Build a United Front
Create an alternative voice to ZANU PF and MDC
The now obvious right wing shift of the MDC has seen a growing number of workers, students and youths and the radical middle classes becoming disgruntled and questioning the direction of the party .The question which confronts these people , is what is the way forward ?Zanu PF , despite its populist posturing , especially on the land issue , remains firmly embedded as the bosses party , a process strengthened by the death of Border Gezi and Hunzvi .The black bosses in the party now controls all key provinces in ZANU PF and its other key organs like the politburo and Parliament .
But on the other hand the deepening crisis of capitalism locally and internationally, is again making a real possibility of the return of the radical mass based struggles of 1997, as the current nationwide students demonstrations against privatizations how .At an international level , there is developing an anti-capitalist movement shown by major demonstrations in North America , Latin America and Europe in the past two years .
As way forward we argue for the re-groupment of the left and the working class movement in Zimbabwe, and regionally on the bases of a principle of united front, as alternative to the two bosses parties ZANU PF and MDC.
“March separately but strike together”, is the slogan of the united front – a theory developed by the Russian Bolshevik revolutionary, Leon Trotsky on how to deal with situations that confront us in Zimbabwe today. This means revolutionary organizations; radical reformist organizations, trade unions, students and others can enter into temporary alliances around specific issues. When Trotsky at the end of the 1920s, he was concerned about the emergence of the fascism in Europe and he called upon revolutionary socialists to enter into united front alliances with centrist or reformist parties and organizations to smash the then emerging threat of fascism in Italy and Germany .This was in opposition to the Stalinists who opposed such alliances with slogans like “after Hitler ,Our turn” on the eve of Hitler’s victory! Trotsky argued for the unity of democratic forces against rising Fascism , but nonetheless argued even in such unity the socialists must maintain their independence and identity and not be swallowed ,ie March separately but strike together !”.
After the NAZI victory , the Stalinists made a dramatic u-turn going into alliances with such reformist organizations but entirely subordinating themselves to such popular fronts , only to be betrayed by their new allies , sometimes with massive tragic results like in Spain in 1936 , France in 1934 and subsequently Indonesia in 1965 and Chile in 1973.
United front against ZANU PF
The same issues confront us today. ZANU PF and Mugabe today constitutes the biggest threat to the working class as shown by their draconian Labour bill and other legislation and trampling of basic bourgeois rights ahead of 2002 elections. This therefore calls for unity in a united front of all radical forces concerned about democracy in the country to ensure free and fair elections next year and the respect of its results .This means a unity of all radical sections of Labour, constitutional movement , student movement , civic society and those disgruntled with the right wing shift of the MDC and ZANU PF
However such united front should not bind or subordinate itself to the MDC , but each and every individual organization in the front should be allowed to maintain its political and organizational independence , including the right to attack and expose the right wing nature of the MDC even if it is the sole electoral alternative to ZANU PF in the coming elections .
In particular for revolutionary organizations like ISO it is imperative to maintain absolute political independence throughout, if they are not to abandon the very politics that could win real gains for the working class, as happened to the SACP in the ANC popular front.
Socialists must know that their primary role in such alliances is to advance workers ideas within it and seek to win a broader audience for the revolutionary ideas within it .The role of the revolutionary party is to lead and influence workers in the united front so that in the process of the united struggle , workers can see for themselves that the revolutionary politics offer a way forward as opposed to the dead end reformist politics of parliament and courts .
But revolutionaries must always bear in mind that a policy aimed to secure the united front does not of course contain automatic guarantees that unity in action will be attained in all instances .On the contrary , in many cases and perhaps even the majority of cases , organization objectives will only be half – attained if at all .
Freedom of expression uncompromisable
In the vent that reformists in the united front begin putting brakes on the struggle to the obvious detriment of the movement and counter to the situation on the ground and the mood of the masses , we as an independent organization always reserve the right to lead the struggle to the end , and this without our temporary semi-allies .
This precisely describes the position of ISO in the MDC , which give imperatives of democracy movements in the country and the mood of the working class , we entered a united front bases , and continue to offer support on that bases , contrary on the ultra – leftist positions of many of our critics in the regional and international socialist movement who had wanted out .But through out we have fought for and returned complete freedom of expression in order to expose the betrayal , indecisions and halfway spirit of the reformist leadership of the MDC .For that reason any sort of organizational agreement which restricts our freedom our criticism and agitation is completely unacceptable to us , hence we have been prepared to make a complete break with the MDC should such conditions become imposed on us .We stand on that position today which has won us grow audience amongst sections of the radical workers .As Lenin urged in the Left – wing communism – an infantile disorder” it is only through direct experience gained in the course of actual struggle that the broad masses learn that we as socialists fight better than the cowardly reformists , that we are more audacious and resolute that the others .The united front is the form through which we participate in such struggles with the masses and those whom we might agree with on 60% of the objective but disagree on the rest and the form in which we will be able to expose the bankruptcy of the middle class reformists groups and build our own forces .In this way , we shall bring closer the our of the united revolutionary front under undisputed socialist leadership .
By T Sando