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.

However, this decision needs to be followed by quick and concrete steps on the way forward, based on a united-front and mass-action strategy, as indicated [in the earlier article below]. We are [aware] that sections of the bourgeoisie, the Rhodesian right wing and the imperialist West will not be happy with this decision, seeing it as a premature surrender and may even put pressure on the MDC to rescind the decision.

Taking advantage of the USA’s presidency of the UN Security Council this month, they might want to see a few more bodies in the streets ahead of the election to justify their likely escalation of siege of the Mugabe regime. But the MDC must resist this. Its activists and supporters, as well as those in civic society, desperately need breathing space to retreat in order, reorganise and begin the fightback. To wait for a sure defeat come June 27 will make it that much more difficult to mobilise the necessary program of civil disobedience, mass action and delegitimisation of the regime. Indeed, the economic situation in the coming few weeks is going to see us descend to the parameters of hell as the West and big business escalate pressure on the regime, economically and politically, to force it into a neoliberal power-sharing government of national unity (GNU) deal with the opposition.

This has put the regime in a quagmire but it is likely to continue with its sham election to gain legitimacy. Legally, it may invoke provisions of the electoral laws which stipulate that withdrawal can be no later than 21 days before the election and that in any case standing in the run-off is by law for the top two contesting candidates. The key therefore is to launch an immediate political program of delegitimisation of the run-off election, locally, regionally and internationally.

Regroupment of civic groups and the establishment of the united front of resistance of the opposition and civic society has therefore now assumed paramount importance. This is more so because of the massive likely pressure on the MDC to now enter negotiations for a government of national unity from South African president Thabo Mbeki, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the UN and the capitalist and imperialist forces. This is no solution for working people and must be resolutely rejected.

But given the MDC’s history of prevarication and the strong influence of capitalist elites within its leadership, it may not surprise if it ends up capitulating again. The lessons from Kenya are that united, resolute and autonomous activities and mobilisation by a united front of civic society can stop this and embolden the more radical sections of the opposition to fight rather than capitulate to the regime.

* * *

Precarious security situation – reign of terror

June 20, 2008 -- As the nation gears up for the presidential run-off election on June 27, the regime of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe has unleashed a reign of terror across the country. The level of violence and political intimidation now far exceeds that of before the 2000 elections. The economic collapse is severe and unprecedented. Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono’s floating of the Zimbabwe dollar has led to its collapse to ZW$6 billion to US$1, and inflation now at more that 2 million per cent, with prices going up twice a week. The Zimbabwe people are truly suffering.

Since May 1 there have been arbitrary arrests of civic leaders, starting with the two-week detention of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union’s president and secretary general. Fourteen WOZA [Women of Zimbabwe Arise] leaders were detained for nearly a month for protesting the delay in releasing the election results. Two of their leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, remain detained in Chikurubi Prison. Also arrested and harassed are church, student and NGO leaders and teachers.

NGOs and social movements have effectively been closed down by the regime, despite assertions to the contrary. Over the past week, state agents have moved door to door at NGO offices, forcing them to close or confiscating computers and files. [There have been raids] on the offices of ZimRights, the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Zimbabwe national Students’ Union (ZINASU), Padare/Enkundleni/Men’s Forum on Gender (Padare), Bulawayo Agenda, the Crisis Coalition, the Combined Harare Residents’ Association (CHRA) and the International Socialist Organisation (ISO). Humanitarian NGOs providing food relief, medicines and support to HIV-AIDS patients have been particularly hit.

ZANU-PF bases have been set up in townships where MDC and civic groups activists are being forced to attend night vigils and/or assaulted. Several of our ISO members from Mbare, Sunningdale, Epworth and Chitungwiza have had their houses raided, forcing them to flee while others have been brutally assaulted. Tec Bara, the ISO Harare gender coordinator and Zimbabwe Social Forum national deputy convenor for gender, is currently hospitalised after being brutally assaulted at her home. Three of our Mutare comrades were also assaulted and brutalised. A Women Coalition’s hostel in Kambuzuma housing fleeing women and their children was raided and people forced to flee. In Budiriro, the national deputy leader of the ``war veterans’’, Joseph Chinotimba has turned an HIV-AIDS clinic into a war chamber.

The MDC is receiving the brunt of the attacks. Tsvangirai has been repeatedly arrested, his rallies banned and campaign buses and vehicles impounded. The MDC is totally blacked-out from the state-controlled daily newspapers, radio stations and TV, while under Operation Dzikisai Madhishi, people are being forced to remove satellite dishes from their homes. Detained MDC secretary general Tendai Biti faces treason charges, carrying the death penalty. This past week in Harare, the wife of the MDC mayor-elect of Harare was abducted and killed, houses in townships fire-bombed with four people killed, and 20 houses in the Chipinge rural village of NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku were torched. The attorney general has said no bail will be granted to those facing ``political violence’’ charges (virtually all from the opposition), while Patrick Chinamasa, the minister of legal and parliamentary affairs, said he will be declaring a general amnesty for all petty criminals to create room for political prisoners.

Operation MakaVhoterapi

ZANU-PF has virtually closed off the rural areas from the opposition under Operation MakaVhoterapi (`Operation Where Did You Vote’). As presidential spokesperson, G. Charamba put it:

``Fundamentally, MDC cannot win the runoff; will not win it… Unlike in March, rural Zimbabwe is now another country for MDC … and Tsvangirai will be lucky to find even election agents. In towns, yes, but nowhere else. From end of 1976, l saw war and the making of structures that nourish it. There are many in Tsvangirai’s camp old enough to interpret the times for him. I am sure they have seen what is happening in the country side, watched and correctly read the furrowed foreheads of those who will take the necessary decisions should and when that becomes necessary. Enough hints have been dropped regarding what will wash and will not wash come the morning after June 27. A mere twiddle by a blunt pen cannot return this country to bondage

There are three basic objectives behind the regime’s crackdown. First, so ZANU-PF can win the crucial presidential elections by any means necessary. As we previously argued in September 2007: ``the chances of an opposition victory are slim… as in 2002 and 2005, the opposition is deluding itself. The playing field is so stacked against them and they have very little counter measures to these, as ZANU-PF itself for instance had in 1980. The entire state machinery, including the media, is being mobilised to ensure a ZANU-PF victory by hook or crook… war veterans and chiefs are being mobilised to make the rural areas a no-go area for the opposition.’’

Will ZANU-PF’s strategy work?

Increasingly, over the last few weeks, an election that MDC was clearly poised to win has turned and a Mugabe ``victory’’ is now the most likely result as the MDC structures are decimated and the rural population bludgeoned and starved into submission. Peasants are correctly aware that the ward-based system of voting will make it easy for ZANU-PF to identify villages that vote against them and exert revenge.

Various reports indicate the game plan. Known MDC activists will be forced to plead illiteracy and be accompanied by senior ZANU-PF village leaders, who will ``assist’’ them in voting. The day after elections, all villagers [will be] ordered to assemble near counting stations and await results so that it can be confirmed that they have truly repented. This is exactly what Charamba means, when he says the structures of war have now been resuscitated in the countryside. The crackdown is also designed to neutralise any potential centres of resistance to a Mugabe ``victory’’, which this time will be quickly announced.

The MDC and civic society are paying a heavy price for failing to heed warnings not to take the election route as their principal strategy for achieving change rather than a central strategy of mass action centred around a fighting united front of the opposition, civic society and the labour movement demanding a new democratic constitution before any elections.

The ZAPU [Zimbabwe African People’s Union] was only able to withstand Gukurahundi because of structures rooted in a committed core of cadres and not protest voters. [Mugabe launched a brutal war of terror on the Ndebele people, who were assumed to be ZAPU supporters and therefore dissidents. In what became known as Gukurahundi, between 1983 and 1985, up to 20,000 people died in the Matabeleland and Midlands regions.].

At best, elections should only have been used as a secondary tactic to mobilise people for the central strategy of mass action. Capitalist elites who have used their money to commodify our struggles and worm their way into leadership positions in the opposition and civic society stopped this and built false illusions around the elections and marginalised the activists who built the party and are today sorely needed.

Even if ZANU-PF loses, Mugabe has declared that he will not hand over power to the MDC but rather go to war -- Hatingaregi nyika yakauya neropa ichitorwa ne penzura, tinoda kuona kuti chakasimba chii gidi kana penzura (``We cannot let go a country that we won through the barrel of a gun by a simple vote – we will see which is stronger – the gun or a pencil.’’) A radio report on Power FM quoted Mugabe declaring at a rally -- ``If you thought Hitler is gone, then you are mistaken, because Hitler is not only back but back here in Zimbabwe.’’

The second objective is to recapture the parliamentary majority for ZANU-PF by convicting MDC-elect MPs or forcing them to flee. As Charamba says: ``They are on the run, but will not run much longer. That may mean several by-elections which (Tsvangirai) knows he will not win.’’

Indeed it is likely that by the time parliament convenes, enough opposition MPs will either be in detention or have fled to give ZANU-PF the majority to elect both the speaker of the House of Assembly and president of Senate despite being the minority party.

The third objective is preparation for a ZANU-PF-dominated but neoliberal and pro-business government of national unity with the MDC after the elections. In our September 2007 perspective we stated that because of the imploding economic crisis and ``despite his rhetoric, Mugabe is now ready to capitulate and enter into an elitist compromise deal with the MDC, the West and business. But only after the 2008 elections, which he hopes to use to legitimise his party’s claim to being the senior player in such alliance, deal with his party’s succession problem as well as protect his legacy, person and family besides his little burial plot at Heroes Acre.’’

Many of his top officials have indeed been quoted suggesting the GNU is an indispensable option to deal with the Zimbabwean crisis. The crackdown is designed to force the MDC into such a GNU and preempt any potential resistance from its radicals or civic society. This is worsened by power struggles in the opposition ahead of its congress next year. Today many of the cowardly elites who have wormed their way to the top in the opposition will, as we have been warning for over two years, gladly accept the GNU, with the support of business, Mbeki, SADC and most of the West, fearful of the further radicalisation of the Zimbabwean crisis.

ZANU-PF tactics are thus working. Already the MDC is now totally silent, even in its urban township strongholds, as ZANU-PF holds sway. As one comrade said, “ve MDC tapeta miswe” (the MDC has put its tail behind its legs). Even civic groups that have not been raided are now stampeding to close down their offices. Fear stalks the nation one week before the election.

Way forward : Mobilise for united front for democracy and mass action

The first and most important thing is to confront the veil of fear that threatens to suffocate us. The defiance of the closure of offices by several NGOs is correct. Even if the regime closes our offices, we must not allow it to close down our movements -- underground alternatives must be urgently built. But no one group can withstand this pressure alone. We need a united collective response. This is why for the last three years and at the People’s Convention we were calling for the need to build a radical united front of civic groups, the labour movement and the anti-capitalist movement, autonomous of the MDC, even if working with it. One capable of initiating united front-based mass actions without necessarily being subordinated to the MDC. And one based on a pro-working people and anti-neoliberal/capitalist ideology.

At the Convention we unfortunately allowed our tactical differences on whether to support or boycott the March elections to divide us and stop us from the bigger project of building such united front. Today we all pay a heavy price. But it is not too late to regroup, reorganise and offer leadership in action along with the MDC. Even under this crackdown we can regroup, initially on a defensive program of solidarity for those under attack and in self-defence and counter-attacks where necessary.

Most urgently we call for a summit of leaders of the opposition and civic society to set up a united front of resistance. We believe that such united front must be totally rooted in and organise around the bread and butter concerns of working people, including peasants and the unemployed, as opposed to the wealthy capitalist elites in business, locally and internationally.

Indeed the very origins of the MDC (and similar movements in the global South) lie in the massive protests of the late 1990s against poverty induced by the Mugabe regime’s neoliberal capitalist program of ESAP (structural adjustment). A new and powerful aspect of the MDC’s campaign in the March elections was an emphasis on such bread and butter issues of the ordinary people. Any struggle against the regime that fails to do this will be outflanked on its left by this crafty regime, which has shown, most powerfully around the land question, a strong capacity to cynically manipulate the poor’s concerns to remain in power and demonise the opposition as a stooge of the West and the business class. Without such a united front and a pro-poor, pro-working people and anti-capitalist ideology we shall not prevail against this regime. The Peoples Charter of the People’s Convention offers a powerful starting point.

One of the first things to do is to convene a massive united front rally for democracy in the centre of Harare a few days before the election or the week after, to be convened by the opposition-led by the MDC, civic groups, trade unions and the churches. If possible the unions must call for all workers in Harare not to go to work but to attend the rally. The purpose of the rally is first to fight the veil of fear and rebuild confidence in our movements. Second to send a message to the dictatorship that we will not be cowered; that we demand an immediate cessation of the reign of terror, compensation of all victims, immediate release of all political prisoners. It would send a warning to the regime that the people will not accept its June 27 circus and that the struggle will only accelerate after June 27 to include general strikes, stayaways, class boycotts and civil disobedience.

On the election, our preferred position as the ISO has been to boycott any fake elections without a new constitution and deny the regime’s elections any legitimacy. The alternative is for a regrouped united front of civic society and the opposition to launch a serious and determined program of civil disobedience and mass action, supported by regional and international solidarity from working peoples and progressive movements. Indeed over the next week the MDC leadership has a huge decision to make about whether to continue participating in a sham election designed to clothe a dictatorship in legitimacy, or withdraw, regroup and lead a fightback of mass action and civil disobedience. However, if the MDC still decides to continue running. The ISO, in view of MDC’s massive performance in the March parliamentary and presidential elections and the desire of many Zimbabweans to vote, has now modified its position to call for unconditional but fraternally critical support to Tsvangirai.

Our criticism is what we perceive as the increasing domination of the party leadership by capitalist and Western elites and the marginalisation of workers and radicals. This will lead to its likely pursing a neoliberal capitalist agenda if it assumes power, to the detriment of working people. And secondly its disastrous strategy of relying on the electoral route rather than mass action. But the Mugabe regime is driving us into hell and the people need some breathing space in order to reorganise and resume our battle for real democracy and against the capitalist and imperialist bloodsuckers.

We therefore urge all our members, supporters, allies and working people in general to defy the regime’ intimidation and go out and vote in the election for Tsvangirai. However voting must only be seen as a tactic to keep the flames of the movement alive and to use the space to organise and mobilise for all out people’s mass action before and after June 27, and not as the central strategy for change. The defeat of ZANU-PF in March shows how much the masses now want change. Even today in the midst of the onslaught, opposition activists at the local level have organised themselves and are fighting back in places like Epworth, Bikita, Zaka and Chimanimani. But these are isolated actions, easily crushed unless more central leadership is offered. The spirit to fight in civic society is still there. Indeed, when an ISO delegation visited the imprisoned WOZA leaders this week, we were impressed by their high spirits despite the very harsh conditions, including being denied jerseys [jumpers] in this biting winter. Or the many maimed and displaced MDC activists who are vowing that despite all they are still going to vote against the regime come June 27.

At the same time under no circumstances must we agree to the GNU sell-out idea. There can be no marriage with such a murderous regime -- we must consign it to its true destiny -- the dustbin of history. The GNU is a project for the dictatorship to perpetuate itself and for the capitalist and the imperialist elites to ensure that the poverty that the capitalist ZANU-PF government started with its ESAP is perpetuated forever, but now buttressed by a working-people supported MDC. It’s time we allow the ordinary people to take charge of the struggle that is rightfully theirs and ensure an outcome that achieves real democracy, economically and politically, for the majority and not just the political and capitalist elites as we have seen so many times in recent history in the region and internationally -- in Zambia, Malawi, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Eastern Europe. As our brothers and sisters in Latin America are pushing ahead we say no to capitalism and yes to international socialism as the way forward for humanity.

Finally, ISO wishes to express our utmost gratitude to all those who have sent solidarity messages and donations to us and other organisations and still make a further urgent appeal for assistance. To send solidarity messages, receive updates or make a donation please email us at iso.zim@gmail.com

Shinga Murombo! Jambanja Ndizvo! Smash the dictatorship! Viva socialism!

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 08:08


WE, the General Council members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), meeting at the Quality International Hotel in Harare today 21 June 2008 to, among other things, discuss the 27 June 2008 Presidential Election Run-off ;


* Discussed the violent environment prior to the holding the Presidential Election Run Off of 27 June 2008;

* The conduct of political parties during the campaigning period; and

* The State's preparedness for holding a free and fair election

Observing that,

* Political violence in the country has reached alarming if not catastrophic proportions;

* That the 27 June Presidential election is not an election, but a declaration of war against the people of Zimbabwe by the ruling party;

* Dozens of people have been murdered due to political motivated violence;

* Thousands of people have been threatened with deaths, beaten, tortured and harassed for expressing or supporting the opposition political party;

* People are being forced to attend political rallies failure of which they are being beaten up;

* Deployment and sprouting of several bases led by the ruling party militia that are harassing and perpetrating violence;

* The usual poling officers, that is teachers and other civil servants, have been sidelined in the running of elections in favour of ruling party supporters;

* Thousands of people have been displaced through political violence and thereby unable to vote;

* The State President has made it clear that he will not accept defeat even if he loses the elections.

* Very few local observers have been accredited to oversee the conduct of the elections;

* Continuous harassment of workers on their way to and from work by youths militia who have been deployed in suburbs;

* Opposition party agents have been harassed, some killed and therefore unable to monitor what may happen in some wards on the day of the election;

* The opposition has not been granted permission to campaign;

* There is a complete black out of the opposition in the public media and in case where it is mentioned, has always been in negative light;

* Potential voters are being threatened if that they are names would be recorded if they voted for the opposition;

We therefore hereby resolve that:

* We will not accept an outcome of a flawed election;

* The Government immediately disband bases in all suburbs and unofficial road blocks manned by the youths militia;

* The government stop violence and allow local observers that were accredited for the March 29, 2008 Harmonised Elections to observe the Presidential Run Off.

* There be equal and unbiased access to the Public Media by all contesting parties.

Last Tarabuku

Acting Information Officer

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions

P.O Box 3549

Harare, Zimbabwe

Telephone 263-4-794702/794742

Cell 263 11 620 231

Fax 263-4- 728484

E-mail info@zctu.co.zw
Website www.zctu.co.zw <http://www.zctu.co.zw/>

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 10:34


From the latest Weekly Worker:

Forced underground

The Zanu-PF regime of Robert Mugabe has stepped up its repression in the lead-up to the June 27 presidential election run-off against Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change. The offices of the International Socialist Organisation have been closed down as part of the regime's crackdown against all opposition groups. Peter Manson spoke to ISO leader Munyaradzi Gwisai

PM: What happened when your office was raided by the authorities?

MG: Initially they came two weeks ago. They confiscated some material and raised an issue about our latest Socialist Worker, claiming it was inciting violence. This was because we had argued in the paper that the crisis was not going to be resolved through elections, but through mass action. We said that the way forward for the Movement for Democratic Change and civil society was to create a united front and mobilise against the regime. They said what we had written was very similar to what Wellington Chibebe, general secretary of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, had been saying when they arrested him last month.

Then on June 12 they came over and ordered the closure of all the civic organisations in Zimrights House - Zimrights is the NGO that owns the complex where we rent our office. Also affected were the National Constitutional Assembly and the Zimbabwe National Students Union. That very same day the offices of a variety of civic groups, including the Zimbabwe Social Forum, were also ordered to close. But nobody was arrested in our complex, as far as I know, and we were able to rescue our materials and computer, but our operations are now virtually underground.

Mugabe has said that most of the money coming from the imperialists is being channelled via the NGOs. Of course, many do get funds from the west and the intervention by the west in this election is significant. But the stepping up of the repression is now unambiguous.

PM: There are reports in the western press about Zanu-PF denying food to MDC supporters unless they hand in their identification papers, which would prevent them voting. Are these reports true and do you think the repression will succeed in delivering a Mugabe victory?

MG: Some of these stories are a load of trash. There might be one or two incidents in the countryside of people being told to hand over their identification papers and it is true the regime has started issuing new identification documents - informally we hear that in Zanu-PF's rural strongholds people are being wrongly registered. But these stories serve to disguise the regime's real preparations to rig the elections nationally.

The regime will close off key rural areas and the MDC will be lucky to have polling access there. Mugabe has openly declared that, whatever the result of the election, he will not hand over power to Tsvangirai. He will only hand over power to a leadership that he believes is consistent with the 'ideals of the liberation struggle'.

There is a fear that these methods might work. I would say at this stage it's a 50-50 election. The difference really is only around 130,000 votes, so the strategy of the regime is to displace a significant number of MDC voters in the rural areas they control. Combined with the disarray that the MDC and its allies are now in, this is giving Mugabe a good chance of victory.

The MDC banked everything on change through elections and had no plan B. Their strategy for taking on the dictatorship was one based exclusively on elections. The ISO has been arguing against this from the left for over a year. We have said that a resolution of the Zimbabwean crisis is not going to come through elections or similar means. A resolution will only come through the mass mobilisation of the opposition, organised labour and civic society through a united front.

Initially we argued for a boycott of the election. We said that elections should only be viewed as a mobilising tactic to take on the regime in the cities, in our factories, in our campuses, rather than a general strategy. Unfortunately many people got excited and fell into election mode.

The movement is now paying a heavy price for its failure to appreciate the true character of the Mugabe dictatorship and its naive illusions in the possibility of a peaceful transformation. The MDC - and the movement in general - is also paying a heavy price for the marginalisation of the MDC's working class and left activists in favour of a bourgeois and middle class elite who have no experience of struggle and who thought that the regime was about to fall and they would reap the reward.

PM: But what else can we expect of the bourgeoisie? Surely they have to rely on either constitutional means or top-down non-constitutional means with the support of imperialism?

MG: That is too sweeping. Historically we do know that bourgeois and middle class elements can take the road of mass mobilisation - look at the movement in Iran in the late 70s. Or look at the movements in eastern Europe directed by western involvement. Even more recently is the example of Kenya. There was a bourgeois opposition that was able to organise on the streets.

But in Zimbabwe, immediately after the March 29 elections, instead of leading the movement forward the MDC elite were calling for restraint. And then Tsvangirai ran away to South Africa, leaving a complete vacuum of leadership on the ground.

There is no doubt about it - the regime is rooted among the population with a solid social base. Despite the catastrophic economic collapse, Zanu-PF still won more popular votes in parliament than the MDC in the March 29 parliamentary elections. Mugabe might have lost on the streets, but if you count the actual votes, his party won more than the MDC in elections to the House of Assembly and Senate.

Zanu-PF won an absolute majority of votes in five of the country's 10 provinces, plus a simple majority in another province. By contrast the MDC won two provinces with an absolute majority and two with a simple majority. But because we use first past the post, not proportional representation, Zanu-PF's votes were not translated into a majority in parliament. It was only Mugabe himself, in the presidential election, who did worse in terms of the popular vote.

But it is also true that in the key sections of society - that is, in the industrial and economic centres - the MDC had a total whitewash in virtually all towns big and small. It is clear that the working class is solidly behind the MDC, while Zanu-PF's support comes from the rural provinces. And for the first time the MDC was able to make inroads in two major rural provinces - two drought-hit regions, where there had been a disaster in terms of food and where the international aid organisations had been very active in giving food relief.

There has also been the dislocation of many working class people from the cities into the rural areas two years ago, which has escalated with the economic collapse. So there is now a core of working class people in the rural areas who can form a powerful base around which to organise for the opposition. In the rural areas MDC supporters have started organising themselves and hitting back, which is sending the regime into a frenzy. But they are not getting proper leadership. The MDC is completely cowardly. You don't see people putting on MDC T-shirts or putting up MDC posters.

PM: So what do you expect to happen after June 27?

MG: Zanu-PF are finalising their strategy and there are two scenarios after the election. First, a quick announcement that Mugabe has won - all potential centres of opposition are being or have been hit to ensure that they will not be able to rise up the way the opposition was able to rise up in Kenya. After making sure of that, they will then offer a government of national unity to the MDC.

The second option is, if Tsvangirai wins, Mugabe will refuse to accept the result, as he did after March 29. That would escalate the pressure massively, aimed at making the result irrelevant. In those circumstances they would still aim for a government of national unity.

A scenario that is most unlikely is that of the regime accepting defeat. If they were really ready to hand over power, the kind of moves they are now making against the opposition would put them in big trouble if they lost.

But the working class and the radical opposition must not sit back. They must urgently regroup to mobilise not only for the vote, but, more importantly, for the bigger strategy of defending that vote and fighting back against the regime through united front activity.

We must base our strategy on self-activity, not on an ideology that sees the west and its programme of neoliberalism as the way forward. That is why we are appealing for international solidarity. They have closed our offices, but they have not closed our movement.

Send donations to the ISO to

FirstDirect Bank, 40 Wakefield Road, Leeds, LS98 1FO
Account name: John Page
Sort code: 40-47-78
Account number: 1118 5489
Please email details of deposits to: iso.zim@gmail.com

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 06/26/2008 - 10:23


TransAfrica Forum Supports Zimbabwean Civil Society’s Decision to Reject the June 27th Run Off Elections

June 25, 2008

TransAfrica Forum
Zimbabwe Policy Statement
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Contact: Joia Jefferson Nuri

TransAfrica Forum Supports Zimbabwean Civil Society’s Decision to Reject the June 27th Run Off Elections

TransAfrica Forum, the nation’s oldest African American human rights and social justice advocacy organization promoting diversity and equity in the foreign policy arena, condemns the violence perpetrated by the Mugabe regime against community organizers, unions and opposition party members and supports Zimbabwean Civil Society’s decision to reject the June 27th run off elections.

Zimbabwe is in the throes of a devastating political, economic, and humanitarian crisis.
A presidential run-off election was scheduled for June 27th but the widespread political violence inflicted on the population has overshadowed the poll to the point where on June 21, 2008 Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, the Movement of Democratic Change, declared their intent to boycott the elections for the Presidency of Zimbabwe.

“Given the escalating violence in Zimbabwe, the arrest of Tendai Biti, secretary-general of MDC for subversion and recent raid of the MDC’s national headquarters is seems that the government of Zimbabwe is intent on creating and maintaining an environment more akin to conflict than an election. This has made a free and fair election impossible.” says Nicole Lee, Executive Director, TransAfrica Forum.

TransAfrica Forum echoes the calls from Zimbabwean civil society for a process and arrangement that will create an environment where democratic solutions to this crisis can be developed. We recognize that the reality on the ground is not conducive to an election despite the continued campaigning of ZANU-PF and the presence of international election observers from seventeen nations.

“While TransAfrica Forum salutes the determination of Zimbabwean voters to be heard,” states Ms. Lee, “We recognize that, given the current conditions, any election result would lack credibility.”

TransAfrica Forum continues to support the ongoing Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) mediation process but calls on the African Union to work with SADC leaders to ensure total abidance to democratic processes and their outcomes in Zimbabwe. TransAfrica joins Zimbabwean civil society in requesting that the African Union, under the leadership of SADC, materially support both the conceptualization and implementation of a Temporary Transitional Government in an effort to support a free, democratic and socially just Zimbabwe.

As reports of politically motivated violence on the ground escalates TransAfrica Forum also recognizes the need for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to intervene in the political processes of the Zimbabwean government. Public condemnation of the actions of the ZANU-PF government by SADC heads of state and a more transparent mediation process between the two political parties, ZANU-PF and MDC, are also needed in an effort to curtail intervention from outside forces and might undermine the current conflict resolution processes.

“In light of the recent increase of violence in Zimbabwe following the withdrawal of MDC from the electoral process we join Zimbabwean civil society in calling for the immediate intervention of SADC nation states to end of violence in Zimbabwe.” Roxanne Lawson, Director of Africa Policy.

President Mugabe and the ZANU-PF government plan to participate in the elections and insist that they will remain in office regardless of the results of the elections. ZANU-PF responded to President Mugabe’s loss in the first round of elections on March 29, 2008, with violent retaliation against the population, characterized by brutal beatings, burning of homes and villages, harassment, and arrests. President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF supports have threatened more violence, warning of “war” if the vote goes against the Zimbabwean President.

* * *

TransAfrica Forum: Justice for Zimbabwe


On March 29 the people of Zimbabwe cast their votes for President, Parliament, and local representatives. To date, the results of the Presidential election have not been announced, leading to widespread accusations of vote manipulation. Charges of intimidation and the threat of violence grow daily, while the population suffers from spiraling inflation, commodity shortages, and joblessness. Ultimately, the people of Zimbabwe will determine their leaders, but as concerned citizens we can send a message to the Government of Zimbabwe, the African Union and to the nations of Southern Africa that we stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe and that we support their struggle for human rights and justice.

The following Message of Solidarity includes the points outlined in such popular documents as The Zimbabwe We Want, the People’s Convention (February 2008), as well as the platforms of human rights and justice groups in Zimbabwe. We invite you to add your name to the following message.


The people of Zimbabwe have been betrayed, both by the government that represents them and by Western governments that claim to support their desires for economic development and democracy. Internally, corruption, government mis-management, military excesses, and poor economic decisions have deepened the country’s multiple social and economic crises. At the same time, the post-independence promises made by the international community were not kept and the imposition of World Bank/IMF economic structural adjustment policies further entrenched inequality and reversed the initial gains made by the country. We, the undersigned, support the people of Zimbabwe in their calls for a peaceful resolution to the current crisis.

We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to work towards:

1. A new constitution, a people-driven document that ensures that any elected government runs the country to benefit its people, not the elite.

2. Economic justice, specifically:
* An audit of Zimbabwe’s 4.2 billion dollar debt.
* Repatriation of stolen assets, particularly funds diverted from public coffers to individual accounts in international banks.
* National investments in social development, job creation, and regional economic integration efforts.

3. A national “Truth and Reconciliation” process to begin the healing process. We urge the international community to:
* End the “undeclared economic sanctions.”
* Cancel the colonial debt, including apartheid-related debt, along with debts related to failed structural adjustment policies, following an audit of the country’s national debt.
* Work with the Zimbabwean people to identify and repatriate public funds that have been diverted to private accounts in international banks.

Click here [ JusticeforZimbabwe@transafricaforum.org ] to add your name.

For more information visit us on the web:

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 07/06/2008 - 10:18



I remember reading of the origin of the term “Pyrrhic victory.” It came from a battle in which Pyrrhus, the King of ancient Epirus, won a victory over the Romans at such a terrible cost, that he and his forces were ruined.

Robert Mugabe has been declared the victor in the Zimbabwean elections. The elections were so tainted by murder and intimidation that they lost all credibility. Leaders of African nations who, hitherto, had been reluctant to criticize the undemocratic practices of President Mugabe have now spoken out. South Africa’s former President Nelson Mandela felt compelled to break with his successor, President Thabo Mbeki, in denouncing President Mugabe and his “failure of leadership.” In the middle of this, President Mugabe stands firm, as if a character out of a Shakespearean play, proclaiming his eternal rule and willingness to go to war should he lose an election.

Progressives around the world must now take a deep breath and reflect on the situation. Those who have been entranced by President Mugabe’s anti-imperialist rhetoric must do an assessment of the situation on the ground. The Black farm workers who worked the land of the white farmers, did not measurably benefit from Mugabe’s land seizures; inflation is at a scale virtually unimaginable in economics; hundreds of thousands of people were removed from their homes two years ago in the middle of the Zimbabwean winter, having no place to go, allegedly because they were vagrants living in shacks, but more likely because they were a base of support for the opposition; assassinations and physical intimidation became the modus operandi of pro-Mugabe militias in the aftermath of the first round of elections this spring as a way of suppressing the opposition; and the homophobic President continues to ignore the depth of the HIV/AIDS crisis in his country.

As noted Syracuse Professor Horace Campbell remarked in a debate on the Pacifica program “Democracy Now!”, while it is absolutely true that there are other countries in Africa (and certainly around the world) who have horrendous human rights practices, this in no way lets Zimbabwe off the hook. Zimbabwe was, according to its leaders, supposedly attempting to carry out more than political independence from colonialism, but was to be engaged in a project of social transformation. For this reason alone we should hold Zimbabwe, and President Mugabe, to a higher standard than we would someone like Egypt’s President Mubarak.

The dilemma for progressives in the USA who support the people of Zimbabwe revolves around what steps we can take. In fact, what we are most often asked is whether we support the various actions by the Bush administration to put pressure on President Mugabe.

I wish that I could support such efforts. I simply cannot. Neither the USA nor Britain possesses the moral authority to engage constructively in the Zimbabwe crisis. At best they can play a supportive role where African nations are taking the lead. The Bush administration is not in a position to lecture anyone on human rights or genuine elections. This fact, however, should NOT mean that we remain silent simply because President Bush holds President Mugabe in distain. The enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend.

Many progressives in South Africa have taken a leading role in opposing the Mugabe tyranny, and they have done this without the support of their own government. Several weeks ago, for instance, a Chinese ship full of weapons destined for Mugabe’s government attempted to unload in South Africa. South African dockworkers refused to unload the boat. Ultimately the ship had to turn around and sail back to China.

The example of the refusal to unload the Chinese ship was interesting in that the workers imposed their own sanctions on the Mugabe regime. It was also interesting, as a side note, that China was supplying small arms to Zimbabwe in the middle of a political crisis; small arms that would have been of little use against external invaders but certainly useful for suppressing internal dissent.

Subsequently, and in the context of the fraudulent, second-round Zimbabwean elections, the Congress of South African Trade Unions went one step further and called on South Africans to blockade Zimbabwe. They actually took an additional step: they have called upon friends of the Zimbabwean people to engage in total non-cooperation with the Mugabe regime. I believe that this is the course that should be followed. Nothing should be done to assist or give the slightest bit of credibility to the Mugabe regime. The Mugabe regime should henceforth be recognized to be an oligarchy administered by an autocrat in the name of a clique that is currently benefiting at the expense of the Zimbabwean people.

Those who support the people of Zimbabwe should not follow the lead of President Bush or British Prime Minister Brown. They have nothing to offer and they will, in fact, worsen the situation. Rather, we should be calling upon the African Union and Zimbabwe’s neighbors to take action. Perhaps with the right amount of genuine pressure, a transitional government can be put into place. A transitional government, however, cannot be a mechanism for the practical elimination of the opposition. It must be a means to step back from the precipice of civil war.

A final point and actually one that I have made at other moments in discussing Zimbabwe. Much has been made of the contradictory and often pro-Western politics of the principal opposition group, the Movement for a Democratic Change. In fact, and quite ironically there have been times when Mugabe was perceived to be and portrayed as being pro-Western. He certainly introduced economic policies to the satisfaction of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in the 1980s.

Opposing the Mugabe autocracy does not mean supporting the MDC. The future of the MDC, let alone Zimbabwe, should be in the hands of the people of Zimbabwe. What we, progressives and friends of Zimbabwe should recognize is that we have a duty of solidarity with the people of that country fighting to complete that which their Liberation War started so very long ago.

BlackCommentator.com Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and co-author of the just released book, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice (University of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor in the USA. Click here to contact Mr. Fletcher.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 07/17/2008 - 09:30


The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) position on the current
political stalemate in Zimbabwe

WE, the General Council members of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions (ZCTU), meeting at the Quality International Hotel in Harare
today 12 July 2008 for an update on the current political situation in
the country, in the aftermath of the 27 June 2008 Presidential
Election Run-off;

Pursuant of our Communiqué issued on 21 June 2008, which focused on:

• the violent environment prior to the holding of the Presidential
Election Run Off of 27 June 2008;
• the conduct of political parties during the campaigning period; and
• the State's preparedness for holding a free and fair election

Noting that the 21 June 2008 Communiqué highlighted that,

• Political violence in the country had reached alarming if not
catastrophic proportions;
• The 27 June Presidential election was not an election, but a
declaration of war against the people of Zimbabwe by the ruling party;
• Dozens of people were murdered due to politically motivated violence;
• Thousands of people were threatened with death, beaten, tortured
and harassed for expressing or supporting the opposition political
• People were forced to attend political rallies failure of which they
were severely beaten up;
• There was deployment and sprouting of several bases led by the
ruling party militia that harassed and perpetrated political violence;
• The usual poling officers, that is teachers and other civil
servants, where sidelined in the running of elections in favour of
ruling party supporters;
• Thousands of people were displaced through political violence and
thereby unable to vote;
• The State President made it clear that he would not accept defeat
even if he lost the elections.
• Very few local observers were accredited to oversee the conduct of
the elections;
• There was continuous harassment of workers on their way to and from
work by youth militias who had been deployed in suburbs;
• Opposition party agents were harassed, some killed and therefore
were unable to monitor what happened in some wards on the day of the
• The opposition was not granted permission to campaign;
• There was a complete black out of the opposition in the public media
and in case where it was mentioned, it was always in negative light;
• Potential voters were threatened if they voted for the opposition;

Further noting that the 21 June 2008 Communiqué conveyed the resolutions that:

• The Government disbands bases in all suburbs and unofficial road
blocks manned by the youths militia;
• The government stops violence and allow local observers that were
accredited for the March 29, 2008 Harmonised Elections to observe the
Presidential Run Off.
• The ZCTU would not accept an outcome of a flawed election and
reserved the right to reject result of a flawed election;

Having reconvened today, 12 July 2008 to discuss in particular:
• The process and the outcome of the Presidential Run Off Elections
• The current efforts towards resolving the election dispute
• The Way forward

And having observed that:
• None of the demands stated in the communiqué of 21 June 2008 were
attended to;
• The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Election Observer
Mission said "The elections did not represent the will of the people
of Zimbabwe";
• The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Observer Mission concluded that
"the current atmosphere prevailing in the country did not give rise to
the conduct of free, fair and credible elections...";
• The African Union (AU) Observer Mission also noted that "in the
context of the AU Declaration of the Principles Governing Democratic
Elections in Africa, it is the considered view of the African Union
Observers Mission that the Election process fell short of accepted AU
• The nature of the current dispute is about the 27 June 2007
Presidential Election Run Off, not the 29 March 2008 Harmonised Local
Government, Parliamentary, senatorial and Presidential elections;
• There are inter-party talks going on aimed at resolving the current
political impasse;
• The current composition and structure of negotiations should stick
to the parties of the 27th June Presidential elections, that is, Zanu
PF's Robert Mugabe and MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

Worried that:
• The current mediator in the talks, South African President Thabo
Mbeki is part-time and has been leading the negotiations on Zimbabwe
for a long time without much success is perceived as sympathetic to
the ruling Zanu PF.
• Other players not connected to the Presidential election dispute
have been included
• The talks are concentrated on the issue of power sharing and
Government of National Unity (GNU) at the exclusion of other options

We therefore resolve that:
• The 27 July 2008 elections were not free and fair and did not
represent the will of the people of Zimbabwe;
• That the mediation efforts should not be left to President Thabo
Mbeki alone, it has to be expanded to include other AU members,
preferably a retired President who would work full-time;
• The MDC fronted by Authur Mutambara should not be part of the talks
since the election in dispute is that of 27 June 2008, of which only
two Presidential candidates, Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai took
• Inter-party talks should take less than two months because the
economy is in bad shape, violence is continuing and people are
• A Government of National Unity is a subversion of our National
Constitution and only a Neutral Transitional Authority should be put
in place with a mandate to take Zimbabwe to fresh, free and fair
elections that will hopefully not be disputed by the parties.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 07/17/2008 - 10:29


Declaration of TU/CS Zimbabwe-Swaziland meeting

Patrick Craven, COSATU National Spokesperson, 15 July 2008

Declaration of preparatory meeting for trade union and civil society international solidarity conference with Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

Leaders of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the Swaziland Federation of Trade Unions and the Swaziland Federation of Labour met today, 15 July 2008, to prepare for an important international conference to be held in Johannesburg on 10-11 August 2008, to mobilise solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe and Swaziland in their struggle for democracy and human rights.

Both countries pose a massive challenge to the people of Africa. Recent developments threaten to roll back the spreading trend towards democracy in Africa. That is why this solidarity conference is so important. It is an opportunity for the workers of Africa to lead a campaign of the people of Africa to demand the establishment of democracy and respect for human rights in two countries where these concepts have been trampled upon in the past period.

2008 is a year of elections in both countries, but in neither case does the process resemble any accepted standards of democracy. Zimbabwe has witnessed an election stolen by a regime which was defeated on 29 March. Swaziland remains an absolute monarchy in the premier league of human rights offenders, in which opposition parties are banned and the proposed ‘election’ is a sham.

The meeting agreed on the need to build the capacity of the trade union movement into a neatly weaved programme of action. Whilst responding to the hostility of the political environment, it must also not neglect the primary responsibility to workers as the core constituency of the trade union movement

The Southern African Trade Union Co-ordinating Council (SATUCC) and individual affiliates in the region need deeper engagement to institutionalise solidarity as a permanent feature of the regional trade union movement, in both Zimbabwe and Swaziland. In creating a network of trade unions throughout the region, organised and acting in solidarity with Zimbabwean and Swazi workers, it will constitute a broad solidarity front of the working class in the region

We need to identify companies, organisations and individuals or even families who might be associated with the ruling regimes, either politically, economically or otherwise as beneficiaries of the current system for further targeted action and isolation, starting with exposing them and their activities

We need to clarify our approach to the on-going negotiations in Zimbabwe, without forgetting to anticipate the emergence of such a possibility in Swaziland. In doing so, we must develop scenarios and use various models of transitions and government of national unity, as reference points. In this regard we must also clarify further, the role of civil society in political negotiations, to ensure that the majority of our people are not mere spectators in the processes that are unfolding, so that they become only preserves of elites.

On Zimbabwe

On Zimbabwe the meeting expressed a preference for an interim government, where an independent person altogether, either a judge or a reverend, runs the state in the interim, with the different parties selecting ministries of their choice under his/her oversight, with parliament as an existing institution responsible for promulgating laws, until proper elections are held.

The reasoning is that the 29th March election outcome was legitimate, notwithstanding its own limitations, and can form a useful basis for such a possible configuration. This transitional government of national unity must not last for more than two years.

The meeting agreed to oppose Western powers-initiated sanctions other than sanctions targeted at the leadership of the illegal government. We however support actions initiated by workers of the region, continent and the world over, under the leadership of SATUCC, ITUC-AFRO and ITUC as a whole.

In this regard the meeting called on COSATU, SATUCC and the rest of the workers everywhere to refuse to handle goods destined for Zimbabwe and Swaziland for an initial period of one week, which will be extended if no progress is made in the realisation of our demands.

We agreed to work with the rest of civil society to stage a mass protest and rally when the SADC heads of states summit is convened in South African on 15-17 August 2008. The protest march and rally will be held on 16 August near the venue of the summit.