Several significant events on the political and constitutional framework of the country have occurred in recent months. Firstly have been the controversies surrounding the Constitutional Parliamentary Committee (COPAC) outreach exercise carried out from June 2010 to date. Secondly is the crisis in the Government of National Unity (GNU) following various unilateral state executive appointments by President Robert Gabriel Mugabe.
Political Crisis in Zimbabwe
The GNU is facing its biggest crisis since its inception, following the unilateral re-appointment of provincial governors and Ambassadors by Mugabe. This has been one of the main outstanding issues of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), which was supposed to be resolved by SADC and the AU, the guarantors of the GPA. The prime minister and MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai responded by declaring that he and his party did not recognize not only such appointments but others that Mugabe had unilaterally done in the last 18 months, including appointments of the Reserve Bank Governor; Attorney General; five High Court and Supreme Court Judges and several ambassadors to the UN, Europe and SA. He has since written to these various authorities formally informing them of his position. Mugabe and the state media have ridiculed Tsvangirai, with Mugabe saying this is why it was now mandatory to have elections by mid- 2011 and do away with the GNU that has become to him an unbearable hindrance.
The growing arrogance of Mugabe and ZANU-PF and the crisis facing the GNU is not surprising and we had predicted right from the inception of the GPA in September 2008:
“… (The MDC – T leaders’) primary preoccupation is towards reaching a sell out agreement with the Zanu PF dictatorship that will not benefit the poor and working people … the opposition is dominated by the petite bourgeois elite, who long ago prostrated themselves before western neo-liberal forces and are now eager to get into state power, even as junior partners, and accumulate as a neo-colonial dependent capitalist class...”
“On the other hand Tsvangirai, supported by a duplicitous and largely cowardly civic society, actively undermined any attempt at serious mass action solely relying on western sanctions. Not surprising they have been forced into a deal which gives a desperate dictatorship breathing space to renew itself, whilst laying the foundations for massive long term assaults on the living conditions of working people. Make no mistake, despite the above concessions; MDC is the definite junior in this deal with very unclear chances of success whilst the future of the deal itself is very uncertain...
“…Thirdly, unlike the Patriotic Front, MDC has no real fallback position if the deal collapses. Its only guarantor is a mediator who has now been ousted. Having consistently neutralized the mass action route, MDC has solely relied on the western sanctions. But MDC is not in full control of this. Locked in a hotel room and virtually coerced by Mbeki and Mugabe to sign there and then or risk immediate collapse of the negotiations, Tsvangirai seems to have signed a deal that does not meet the full approval of his western allies...
“With economic siege continuing, especially in an environment of global economic crisis, the deal looks very fragile and may unravel sooner rather than later. Popular acceptance of such an expensive and over bloated coalition government, proportionately the biggest in the world in a country with the world’s highest inflation, is likely to wane rapidly if the promised economic recovery fails to take place, with the draft national constitution a possible flash point. At such stage Mugabe’s continued control of the security apparatus, the state and treasury will be decisive and the opposition’s nakedness and foolishness in signing such deal exposed.”
Socialist Worker (Z), January 2009
The above prediction has indeed come to pass. The GNU saved the Zanu PF dictatorship from an impending social, economic and political implosion as foreshadowed by collapsing public utilities and rioting junior soldiers. The hyper-inflation dragon was tamed and Zimbabwe’s international isolation largely removed. Tsvangirai himself went the world over, as recent as September 2010 in an interview with South African E-News, preaching about how Mugabe had reformed, was a well-meaning statesman worried about his legacy and so forth. He has now turned and is bleating a different song!
We now in fact seem to be reaching the point predicted when Mugabe, no longer needing the GNU would flex his muscles and wee on the GNU. With a fairly stabilized economy, and Tsvangirai having de-mobilized and confused his supporters, the hardliners in the Mugabe regime are now again on the ascendancy and clearly on the offensive, using the constitutional question as the launch-pad. Mugabe has now called for elections saying the GNU has become intolerable for him and his Zanu PF. Prime Minister Tsvangirai has also told his supporters to prepare for elections in 2011, although he is insisting that these will be under a new constitution. Although Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara has said this is grandstanding, events in the last few weeks show that the momentum for elections might be gathering its own pace and with increasing possibility could in fact happen.
Why Elections in 2011
Why is Mugabe pushing for elections when he lost in March 2008 and when recent polls show the MDC-T winning with 32% and Mugabe at 18%? It would seem following the COPAC outreach exercise, the hardliners in Zanu PF have become convinced that the system they put in place with devastating effect in June 2008 is still intact and that threats of return to such violence could land them victory. Moreover, they calculate the impact of the protest vote for the opposition arising from the massive economic crisis of 2008 has gone down whilst MDC-T seems to be focusing on their factional fighting.
The recent events show that Mugabe and Zanu PF have no desire to leave power soon or peacefully. The discovery of diamonds, the growth in agriculture and the economic indigenisation programme will require an appropriate enabling political framework that can only be provided by untrammeled Zanu PF control of the state. Even though Zanu PF is talking about peaceful campaign next year’s elections are likely to be characterized by state orchestrated violence, intimidation and the manipulation of the results to ensure a Mugabe victory.
What this means is that the struggle for democratization in Zimbabwe is far from being won. What is now required is a united force of all progressive forces to build independently and renew both political and economical struggles against the Zanu PF dictatorship as well as the neoliberal capitalist agenda of the ruling class in Zimbabwe. This movement must also not have any illusions in the MDC-T or MDC-M, whose leaders have shown themselves not only to be greedy self-interested and cowardly junior partners of the dictatorship but also have been at the forefront of pushing massive neo-liberal policies that attack ordinary people. They are a cowardly and vacillating lot, one day wining with the dictatorship and the other mourning about victimization. It is hoped that the latest events will show increasing layers of ordinary MDC-T supporters of the need for a resolute and decisive battle for democracy against the regime and capitalism.
The proposed Referendum can be used as a launch-pad for a bitter fight with the system of neo-liberalism and tyranny which must clearly go beyond the constitutional making process. Given the dominance of the COPAC Outreach programme by Zanu PF through manipulation and intimidation, it is likely that its positions on an all powerful executive president and non-inclusion of socio-economic rights will prevail. In any case both MDC formations are now calling for a negotiated constitution, which is likely to be based on the anti-working people Kariba Draft which contains neoliberal anti-working class provisions. If the MDC-T was really sincere it would have called for contentious provisions to be put directly as questions for decision in the Referendum. But it isn’t and seeks to lie to the people that it will facilitate the writing of a new constitution on getting into power. For the above reasons, now that we have exposed in practice the hypocrisy of the elites, we should now start preparing to reject the likely elitist, neoliberal and undemocratic constitution they are brewing…. As we argued in our posters with our interests not included we must mobilize for a Vote No in the Referendum as part and parcel of building a general and united anti-dictatorship and anti-capitalist uprising in this country. It is time we learn from our mistakes as ordinary people that our struggles were hijacked when the MDC was formed. This time we have to do away with the capitalist system and join hands with other fighting working peoples of the world such as we see in France, Greece and South Africa who are also revolting against the system this day. Viva Socialism!
Cde T. Sando