These developments have obviously escalated intense rumors that the military has taken over the government in a coup. The reasons circulating for this action are that the people of Zimbabwe are revolting against the corruption of the ZANU-PF/Mugabe regime.
Although we do operate with forces on the ground in Zimbabwe, it would be extremely ill-responsible to maKe final conclusions at this early juncture. What is clear is that the military is certainly responding to these events in ways that are definitely not customary for coups in Africa. The top general has declared for the last 48 hours that Mugabe and his family are not under arrest and that ZANU-PF is the unquestioned leader and governing apparatus for all of Zimbabwe. Up to this point, there have been no reports of violence anywhere in the country. This strange and unchartered approach to a challenge in power in Africa, to which there have been many in just a short number of years, makes it impossible for us to examine the situation without remembering the always constant role of imperialism in anything having to do with Africa’s affairs.
Prominent among this focus on imperialism is the debate about whether this latest development is the result of Mugabe and ZANU-PF’s corruption and political incompetence or sabotage from the capitalist/imperialist network.
Of course, imperialism is trumpeting the tune that all of this is the result of mismanagement by Mugabe/ZANU-PF. They are even acknowledging that this latest occurrence has nothing to do with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) the main so-called opposition movement in Zimbabwe. Instead, they are labeling this incident as the result of a power challenge between Mugabe and Emmesson Mnangagwa, the former Vice President of the country that Mugabe dismissed last week. According to imperialist sources, Mnangagwa, a long time ZANU-PF official who’s roots trace back to the independence struggle against Britain, is a historical ally of Mugabe who fell out of favor because of Mugabe’s desire to position his wife Grace to succeed him once he dies (Mugabe is 93 years old). The imperialist narrative goes on to suggest that the nepotism displayed by Mugabe’s desire to have his wife replace him is the type of corruption that has caused suffering in Zimbabwe. The type of suffering that, according to our enemies, has pushed most people in the country to turn against the ZANU-PF government. And, there are plenty of alleged Pan-Africanists, Black Nationalists, and so-called friends of Africa who are more than willing to dance in step with this statement of events in Zimbabwe.
We of course, do not believe the situation to be that simple. Kwame Ture told us repeatedly that no analysis of our people can ever be complete without including our enemies in our assessment. And, the perspective that the primary issues are ZANU-PF, and Robert Mugabe’s, incompetence doesn’t include what roll the enemy is playing. In our view, that explains why these series of events just don’t seem to be adding up.
We are not making the weak argument that everything is imperialism’s fault and anything else is an excuse to justify ZANU-PF’s failures. Clearly, ZANU-PF has made mistakes. Many of them. And without question, corruption is certainly a problem that needs to be addressed, but we also have evidence that corruption is not nearly the issue in every area that imperialism has claimed it to be. Plus, imperialism has hardly been able to contain itself with glee in celebrating the events in Zimbabwe, claiming the major source of disdain for PANU-PF to be the land reform movement that has defined the Mugabe regime since 1980.
What’s ill refutable is that ZANU-PF, against the will of imperialism, has remained steadfast committed to the land reform program since ZANU-PF’s victory over colonialism in 1980. According to the United Nations (UN) Commission on Agriculture, at that time, 4660 European (white) farmers dominated Zimbabwe’s economy by controlling and owning 14.8 million hectares of the best arable land in all of Zimbabwe. By comparison, the UN reports that 6 million Africans owned 16.4 million hectares of the most low quality agricultural land in the country. Keep in mind that up to the end of colonialism, which ended with ZANU-PF’s overwhelming legislative victory in April of 1980, whites were assured the best and most prestigious jobs while Africans were prohibited by law to own anything that Europeans could benefit from. In other words, land was distributed by race. So, the land disparity itself existed solely because lands were violently seized from Africans for over 300 years and handed on a silver platter to white people. What all that means is Europeans were assured by law to have the best of everything and control over the entire country. ZANU-PF responded by announcing the land reform program which was designed to redistribute said arable lands back to the Africans it was stolen from. It’s very important to state those truths because imperialism would have you believe today that the land reform has been a violent theft of land from hard working Europeans that has failed miserably. In fact, I challenge you to Google “Zimbabwe land reform” and virtually any article or source you receive will refer to the violence that has stolen land from the victim white people in Zimbabwe. Never is it mentioned that hundreds of thousands of Africans were killed as a result of 300 years of colonialism while this intense violent takeover of white owned land since 1980 has resulted in less than two dozen whites being killed.
And, despite imperialism’s dedication to painting Mugabe and ZANU-PF as piss poor managers of Zimbabwe’s economy, there is ample evidence that the land reform program – by imperialism’s own acknowledgement the hallmark of Mugabe’s presidency – has started to show clear signs of progression. The Zimbabwe Land Reform Development Study, an independent study from a non-governmental research group, has been widely cited in its recognition of the land reform program’s implementation in the Masvingo Province where almost 30% of the country’s land reform policy has taken place. According to the study, contrary to what imperialism would have us believe, 75% of the redistributed land has gone to low income people and not relatives, friends, and other nepotism related transactions as have been claimed. Most of the remaining 25% has gone to public lands, like parks. This perspective is validated by the gradual, but consistent, rise in income among people in Masvingo which provides credibility to the claims ZANU-PF has always made about the program. The report goes further to chronicle the extent to which the farms owned by Africans are active and the degree to which farmers are participating in efforts to further develop and consolidate the growing production of the farms.
Overall, conservative estimates are that farms have changed households for approximately 170,000 families in Zimbabwe since 1980. An amazing effort to redistribute wealth that was wrongly controlled by the racist Ian Smith regime in colonial Zimbabwe into the hands of the African people it rightly belongs to. And these efforts are starting to show strong life in the economic sphere.
No matter what people think, the truth is it has only been 37 years since independence in Zimbabwe. Even if all the claims of incompetence aimed at ZANU-PF are true, isn’t it also true that every people have the right to develop over time? Isn’t it true that problems, errors, inconsistencies, and issues, are a normal part of the growth process as a young country matures? Especially since much of that time has been inhibited by the sanctions against Zimbabwe imposed by the U.S., Britain, and the other imperialist countries? It must also be noted that one of the most damaging legacies of colonialism is the lack of training and availability of skilled operators once the colonial class leaves the country. Since the colonialists only trained who they knew would work in their interests, Zimbabwe, like all newly independent African countries, had very few people who actually had administrator experience in governing a country. As a result, wouldn’t it make sense that in the time that a young country would struggle to be productive, those few in positions of privilege would be apt to take advantage e.g. the issue of corruption? Isn’t that a part of the process of a country growing and maturing into its actual ability to govern itself? If all that is true, and its very difficult to refute it otherwise, it seems strange for everyone to act, at the prodding of imperialism, like after 300 years of brutal repression, a people would be expected to be running without any of these problems a mere 37 years after independence?
None of this is to release Mugabe or ZANU-PF from their shortcomings. If you read this blog, then you know much has been written about the challenge in Zimbabwe, the former Libyan Jamihiriya, Ghana under the Convention People’s Party, and Guinea under the Democratic Party of Guinea, to grow to figure out a way to address opposition without it being antagonistic. Corruption under all of these conditions is always a problem, but at least the conditions provide a logical reason, as unfortunate as it may be, for its existence. Massive corruption exists in fully technologically developed capitalist countries that have been operating and benefitting from exploiting Africa for decades and even centuries. So, the expectation that it shouldn’t exist in a 37 year old poor country is insane, despite the principles expressed by that country. Clearly, the political consciousness is never ahead of the reactionary consciousness in any society until much work is done. That’s why political education is always so important because without it, that consciousness is going to be hard to institutionalize.
We can’t pretend to predict what will happen in Zimbabwe. Whatever happens now in Zimbabwe its also clear that the people in Zimbabwe overwhelmingly expressed their unconditional support for ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe as recently as 2008. Regardless of what anyone may think of that, even if the people there are wrong, that is for them to figure out. And, they will in due time, one way or the other. I know this because we believe in and support the people of Zimbabwe just like we believe in and support people all over Africa. This is our process to travel down our road towards freedom, unity, and Pan-Africanism. Anyone who ignores those realities is doing the bidding of our enemies, despite whatever outward appearances you represent.