Zimbabwe: Mugabe cracks down on opposition
Comrade Munya Gwisai of the Zimbabwean International Socialist Organisation visited Aotearoa last year and spoke to many of Auckland's anti capitalist activists. The ISO has now been driven underground by Mugabe's Dictatorship.
Last message from the ISO's blog-
Saturday, June 07, 2008
UNDER SEIGEOUR OFFICES IN CENTRAL HARARE HAVE BEEN RAIDED. POLICE CAME IN THE MORNING AND DEMANDED TO SEE SEVERAL LEADERS OF OUR ORGANISATION. THEY REMOVED FILES FROM OUR OFFICE.
THE POLICE CLAIM THAT OUR LAST NEWSPAPER ISSUE WAS "INFLAMATORY" OR "INCITING".
THEY ALSO DEMANDED TO KNOW WHO WRITES FOR OUR NEWSPAPER, WHERE IT IS TYPED AND WHERE IT IS PRINTED.
OUR COMRADES MANAGED TO JUST ESCAPE WITH OUR ONLY COMPUTER.
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The situation in Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate.
This followed the opposition’s withdrawal from the presidential run-off election, due to take place on Friday of this week, in the face of intimidation from Robert Mugabe’s governing Zanu-PF party.
More than 80 MDC activists have been killed during the campaign. There have been arbitrary arrests of civic leaders.
Fourteen leaders of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) opposition group were detained for nearly a month for protesting at the delay in releasing the election results. Two of their leaders are still in detention.
NGOs have effectively been closed down by the regime – those providing food relief, drugs and support to Aids/HIV patients have been particularly hit.
But the MDC has borne the brunt of the attacks. Tsvangirai has been repeatedly arrested, his rallies banned and campaign buses impounded.
The state-controlled media is ignoring the MDC, while people are being forced to remove satellite dishes to prevent them from viewing media independent of the state.
Detained MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti faces treason charges, which carries the death penalty.
In the face of the crisis, some in the Western media have called for military intervention. Such intervention is extremely unlikely as military leaders are aware that Western troops would face mass hostility – not just from people in Zimbabwe but from all surrounding countries.
As Britain is the former colonial power, any British troops would be viewed as imperial invaders.
HardshipZimbabweans are suffering terrible hardship, not just from repression, but also from economic collapse.
But they are only too aware that it was Western-imposed structural adjustment programmes that began the country’s economic crisis in the 1990s.
No African Union or regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) negotiators would consider military intervention. Their preferred solution is the establishment of a government of national unity, which would include Mugabe, his supporters and the MDC.
They point to Kenya, where violence has subsided following the recent election crisis after the appointment of a government with both the sitting president and the opposition.
But rather than end political violence, a government of national unity would integrate it into the political structure. The relative support for each party would not affect its representation.
All trade unions and left organisations reject the call for a government of national unity, arguing that it would benefit the elite and further distance the country from any real democracy. It also disarms any mass action that could challenge the corruption at the top.
It is a tragedy that the general strike it called in April against the fixing of the election results collapsed within a day.
The workers of Zimbabwe are still enormously powerful and mass action would be the most effective way to challenge Mugabe.
However the movement faces a real problem of direction. It is no small thing to go out on strike against a repressive regime in a time of severe hardship. The leadership offered by the MDC was at best vacillating, and often non-existent.
Since the MDC was founded it has steadily moved away from its trade union roots to embrace neoliberalism. It is hardly a surprise that workers do not see the party as a reliable leadership.
FoughtRepression has been stepped up since the failure of the strike. But Zanu-PF has not had everything its own way. Groups of opposition supporters have fought them on the street in areas like Epworth, Bikita, Zaka and Chimanimani. But these were isolated actions, with no central leadership.
The International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe commented that, “the alternative is a regrouped united front of civic society and the opposition to launch a serious and determined programme of civil disobedience and mass action.
“Any struggle that fails to do this will be outflanked on its left by this crafty regime, which has shown strong capacity to cynically manipulate the poor’s concerns and demonise the opposition as a stooge of the West.
“Without such a united front and a pro-poor, pro-working people and anti-capitalist ideology we shall not prevail against this regime.”
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
We welcome the position taken by the MDC, and initial reports indicate
that this position has been accepted by MDC and civic society activists
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
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
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