When A Dictator Is As Devastating As A Tsunami
Mugabe declares war on the poor people of townships
For weeks now, the state has been on a vicious offensive against the urban poor people in the so called ‘operation murambatsvina’ which is nothing short of a brutal, callous, tyrannical, Hitler like attack on the poor.
The state has launched a nazi type blitzkrieg on informal traders, flea markets and tuck shops, demolishing and burning cabin/cottages that housed thousands if not millions of poor people, at the same time the police are destroying and looting informal traders’ wares living families total destitutes. Thousands of women and children from the affected ghettoes are stranded and sleeping in the open in this cold winter.
The most brutal fact is that what is under attack is the very source of people’s livelihoods. Unemployment is currently at 80%, companies are closing down everyday and poor people have been sustaining their families through petty informal trading from which they never made much, but were at least getting a little something for rent, send their kids to school and feed their families. Flea markets, cross border trading, tuck shops, vegetables stalls, etc, this is how people have been living.
We all know of the critical housing shortage in towns, poor people are living in cabins; not by choice but because they have been condemned to that life of poverty and destitution by the very same regime which now attacks them. The police are burning and destroying these same cabins living thousands of people homeless. Everyday on the news and in papers we see sad pictures of people desperately trying to save their belongings from burning and crumbling structures. Everyday we see bulldozers mercilessly destroying people’s lives. The townships are swarming with police and soldiers who are beating up and brutalizing people. On the streets the police have unleashed a reign of terror rounding up street kids and homeless people. These unfortunate poor people are being dumped on farms such as Caledonia where they are virtual prisoners.
People on these farms are under constant police and army guard and they have no right to leave. Conditions are terrible and sub human with people sleeping in the open in this cold winter with no safe drinking water, no toilets, no food etc. Over 20000 poor people have already been arrested under this obnoxious
operation misnamed murambatsvina but which in reality is murambavanhu.
The most painful thing is that these attacks are coming at a time when people are facing unbearable hardships; serious transport shortages with workers walking
to and from work and others sleeping on transport queues, basic food shortages, crippling water and electricity shortages in ghettoes and water bills running into millions (more than the minimum wage. The reserve bank governor Gideon Gono
must be named and shamed as the demon behind this whole madness, which has received Mugabe’s total support. At the core of the so-called ‘operation murambatsvina’ or ‘restore order’, is Gono’s drive to rebuild a full-scale neo-liberal economic order. He wants a new socio-economic culture to support this new order. He wants every economic activity to be taxed; in a sense he wants to be the best (worst) tax collector there is. So when you want to buy a tomato you go into a registered supermarket. Already the cross border traders have come under attack losing goods and their money at borders. While he is mercilessly attacking the poor, Gono is doing everything to advance and protect the interests of capital. He has already said salary increments should not be more than 85%, he has removed levies on tobacco farmers and he is giving handouts to business left right and center, giving cheap money to businesses in the so called productive sector support scheme. Since the elections prices of almost every basic commodity have more than doubled and rates have sky rocketed. It is therefore crucial for the social movement opposed to neo-liberalism and capitalism to be part of the resistance. The lightning we are seeing now
announces the thunder of the carnage of the neo-liberal project. As such it is as a matter of duty that every genuine fighter against neo-liberalism must join the resistance and fight alongside the masses in this struggle.
We have already seen the poor people spontaneously rising up to resist these attacks with the burning barricades and pitched battles we saw in Glenview/
Budiriro, Mbare, Makokoba, Mabvuku and other townships. But if isolated and unorganized this resistance will easily be crushed. It is now time for all those committed to justice and life to gird themselves and join the fight. Hot boiling
anger is already there on the ground but it needs to be channeled and directed into a coherent program of active resistance. None of us can do everything but everyone of us can do something. The moment demands upon us that we rise up to defend life itself. We can no longer continue watching as our lives go up in smoke. We are under attack and its imperative upon us that we organize ourselves for self-defense. This mad operation can be stopped, and the calling is upon all the young people and all those able, to stand up and defend self, family and community. We are urging communities to organize for self-defense. We are
calling for the formation of resistance committees on every street, in every neighborhood. We are also calling for informal traders to organize themselves into collective vigilantes for self-defense and resist the actions of the police
by any means necessary. In unity lies our strength and no amount of repression can defeat us. We are in the majority and those who terrorize us are few. Every neighborhood must immediately organize committees for the defense of the community to resist and repel attacks from the police.
We are calling upon the masses of Zimbabwe to fully join the resistance under the banner of operation Povo Yaramba. Mugabe can be stopped if the poor masses of this country are united and the resistance must start now. Mugabe has only been able to continue for this long because he attacked at a time when the progressive forces were scattered, disoriented and at their weakest in terms of leadership, mobilization and organization. Matters were made worse by the dillydallying of those who should have most logically taken up leadership and mobilized for the resistance. The majority of those affected are the urban poor who have loyally supported the MDC for the past six years in the face of extreme repression from the Mugabe regime. As such the MDC has a duty to defend its constituency. It’s unbelievable that the MDC leadership could only repay this support with the confused statements issued by Tsvangirai in which he said the MDC was not exactly opposed to the clean up campaign but it’s the ‘how’ they disagree with. What a tragic repeat of the mambo jumbo of the MDC’s position
on the land question! Most in the MDC ranks have proved to be cowards not ready to lead a serious resistance to Mugabe, all they care about now is their privileged positions and perks. Genuine leaders will be seen leading their people in this struggle. MDC is part of the broad alliance and as such the party leadership must come out clearly mobilizing and leading their people.
The most immediate and important task of all progressive forces is to forge a united front to resist Mugabe and defend life. Isolated responses will neither be successful nor help anyone. With this understanding we see it as a matter of paramount importance that the broad alliance that has been mobilizing for action be turned into a functional United Front that incorporates all the progressive forces currently on the peripehery of braod alliance but can contribute to the
resistance. CHRA,WOZA, Churches, ZSF, ISO, Unions, all these groups must be part of the united front. Actions must be planned, mobilized for and led by the united front.
SHINGA MUSHANDI SHINGA! SHINGA MUROMBO SHINGA! Lets get free or die trying! REVOLUTIONARY MEANS BEING ORGANISED KNOW WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO BEFORE YOU DO IT PLAN YOUR WORK AND WORK YOUR PLAN BE DISCIPLINED AND KEEP YOUR MIND FOCUSED
BUILD UNITED FRONT RESISTANCE TO MURAMBATSVINA NOW!
Southern Africa Social Forum comes to Zimbabwe:
The second edition of the Southern Africa Social Forum (SASF) comes to Harare this October. This year’s SASF promises to be the biggest gathering in the sub-region since WSSD of progressive forces fighting against neoliberalism. The social forum process with its slogan
Another World is Possible is emerging to be a platform uniting movements, organizations and activists in a collective search for alternatives to capitalism. SASF is a regional equivalent to the continent wide Africa Social Forum and the world wide World Social Forum. The social forum has provided a platform for regrouping anti capitalist forces to strengthen solidarity and build the struggle against capitalism. The worsening crisis of capitalism particularly the failure of neo-liberal economic policies has resulted in a hugely distorted status quoin which the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow wider. The vast majority of people live in conditions of worsening abject poverty whilst a tiny parasitic minority lavishes in obscene riches. The neoliberal project has resulted in massive job loses, collapse of social service delivery systems such as health, education, housing and public transport. This reality of harsh living conditions has created the objective conditions for the emergence of resistance to the obtaining economic order of which the social forum process is a growing expression. Questions beginning to emerge as the social forum process takes root are whether the process will indeed serve as a platform to advance and resolve the ‘unfinished business’ and the new tasks of the social justice struggle.
Notable debate is picking up around whether this will not turn out to be all about serial meetings/talk shops, plane activism and tourist junkets and in that way actually become a platform to divert and disarm the building resistance against capitalism. SASF takes place at a time when grassroots struggles are building up in communities and townships against privatizations of water, electricity, education, and other social services.
The rural poor are crying for access to more land and workers want a living wage. HIV/AIDS activists are demanding access to life prolonging drugs and nutritional support. Oppressed people are fighting for democratic rights.The way the social forum will relate to all these ‘bread and butter’ struggles will either vindicate the process as a genuine vehicle for contemporary struggles against capitalism or condemn it as one of the biggest diversionary currents of
the 21st century. A real danger of abuse lies in the process’s structure of a ‘loose’, ‘open’, non voting, almost noncommittal space. Undoubtedly the anti- hierachical and consensus driven model is popular today, amongst particularly young activits.However this ‘looseness’ may serve to become the ultimate excuse for not taking any binding decisions and engaging in decisive collective action thus reducing the space to a non acting jamboree of NGO elements. The other key question is the marginal role of organised labour in the whole social forum process.
This threatens to make the social forum as a challenge to capitalism a ‘movement’ of numbers but lacking structural impact. The ultimate challenge is to forge an alliance between the admitedly tiny but strategically located working class and the vast mass of resistance to neoliberalism represented by the NGOs and the civic and social movements.
13 TO 15 OCTOBER - SASF COMES TO HARARE... ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE! - BE THERE!
Latin America: a continent in revolt
Bolivia’s government has finally collapsed after weeks of struggle by workers and indigenous peasants demanding the nationalization of country’s oil and gas resources.
Early reports indicate that the indigenous peasants who have spearheaded the struggle have now begun occupying the oil and gas fields.
In the last five years, similar popular uprisings have overthrown unpopular regimes in Ecuador, Peru and Argentina. In Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador and Uruguay, governments have been elected on anti-neoliberal platforms in the last seven years. Leftwing forces are considered to have a serious chance in elections in countries such as Mexico and Nicaragua.
People have become angry against politicians who keep implementing the pain of “free trade”, privatisation and debt repayment demanded by US imperialism, and its agents, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other
‘development’ banks. The neo-liberal project has become discredited.
Huge mobilisations, street protests, factory occupations and militant movements have forced many governments to retreat on neo-liberal policy in order to maintain control. In Argentina, President Kirchner renegotiates the country’s crippling foreign debt down and stood up to Shell Oil. However, the most significant breakthrough has come in Venezuela where President Hugo Chavez, who has won eight elections and referendums since 1988, is challenging US imperialism and its local lackeys.
Venezuela’s extensive oil wealth is being used to fund social programmes such as land redistribution, education and health missions and public housing. Workers, the urban poor and small farmers are mobilising in support of the revolution. Venezuela is in Washington’s target sights. The US is especially
upset with the political and economic ties Venezuela maintains with Cuba. Since the 1959 Cuban revolution, the US has sought to overthrow - at various times by invasion, assassination, propaganda bombardment and economic terrorism - the
government led by Fidel Castro.
The current situation is another headache for the US. If the Bolivian army is unable to attack and destroy the mass movement the US and other “allies” would have only the Columbian Army to do their dirty work, unless they deploy their own troops. However, Colombia has been unsuccessfully battling strong
leftwing guerrilla armies for decades. In Latin America, US imperialism, backed by the point of a gun and a loan, no longer seems so invincible.
What we think ... By Oscar Simbi
Why Operation Murambatsvina now
The first reason for operation Murambatsvina is the massive crisis of neoliberal capitalism in Zimbabwe, in the context of western imposed sanctions. Our rulers have resolved that the only way to get out of this crisis is to introduce a massive
neo-liberal program, as demanded by the west capitalists.
Despite Gono the economic crisis has worsened, as shown by the dramatic collapse in the Zim dollar, return of the ‘parallel’ market, and fuel and electricity shortages. Western governments, led by the UK and USA, have demanded that,
before they lift sanctions and resume aid, the Zanu PF government must restore ‘the rule of law’, accommodate their political allies, the MDC, and its supporting NGOs and return to a full scale IMF supervised Esap program.
They demanded the restoration of order and an end to the attacks on private property that have characterized Zimbabwe since 1997, as workers, the urban poor, peasants and war veterans rose up against the effects of Esap. In desperation Mugabe sought political survival by condoning and encouraging farm and factory invasions and partially reversing Esap through commandist policies like price controls, subsidies, refusal to devalue or privatize and interest regulation.
To ensure that Mugabe is not tempted to use his new two thirds majority any other way, the capitalists have increased the pressure, threatening an economic implosion, which could lead to mass insurrections like in Ukraine, Kyrgystan,
Georgia or Serbia. to avoid this eventuality Mugabe, using Gono, is now ready to play ball and do the bidding of the capitalists - this is why it is called ‘Operation Restore Order’ - to stop the lawlessness of the last six or so years.
Gono was very open about this in his review: “Government has declared 2005 as the year of investment attraction...Government and the monetary authorities have, over the last few months, been working on a framework to regularize bilateral investment protection agreements that were inadvertently adversely affected during the emotive Land Reform Program, which has now been concluded...We are pleased to inform our potential investment partners with
whom we have been negotiating for investment that Zimbabwe, as part of the global community, is fully aware of the need to protect and encourage inward investments as a tool to attract international capital mobilization...”
“ With the parliamentary elections now over, the marked peace...prevailing in the economy forms a solid launch - pad to deepen our turnaround thrust...We must
realize as Zimbabweans that we can not postpone the turnaround, we have to take the pain like grown-ups and must know that the responsibility to turn around this economy squarely lies on our shoulders...”
So herein lie the two fundamental objectives of Operation Murambatsvina: firstly, and most importantly, it is to send the right signal to the global capitalist class that the political elites of Zanu PF have turned a new leaf and are now ready
and prepared to defend and advance the interests of capitalists and private property at all costs - including reintroducing Esap, restoring some of the former white farmers and destroying Zanu PF’s radical base, which spearheaded the previous ‘lawlessness’, or jambanja, to save Zanu PF from imminent defeat by the MDC in 2000.
Secondly, the operation is designed to deal a decisive pre-emptive blow against all lingering and potential centers of resistance amongst the urban poor, workers,
informal traders, war veterans and peasants before Gono unleashes the promised full “pain” of his “turnaround”: i.e., an Esap harsher than the original one. The timing of this blow has been dictated by the highly conducive political
conditions currently existing: that is, the organs of resistance of the masses are at their weakest, organizationally and in terms of confidence as discussed below.
The first political conditions is within Zanu PF itself: namely the defeat, post Tsholotsho (where there was a showdown between the two wings of the ruling party), of the radical anti-imperialist base of Zanu PF, composed of poor and
ordinary peasants, war veterans and informal traders. They received the support of anti-imperialist but opportunistic intellectuals led by Jonathan Moyo, whose massive strategic blunders at Tsholotsho ultimately led to the victory of the
neo-liberal right wing faction. Just after the 2000 elections, the Zanu PF right wing faction tried, for instance to destroy informal settlements in Kuwadzana and Whitecliff, but they were stopped by the mass mobilization of the Zanu PF poor,
led by war veterans. Now bolstered by the crushing of their opponents at congress and the expulsion of Moyo, and the subsequent overwhelming election victory of Zanu PF, they are driving their advantage home, seeking to deliver a fatal blow to the party’s radical base. Operation Murambatsvina could only be possible after the war veterans had successfully been dismembered and neutralized.
The second condition is the leadership crisis in the MDC, the labour movement and the NGOs. The Mugabe regime has attacked now, in the midst of a massive economic crisis, because it is convinced that the MDC and the ZCTU leaders will not lead their supporters in a fight back. In the last few weeks, the leadership of both organizations have been involved in severe power struggles, paralyzing their institutions. Critically MDC leaders announced that they would not call mass action to protest the rigged elections, but go back to the courts and call for mass action to protest the rigged elections, but go back to the courts and call on their western friends to increase pressure. Such cowardice, together with the deferment of congress by a year, so angered the youths that they tried to
physically kick out of office all members of the National Executive except Morgan Tsvangirai and National Chairman Isaac Matongo, and repossess party vehicles. Leaders who were assaulted include renegade Last Maengahama, whose sell out tendencies had long been exposed since he engineered an opportunistic split within the ISO to form the stillborn Left Wing in 2001.The ZCTU is mortally weakened by disillusionment amongst members because of the failure of most its leaders to mobilize a fight for a living wage and to defend jobs and because of rampant corruption amongst the top leadership. Meanwhile the rest of the NGOs are paralyzed by fear of the long running NGOs Bill.
It is no wonder that the rightwing neo-liberals now in charge of Zanu PF and the state have calculated that now is the right time to attack.
What Cleaning Up Can A Dirty Broom Do?
MY PERSONAL TESTIMONY
- By Briggs Bomba
Everyday the people of Zimbabwe pray that some miracle will save the country from degenerating into the curse of Malawi under Kamuzu Banda; Harsh brutal rule under a ruthless, insensitive, self-enriching dictator who lacked even the decency to die on time. Conversations are dominated by the talk of the Tsunami in reference of the devastation on ordinary people’s lives caused by the
government’s so called ‘operation murambatsvina’ which is nothing but a senseless and callous attack on poor people of the townships. The government’s so called ‘clean up’ campaign has left over a million people displaced making them refugees in their own country. Over 22 000 poor people trying to survive on informal trading have been arrested by the police with their goods worth millions of dollars confiscated or destroyed. The ongoing senseless attacks on informal traders comes at a time when the vast majority of the population has no choice but to survive on the informal sector. The country is reeling under a massive
economic crisis resulting from failed neo-liberal economic policies that the government adopted under the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) of 1990.
Unemployment is widespread, now estimated at 80%. The formal sector continues to shrink with companies folding down everyday resulting in massive job loses. The whole social service delivery system is in a colossal crisis with the public housing, health and education sectors in total paralysis.
In the townships it certainly appears as if a tsunami has hit. In the over three decades old township of Mabvuku I witnessed the havoc. First came riot police in defender trucks singing and drumming as if they were psyching for war with some alien invaders. The next day the cops came in their hundreds and drove around the township with sirens blurring and all their tools of violence displayed. As they drove around they gave instructions that residents destroy all informal structures. If they came round and you had not destroyed your own cottages and tuck shops you will get it. They would beat you up for resisting and ask you to
start demolishing while they wait. In some cases they would just round up people in the vicinity and force them to take down the structures. Tuck shops, cottages, market stalls they were all going up in dust and smoke. And with that the source of livelihoods for thousands of people. When the dust had settled the scene looked more like a funeral than anything I have seen before. The atmosphere was weighty and grave, without the normal wailing and singing that accompany funerals. Shock. Stunned Silence. Disbelieve. Trauma. Arms folded people
stood looking at the rubble that once had been their dwellings and few worldly belongings as they tried to comprehend what would drive a government to turn against its people with such violence and treat them like animals.
Many did not know where to sleep that very night. Parents were at a loss on what to say to their children who wanted to know why. Many of these houses now ruins had stood and sheltered people for over two decades. Going late into the night one could still see women with kids strapped on their backs behind carts carrying the little they could scavenge out of the rubble. Many just lit up fires to warm their kids and slept in the open. Refugees in their own country. When I went to check out a tuck shop run by one of my comrades for years and had become a favourite spot for youths in the hood only one block with the YAHWE inscribed on it remained. Everything else was now a dusty memory.
In Chitungwiza the picture was much more depressing. Soon after the demolitions which left thousands in the open there was a heavy down pour.
Everything was wet and muddy. When I got to my brothers’ house, a family had huddled onto his verandah with all they could pick up from the rubble. Husband,
wife and kids, they were all there thinking about what to do next. Inside a neighbour’s kids were sleeping in the lounge. Their cottage had been destroyed whilst the mother was away at a funeral leaving the kids stranded on their own in the middle of a rainy winter night. It took me eight hours of waiting at the terminus the next day to get transport into town. Makoni bus terminus was swarming with hundreds of commuters who wanted to get into town, many of which had to cancel their plans for the day because of the serious transport crisis.
This is the anguish and suffering that Mugabe has visited upon those he swore to serve. Every other township has its sad account to tell. In Tafara a kid died when a wall fell on her. In Gweru a man committed suicide from the stress and desperation of the situation. The media carried stories of a mother who had to drag her terminally ill son from a burning hut torched by the police. The whole
structure crumbled just as they darted out.
At the Fife Avenue Shopping Center vendors come out to their old places in the night. Against all odds they try to sell something; Bundles of vegetables, tomatoes, onions, bananas, avocados and so on. They have no choice. They have families to feed. Their kids have to go to school. They must pay rent. It’s their only means of survival. One sees mostly women literally begging passersby to buy their vegetables and staff. Every now and then they glance sideways for the cops who may raid at any time. The police regularly carry out night raids on
which they beat up and arrest the women and seize their goods which they convert to their own use. The women look visibly stressed and if you talk to them they will tell you that they have no other choice. It’s the only way they can feed their families. Life is hard, they are no jobs, there are serious shortages of basic commodities and prices are going up everyday. When I was arrested on the eve of last week’s stay away whilst mobilizing for the action, the cops picked up a vendor on the way to the charge office and took us to one of the police internal security intelligence (PISI) torture rooms. They made the vendor lie down on the floor and he was beaten merciless with a wooden plank. Whilst beating him the cop kept on saying that ‘you are being told go and work on the farms but refusing’. After beating the poor guy senseless he was told to go and pay a $25, 000 for vending The cops remained with his whole basket of apples; their fringe benefits.
On the streets the same war on the homeless poor is raging on. The cops are rounding up the homeless, beggars, the mentally deranged and all those who have been living on the streets. These people are being dumped onto farms such as Caledonia where they are practically prisoners. A close comrade who went to one of the farms almost suffered a nervous breakdown. People live under 24hrs police guard. There are strict security checks on anyone getting in including a picky body search. Because of the humanitarian crisis in the camps police have now allowed aid workers to come in and help with the situation. No journalists are allowed into the camps and even the aid workers are given an ‘escort’ who censors what they can discuss with those inside the camps. Cameras are not allowed in. Cell phones too, the police say that they have information that some of the cell phones take pictures. One needs to be prepared for the horrible scene inside the camp. The mentally sick who were roaming the streets are tied onto trees to restrain them. There is no safe drinking water, people are drinking from the same dam they use for bathing. No houses or toilets. People sleep in the open and use the bush for ablution. The tents that were donated by some aid groups are just heaped somewhere; the people have not been allowed to pitch them. The place is near a dam so it gets freezing cold. Women, men and children sleep in the open just like that. Some of the inhabitants are terminally ill and in desperate need of medication. It’s just gruesome. This is what lurks behind the scenes of a clean street. People denied of their being and relegated to the status of animals.
The police are so overzealous in their street round ups to the extent that many times they have bundled onto trucks some people for simply being ‘poorly’ dressed and therefore suspected to be living on the street. Some comrades doing humanitarian work in one of the camps where they have given tents and
set up a preschool where given eight man to drive back to town on one of their trips. These had finally convinced the police that they had families waiting and worrying about them at home. They had mistakenly been rounded up as street people, just because they were ‘poorly’ dressed.
One of the greatest fears that people in the holding camps have is that they will be turned into pools for cheap labour to serve on state farms and those owned by Zanu PF Chefs. Already the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono who belongs to the Zanu PF faction behind the ‘clean up’ campaign has called for the construction of more prisons saying those arrested must be sent to work on farms for a season or so. It can also be argued that the government is destroying
people’s means of livelihood so that they have no choice but to become farm labourers, as they want them to be. Very much similar to how the colonial regime introduced Chibharo or forced labour on the farms.
The ferocity and scale of what is happening now in the history of independent Zimbabwe is second only to the early eighties Gukurahundi genocide in Matebeleland and the Midlands in which the fifth brigade slaughtered
over 20 000 poor peasants. The regime’s determination to kill in this operation is as resolute as during the Gukurahundi era. Police Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai told over 2000 of his officers before dispatching them into action following some resistance in the ghettoes where people put up barricades and fought running battles with the police: “Why are you letting the
people toss you around when you are the police? From tomorrow, I need reports on my desk saying that we have shot people. The president has given his full support to this operation so there is nothing to fear. You should treat this operation like war. Those people fighting back need to be taught bitter lessons because that is the only way to avoid further confrontation.” This is exactly what it is. War. On the poor.
With this one Mugabe has set off a time bomb and its now count down to detonation. The current tense silence will not be for long. Increasingly the atmosphere is getting charged up and maybe Jabulani Sibanda the
Chairperson of the War Veterans association summarized it best when he said,
“the government has this time ignited a bonfire which is going to backfire…Once government started valuating itself against the strength of its army, its police and its air power, then there is something wrong. We cannot have a situation where government strength is measured by the strength of its forces as opposed to support from the masses. People are like a coiled spring: if you suppress it, it comes together and becomes dangerous. They might not rise today, but rise they shall…war veterans are prepared to defend the revolution whether within Zanu
PF or outside, and the revolution is the will of the people, not a few government officials”. Time will tell, like Bob Marley said.
DIALOGUE BETWEEN MUGABE AND WAR VETERANS
Resettled war veterans from Harare South Constituency talk to Mugabe:
“President, ko zvamava kutiputsira dzimba dzedu inga takakuvhoterai
“Ha-a, get away mhani, daidzisiri tsoro dzangu ndangandaenda .”
International Socialist Organisation Meetings
If you like what you have read or want to know more about us, you are welcome to our fortnightly branch meetings:
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For details on venues and topics, write to P.O. Box 6758 Harare or firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 704209 or 023295722 or drop in at our offices: ZimRights Cnr 4th & Baines Avenue.
Economic turn right program
I guess this is the best way to summarize Gono (rhea) economic turn around program. True to the colours of the zigzag party, the left mask has been cast off and the naked right wing agenda spearheaded by the defacto prime minister gono(rhea) is no longer a secret. All the posturing since 97 is already half way in a roll back. The land, subsidies, price controls, everything. It was all a gimmick. Woe to any who continues to follow the zigzag party, you are sure to be thrown
overboard on the next turn. Many seem to be seeing this and are deserting en masse. The most spectecular evidence was in Highfield where a dog was seen wearing a Zanu T shirt. And still on that, have you noticed the sudden disappearnce of Zigzag party T-shirts from the townships? Maybe you need to check what your neighbhour’s dog is wearing these days. Check the bins too
Operation murambatsvina ( pronounced murambavanhu):- the menace of gono’s economic turn right program
So we are told that the success of the ‘ clean up’ campaign is evident on our streets for everyone to see. No more streets vendors, no more beggars, no more touts, no more people. But whats there now? Just a sad emptiness. What we really are is exactly what was swept away. Luscious the Poet put it well when he said, ‘we can not afford to be clean.Not now!’ All one needs to do is just look at the cost so far, 300 000 kids dropped out of school, close to 2 million displaced, thousands in holding camps, thousands brutalized by the police, scores dead, over 22 000 arrested, untold stress, trauma, chaos. ‘The dirty broom that pretends to clean. The heartless broom that kills. The dirty broom that needs to be cleaned’- words from Luscious the poet.
We are told that the ‘clean up’ campaign is targeting all illegal structures and activities. Our houses, backyard cottages are already down. It seems you have to be as rich as Sam Levy or half as that to have a right to carry out illegal activities. The whole world knows that the multi billion dollar Sam Levy complex was built without city council authority but it still stands today. Why was it not the first target. Solomon Tawengwa built a service station in the middle of a highway without council authority. Why has it not been touched? Countless other Zanu Chefs operate known illegal businesses and these have not been touched. It’s only the poor who were targeted. What was taken is all they had. The only roof. The only source of income. The only life. Murders!
The Ordeal of fake Cde Chinx
Chikwata heard that ‘cleaners’ went to the cde’s house wanting to ‘clean’. Obviously the fake cde had never imagined that as a ‘patriotic’ singing war veteran his property could be amongst the ‘dirty’ ones. So when he saw the bulldozer coming he was certain that it was a mistake, once they realize who he was they would certify his property clean and move on to the next poor guy. So our cde went out and told the cops that he was cde chinx. When he saw that, that didn’t change their assessment of his property’s cleanliness, we hear that fake cde chinx frantically reapeted to the cops that he was Cde Chinx. ‘ hamundizive here? Horaiti mirai ndibvise heti munyatsondiona. Ndinoimbira nyika varume,
mandikanganwana here?. None of that helped. And so the cde decided
to go on top of the house daring the cops to demolish. The next time the
cde gained consciosness he was on a hospital bed having sustained bad
injuries. And his house, just a heap of rubble.
The dumb squib of the month
This goes to non other than fake cde Chinx. After his fiasco with the ‘cleaners’, the man was again on TV announcing his next singing assignment. Even on this late hour the man can’t see what’s happening. You are the sacrificial pony on a chess board, you are cannon fodder, you are nothing but a dumb squib.
How about this one: History repeats itself. 25 years ago war veterans were sleeping in the open, 25 years later they are now sleeping in the open again. What a Silver Jubilee!
from the undaground
‘Great stir in the air’... We must continue the struggle!
There is only one way forward after the last stay away; i.e. to mobilize for more actions. The success or otherwise of the action should not be assessed merely on the basis of the turnout and closure of businesses. Admittedly turn out was
much poor than expected, but a strong minority of workers heeded the call.
There were several negatives stacked against the action:
(a) As the first real action called since the disastrous failure of the MDC’s 2003 ‘Final Push’, people are still cautious, afraid and numbed by the sheer scale of Operation Murambatsvina; more so because of (b) the massive deployment of police and soldiers into townships ahead of the actions, (c) the belated and lukewarm support by the MDC leaders, who only publicly came out in support on the eve of the stay away, (d) the complete paralysis of the ZCTU, with key leaders away in Geneva, and those remaining saying they had no mandate from the General Council; (e) the fact that the bosses and capitalists, partly out of fear of the state but mainly because as capitalists they are basically in support of Gono’s anti-poor actions, did not close their businesses as in 1997. Capitalists can never be trusted as consistent fighters against dictatorships, for they always put first, their business and profits; (f) the objective reality of 80% unemployment and massive poverty, made most workers choose the safer option, even if most supported the mass action in spirit. More so in the context of weak and hesitant
leadership from the MDC and ZCTU and an apparent overwhelming superior enemy; and (g) finally, in the above context, the tactic of a pure stay way not backed by public protests is not ideal. By its passive and individual nature, a
stay away isolates and atomizes the masses, failing to visibly show our strength and mobilize the weaker ones. Sadly in the above context emotions and anger alone were not enough to carry us through.
But we scored some points!
There was indirect support by most ordinary people as shown by the feeling in the air in the days leading up to and during the action, forcing the reluctant MDC leaders to come out in support. This shows that the fighting spirit is coming back,
although for now hesitant, cautious and lacking confidence. The action also saw the emergence of an enthusiastic layer of young activists and workers drawn from different organizations who wholeheartedly mobilized for the action distributing tens of thousands of flyers despite the lukewarm support of their leaders and harassment from the police. They were drawn from as many differing organizations as the Zimbabwe Social Forum, NCA, CHRA, ISO, WOZA, Students, MDC, and rank and file union activists. A new militant cadreship is being born for the oncoming struggles. Our actions have also managed to restore the Zimbabwean crisis back on the headlines of the international scene, with
support not only from the traditional left and socialist movement regionally and globally but also forced western governments and media to give crocodile tears support and coverage. This is critical because it stops or slows down the
detente between the elites of Zanu PF and the MDC, which Gono and the moderates in both parties are pushing for. More action will force MDC leaders to support the movement, even if nominally, or stand to be swept aside by history.
Despite Zanu’s apparent bravado, our action has shaken the regime. It has started some backpedaling, with the operation virtually suspended during the two days of the action with the regime’s propaganda emphasizing on rehabilitation and distribution of new stands etc. Much more importantly our actions have encouraged sections of Zanu PF supporters to waiver, in particular the war veterans as revealed by anti regime statements issued by Jabulani
Sibanda, the chairman of the war veterans association.
The only way forward is to build up for more actions, even if the cowardly elements might want to derail us. The cost of inaction i.e. demoralization, would derail our struggle by decades. The BA, CHRA, WOZA, ISO, ZSF and the
progressive wing of the churches need to urgently meet to map out the next course of actions. The bedrock of our resistance hitherto has been the township women, who have led some very inspiring riots and struggles on their own.
The epicenter of our actions must move to the townships, so that we epitomize the participation of women. The action must this time be direct protest actions and marches that unite and give us a collective fighting spirit. The actions
must be done on a day that maximizes participation of everyone such as a Saturday. In order to counter the justified cynicism and distrust amongst the masses that leaders call for action which they themselves don’t participate in leaving the povo to make all the sacrifices, whatever protests are called, the leaders of the BA, civic and social movement groups, churches and trade unions and progressive opposition MPs and councilors must lead from the front, suffering with the people. The one area Mugabe has not yet dared to attack with his customary viciousness is the church. The progressive church now needs to unite with the fighting masses as was done by clerics like Tutu in the fight against apartheid. Only united and democratic action of the poor and those in support of democracy and justice, regardless of party or organization affiliating can succeed.
We urge for the formation a democratic united front that incorporated all progressive forces that can contribute to advancing the struggle against the heartless regime of Mr Mugabe. And finally we need to build on the massive
support emerging from the global and regional movement of the poor, the churches, the anti-capitalist, antiglobalization movement and Zimbabweans in the Diaspora.
Mugabe’s fake left and anti-imperialist postures are increasingly being exposed. Let Mugabe and his minions like Gono know that they can build as many prisons as they want, but they will never be enough to fill all of us. We are the vast majority and they are a tiny parasitic minority! No prison cell in history has ever stopped a people’s revolution whose time has come. Not under Smith, not under Botha, Not under Banda and today certainly not under Mugabe!
Issued by ISO Nation al Coordinating Committee: 11/06/05 Harare
The people`s resistance - Opperation Povo yaramba!
Workers struggles for a living wage & better working conditions
Minimum wages by Industry as of May 2005
Industry (Union) Monthly Minimum Wage
Automotive (AAWUZ) 800,000-00
Commercial (CWUZ) 1,000,000-00
National Engineering (NEWU) 900,000-00
Construction (ZCATWU) 536,745.33
Printing and Packaging Industry (ZGWU) 1,555,000-00
Textiles (ZTWU) 780,000-00
Food (FFAWUZ) 1,020,000 (Food Processing),
Domestic (ZDAWU) 800,000-00 (Gardner)
900,000-00 (Child minder)
Industry/Union Minimum Wage/Month (Z$)
Clothing (NUCI) 485,000-00
Tobacco (ZTIWU) 1,101,893 (Miscellaneous)
Iron and Steel Workers Union 1,100,00
Chemicals (Plastic Manufacturing) 926,694 (lowest)
Commercial (CWUZ) 1,000,000-00
Civil Servants Employees 914,000-00
Tel One (CASWUZ) 900,000-00
Zimpost (CASWUZ) 2,600,000-00
Electricity and Energy Workers 843,000-00
Progressive (PTUZ) 2,560,000-00
Agriculture (GAPWUZ) 160,000-00
Agro Industry 251,000-00
Printing workers to down tools
Workers and bosses have reached a deadlock over salary increases in printing yet again this year. After a series of labour forums in all industrial zones the union went to the negotiating table mandated to start at wage increase of
250%. Should they compromise were not allowed to go below 200%. Bosses came offering a paltry 12% and only went up to 30%. They then deadlocked workers at 220% and Bosses at 30%. This time contrary to what bosses
thought, as what had been happening in the past where they would then agree for arbitration after dead lock, workers sort to use their own powers –strike. Workers have leant from experience that they would not get anything good from
arbitration or courts but only through their self-activity with the experience of their last strike where they managed a 154% increment when bosses were originally offering 30%. The Secretary General of the union has already written a notice of industrial action to the Ministry of labour as required by the law that they give a 14 days notice before action. At the same time leaflets mobilizing for the strike
have already started circulating in industry. Zonal workers committees have started the distribution of leaflets and mobilizing for the strike . The 200% being demanded by workers would leave the minimum paid worker earning around $4.5 million a month. This is a beat reasonable considering where they are coming from and also the ever increasing cost of living given what Gono and his cronies are planning.
The 30% offer by bosses is nothing to talk about given the torment workers are undergoing brought about by the recent (Tsunami) dubbed disaster of Gono which left thousands of workers homeless. Obviously no one would to work for
peanuts and come back to sleep on the pavement. If the bosses are adamant with their peanuts workers will be left with no other option but to go back to their rural homes. Life has become so hard for workers in urban areas. Food and accommodation have become so unaffordable. The accomodation crisis has been worsened by the Tsunami as there is now a higher demand for houses than before. To printing comrades we say keep up the fighting spirit because that is the only language our bosses understand. Below is a table listing what workers are getting in several other industries as of May 2005. The printing industry is
relatively above others because of their successul strike of 2003. By M Sambo
War goes on for Nutresco workers as they are now punished for exercising their right to seek an audience with the Production Manager. Last year in November a group of workers at Nutresco confronted the Production Manager seeking clarity on the then prevailing rumors that the company wanded to force workers to a shut down and employ contract workers to perform their duties whilst they were on shut down. After that incident 40 workers were suspended and later on fired. Workers appealed to the ministry of labour, and the arbitrator arbitrator took six months to deliver a judgement which was not in favour of the workers. The judgement upheld the decision by employers to sake workers. This to a certain extent teaches us workers that laws are designed to safe guard the interests of bosses and capital therefore at a fundamental level courts and arbitration processes do not work and the ultimate solution is workers’ self activity.
Workers have lodged an appeal against the judgment with the Labour Court. No one had really thought workers would lose the case because at the first
conciliation meeting held before the arbitration it was agreed the workers were supposed to be reinstated. Only the conditions and payments were a cause for
Nutresco bosses are waging a consitent war against workers. Apart from the 40 fired workers last month they dismissed the secretary for the workers committee,
again for fighting for workers‘ rights and opposing the bosses plan to short change workers as they plan to sell the company to other bosses.
Stop War on Workers - $5,5 M minimum Now !!
As socialist worker went to press the price of fuel had just gone up by 3000%.Petrol is now $10 000 a litre, this will usher in a new wave of price increases across the board. this is the background that to the salary negotiations for the third quarter currently underway. We urge workers not to settle for anything less than the PDL of $5,5 million as the minimum wage.
Workers need to watch out for a bad practice that has been creeping into our unions. A tendency has developed in which union leaders negotiate and reach an agreement with employers without consulting the workers. In most of the cases what these union leaders settle for is way below the expectations and needs of the workers. It is therefore important for workers to demand that union leaders
consult before they negotiate and settle for anything with the employers. Leaders must be accountable to the workers who are paying their salaries. That’s the democratic principle that must be practiced and this is the only safeguard that workers have from sell out union official who take bribes from employers and become best at stopping rather than initiating strikes. Continuous consultation and feedback all the way is what is needed.
Since the elections the prices of every basic commodity have shot up and workers are barely surviving from the current slave wages with workers in industries like construction still getting as low as $500 000 a month Workers have been told to tighten their belts and brace up for the pain of Gono’s economic turn around (turn right) program with Gono saying companies should not increase salaries beyond 85% as this increases inflation and hurt the economy. This is an obvious, cheap and baseless lie. Mugabe recently awarded himself a 1000% increment. Why does it always have to be the workers paying the price of all these turn this and turn that programs. Bosses can still afford fat salaries, huge profit margins, the latest cars on the market, holidays abroad and all the other perks but we are supposed to believe that if workers get a living wage its bad for the economy. No,we will not take that. $5.5 million minimum wage now or else
down the tools and that is the ultimate power that workers have. Without you those machines can’t move and the boss is nothing. The Printing industry led by the Zimbabwe Graphical Workers Union has already set the pace. They are demanding a minimum of $4 million and preparations for a strike are already underway because the bosses are being hard headed.
A LIVING WAGE IS A RIGHT! SHINGA MUSHANDI SHINGA! SHINGA MUROMBO SHINGA!