Zimbabwe’s Revolution: The Hard Lessons


President Mugabe
President Mugabe attend Zimbabwe’s independence celebration

AFRICANGLOBE – From time immemorial those whose privilege and luxury comes at the expense of the suffering masses have always been opposed to emancipation struggles, and our aristocrats within the revolutionary movement are no exception to this historical corporeality.

That the ousted White commercial farmers and their confederates in Western imperial circles are opposed to the economic empowerment of Zimbabweans is not a matter of debate anymore, and from a purely capitalist point of view the indignation on their part is quite understandable.

Equally understandable is the opposition’s cynicism against Zanu-PF’s people-oriented policies, and that is purely from a standpoint of expediency politics. What is hard to understand is the scourge of corruption and patronage within the revolution itself, as well as the apparent sense of non-liability on the part of those involved.

The ever-inspirational Thomas Sankara, speaking about the Burkinabe Revolution of 1983-87, in August 1987 just before his assassination on October 15, outlined the expected reaction from members of the neo-liberal middle class, as well as from those who preside over the current global imperial authority, the Western ruling elites.

Said Sankara: “What have they not done, what are they not prepared to do even today, to stop (the) forward march? Economic sabotage, smear campaigns, corruption, and provocations of all sorts, blackmail, and threats – these are the kinds of enemy manoeuvres we have had to identify and confront . . .”

We cannot belabour any more the point in regards to imperial opposition to Zimbabwe’s land reform programme, or to the economic empowerment policy. The imperial anger is unmistakable. What needs interrogation is the betrayal of these policies by people who should know better – the supposed beneficiaries, and the supposed leadership of our much renowned revolution.

We hear there are some resettled people leasing land to white former occupiers, and President Mugabe has publicly said the miscreants include some of his own Cabinet ministers.

We hear funds earmarked for loans towards youth economic empowerment end up in the coffers of grandparents, and it appears the malfeasance has become so egregious that impunity now comes across as a more preferable option to accountability, lest the boat rocks too hard for comfort.

Our poor masses have been exposed from two sides – as collateral damage in the game of illegally imposed Western sanctions, and on the other hand as forage in the pretentious world of patronage politics.

It is hard to define emancipation within the context of patron-client politics, where the masses in the name of emancipation are forced into a torturous waiting game; where the patron dangles freebies and handouts in exchange for loyalty and votes.

The blissful propaganda that says Zimbabwe’s isolation by the West, as well as the accompanying ruinous sanctions were only a benign effort targeted at a few individuals cannot fool us. Equally we won’t be defrauded by the overly simplified contention that narrowly attributes the exigent economic situation to bad or unsound policies on the part of Zanu-PF.

There is no policy sounder than a dispossessed people reclaiming their land, and one cannot possibly describe as bad a policy that seeks to include locals in the ownership of the country’s means of production.

We have a revolution in our midst, and we must understand what this revolution stands for – what it seeks to achieve for our people, and how such achievement can be realised. Our revolution must not be seen to be perpetuating the exploitation of the ordinary masses, to be treating our people as a convenient source of cheap labour, or to celebrate the backward peasant who is resigned to fate.

It is disconcerting to hear Morgan Tsvangirai openly celebrating the ‘’good old days’’ of colonial Rhodesia, hankering for the unforgettable days when he was a chief labourer at a mine, destined to regard beer as the arbiter commodity of purchase from the slave wage that colonial Rhodesia paid him.

It is no laughing matter that Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader regards as his most treasured memory the beer price of colonial Rhodesia way back in 1972. When it comes to the emancipation of post-independence Zimbabweans there must be no opposition politics, and this is why Tsvangirai’s mindset is quite unnerving.

Our revolution does not seek to import concepts of democracy or freedom from the people who used to colonise us. Rather it seeks to address the ills inherited from the colonial legacy; ills such as illiteracy, obscurity, pauperisation, harassment, economic exploitation, endemic diseases, poverty, famine and so on and so forth. We cannot do that with politicians who believe it is possible to backstab the public.

While the first phase of the revolution was a bloodletting sacrifice on the part of our gallant freedom fighters who liberated us all, it was in fact the easier of the two phases. It was easier in the sense that its objective was simply to remove foreign political administration. The current phase seeks to provide economic emancipation among our people, and quite wistfully the emancipation efforts have to contend with resistance even from our own people.

Contrary to what some people would want to make the world believe, the revolutionary repossession of land by black Zimbabweans was not a Zanu-PF political gimmick. This was a revolutionary act that achieved its first goal (land repossession) because it drew its strength from the invincibility of the masses.

The mass mentality that brought land reclamation adopted a refusal of a perpetual reproduction of cultural alienation and political servitude as shaped by imperial processes in the perpetuation of domination of Zimbabwe and its people. It was the masses that rose to execute this revolution, not a bunch of politicians desperate for the vote.

It is the transformation of this mentality that has divided Zimbabweans into two separate groups, rather unfortunately.

We have on the one hand middle class beneficiaries of neo-liberal economics that feel hard hit by the undesired effects of our people-oriented policies. These are university and tertiary graduate job aspirants who see the flight of employers in Zimbabwe’s isolation by the West, and largely rightly so.

On the other hand, we have the proletariat who see in the people-oriented policies a chance to shape their own future by working hard on the newly acquired land, or embarking on small to medium business enterprises in line with the economic empowerment policy.

There is no condemnation of either group, and it is the compelling duty of the Government to ensure facilitation for the realisation of the aspirations of both groups.

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