peak in 1979, white people made up 8% of the population. They however controlled all means of production, all political offices and were in control of the army. The black majority was not allowed to vote nor to keep high functions in the government. This racist mentality came from classic British white supremacy, because Rhodesia used to be British until 1965. White minority rule lasted only 15 years and in 1979, Ian Smith was forced to step down. During the transitional period, the country was named Rhodesia-Zimbabwe. On 18 April 1980, the Republic of Zimbabwe was born with Robert Mugabe as prime minister. His ZANU won 63% of the votes with ZAPU coming second with 24%!
The two national liberation movements could not work together. Sectarian violence soon started between the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANU) and the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZAPU). Mugabe’s government favored his own army over that of rival ZAPU and with the conflict against Rhodesia over, thousands of guerrilla fighters were just left alone. Mugabe promised them that they would be integrated into the new Zimbabwean National Army. But ZAPU members claimed that ZANU did not treated them as equals. Angered by the slow process, some ex-guerrilla solders started to attack and murder white people, out of frustration and the fact that Mugabe kept most wealth in white hands. The murder of white farmers led to a exodus of ethnic whites from Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe did little to stop the ethnic violence. He used the terror attacks by the former Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army as a excuse to purge his government of ZAPU members!
On 3 January 1983, the Mugabe government started a campaign that would eliminate ZAPU as a political force. In four years the government killed many opposition members mainly from ZAPU. In Zimbabwe this is called Gukurahundi. Responsible for the killings were the soldiers from the Zimbabwean Fifth Brigade, made up of ZANU supporters. At the end of the 1980’s, the Zimbabwean African People’s Union was destroyed. Its remnants agreed on joining with ZANU to form the Zimbabwean African National Union – Patriotic Front. Although Mugabe claimed the ex-ZAPU members would be given equal saying, the new party was in fact just ZANU under a new name!
The politics of the Mugabe government were based on African-socialism. A mixture of social conservatism and Stalinist like bureaucratic top-down management of the economy. Workers were not given any political nor economic control. Although Mugabe created a strong welfare system his governments became famous for wasteful spending. As the 1980’s ended, Zimbabwe was in deep debt. Western capitalists blamed it on socialism and told Mugabe that he must enforce austerity cuts. In 1990 the ruling caste of ZANU-PF agreed that their ”socialist” model failed. Now the government started with austerity and privatizations of state enterprises, many of them sold to top government officials who became the new capitalist class. This led to a series of strikes and demonstrations of workers, who rejected Robert Mugabe as a traitor, which he was. Police brutality was enforced and there were many clashes. By now the political system of Zimbabwe had changed from a parliamentary state to a presidential state. Mugabe became president on 22 December 1987 and introduced a presidential system. Parliament’s powers were reduced and Mugabe took the office of President of the Republic of Zimbabwe!
ZANU-PF needed to keep many ex-members of the former Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army on their side. This is why Mugabe started with massive expropriation of white farmers after the year 2000. These farm-lands were given to many former guerrilla fighters, who lacked any knowledge of farming. It resulted in the fact that the nation was forced to import food, a scandal since Zimbabwe used to be a top producer of grain. Mugabe did not cared that millions were suffering from malnutrition. Zimbabwe is ruled by fear and working class people learned not to speak out against the dicator. Meanwhile the ruling family is enjoying a luxurious life. Grace Mugabe is the (by now former) first lady of the country and an elitist bitch. Robert Mugabe was 40 years old when she was born, which means the two have a huge age gap. Their youngest son loves to spend money and is the face of this elitist family. Chatunga Bellarmine Mugabe is 20 years old and not afraid to tell the world that he is a spoiled brat. His mother; Grace, even used planes from Air Zimbabwe to fly her to Paris and London, for shopping trips!
Meanwhile most workers live in poverty. This poverty is unnecessary, but in the Kingdom of Mugabe only the capitalist class and his own family enjoy luxury and wealth. In 2003 over 63% of the country was living in poverty, a huge increase from 1990 when only 25% was regarded as poor. Zimbabwe did not started as a poor country back in 1980. It is made poor because of ZANU-PF, a party is still using anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist rhetoric to claim legitimacy as a revolutionary force. But no worker in Zimbabwe truly believes that the party is socialist or leftist. Political loyalism is the main reason why many former national liberation parties remain in power. Working class people in Africa are very loyal to parties who liberated them from white supremacy. We see the same thing in South Africa and Namibia. Despite that the national liberation parties betrayed socialism and the working class, the majority of people keep voting for these pro-capitalist formations. Why? Because loyalism is a high regard in Africa!
Revolutionary Socialist Media calls on African workers not to vote for either the ANC in South Africa, SWAPO in Namibia and ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe. These political parties may have started out as socialist and revolutionary, but no socialist countries have been build by them. ANC and SWAPO choose not to introduce socialism and ZANU-PF’s version of socialism has no meaning anymore since the 1990’s. Old Mugabe has lost touch with reality. Like all long living dictators this is common. Absolute power always corrupts and Robert Mugabe is a prime example of this. His anti-imperialist rhetoric is a show as Zimbabwe has already moved towards capitalism. The American dollar and European euro are now the country’s currency after the Zimbabwean dollar collapsed in April 2009!
Working class Zimbabweans need a political force that can overthrown the state-bureaucracy of ZANU-PF. They cannot trust pro-capitalist opposition forces like the splintered: Movement for Democracy Change. In the current undemocratic climate there can be no peaceful resistance. Because the police and army have always been used by ZANU-PF and Mugabe to crush any form of opposition. This is why a revolution in Zimbabwe must be ready to use force and violence. It is foolish to think that the caste that kept Robert Mugabe in power for so long will let go of its privileges. Like the Russian ruling class of 1917, who formed the White Armies to destroy the rule of soviets, Mugabe’s circle will use force to defend its wealth. Workers need to unite in a force like the Bolshevik Party of Lenin, who was able to organize and defend the socialist revolution against counterrevolutionary terror!
What will the military do? The last reports indicate that Grace Mugabe has fled and Robert Mugabe is under house arrest. On television the soldiers claim to respect the 93 year old dictator, a man who has destroyed Zimbabwe. Mugabe is the face of inequality, corruption and oppression. He deserves nothing but our rejected and hatred. Revolutionary socialists do not side with the military, because we known that these generals and their officers all benefited from the old dictator. Police and army were always paid good by the Mugabe family. Those who carried out the coup on 15 November 2017, choose to remove the old man and put forward the exiled vice president as interim president. This 75 year old was purged by Robert Mugabe to make room for his wife, to succeed him as president and supreme leader.
It is ironic that the military choose to support former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. A man who was loyal to Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF. It seems more likely that Grace Mugabe organized the downfall of Mnangagwa. With support from ZANU-PF’s youth and woman’s wing, she was planning on becoming the next great leader. Old Robert himself is already losing his mental abilities. This is why he made sure that Grace entered the political arena in 2014. In that year she was put on ZANU-PF’s Politburo. Mnangagwa was removed to make room for Grace Mugabe, but it is now clear that the Zimbabwean National Army did not agreed with this. They feared that with the death of Robert Mugabe, his wife would keep the family in power. The generals might have supported the old man, but to pledge loyalty to Grace Mugabe was a bridge to far for this male chauvinist institution!
Marxists from the Workers And Socialist Party in South Africa call for a socialist Zimbabwe to be build.
Here we publish their positions on the events!
– Reject Mugabe! Reject the generals! No to dictatorship – civilian or military. Demand a trial of Mugabe and his cronies.
– The working class and poor must take the future of Zimbabwean society into their own hands. This demands a government of workers and small farmers. To prepare for this build mass democratic action committees of workers, youth, the unemployed, small traders and small farmers in every area to elect a transitional authority to lay the foundation for elections to a future government of workers and small farmers.
– Such a government must have a program to end low-pay, poverty and unemployment. decisions on the movement of goods, the running of services and other key decisions about the running of society Mass democratic committees of the Zimbabwean workers, small farmers and the poor to take; seize the assets of Mugabe, the generals, Zanu-PF and other regime leaders, placing them under the control of the action committees.
– Defend the people! Action committees to organise accountable and democratically controlled self-defence units to protect protests and activists from regime intimidation and violence; build action committees of rank-and-file police officers, soldiers and air personnel. Elect rank-and-file leaders and spokespeople and take no orders from regime-linked officers! Build links with the action committees of the people for a united struggle.
– No trust in the imperialist dominated anti-working class UN, AU or SADC. Build links with the working class across Southern Africa. Outside of Zimbabwe organise action committees in all Zimbabwean diaspora communities building strong links with local communities and working class and youth organisations. United struggle against xenophobia. Fight for migrants rights. Organise migrant workers in the trade union movement.
– Workers and young people to take the lead in building a mass revolutionary party to struggle for a socialist Zimbabwe.