Sunday, March 12, 2006

Zimbabwe's MDC splits

I realise that not everyone shares my admiration for the comrades at Weekly Worker (shame on you all) but one thing that cannot be denied is that they have carried some really useful international comment (apart from on Scotland of course)

This week's paper carries an excellent article on Zimbabwe that none of the British press has reported as far as I can see. For your reading pleasure I have reprinted Munyaradzi Gwisai's piece (article originally from here )

The holding of a congress at the end of February by the Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Welshman Ncube and Gibson Sibanda, which included the election of officials, and the impending Tsvangirai faction congress, taken together, signal a permanent split.

The immediate reason was the insistence of the Ncube middle class faction to participate in last year?s senate elections, and the refusal of Tsvangirai, under pressure from below, to continue legitimising the regime though participation in rigged elections. However, the origins of the split are much deeper. They lie in the hijacking of the MDC by the middle classes and capitalists in 2000.

Under the leadership of Ncube, they used the money from western donors, NGOs and South African president Thabo Mbeki to commercialise the struggle, to boot out radical workers, activists and socialists and to reduce the role of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which had formed the party, to nil. They cancelled the 2000 December mass action in favour of elections, courts and western sanctions, fearful that the route of jambanja (protest action) would further radicalise the masses against both Mugabe and capitalism. They won control because the masses allowed themselves to be bribed by their money and failed to develop their own working people ideology which would see the party being led by workers themselves and fighting for the interests of working people against dictators, bosses and capitalists.

But by 2005, with the worsening economic crisis and the failure of the elections route threatening radicalised mass revolts, capitalist elite forces in both the MDC and the ruling Zanu-PF, supported by Mbeki, felt that they had to move rapidly, take control of their parties and strike a compromise deal, that would have sanctions lifted, accelerate the IMF's economic structural adjustment programme (Esap) under Gideon Gono, the governor of Zimbabwe's Central Bank, and stop the persecution of the MDC as a 'loyal opposition.' In Zanu-PF, middle class and capitalist forces around Joyce Mujuru, Joseph Msika and John Nkomo seized power after the failed attempt to stop Mujuru becoming vice-president in 2004. Fearful of past events in Serbia and Ukraine, they accelerated the drive for compromise with their colleagues in the MDC.

The army commander, general Constantine Chiwenga, concerned that Operation Murambatsvina ('Drive out trash' - expelling hundreds of thousands of 'unofficial' residents from their homes in 2005) had failed to destroy the spirit of resistance in the masses, pleaded with Gono and the politicians 'to do anything possible so that my soldiers won't have to meet hungry protestors in the streets'. To reach their Muzorewa-type settlement, it was necessary that in both parties radical and nationalist forces had to be crushed or removed. Thus in Zanu-PF the war veterans were silenced and placed under the army; Joseph Chinotimba and his Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (set up by Zanu-PF to rival the ZCTU) were castrated; middle class nationalists like Jonathan Moyo crushed and Mugabe, assured of both his political legacy and his personal and family's safety, promised to retire in 2008, to be replaced by the Mujuru-Nkomo faction, which is very close to the multinationals.

In the MDC the remnants of the radical trade unionists and activists were kicked out. Under Mbeki's tutelage, Ncube and David Coltart from the MDC and justice minister Patrick Chinamasa secretly drafted and signed a new constitution, which excluded persons without a degree from becoming president (ie, Tsvangirai). This is when Tsvangirai woke up and started fighting. Supported by the MDC rank and file, he called for a radical paradigm shift, including the boycott of elections, leading to the split.

Some say the re-entry into politics of former student radical Arthur Mutambara on the side of Ncube-Sibanda will have an impact. But he is now part of an MDC faction totally controlled by a middle class elite, committed to collaboration with the Zanu-PF dictatorship, including participating in fake elections under a rigged constitution. This is why they were given $8 billion by the government - released just in time for their congress! This is why Gift Chimanikire was rejected as president in favour of Mutambara, who has been away for 12 years and lacks a support base to control the party. His statement that he was opposed to participation in elections is just empty talk, for he did not fight for that position at the congress, nor was such a resolution passed. If he insists on this he will be immediately kicked out, which is why they have amended their constitution to say it is not the party president who will be its presidential candidate.

Secondly, despite his heroic leadership role in the 1980s struggles against dictatorship and Esap, the Mutambara of 2006 is a different person. He has abandoned the poor and working people and joined the side of the rich and capitalists. He has worked and continues to work in his own business for huge multinationals and international banks responsible for Esaps throughout Africa and the third world. He is trusted enough by USA and UK imperialists to work in their most sensitive institutions like the Nasa space agency.

In his acceptance speech, he outlined his vision of what he saw as the mandate of his generation - and it is one for the black elites and rich and not one for working people. His vision is no longer as it was in the 1980s in his student days, which was one of abolition of capitalist private property and the redistribution of wealth so that the poor may eat, have houses, land, education and a living wage. Now he talks of a vision of 'commercial farmers, innovative entrepreneurs, productive workers and creative managers' who will compete with other global capitalists in screwing the poor. Instead of redistribution of land to the poor peasants he now calls for title deeds in land, so that those who looted the farms are protected for ever. Unlike before when he used to denounce Esap, the IMF and so forth, today, like Gideon Gono, he supports the so-called New Partnership for Africa?s Development (Nepad) and calls for restoring ties with the 'international community' - ie, the IMF and multinationals and the Group of 8 led by Bush and Blair.
Mutambara is now part of the elite and exploiter classes who fear the jambanja of the masses - which is why Ncube and co invited him. This is a reality recognised even by the Financial Gazette, a front for Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation, which observed: 'Analysts and those who went to college with him, however, said despite his militant words, Mutambara was not going to be confrontational. He was looking for a compromise ?'

So does that mean the Tsvangirai faction is the solution? By calling for a paradigm shift and spearheading the boycott of the senate elections, including risking the split of the MDC, we commend Tsvangirai. However, we must not forget that it is Tsvangirai himself who played a key role in inviting into the MDC the middle classes and capitalists who ended up hijacking the party - and the party still continues to participate in municipal elections, after the boycott of senate elections. He must now correct this by spearheading the total clean-out of the MDC of remnants of such forces as capitalists like Eddie Cross and placing its leadership squarely back with tried and tested working people activists and leaders, who are ideologically clear. It is now time to make the talk of a paradigm shift reality, which entails the restoration of our vision of the late 1980s.

This means five key things:
  • A vision of democracy where the wealth of society is used to fulfil basic human needs like food, health, housing, education and leisure, and not the profits of the few capitalists. This requires that the wealth of society is democratically owned and controlled by the majority and not as the private property of the few. The IMF and Esap - ie, neoliberalism and capitalism - should be rejected.
  • No to continued participation in rigged elections, no to collaboration with the regime and capitalist-imperialist forces and yes to mass popular resistance - jambanja ndizvo! Current MPs, mayors and councillors should remain in office only as long as they are prepared to participate in and lead the jambanja.
  • Yes to resistance based on a Working People's Charter of Freedom demanding things like a living wage, right to strike, full subsidies for and reversal of the massive increases in costs of food, education, health, farming inputs, transport and housing; restoration of services like water, sewerage and electricity; an immediate end to payments to the IMF and international banks; jailing of those responsible for state murders, corruption and seizure of properties; redistribution of land to the poor and peasants; and a people-driven new constitution guaranteeing these rights and truly democratic elections.
  • No to commodification and commercialisation of the struggle and resistance. Yes to cadres and no to rented crowds and mercenaries!
  • The building of an effective engine to spearhead this popular resistance: namely a united democratic front of the Tsvangirai MDC and all radical and democratic forces and social movements, modelled on the United Democratic Front in South Africa in the 1980s, which was built by the ANC, Cosatu, the South African Communist Party and civic society. This calls for the immediate convening of a second Working People's Convention to map the way forward in terms of ideology, strategy and tactics - in particular the Charter and a Working People's Calendar of Resistance for 2006 and in the long term.

We hope the MDC will consider these ideas at its forthcoming congress and come up with a new transformed leadership and resolute resolutions in favour of mass resistance


AN said...

I think this is too long for the blog, and it would be better to have a brief precis and a link to the original article in future ;o)

Jim Jay said...

I thihnk that would have been better as an email to me rather than a comment on the blog :-|

AN said...

Maybe - i don't have a good understanding of blogosphere etiquette. Sorry if it ticked you off.
No offence intended, and it is an interesting article.
Do you notice that there was nothing of this in Socialist Worker, which as the article came from the ISO is a little odd.

Jim Jay said...

that happens quite a lot i think where weekly worker produce stuff from the iso that swp don't carry -the iso is an interesting grouping within the ist...

they voted against the us iso being expelled from the ist, they have internal factions (to possibly disasterous consequences) and clearly have a good relationship with the international left outside of the ist. yet the swp seem relaxed with this.

and you're post didn't tick me off, my reply was a joke - but i guess my strange sense of humour isn't always clear...