the Disillusioned kid: Robert Mugabe's anti-imperialist credentials speak for themselves...
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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Robert Mugabe's anti-imperialist credentials speak for themselves...

I've been wondering what to say about Zimbabwe for a while. Usually if I'm stuck for words I don't bother saying anything. You might think that doesn't happen very often, but there are a huge range of issues I have only touched on here to say nothing about those I never write about. In this case, however, I feel compelled to write. Partly because it is an important issue itself, but also because it's something I think receives little attention from radical groups in the UK. On a more personal note, one of my housemates is from Zimbabwe. He isn't particularly political and is here to study rather than out of fear or persecution, but it does give the story a more human dimension, taking it away from the simply abstract.

Like any issue, one has to be careful to separate truth from propaganda here. There is at least one poster on Indymedia UK at the moment who insists that everything you hear about how nasty Mugabe has been is British propaganda invented to drive the neoliberal agenda in Zimbabwe, using the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as its vehicle. Of course, there may be an element of truth here. The MDC, which has its roots in the labour movement, has come to advocate privatisation and related economic "reforms," but this is a familiar path trodden by political parties across the world. The very real flaws with the MDC should not distract, however, from the situation faced by ordinary Zimbabweans which is increasingly coming to make neoliberalism look like a picnic.

There are other fronts for resistance in the country, notably the labour movement. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), for instance, called a two-day general strike on April 3-4. Unfortunately, this appears to have been less than succesful. Joseph Sithole argues that this stemmed from the strike's unclear aims and a failure to clearly explain to people what they should do, coupled with government hostility fuelled by the Congress' close relationship with the MDC. Despite the stay away's limited impact, the Zimbabwean state has clearly been riled, how else to explain threats made against two unionists involved in co-ordinating the action?

You get the distinct impression from much of the media coverage (and my housemate's own analysis) of the situation in Zimbabwe that Mugabe's days are numbered. We can only hope. What interests me is who is going to take his place. Will the MDC take power and begin the thoroughgoing implementation of neoliberalism or will we see a coup by a dissident faction within ZANU-PF? More importantly, would either of these do anything to improve the day to day lives of average Zimbabweans? Obviously, as an anarchist, I'd like to see ordinary Zimbabweans organising autonomously, but I'm realistic enough to be aware that this is pretty unlikely in the immediate future, particularly given the increasing hardships they face. It's hard enough to be a revolutionary at the best of times, let alone when survival from one day to the next becomes a struggle.

A cheery conclusion, eh? I said I was stuck for words.

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