Reason Wafawarova on Monday
Those living in luxury from the exploitation and suffering of others have traditionally always been opposed to emancipation struggles; they continue to be opposed to such struggles by the people today and will be even more so tomorrow.
This is not a reference preserved only for imperialists, but more importantly targeted at the privileged few among us who enjoy benefiting from the effects of the prolonged suffering of ordinary citizens. We have institutionalised corruption and looting in this country, and we will have to ruthlessly confront the scourge.
The ever-inspirational and inimitable Thomas Sankara; speaking about the Burkinabe Revolution of 1983-87, in August 1987 just before his assassination (October 15), outlined the expected reaction from neo-liberal middle class members and those then presiding over the 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 . . .”
This was what Sankara observed 32 years ago, and today we the people of Zimbabwe are struggling with saboteurs among us, with those smear-campaigning against Government progress of any kind, we have corrupt elites within the Government itself, and in our institutions; we are blackmailed by US economic sanctions, we are threatened by superior political powers from some Western capitals, and we are daily provoked by some among us who wish to force our security forces into using excessive force in dealing with their thuggery and lawlessness, so they can cry victims of human rights abuses.
What Sankara said summarises the key tactics employed every time an exploited people try to find their feet from the treading powers of imperialism, and also from elites within their own countries; be it through agrarian reforms, investment policy reforms, nationalisation of resources or the building of regional economic groups.
During the Cold War, the rightwing elements of the intellectual community used to call these imperialist excesses on weaker countries “collateral damage”. This was also Sankara’s time, when Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Cuba, Angola and much of Eastern Europe were making international headlines for their “unsound communist/socialist policies”.
We know as Zimbabweans what we went through when we embarked on the revolutionary land reclamation programme in 2000. We know the price we paid in the aftermath; the isolation, the economic sanctions, the demonisation, and the various other forms of punitive economic strangulation.
We were together with Venezuela, Cuba, Iran and Libya in the group of enemies of imperialism. We became victims of Western mass media deception.
Up to this day we have high-flying intellectuals who maintain that our isolation by the EU, our leaving the Commonwealth, the sealing of credit lines from the Bretton Woods lending institutions, and the US sanctions law named ZDERA are all benign little political statements with no harm at all on the Zimbabwean economy. We are told the real problem is ZANU-PF and its unsound policies, and that our Government is clueless, corrupt, and monstrous.
Indeed, we have clueless people in Government, corrupt officials in many of our offices, in fact institutionalised corruption as President Mnangagwa recently acknowledged. This as it maybe, it remains untrue to say the ZDERA sanctions and all other sanctions have not harmed ordinary Zimbabweans in any way.
The revolution that brought political independence to Africa in general, and to Zimbabwe in particular sought to empower the peasantry of Africa, a peasantry averaging 75 percent of the population in many African countries to this day.
This revolution did not seek to perpetuate the exploitation of the ordinary African as a source of cheap labour, and neither did it seek to celebrate the backward peasant, who is resigned to fate, naive, a slave to obscurity and ferociously conservative.
Rather it sought 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.
The first phase of the revolution was indeed difficult in that it sought to remove foreign political administration from the whole of Africa, but it was the easier of the two phases of the revolution; as the current phase meant to provide our economic emancipation is made all the more difficult by the resistance offered from within our African borders — yes, by fellow Africans.
Contrary to what many people would want to believe, the revolutionary repossession of land by black Zimbabweans was not a Zanu-PF issue. This was a revolution that achieved its first goal (land repossession) because it drew its strength from the invincibility of the masses, not from the alleged political desperation of the Zanu-PF leadership of the time, as some would prefer to put it.
A “desperate bunch” of politicians could not possibly dislodge such deep-rooted neo-colonial power as was entailed in the white farming establishment in Zimbabwe before 2000. Only a people’s revolution could.
The mass mentality that brought land reclamation adopted a refusal of a perpetual reproduction of cultural alienation and political servitude shaped by imperial processes in the perpetuation of the domination of Africa and its people.
It is the transformation of this mentality that divided Zimbabweans into two separate groups during land reclamation; rather unfortunately.
On the one hand, there were the peasants and many of the unemployed youths who resolved to shape their own future by working hard on the newly acquired land; and, on the other there was the middle class beneficiaries of neo-liberal economics, middle class aspirants studying in universities and colleges, as well as another section of the unemployed youths; whose hope for survival was in providing cheap labour for any willing investor at whatever cost.
The first group was cynically referred to as “super patriots”, “jingoists” or “eaters of sovereignty” by those from the Western-sponsored opposition, and by our private media as well.
In turn, the patriots called those from the second group “traitors”, “sellouts” or “those who think with their stomachs”.
These counter labels still exist today, even after ZANU-PF’s “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra.
The current African middle class — led by that minority, is largely made up of people who take foreign norms as their point of reference in judging the quality of their social, economic and cultural lives.
These are people who live in Africa, who live in Zimbabwe, yet they refuse to accept the concrete reality around them. They preach submission to imperialism and perpetual begging as a philosophy and policy of social development.
Our main opposition leader thinks it takes American bailout aid money to develop this country, and he also thinks our national symbol on the flag is a primitive practice of idolatry. The self-hate and mental slavery is unmistakeably shocking.
However, the collective consciousness of the Zimbabwean masses continues to teach our rural peasantry to depend on their own forces, and to energetically reject all servile mimicking and humiliating grovelling. These are the masses that seem too aware that theirs is a popular revolution that needs a convinced people, not a conquered people.
Our vociferous minority middle class seems to cling to anything that can help them to shout to the world that they are dying for a world where they can be submissive to market forces, and where they can passively endure their destiny as shaped by the powers of global capital and its market forces.
Even in ZANU-PF’s Politburo there are stalwarts of dependency who do not believe an African country can build anything of its own without funding from foreign rich countries.
The masses have learnt to be firm in the defence of the agrarian revolution without ever giving in to rage, something that spared the middle class the reality of counter demonstrations; a reality that could mean a clash with the majority and dire consequences.
Our masses have remained calm and observant as we hear the Government is embarking on compensation of ousted white commercial farmers. The masses are watching Government priorities keenly; eager to know what comes first between medicines in our hospitals and financial compensation of white farmers.
While the middle classes and the masses continue to make up the two-way dimension of the Zimbabwean agrarian revolution, there are two other developments that need to be analysed.
The status of opposition politics in Zimbabwe, especially as seen in the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC Alliance, is showing signs of impatience and fatigue in its middle class, as they more and more begin to see the futility of hoping for the success of a mass uprising.
The two recent attempts at a mass uprising in Harare did not end well, and not many people would want to be involved again in such futile efforts. The opposition leaders know this very well, regardless of what Tendai Biti might say in public.
Signs of fractures, diverse interests, inherent irreconcilable differences and power politics are beginning to show each day as the MDC Alliance heads for its May congress.
It is war everywhere, war over the nomination process, war over the legitimacy of the congress itself, war over internal party structures elections, and so on.
What these wars help to measure is the loss of momentum in the regime change agenda that the MDC has been pursuing on behalf of their Western backers for close to two decades now.
The hope that the urban middle class will topple ZANU-PF and its majority supporters from rural areas and sub-urban areas is now gone.
The middle class seems to be increasingly aware that they are in no position to either halt the people’s revolution, or to prop up the MDC Alliance to power for the same cause.
While at this, there is also apparent adversity within the ranks of the agrarian revolution itself. Erroneous practices and ideas harmful to the emancipation of the common person have been surfacing among the masses themselves, and some masquerading as leaders of the revolution, sometimes actually addressing themselves as revolutionaries.
We have people who are on farms because they happened to know so and so, who was connected to this other high-ranking so and so. These are people who cannot farm, who are not farming, and who will not farm.
We have people who have either become impatient and smitten with the unfortunate zeal of the novice, or plainly frantically pursuing personal ambitions and selfish aspiration as well as self-gain — all at the expense of the revolutionary common goal.
So we have these people who think they can reinvent the revolution after Robert Mugabe; people who think their involvement with the new dispensation is a phenomenal discovery of hidden wisdom. ZANU-PF has an institutionalised revolutionary culture, and it is not platform for political gambling. The revolution is more powerful than any individual brilliance — real or imagined.
There is no known revolution that has been spared the thornbush of opportunism; just like counter-revolution is always part of any revolution.
In any revolution, opportunism will continue to show itself at different moments, under different circumstances, and in extremely varied forms, all the way from its most right-wing expressions to its most ultra-left and its crass radicals.
The opportunists in Zimbabwe’s agrarian revolution seem to be failing to cope with the difficulties of the struggle against imperialist forces, and failing to cope with the demands of political activity, with the amount of sacrifice needed to make success of the struggle, and with the harshness of class struggles.
This is what has contributed to some comrades deserting the ranks of the revolution, while others have rushed ahead of the masses, in the processes earning themselves isolation and oblivion; and yet others have clearly been targeting the wrong enemy.
It would appear like some of the opportunists of the Third Chimurenga are dreaming of throwing in the towel to our detractors, but have big qualms on how best to do so.
They keep tossing on whom to follow between the foreign-sponsored reactionaries and the home-grown revolutionaries — all the time being guided by their materialistic minds that always take the better of their hearts.
The Third Chimurenga, like any other revolution, cannot and will not be sustained and built to fruition by a barren, monolithic, paralysing and sterile kind of unity.
It needs the enriching, varied and manifold expression of many different thoughts and activities — all geared towards the unwavering goal of the emancipation of our Zimbabwean masses; the equality of all in terms of opportunity to realise our full potential.
It is against this backdrop of a resolve based on the undying spirit of concluding the Third Chimurenga to its logical intentions that the current political environment should be viewed.
We cannot lose sight of the revolution in our current endeavours to attract foreign investors. Investors must know and fit into our revolutionary main goal — the emancipation of our people.
It is highly dangerous to superimpose the opinion that says national dialogue between our political parties should be directed by the plight caused by Zimbabwe’s current economic hardships.
The hardships are biting and real, but one cannot lose sight that they remain hardships whose origin was orchestrated from outside for purposes of compromising the revolution at the least, or stopping it all together if possible.
These are hardships meant to coerce a certain form of behaviour — all for the benefit of those whose privileges were swept away by the revolution.
If we are to dialogue, we must dialogue on how best to make the revolution work for the better; how best to meet the aspirations and will of our people in regards to their economic emancipation.
The revolution itself is a perpetual teacher and those who fought for the liberation of African countries will testify as to how many can fall by the wayside as the revolution winds its way driven by the invincible power of the masses.
The land reform programme is not up for sale, and those fronting foreign interests must get that clear and seek ways of enhancing equal or fair partnerships between Zimbabwe and those interested in investing in the country’s economy.
It is this kind of partnership; not loans and aid; that should be occupying the mind of every Zimbabwean politician, at least those worthy the name.
My good friend and fellow Comrade Tarwireyi Tirivavi is writing and documenting very important aspects of our liberation struggle, and I want to suggest that we also document correctly events that made up our land reform programme — it being our trade mark global identity into this millennium.
We opened the millennium as land grabbers, and for that we are well known globally.
Future generations need a referral point to these aspects of our revolution. The achievements of this revolution will be fought against in the future, and we must arm our children and their children so they can forever gallantly defend and sustain the revolution itself.
This piece was written on April 18, our Independence Day. As we continue to celebrate our independence, we must remember we have gains in this revolution that need to be defended, even with our own lives.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!
Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.