Zimbabwe - Yes to the Tour, Yes to Land Reform

Those on the left such as the Auckland Global Peace and Justice Alliance calling for a boycott of Zimbabwe are lining up, not with the workers and poor farmers of Zimbabwe, but with the governments of the Western powers responsible for much of the misery of Africa, with reactionary local politicians like Don Brash, Winston Peters and Phil Goff, and with the Movement for Democratic Change, an organisation funded by the CIA and dominated by white politicians from the Rhodesia era.

Why Target Mugabe?

This year, Mugabe has displaced 200,000 citizens by destroying their homes - that's 100,000 less than the city of Bombay displaced in a similar operation last year, and 300,000 less than the US-UK displaced when they razed Fallujah last year.

Why has nobody called for the Lions to be banned from NZ, as a consequence of British actions in Iraq? Why aren't Goff and Brash enraged by British or American war crimes? Why have they chosen to focus on Zimbabwe, instead? The reason, of course, is that the hysteria over Zimbabwe is not motivated by any genuine response to oppression and suffering there. When was the last time Goff or Brash or Blair or John Howard cared about such things?

Zimbabwe has been singled out for a variety of reasons, but the most important one is the fact that Mugabe has, in his grotesquely distorted way, attacked the property of capitalists - big farmers, mainly - with long-standing links to Britain and NZ.

Let’s be clear: Mugabe is no friend of workers. He is a nasty national bourgeois who rode the anti-colonial struggle to power by cutting a deal with the British that prevented socialist revolution and real land reform in Zimbabwe, and for many years, through the 80s and most of the 90s, he loyally followed the dictates of the International Monetary Fund. Mugabe has been forced to move to the left and take on imperialist powers like Britain by the strength of Zimbabwean anger against white farmers, the IMF, and the imperialist governments that bleed Africa dry...'

Land Reform?

But GPJA claims that the land reform process in Zimbabwe has no progressive qualities. The land reform process is simply the invention and plaything of Mugabe. In fact, land reform is a long-standing demand which Mugabe has attempted to co-opt and control, in the hope of retaining power. The invasions of the superfarms of the white capitalists - the very people who founded the MDC in the late 90s - involved thousands of ordinary families, as well as Mugabe's state forces and organised supporters.

In all, one hundred and ten thousand square kilometres of land have been seized - that's almost the size of the North Island! Does GPJA's friend really believe that all of this land has been moved into the hands of Mugabe and his cronies, or that all of it could have been seized by Mugabe's weak and inefficient state forces alone?

Thanks to the land reforms, tens of thousands of poor Zimbabweans have received land on which they can grow food and stay alive. For GPJA this seems to be such a trivial fact that it is not worth mentioning, but in a poor African country where land has been locked up for over a hundred years it is anything but trivial. Nor is it trivial to the many Maori activists who identify their own struggle for the return of stolen land with the heroic efforts of the Southern African peoples.

That’s why Mugabe's parody of land reform is very popular in South Africa, where the UK has huge investments and the black population is simmering after a decade of declining living standards caused the maintenance of economic apartheid by a parasitic black elite. In NZ, the ruling class frets about the possibility of a renewed outbreak of Maori occupations, as the 'Treaty process' is shown to be merely a vehicle for the advancement of a handful of Maori capitalists. No wonder that the Maori Party has for all its faults been able to see through the anti-tour hysteria.

Opposition MDC

GPJA reproduces the flawed criticisms of Mugabe coming from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) website. [Discussion Board topic has been taken down]. Anybody who still has illusions in the Movement for Democratic Change as a left-wing party could do worse than visit its website, which features a forum where members brainstorm about policy and strategy.

Here are a couple of charming excerpts from MDC members discussing on land reform:

'There is no sight of recovery in agriculture as long we do not consider property rights...With Mugabe's expropriation of land creates a greater political risk to invest in Zimbabwe similar to the 1970 policies of Chile and Nicaragua where bilateral agreements were broken and the US government had to recover its assets...My uncle is now running a ranch and tobacco farming in Manica province in Mozambique...'

To which another 'comrade' added:
'A commercial farm must be given to a competent commercial farmer. If this means further resettlement so be it.'

In other words, the poor families who have taken over land seized from white capitalists will have to be 'resettled', to make way for the old owners.

Here's another piece of MDC wisdom, from the same thread of discussion:
'In my post I do not mean that whites should be excluded from any re-settlement program. Merit should be balanced with a lot of other issues, eg the fact that some people are landless, and that 'Zim is predominantly an Agric. country and therefore we have to maximise production. This obviously means the commercial land will have to be allocated to the tried and tested commercial farmers, and qualified starters who have real potential to produce, not only for their immediate families, but for export as well.' 

Many of those who marched on The GPJA organised protest were rightly disgusted by the eviction of poor Zimbabweans from their urban homes by the Mugabe government. Yet, as the discussion quoted above and numerous official statements show, the MDC and its Western backers are determined to enforce a far larger eviction, by 'resettling' the poor farming families who have been taking the countryside back from white capitalists!

The sooner the reformist left realises this and stops supporting the MDC the better. Perhaps GPJA and co should read the 2002 Zimbabwe report of Human Rights Watch, an organisation they seem happy to trust in other contexts, which criticises Mugabe but nevertheless states very clearly that:

'Some people from communal areas who genuinely need land to raise themselves out of poverty, as well as some middle class people from urban areas who wish and have the capabilities to enter commercial farming, have been among those who have obtained access to land for the first time.'

In other words, Human Rights Watch can make the distinction between ordinary Zimbabweans fighting for a better life and Mugabe. They know that the struggle for land reform being waged in Zimbabwe is a just struggle, despite the nature of the Mugabe government. Why, then, can't GPJA also grasp this basic fact?

Those who want to oppose Mugabe effectively should stop chasing after a bandwagon being driven by Blair to re-colonise Africa, and instead try to learn something about the history of Zimbabwe, and the legacy of the Lancaster House agreement, which ensured the present crisis by attempting - like the phoney transition in South Africa, and the Treaty 'settlement' process here - to put a black bourgeoisie in charge of an unmodified capitalist economy dominated by a white elite and foreign imperialists.

CWG supports the building of rank and file workers, landless farmers and poor farmers’ councils with a program of:

· land to the tillers;

· nationalisation of the banks without compensation and under workers’ control to provide cheap credit for farmers;

· Workers’ and Farmers’ Government to socialise private property and plan the Zimbabwe economy as part of a Southern African Union of Socialist Republics.

Here's an article ‘From Zimbabwe to Ngawha’ which looks at the situation in Zimbawe in more detail.

From Class Struggle 62 July-August 2005

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