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Concerned African Scholars: Reflections on Mahmood Mamdani’s ‘Lessons of Zimbabwe’

[Below is the introduction to a special issue of the Concerned African Scholars debating prominent African intellectual Mahmood Mamdani's views on the regime of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. The introduction has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of Concerned African Scholars. It contains links to the various contributions and to the table of contents. Interested readers are encouraged to explore the linked articles thoroughly. Links also examined the views of Mamdani HERE. For Links' full coverage of Zimbabwe, click HERE.]

By Sean Jacobs

Zimbabwe socialists: Fight for fresh elections under a new people-driven constitution!

February 6, 2009 -- The International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe (ISOZ) has consistently argued for the last few years that the poor and working people would pay dearly if they naively followed the false calls for “change” championed by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its imperialist-supported civic society allies, and subordinated their organisations to the same.

We called for the urgent establishment of a radical and anti-neoliberal united front of working people's organisations, to spearhead the struggle even when the opposition leadership eventually sold out. We argued that the MDC was preparing for a sell-out deal with Robert Mugabe's ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) as a junior partner and that Mugabe was now ready to accept this. Three years ago, we wrote:

Zimbabwe: How Morgan Tsvangirai saved the Mugabe regime

Tsvangirai and Mugabe at the signing ceremony for the unity government in September 2008.

By Tendai Dumbutshena

February 2, 2009 -- After the June 27, 2008, putsch by Zimbabwe ruler Robert Mugabe signs were always there that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was headed for surrender. It officially happened on January 30, 2009, when the party hoisted a white flag on top of its Harvest House headquarters. What followed was a pathetic attempt by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to portray this decision to join the unity government without any of the MDC's conditions being met as some sort of victory.[Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister on February 11, 2009.]

Equally pathetic was a plea to Mugabe to be treated as an equal partner. There is a fat chance of that happening. The old tyrant must have chuckled when he heard this.

Lessons of Zimbabwe: An exchange between Patrick Bond and Mahmood Mamdani

Aftermath of Mugabe's 2005 Operation Murambatsvina.

By Patrick Bond

December 2008 -- Mahmood Mamdani is an inspiring intellectual and political writer, one of Africa's greatest ever. But I think there are a few points raised in his recent London Review of Books article, ``Lessons of Zimbabwe'' (see full text in the appendix at the end of this article; quotes from Mamdani's article are in indented italics) that are worth debating.

... [Mugabe's] policies have helped lay waste the country's economy, though sanctions have played no small part.

A deeper capitalist malaise engulfed Zimbabwe since around 1974, the year that per capita wealth began to decline, based on overaccumulation of capital and, by the time of structural adjustment in the early 1990s, a turn to the speculative/parasitical mode of not only capital accumulation but also state management. These are not Mugabe's ``policies'', but problems all state managers have faced, nearly everywhere in the world.

Zimbabwe: First signs of united front mass action against elite settlement

Protesting health workers in Harare, December 3. The protest was attacked by riot cops.
(See a short video of the December 3, 2008, protest HERE.)

By the National Co-Ordinating Committee, International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe

December 2, 2008 -- The situation in Zimbabwe has reached unprecedented levels of crisis. As we have been saying for the last few years, such a crisis was climaxing and with a number of possibilities arising. First and most likely was the likelihood of the bourgeois elite politicians in [President Robert Mugabe's] Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) uniting together in an elitist government of national unity in which ZANU-PF would be the senior partner around a Western- and capitalist-supported neoliberal economic agenda. The MDC's popularity would be used to pacify the urban working people from rising up.

Zimbabwe: Elite deal does not resolve underlying crisis -- Aluta continua!

By Munyaradzi Gwisai, International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe

September 23, 2008 -- In our last update, in the July issue of Socialist Worker, we reaffirmed our long-held position of the likelihood“ of an elite political settlement between the ruling party and opposition around a Western-supported full neoliberal economic program”, given the domination of all the political parties by bourgeois elites who are fearful of political implosions from the collapsing economy and the rank opportunism of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leadership. The deal signed by the leaderships of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the MDC in September substantially confirmed our fears. We look at the deal and what it means for working people.

 


South African and Zimbabwe politicos join global financiers in self-destruction

By Patrick Bond

September 21, 2008 -- The past week has been a wild roller-coaster ride in and out of Southern African ruling-party politics, down the troughs of world capitalism, and up the peaks of radical social activism. Glancing around the region and the world from those peaks, we can see quite a way further than usual.

Looking first to South Africa, September 20's dumping of state president Thabo Mbeki by Jacob Zuma -- president of the African National Congress (ANC) -- and his temporary replacement (until next April 2009's election) by ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, was an excellent reflection of ruling elite fragility in neoliberal regimes. Some of Mbeki's main supporters, including Mbhazima Shilowa, the former trade union leader and now premier of Gauteng province, in the economic heartland of Johannesburg -- are apparently considering the launch of a competing party.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions: Power-sharing deal `a far cry' from expectations

By Wellington Chibebe

September 20, 2008 -- The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions' General Council today met in Harare to deliberate on the recent signing of the power-sharing deal between the Zimbabwe African Nation Union-Patroitic Front (ZANU-PF) and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which was held on September 15, 2008.

After deliberating on the issue and taking a closer look at the deal, the General Council noted that the deal is a far cry from the ZCTU's expectations and that it is an outcome of a flawed process.

Instead, the General Council noted, the deal is all about power-sharing between ZANU-PF and MDC, leaving out primary causes of the dispute which has created the current political and economic impasse currently prevailing in the country.

It also noted that the process used in coming up with the deal was not all-inclusive as the civic society was not given an opportunity to participate.

The exclusion of such critical sectors as labour, the General Council noted, and the secretive manner in which issues were discussed, do not give credence to the outcome of the deal.

Zimbabwe: A `power-sharing' deal for whom?

By Shawn Hattingh

Negotiations between the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) over the political future of Zimbabwe have reached a zenith in the past few weeks. It now seems almost inevitable that some sort of deal will be attained by the political masters of the MDC and ZANU-PF and that power sharing will become a reality. The mediator in the negotiation process, the South African government, has claimed that the outcome of the negotiations between these parties will lead to a new dawn in Zimbabwe. As part of this, we are assured that the corner has been turned and that democracy and freedom will be a reality in the beleaguered country in the near future.

Zimbabwe socialists: `Mobilise against the Mugabe regime!'

By the International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe

On June 29, 2008, Robert Mugabe was announced the winner of the presidential runoff ``election” with a vote of 2.1 million as opposed to 233,000 for Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and 131,481 spoilt ballots. The regime claimed a sweeping victory, “winning” in all constituencies even in areas where it did not win a single seat in the March parliamentary elections.

As the ISOZ had warned, these elections were not going to bring real democratic change. Rather the regime of Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) would ensure its victory by hook or crook and then seek a government of national unity with the MDC as a junior partner to deal with the imploding economic crisis.

NEW! Links Dossier #2: Class Struggle and Resistance in Zimbabwe

In the second Links Dossier, in an easy to print a PDF format, Links - International Journal of Socialist Renewal makes available essential historical background material on the struggle for socialism in Zimbabwe, the degeneration of the regime and party of Robert Mugabe and the views of the Zimbabwean socialist movement on the way forward for the struggle for democracy and radical change.

Contents:

Revolutionaries, resistance and crisis in Zimbabwe

His Excellency Comrade Robert: How Mugabe’s ZANU clique rose to power

Zimbabwean socialists: `No to a government of national unity! Only united mass action will defeat Mugabe!'

Click HERE to download.

Please forward the following link: http://static.links.org.au/dossiers/2008-06-26-Zimbabwe-Dossier.pdf

For other Links Dossiers, please click here.

Zimbabwe socialists: `No to a government of national unity! Only united mass action will defeat Mugabe!

By the International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe

* * *

June 23, 2008 -- After the publication of the original article (see below), Movement for Democratic Change presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai held a press conference at which he issued a statement to the effect that the MDC is pulling out of the presidential run-off election because conditions for a free and fair election do not exist, [due to the] the massive violence against his party and civic society. The press conference followed the disruption of his final rally in Harare by ZANU-PF vigilantes on June 22. Tsvangirai stated that the MDC was to carry out further consultations and would announce the details of the way forward.

We welcome the position taken by the MDC, and initial reports indicate that this position has been accepted by MDC and civic society activists and supporters.

His Excellency Comrade Robert: How Mugabe's ZANU clique rose to power

By Stephen O’Brien

Towards the end of 1975 a movement of young radicals organised in the Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA) took charge of Zimbabwe’s liberation war. ZIPA’s fusion of inclusive politics, transformational vision and military aggression dealt crippling blows to the white supremacist regime of Ian Smith. However, it’s success also paved the way for a faction of conservative nationalists led by Robert Mugabe to wrest control of the liberation movement for themselves.

Zimbabwe: Only mass mobilisation can defeat the Mugabe dictatorship

By the International Socialist Organization (Zimbabwe)

April 11, 2008 -- The March 29, 2008, elections have brought into sharp relief the escalating crisis in Zimbabwe. [At the time of writing] the government–appointed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) has not announced the results of the presidential election, which the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change led by former trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai -- MDC(T) [a marginal faction of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara, also stood] claims to have won by a margin of more than 50%. The results for the parliamentary election show that the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), led by Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, has lost its majority to the opposition for the first time since independence.

Revolutionaries, resistance and crisis in Zimbabwe

By Munyaradzi Gwisai

Munyaradzi Gwisai is a leader of the International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe and a member of parliament. This article is extracted from Leo Zeilig (ed.), Class Struggle and Resistance in Africa, New Clarion Press, Cheltenham, UK, 2002, which can be purchased for £15.95, including shipping. For readers in Africa, there is a special discounted price of £12.95, including shipping. Order from New Clarion Press, 5 Church Row, Gretton, Cheltenham GL54 5HG, UK, or on line from Amazon.

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