Sunday, September 2, 2007



Zimbabwe is a country where much seems to happen but nothing seems to change.
· The African resistance to colonial domination from 1893 – 1897 posed a massive challenge to the ability of a tiny handful of white settlers to survive in the interior of Africa. To some extent the Shona and Ndebele peoples of Zimbabwe had some grievances but to organize a sustained resistance against the white settlers was an exceptional achievement. In fact resistance expanded from that of the African soldiers alone to that of the entire society. However at best, the resistance produced only no improvements for the Africans.
· The decision by the white settlers in 1923 to opt for responsible government, set colonial Zimbabwe on a unique constitutional course which had much to do with its later ability to defy both Britain and the internal African challenges. The colonial government since 1923 had virtually complete autonomy and successfully used this authority to defend, protect and sustain white settlers privileged position. The Land Apportionment act, The Industrial Conciliatory Act and The Native Affairs Act became the cornerstones of thorough and systematic white domination over land, employment and administration.
Although the system was severely challenged by the African Nationalist Movements and forced to adjust its methods of control and administration to take into account population growth and demographic changes ( particularly the urbanization of both racial groups) its fundamental character remained unaltered.
· The move to the federation in 1953, the settlers’ demands for the dominion status in 1960 the subsequent negotiations of the 1961 constitution were all designed not to change anything in favour of Africans but to promote and maintain white political and economic power.
· The settlers’audacious seizure of independence in 1965 and and its ability to stick to it despite great international pressure only confirmed the settlers’ ability to do the unexpected and survive.
· The 1972 Pearce Commission Settlement was British conspiracy to further the political, economic and social supremacy of the white establishment in Zimbabwe.
· The short-lived Zimbabwe-Rhodesia regime did nothing to address the question of changing the colonial state of affairs which among other things included access to the political system over the distribution of the economic goods ( land, job opportunities) etc and over the system of administration and control.
· The Lancaster House agreement of 1980 ushered in a Marxist Leninist Socialist ideology which altered nothing in terms of power relations and the economic mode of production. What then does the future hold for the majority of the people of Zimbabwe ?
· This question became perculiarly important in the context of the events of 1989 and their consequences in the issues of ideology in our country. 1989 was a turning point in the history of cold war. Communist and Socialist ideology floundered losing its credibility because its practitioners in general, and in our country in particular were not, by any stroke of wild imagination, committed to it and understood very little of what it was all about.
· Freedom, democracy and market economy became the new concepts. So much pressure was exerted on make-belief-socilaist Marxist –Leninist ideology in Zimbabwe to practice democracy as a form of existence and a qualification for international donor aid packages.
· This transformation of socialist system into democratic and market economic order, far from improving the lives of the majority of our people for the better, gave rise to massive problems and opened new fields of conflict. Great poverty and social distress for the many, accompanied by unimaginable robbery by a few ruling classes and profit seekers marked part of the personal experience and general appearance of the transformation of the system, greatly deflating the initial enthusiasm of first freedom and democracy, and then economic advancement for the majority of our people. Hence, many Zimbabweans whose unprecedented deprivation today is greater than ever before feel severely disappointed and restless under a complete totalitarian regime of ZANU PF.
· Thus breaches have developed creating room for charlatans to stud their campaign of seduction with populist slogans and chauvinist nationalism. For my party, this has formed a rather unsteady platform for the transition into the new millenium. Undoubtedly the world to which we belong is different now not only in terms of its physical existence but also in the perception of those who live in it. International borders have almost ceased to act as obstructions, and whenever they still do, they are quickly overcome by modern communication technologies. Global considerations are increasingly superimposing themselves on national matters even as far as the existence of an individual is concerned.This is simply because population and population growth, individual living conditions, the problem of wealth being concentrated in a few countries and regions that continue to exploit our so called third world countries, the spread of poverty in the major parts of the world and the ecological conditions and hazards that endanger mankind’s very existence and survival, affect national matters be they economic, cultural and of course political. It therefore becomes an obligation on our part as a nation (whether black, pink, white, yellow or navy blue) to address the future and create the future in our minds in the face of these global challenges.
· In this analysis, I am concerned fundamentally, with the ethical quality of our nation’s life, a potential for exuberant health which I see as having been strangled by an infection of foreign origin, deeply rooted in the colonial past politics and policies. It is therefore important that in order to arrive at the useful conclusions and pointers to the future we look at the historical perspectives of the nationalism that took over leadership in our country in 1980, and other historical issues.
· The scope of this analysis briefly examines various political and economic interactions from the arrival of white Zimbabweans (herein called white settlers) until the attainment of the so-called independence which ushered in another form of colonial government- this time in the form of “black masks”. The major focus however will be from the beginning of African resistance movements to present day Zimbabwe.
· White settles entered Zimbabwe in 1890. By the end of the decade (following substantial African resistance) the settlers had succeeded in subduing Africans (Black Zimbabweans) the indigenous proprietors of the country. From that time until April 1980 a small white minority (never more than 5 % of the population) dominated
the political and economic life of the country and regimented the black majority to serve its economic needs and confirm its social prejudices. The major components of the social
system constructed by this tiny white minority group included the apportionment of the land between black and white- the two racial groups, the development of an industrial color-bar that defined jobs, wages and employment opportunities by race, and the implementation of almost total segregation of races. Through a variety of thinly disguised uses, access to the political system was foreclosed to all but a handful of Africans.
· The white settlers were able to construct this system for two reasons: they possessed the technological and organizational skills necessary to conquer and then directly administer the far larger black majority population and their nominal political and constitutional mentor - the British government allowed them internal autonomy and made no effort to inhibit the growth of a segregated society. (This aspect has formed the basis of my M.A Thesis on British policy in relation to the Zimbabwean problem- a political /economic analysis 1978). This was true both under the British South Africa Company which administered Zimbabwe from 1890 – 1923 and Zimbabwe’s unique responsible government constitution after 1923.
· Few challenges were posed to this system until world war 2. Policies differed from those practized elsewhere in Africa both to the north and to the south of Zimbabwe and the whites contemplated the future with equanimity and with little thoughts that the “Rhodesian Way of Life” would ever change. As we shall see later in this analysis, that way of life was never altered by the so-called majority rule in 1980.As possessors of advanced technology and bearers of racial and cultural attitudes prevalent in the West, the settlers had little reason to doubt either the moral premises of their society or their indefinite right to perpetuate that same society. Belief in cultural superiority ( identical with race ) and national progress ( identified with white class privilege) dovetailed nicely to reinforce the white community’s determination to preserve the society it had organized. Until April 1980, Zimbabwe’s political life had been dominated by the challenge posed to settler rule by the emergence of an indigenous African Nationalist movement calling for independence on the basis of majority rule and by the white settler demands for independence from Britain, independence under white minority government. One called for a complete restructuring of the Zimbabwean politics, the other looked towards establishing conditions that would guarantee the permanence of the system constructed after 1890. At this point, I will briefly analyze the social, political and economic developments that gave rise to these demands, their articulation both internally and externally, the conflict that arose from these demands, the nature of their resolution and how they have affected political and economic power in contemporary Zimbabwe.
· Four different political and economic interactions will briefly dominate this analysis. The first is between white and black in Zimbabwe and concerns the distribution of power within colonial Zimbabwe. African liberation struggle posed a substantial threat to maintenance of white supremacy. The white settlers responded to these pressures by adding vast new security, legislation from the pre-World War 2 period.
· The second interaction was between the local white government and the British government over the limits of white authority within colonial Zimbabwe. A persistent issue of Zimbabwean white politics was the demand for their ever increasing white autonomy. The formation of the Central African Federation in the early 1950’s and the 1961 Constitution were important stages in the withdrawal of British control from Zimbabwe. When Britain finally refused to give way fully to white settlers’ demands in 1965 the settlers’ government seized independence in defiance of Britain and the world. Britain was never prepared to take the steps necessary to challenge this system in any meaningful way.
· The third interaction was within the white community itself. In the course of colonial Zimbabwe political history, there was considerable conflict over the best strategies and tactics to ensure continued white political domination and thus economic and social privilege. This conflict took place within a “democratic” political process restricted to the white oligarchy united on the fundamental issue of maintaining the system. The heated white political controversy sometimes seen in colonial Zimbabwe should not prevent us from observing the fundamental reality, namely that white conflict concerned what strategies or priorities to follow in the preservation of the white system. Political conflict in this setting was therefore not synonymous with the offering of real choice. The fourth consideration is between black, and white and black in independent Zimbabwe after Lancaster House Constitution. It is hardly a prospect likely to rejoice the heart of any right-thinking Zimbabwean fired with hope of the promised land but discovering instead that the privileged position of the white settler remained very much intact- this time enlarged with the addition of the new black ruling and intellectual elite classes, while the mutilated veterans, heroes of the pre 1980 liberation war, hanging around the streets importuning white pedestrians for an odd cent remained languishing in the rural commuities. Indeed after such
· a protracted war which witnessed the destruction of probably more than fifty thousand Zimbabwean lives, the official program of the socialist government of April 1980 seemed to offer the prospect of an economy firmly rooted in the concerned strength of the peasantry who had acted as mountains in the liberation struggle. In practice things worked out differently for the majority of the black Zimbabwean population. Even under the banner of Marxist-Leninist ideology, the ZANU PF establishment opted for a manipulated and manouvred free market economy dictated and directed by the British and the Americans and above all an economy that ensured the privileged position of the white Zimbabweans joined by the few black ruling professional and merchandise classes.
· In order to fully understand the reasons why the nationalist leadership that negotiated the Lancaster constitution and ushered in an independent Zimbabwe failed to change the “status quo Ante Bello” it is important that this analysis makes a detailed examination of the African nationalist challenge to settler government and the final and crucial resort to confrontation. It is also important at this stage to realize that in the field of politics men in large numbers act in response to ideas only if those ideas reflect their desires. Ideas give men courage to act by telling them that their desires are righteous, that their discontents are noble and that their condition is remediable. The attraction of nationalist ideas to the generation after the second world war was precisely that these ideas would provide the people with concrete benefits, chief among them the economic and social grievances. For my part, the deeper I enter into the historical development of African nationalist movements in Zimbabwe, the surer I become that the greatest danger that threatens Zimbabwean peoples’ desires and great expectations are the nationalist leaders who emerged from these socialist movements.
· African nationalism came very late to Zimbabwe. The first was nationwide based party – the African national congress was formed in 1957. By that time Ghana had become independent, Mau Mau in Kenya was nearly over and nationalist movements were already well established in neighbouring Zambia and Malawi and South Africa. The nationalist movement in Zimbabwe itself emerged from an indigenous African political tradition that had wavered between resistance and accommodation to the white settlers. Its goals were to redress the social and economic grievances: to achieve this the movement increasingly demanded independence under a majority rule government. To spearhead this movement there were the African-middle class-the petit bourgoisie, who were only certain of their immediate interests which were not different from those of the white settlers colonial agents. Abolition of the most naked abuses of the colonial government, state-inequality of remuneration of equally trained black and white technicians, forced labour, disenfranchisement and racial discrimination in social intercourse. This, for the African middle class constituted the most urgent task of the independent movement in Zimbabwe.
· Zimbabwe African nationalists faced organizational problems which were common elsewhere in Africa, including those of ethnic conflict, of linking rural and urban discontent, and of overcoming the political indifference of non-indigenous migrant workers. These difficulties however paled besides the overriding factor of white settler resistance and repression. Like nationalist movements throughout the continent the Zimbabwean Africans engaged in rural and urban protests via meetings, rallies and strikes. They also engaged in international lobbying. In all these activities they made one critical error. They presumed their struggle to be similar to that waged in other British colonies. In our country however the colonialist lived side by side with the colonised. Thus the white settlers controlled the political system and this control was accepted by Britain. The British government was unwilling to intervene as the settler government passed the laws and took the steps necessary to destroy the nationalist movement. All that the settlers would concede to the African people was the right to participate nominally within political structures they utterly dominated.
· From the end of the 1896-1897 rebellions until world war 2, African political activity was largely limited to a tiny elite who made intermittent efforts to achieve modest improvements in African living conditions. But following the war Africans gradually turned to political protest to draw attention to their grievances. There was much uncertainty about how to proceed and the African pattern continued to swing back and forth between active protest and hope for racial compromise within the colonial setup. For a brief period in the 1960’s a few Africans looked to multiracial organizations for solutions to their problems. As history records, Zimbabwe did not prove a fertile ground for trade union organization to flourish. The settler government declined to acknowledge their legitimacy and used force to make the point. Then the white liberals moved in, suffocating the embrace of multiracialism whatever vitality trade unionism had. Thus by the early 1950’s, the quasi-political multiracial society had become the fad. Hardwicke Holderness, Eileen Hadolon, Nathan Shamuyarira and the other intellectuals and would-be intellectuals launched the international association in 1953. They debated, had coffee and occasionally danced. In 1955 colonel David Stirling brought his Capricorn Africa society from East Africa to Zimbabwe. This was another inter-racial society on a much bigger scale. Many of the many leaders who were to shape our politics till today were in the ranks of those multiracial societies. Leopold Takawira and James Chikerema were among them.
· Meanwhile settler politics also went multiracial. In fact some Africans almost reached the top in Godfrey Huggins’ United Federal Party – notably Joshua Nkomo, Jasper Savanhu, Mike Hove, Charles Mzingeli and Chad Chipunza. Stanlake Samkange took an active role in Garfield Todd’s Central African Party and Ndabaningi Sithole patched up a long standing disagreement with Todd to join the CAP. All these organizations attempted to build a social and political interaction across racial lines. The problem with these organizations was not that they lacked either motivation or high purpose, but that they were powerless and were not meant to meet the desires and aspirations of the black population in our country. Thus they attracted (and this is very important) a tiny group of generally wealthy urban liberals. They were able to make contacts with those few Africans who were well-educated. Each group tended to accept and positively the idea of partnership but none was in a position to give it substance except in an extremely narrow and personal level. It was no wonder that eventually the groups collapsed, the Africans joined nationalist parties and began their migration to prison, these white settlers who retained their liberation began their migration into exile. Multiracialism never had a chance in our country so long as the whites firmly retained political power and did not believe they would have to give it up or share it. Each new repressive action drove this point home. Eventually Africans drew the obvious conclusion that they had no choice but to organize their people first, and conditions in both urban and rural areas helped give rise to new African political organization and activity. At this juncture, the point I am trying to articulate is that had these African nationalist leaders been accommodated and achieved their selfish goals they would have helped to perpetuate the settler’s political system.
· On September 12,1957 the new African national congress was born with Nkomo as its leader. A new ANC leadership went into the country and remained there organizing resistance to the white administration, and continued the labour style meetings around the urban areas. Although the urban rallies were drawing good crowds by the end of 1958, they did not concern the white government as much as the political threat seen in the rural organization being created. It was the spread of the resistance movement among the villagers that prompted the government in the early hours of the morning of February 29, 1959 to ban the ANC, and loaded every nationalist leader from village chairman to the top ranks of the party into army trucks. Most of the arrests were in rural branches. Under fresh legislation the ANC leaders were detained without trial in camps all over the country. The only one who escaped was Joshua Nkomo who was attending a meeting abroad when the party was banned. While politicking went on in the detention camps, the movement did not have an underground network capable of continuing the work of organizing the people. Unlike Malawi where a similar ban in 1959 sparked a sustained rural resistance which led to the early triumph of the Malawi Congress Party, our organization was centrally powered. When the power was removed, everything also collapsed. Debate dragged on for almost a year about how to resuscitate the movement. One school of thought believed that it should be re-established as an underground movement, while the other favoured the creation of a new party along the lines of the old one. Thus the National Democratic Party became ever more deeply involved in a political poker game whose rules were made in London and Harare. It put forward a formal demand for “one man one vote”. It organized mass meetings where the law permitted, and sought opportunities to put its case before the white and black publics in a “ dignified” manner. The time was auspicious, for 1960 was the year in which all Africa felt the full force of “the wind of change”. The settler government sniffing this “wind of change” decided to change their tactics.
· The arrest in July 1960 of Michael Mawema and other NDP leaders precipitated disturbances which ended in what seemed to be a major concession from the then Prime Minister Edgar Whitehead. He called for a constitutional review conference in London. Mawema and his lieutenants became heroes and politics suddenly became a race for office. The chances of becoming a Member of Parliament and of greater things ahead fired the imagination of even the comfortable educated groups, who up to now had remained interested observers and confident onlookers.
· In October 1960, Joshua Nkomo, still abroad, was elected to head the party and to lead the delegation to the constitutional conference scheduled to begin in January 1961. Morton Malianga was elected his deputy, George Silundika his secretary-general, Ndabaningi Sithole treasurer, and Robert Mugabe ( the current President) publicity secretary. A wave of optimism permeated the movement. Outside developments also seemed conclusive to optimistic appraisals. Both in Malawi and Zambia the nationalists seemed close to power after the Monckton Report made clear that federation was in trouble. Many clambered abroad the NDP bandwagon. Could our country be far behind ? Many began to worry about how cabinet positions would be allocated. Indeed the nationalists were making the critical error of mistaking foreign developments, tough talk and urban unrest for solid organizing a coherent political strategy where grave errors were to become obvious all too soon.
· The 1961 constitution conference held in Harare during January and February, was the critical moment for the Zimbabwean nationalists. Their admission as full participants was a drammatic victory for the NDP, which had regularly called for constitutional change. It seemed that Joshua Nkomo’s endless travels to the United Nations, London and Third World countries conferences demanding One Man One Vote, were about to pay dividends. The fact that Britain had called for a constitutional conference convinced Nkomo that the NDP could attain political advance through constitutional channels, just as in other British colonial territories.
· Joshua Nkomo led our delegation to the conference. He was joined by Ndabaningi Sithole, Chitepo and Silundika. The performance at the conference was woefully inept. They jettisoned the NDP’s previous strong position in favour of retaining the reserved clauses and agreed to their removal in exchange for the constitutional council, the declaration of rights and the 15 seats – none of which began to threaten white control of parliament or the repressive machinery of the white settler government in our country. The withdrawal of the reserve classes and the implicit sanctioning of extant discriminating legislation all but generated in the nationalists a permanently ineffective role in our country’s politics. They apparently accepted these proposals because they anticipated having white allies in the new parliament, because they came to trust British foreign secretary Duncan Sandys (who chaired the meeting) in the course of the meeting and because they feared that the NDP supporters would accuse them of failure if they rejected every proposal. In the pressure of the conference situation, they made the error of assuming that any agreement would assist their cause and lead towards black rule. This was the pattern in other African countries. But our country was different and the nationalists were not cautious enough to understand fully the implications of the pact so eagerly sought by Whitehead and the British government. They also were sadly out of touch with African opinion and in this way they could not get the counsel they would have needed. It was therefore not surprising that they were outmanouvred at the bargaining table on every major issue and finally accepted a settlement that was tantamount to a complete sell out of the peoples of Zimbabwe. It was therefore not surprising that immediately after the settlement was announced Nkomo came under heavy criticism. Several members of the NDP executive would simply not go along with the fifiteen seats settlement. Leopod Takawira wired from London where he handled the NDP’s external affairs: “We totally reject Southern Rhodesian constitutional conference agreement as treacherous to the future of the three million Africans. Agreement diabolical and disastrous. Outside world shocked by the NDP’s docile agreement”. This was a fairly accurate analysis of the agreements effect, but the damage had been done. Nkomo quickly disowned the agreement but the nationalist movement had squandered its sole opportunity to achieve meaningful constitutional change. This was a blow to Whitehead who could not win without substantial participation of the NDP. The NDP’s position was even worse. Having been effectively channelled away from the route of a resistance movement into British style politics, it was unprepared for any form of protest, more vigorous than a boycott of the December 1962 elections.
· The movement at this time had genuine grass roots support. By the middle of 1961 there were over 250 000 paid up members of the party. In fact the story might have a happy ending if nationalist movement had been contending with the British colonial office instead of a colonial settler regime that had long enjoyed the unique position of a self-governing state. According to Davis Mugabe, one of the NDP’s nationalists and an intellectual, “We have been conditioned to be good churchmen and encouraged to carry out our politics according to British ground rules, but we are facing an entrenched adversary fervently dedicated to preserving a way of life, not a handful of intenerant British civil servants. The Rhodesian ruling group must never be confused with the authorities that have been faced by nationalist movements in other British territories in Africa”. NDP then had a following but it was rudderless. Two conferences of the party held during 1961 produced nothing more than a new settlement to party politics and the existing power structures. Radical elements within the NDP organised acts of sabotage on their own, but these were disclaimed and actively discouraged by the party leadership. It was decided that there would be no unconstitutional politics, whatever that meant. But even then the NDP was banned in December 1961 and all the leaders within the country detained.
· The optimism of 1960 vanished. Whereas before the conference the NDP’s journal “Democratic Voice” had seen “the tragic figure of jittery Sir Edgar Whitehead heading towards damnation”, despair and disorganisation quickly followed. Following the ban of the NDP the Zimbabwe African Peoples’s Union (ZAPU) was formed but its goals, organisation, and activities were indistinguishable from the NDP’s. It was expected that the movement would go underground and plan for more militant resistance against the white settlers. Nine months later ZAPU was banned before any conference or election had been held. For those nine months, ZAPU followed the footsteps of its predecessor. It gathered thousands upon thousands of faithful supporters who turned up at every meeting. It collected thousands of donations in pounds and subscriptions. The leadership intoxicated by the members who responded confidently proclaimed that “ freedom is around the corner”, though in retrospect it was never quite clear precisely how the plan was going to fall onto the laps of the nationalist leadership. They talked all day and all night about what would come to pass when the elections are over in December 1962 and negotiations towards majority rule could get under way again. It was indeed an exhilarating time, but the nationalists did not really undertake to develop the power of the wars following.
· The ban of ZAPU was announced in September 1962. Whitehead hoped that this action would win him wavering white votes in the coming election but the effect was the reverse. The rightist Rhodesian Front (RF), led by Winston Field won the election and came to power in December 1962. In a clear tactical move, Field immediately released the 1959 detainees still restricted in the remote desert of Gokwe in the Zambezi valley. All other detainees were released within the next three months. This brought everyone on stage for a power struggle. Chikerema and Nyandoro assumed that they would return to their old positions, if not to even higher echelons as due heroes who had suffered imprisonment for the so called cause. This mentality has remained the hallmark of the former nationalists ‘ attitude and sadly enough of the young men and women who waged the liberation war heavily supported by the Civilian Zimbabweans – up to present day Zimbabwe.
· The new reform group had lost its leverage, and Sithole, Chitepo, Takawira and others found themselves on the fringes. With so many aspirants to secondary positions of power, the party president was in a strong position to dictate terms. Before many months had passed, however, controversial decisions were taken which led nearly all ZAPU’s leaders out of the country, and into exile. In fact under a lot of criticism over the leadership’s failure to get down to business and to endorse some “ACTS OF SABOTAGE” that had been carried without party authorisation, the leadership then issued explicit instructions that all extra-legal activities should cease pending the launch of a “Master Plan” in 1963. As a matter of fact, the master plan was that, while in restriction for three months, Nkomo apparently became convinced that the government would soon seize independence and, therefore thought that the nationalist could best take advantage of this event if they were outside the country when it occurred, prepared to establish a government in exile that could compete with the white regime for international recognition. There was considerable opposition to this suggestion within the former ZAPU executive, but Nkomo persuaded the leaders that this strategy was approved by Julius Nyerere of Tanganyika and other high ranking African leaders.
· The departure of the executive to Dar-eslam in early 1963 stirred widespread resentment in Zimbabwe.In Dar, many ZAPU leaders were shocked when Nyerere strongly rebuked them for leaving Zimbabwe. Talks at the May 1963 inaugural conference in Adis Ababa of the Organisation Of African Unity revealed to Sithole and others the grave reservations many African leaders had about Nkomo. Until this point Nkomo’s foreign experience had generally been deemed an asset and had given him an aura of expertise and experience that was hard to challenge. Now the doubting Thomases in the ZAPU executive had hard evidence to support their opposition to Nkomo’s external strategies.
· Immediately after the Addis Ababa conference the executive returned to Dar where a serious power struggle ensued. Most of the officials now committed themselves to go back to Zimbabwe. Before returning however, they wanted to decide about leadership, whether or not to start a new party, and the nature of future action within Zimbabwe. At this point, Nkomo made a shrewed move that ever after made the “dissidents” position very difficult. Rather than face them in Dar, he returned to Harare where he precipitated the split by denouncing the key nationalists as enemies to the movement. This blunt and direct attack threw those opposing Nkomo (both inside and outside the country) off balance. Most of the executive in Dar faced immediate imprisonment in Zimbabwe because they had jumped bail to leave, and Nkomo being in the country was able to make use the argument that had been most effective used against him – that those outside the country were not interested in struggling for the people.
· A sad, wasteful and useless struggle began. The execuctive returned from Dar and established the Zimbabwe African National Union under the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole leadership, Nkomo reconstituted ZAPU as People’s Caretaker Council (PCC). The formation of open parties in itself was an admission of failure, for many leaders, particularly in ZANU favored a militant underground campaign directed against the white regime.
· There is no way to gauge accurately which party had the greatest support, although PCC was stronger. Neither party followed the single course that was most likely to lead to popular approval and internal ascendancy- that is, relentless struggle against the white regime. This was to come much later. The split was not based on ethnic or tribal lines, although most Ndebeles stood by Nkomo. Of the fifteen of the seventeen past numbers of the ANC, NDP and ZANU executive that can be counted for, eight stayed with Nkomo and seven went with Sithole. Like their white counterparties the crux of the split was not even political, except as they differed over past actions ( or the lack thereof). Both parties expoused similar goals: independence under majority rule, relentless opposition to colonialism and imperialism and commitment to African socialism and Pan-Africanism both of which they had no clear understanding, in how they would work in an independent Zimbabwe.
· In the year before both parties were banned they engaged in dismal interncine warfare. Little attention was paid to the putative enemy – the weak white regime settlers who were free to pick off the nationalists as they pleased. Nkomo was restricted in April 1964, Sithole went to prison in May 1964. The same could be said of many other nationalists. For the PCC , ZANU did not exist, for ZANU no nationalist movement was possible if led by Nkomo. Behind these intractable positions the Africans stood divided against the white government from 1963 until when ZANU and ZAPU were forced by the OAU Liberation Committee to form a joint military command of the liberation movement.
· Between 1959 and 1964 five major nationalist organizations were banned in Zimbabwe. Could this have been avoided? or was it inevitable or even necessary? For my part the deeper I enter into the political circles of the Zimbabwe nationalist movements then and the nationalist political leadership today, the surer I become that the greatest single danger that threatened them then and continues to be hazardous today is the lack of clear direction and an ideology that is deeply rooted in the Zimbabwe way of life – which takes into account the rich Zimbabwean cultures. The late Davis Mugabe, a very close friend of mine and a Zimbabwean nationalist himself argued that the Zimbabwean nationalist movement failed as an “effective revolutionary force because it moved from one European model to another without even sinking its roots deep into the African soil”. It was indeed an unfortunate experiment in trying to defeat the enemy through the rules of his own game. Indeed these observations are difficult lessons learned from negotiating experiences with Britain and from organizational experiences within Zimbabwe.
· In stressing primarily urban organization and constitutional political advance, the nationalist explicitly accepted the possibility of internal suppression but expected that, in turn, Britain would eventually come to their rescue. As a result (and until very late) the nationalist never formulated a revolutionary perspective with which to confront the setter government. They interpreted the Zimbabwean struggle as analogous to those waged in Malawi and Zambia, and other British colonies. The nationalists were wrong. The settler regime ( as they were to discover later ) was determined to resist nationalist pressure and often nationalist organizations played right into white settler regime hands. The nationalists also fundamentally misunderstood the nature and pattern of British/white settlers’ relations, and grossly overestimated Britain’s commitment to Zimbabwean Africans.
· Indeed it became quite clear that it was impossible to achieve the nationalists’ aspirations through the British and international help without resort to confrontation. As we have seen in this analysis, three nationalist parties which were necessarily founded to operate within the prevailing political system were banned and their organization destroyed. In these circumstances, and in the absence of British intervention, a peaceful transition to African majority rule was never a real possibility under a constitutional system that could be made to impede African advance and to ensure white settler domination. The result was that, the Africans deprived of any constitutional means of opposing the white minority regime, or of any British support in doing so, chose the path of direct confrontation.
· Since the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in 1965, increasing numbers of Africans went into exile. Some went into exile in Zambia, Tanzania, and later Mozambique, in Britain and elsewhere to carry on the political struggle or to join the military wing of the liberation movement. What at first amounted to a token resistance easily detectable and suppressed became a major force to be reckoned with. This was evident from the security measures enacted by the rebel regime of Ian Smith- including the extension of the call- up to age groups hitherto exempt, and the importation of South African troops into a British colony to bolster the relatively small forces available to the settler population. The white settlers were inherently vulnerable for the simple but crucial reason that there were so few of them dominating a few million Africans. The armed struggle posed an obvious threat to internal security throughout the whole country despite South African assistance against the liberation forces. It was therefore not surprising that from 1975 onwards the freedom fighters had involved the whole of Zimbabwe in such an extended conflict that something had to be done. Undoubtedly the freedom fighters had developed the capability to sustain active military pressure for a consistent length of time to such an extent that hard choices faced the white settlers and their protector- South Africa. Thus the African war of liberation eventually culminated in the Lancaster House Constitutional Conference between Britain, the settlers’ and nationalist leaders. A new constitution which did not take the aspirations of Zimbabwe people into account, nor their norms and values, was agreed upon under which general elections were held and ZANU PF emerged the winner. Zimbabwe became independent on April 18, 1980 under the leadership of one of the nationalist leaders- Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who then was leading ZANU PF. On the face of it, the nationalist leaders had made history but would this change the nature and pattern of the colonial system for the betterment of the Zimbabwean people ? Would this justify the loss of lives of more than fifty thousand Zimbabweans which were lost during the liberation struggle ? In other words did the attainment of independence under so called majority rule change anything in so far as the Zimbabwean way of political and economic life was concerned ? How majority was African rule really majority ?
· Earlier in the analysis I have taken pains to elaborate the fact that the nationalist movement in Zimbabwe emerged from an indigenous African tradition that had wavered between resistance and accommodation to the European settlers. Indeed Lancaster House Constitution negotiated by these same nationalists confirmed white settler privileges by granting them twenty seats in the House of Assembly of one hundred and fifty members. Land was not to be taken away from them unless on “willing seller, willing buyer” conditions, and to make sure that the settlers were protected, Britain offered to provide the funds to deal with that situation. The question of land remained a persistent source of tension. This complete feature of Zimbabwean life permeates all questions of economic, social and political life and the nationalists failed to understand that no aspect of Zimbabwean politics could be understood by the majority black Zimbabweans without some clear and coherent settlement of that issue. In fact Lancaster Constitution contained no clauses that would disturb the “Rhodesian way of life”’ for the white settlers. The economy indeed remained in the settlers’ own hands. This may be understandable because the nationalist leadership at the conference were completely ignorant of the economy of their own country. This economy had always developed outside the limits of their knowledge. They had nothing more than an appropriate bookish acquaintance with the actual and potential resources of their country’s soil and mineral deposits, and therefore they could only speak of these resources on general and abstract terms.
· At this juncture, I want to emphasize that in the name of the people and majority rule, the nationalist mobilized the sons and daughters of Zimbabwe, recruited fighting cadres among the people, sacrificed a lot of blood among these very sons and daughters of Zimbabwe and agitated for independence without any concrete notion of what that independence would mean for the people of Zimbabwe as a whole. It is true that robbed of any constitutional means to protect their interests, Africans fell victims to deliberately imposed poverty and ignorance which state of affairs was given as reason for their backwardness. Indeed the extent to which white settlers enriched themselves at the expense of the majority of Zimbabweans was inscribed in the economic, health and cultural statistics showing the wide gap between the whites and blacks in Zimbabwe and this state of affairs is what the Lancaster Constitution settlement came to confirm. The African ruling class and their cronies joined the white settlers in enjoying the “Rhodesian way of life” at the expense of the majority Zimbabweans.
· May be in order to understand the nature of post colonial state in Zimbabwe it is important to look into the condition of the class that led the independence movement and to see whether, given the circumstances that nurtured it, that class could bring about the results which the people of Zimbabwe expected once it took over power after Lancaster House Constitutional Conference.
· As I have already indicated in this analysis, the battle against colonization in our country did not run straight away along the lines of nationalism. For a very long time our nationalists devoted their energies to ending certain definite abuses, forced labour inequalities of salaries, limitation of political rights etc. It was this nationalist leadership that took over power (political) at the end of the settler colonial government, that had also agitated for independence. It was an underdeveloped middle class of merchants, professionals, trade unionists etc. This middle class had no economic power and in no way commensurate with the middle class of the colonial power-the so called mother country, or of the settlers which it was replacing. These nationalists developed the totality of the colonial white settler state they had been fighting against. Lowering the “Union Jack”, the leadership moving to the former governor’s residence ( thereafter named the “State House”) and quite a few of the underdeveloped African middle class moving to former white settler surbubs and acquiring “African house servants”, and occupying the civil service positions hitherto occupied by the settlers did not signify any basic change. Thus rather than question its relevance to the aspirations and expectations of the majority of the Zimbabwean people, the colonial settler state was adopted and legitimized.
· It took quite some time for the people of Zimbabwe to know themselves after years of oppression. But the ruling middle class, who in province after province, city after city, and town after town, hastened to make their own fortune and to set up a system of national exploitation have done their utmost to put obstacles in the path of this new discovery. The state, which by its strength and discretion ought to have inspired confidence and disarm and lull everybody to sleep, on the contrary sought to impose itself in a spectacular fashion. It made a display, it jostled people and bullied them with threats of return to “war”, thus intimating to the Zimbabwean citizens that they are in continual danger.
· Indeed the single party system was at the beginning instituted as the modern form of dictatorship of the ruling class, unmarked and unpainted, unscrupulous and cynical. It is true that such a dictatorship does not go very far. It cannot last the process of its own contradictions. Since the ruling class did not have the economic means to ensure its domination and to throw a few crumbs to the rest of the population, since moreover it has been occupied with filling its pockets as rapidly as possible but also as posaically as possible, the country began to sink more deeply in political and economic stagnation. And in order to hide this stagnation and to mask the repression, to reassure itself and to give itself something to boast about, the ruling class found nothing better than to erect grandiose heroes acres stadium in the capital and to lay out other grandiose prestige expenses. This ruling class has turned its back more and more on the people’s poverty and tended before independence to look towards former colonial powers and international agencies who always count on its obliging compliance. As the ruling class has not and is not sharing the country’s wealth with the rest of the people, they are shielded by the existence of an all powerful leader. The class depend on the leader to whom all the dual role of stabilizing the oppressing regime and of perpetuating the domination of that national middle class falls. We know that in the developed countries the middle class dictatorship is the result of the economic power, of that class. In our country and other so called Third World countries on the contrary, the leader stands for moral power in whose shelter the thin and poverty stricken middle class of our young nation decides to get rich. Indeed before independence the leader embodied the aspirations of the people of Zimbabwe for independence, political liberty and national dignity. But as soon as independence was declared, far from embodying in concrete terms and form, the needs of the people- bread, land and the restoration of the country to the sacred hands of the people, the leader revealed his inner purpose: to become that president of that company of profiteers impatient for their returns which constitutes the national middle class. The national economy which was once protected in the initial stages of independence is today literally controlled. The budget is balanced through loans and grants, while every now and then, and on a regular basis the leader glob trots to western, eastern and Arab/Asian countries fishing for capital and foreign investment as if Zimbabwe did not have enough resources to develop its own capital and invest in its own various resources.
· The international donor community and other foreign government donors have increased their demands, accumulated concessions and guarantees and have taken fewer and fewer pains to mask the hold they have over national government. In the meantime the majority of Zimbabweans are stagnating deplorably in unbearable poverty. They are however, slowly awakening to the unutterable treason of their leaders. Surely the ruling class has not been able to learn a lesson from the history of their own country and this makes the awakening all the more acute. The distribution of wealth effected since independence has not been spread to many sectors. The leaders have therefore become an affront all the more disputing in that the great majority of the population is dying of disease and starvation. The scandalous spread and pitiless acts of the ruling class is accompanied by a decisive awakening on the part of the people and the leadership does not seem to realize this growing awareness that is promising stormy days to come. The leadership has started to pass judgements upon the other citizens such as unpatriotic, racists, etc that more often than not are reminiscent of the racist doctrines of the past settler colonial government.
· Meanwhile the leader , who as we all know has behind him a lifetime of political action has constituted a screen between the people and the rapacious ruling class since he is increasingly standing surety for the ventures of that ruling class and has closed his eyes to their insolence, their mediocrity and their fundamental immorality. He continues to act as a breaking power on the awakening consciousness of the people. He comes to the aid of this ruling caste and hides his manouvres from the people, thus becoming the most eager worker in the task of mystifying and bewildering the masses. Every time he has spoken to the people particularly at Heroes’ Acre, he calls to mind his and other freedom fighters’ heroic life, the struggle they have led in the name of the people and the victories they have achieved, again in the name of the people of Zimbabwe, thereby intimating clearly to them that they ought to go on putting their confidence in the leader. For the past twenty and so years after independence, we have seen the leader incapable of urging on the people to a concrete task, unable to really open the future to them or of flinging them into the path of national reconstruction after so many years of exploitation. We have seen him reassessing the history of independence and calling the sacred unity of the struggle for independence. Because he refuses to break up the national ruling class, the leader has been asking the people to fall back into the past and to become drunk as the remembrance of the epoch which led up to independence. Seen objectively the leader has brought Zimbabwe to a halt and has persisted in either expelling them from history or preventing them from taking root in making that history.
· During the struggle for independence the leadership awakened the people and promised them a forward march, heroic and unmitigated. Indeed more than fifty thousand compatriots shed their blood for the cause. Today the leadership uses every means to put the people to sleep, and two times in a year i.e.,at independence and Heroes celebrations asks Zimbabweans to remember the evils of the colonial period and to look back on the long way we have come since then, and yet nothing has changed in the conditions of living of the people of Zimbabwe. If any change at all their lives have become worse than they were during the settler government. At least people were assured about the availability of essential commodities,- salt, mealie meal, sugar, etc during this colonial era. It is because of this that the people of Zimbabwe are showing themselves totally incapable of appreciating the long way they have come- twenty or so years of their exploitation by the same people they fought for bitterly and put them into leadership. The peasant who has gone on scratching a living from the tired soil and the unemployed man who never and will never find employment do not manage, in-spite of public holidays, national anthem, motorcades for the leader, and the brightly colored flag,- to convince themselves that anything has really changed for them. Though the ruling class have vainly increased the number of processions to include the so called Unity Day, the majority of the people of Zimbabwe have no illusions. They are hungry and living in abject poverty. They have begun to suck, they have turned away from this nation in which they have not been given any place and have long begun to lose interest in it and the leadership blames them for apathy.
· It is also important to note that during the period of the struggle for independence there were parties united under the present leadership. Since independence this party has been silently and gradually disintegrating, not very much is left but the name, the emblem and the motto. The disintegration has been dubbed “FACTIONALISM”. Thus the living party which ought to make possible the free exchange of ideas, elaborate according to the real needs of the majority of Zimbabweans has been transformed into a trade union of individual interests mostly manifested in the so called primary elections. Since the proclamation of independence the party no longer helps the people to set out its demands, to become more aware of its needs and better able to establish its power. Today the party’s mission is to deliver to the people the instructions emanating from the “POLITIBURO”. There no longer exists the fruitful give-and-take from bottom to top and from top to bottom which creates and guarantees democracy in a party. Quite on the contrary the party has made itself into a screen between the people and the leaders. There is no longer any party life, for the branches, wards and cells which were set up during the struggle and immediately after “UHURU”. They are today completely destroyed, and demobilized.
· During the liberation struggle, during the thick of the fighting, more than a few militants asked the nationalist leadership to formulate a dogma, to set out their objectives and to draw up a program and no matter it was Marxist-Leninist or whatever. But under the pretext of guarding national unity, the leaders would not come out with a solid and long lasting program besides the socialist dogma under which people were mobilized against colonialism. And on they went, armed with an impetuous slogan which stood for principle while their only ideological activity took the form of a series of varieties on the theme of the right of the people to self-determination born on the winds of history which would inevitably sway away from colonialism. When the militants asked whether the winds of history couldn’t be a little more clearly analyzed, the leaders gave them instead hope and trust – the necessity of decolonization and its inevitability and more to that effect. By hook or by crook, Lancaster agreement was to be accepted in order to achieve the righteous doctrine of the right of the people to self-determination, to be given a chance to rule or misrule ourselves- the issue of a program was irrelevant. Indeed we chose the path to misrule ourselves.
· It is therefore not surprising that after independence the party has gradually become a lethargy. The militants are now only called upon when so-called popular manifestations are afoot, or international conferences or independence celebrations. The local part leaders are given posts such as provincial governors, city/town mayors etc. The party has become an administration and the militants, ( the heroes of the national liberation struggle) have disappeared into the crowd and taken the empty title of “War Veterans” citizens. Now that the war veterans have fulfilled their historical mission of leading and maintaining the ruling class in power, they are firmly invited to retire under a pittance monthly pension so that the ruling class may carry out their mission in peace and tranquility. But we have already seen that this leadership is incapable of carrying out any mission whatever. After a few years, the break up of the party has become obvious and an observer, even the most superficial can still notice that the party, today the skeleton of its former self only serves to immobilize people, and thus breaches have developed and room has been made for the charlatans to stud their campaigns of seduction among white Zimbabweans and international communities and agencies with populist slogans and chauvinist nationalism. Indeed nothing ever changes for the Zimbabwean people and this forms a rather unsteady platform for the transition to the new millennium. The party which during the battle had drawn to itself the whole nation is indeed falling to pieces. The intellectuals, who, on the eve of independence rallied to the party, now make it clear by their attitude that they gave their support with no other end in view than to secure their slices of the cake of independence. Thus the party has become a means of private advancement- a characteristic clearly seen even in the new political party emerging on the Zimbabwean scene today.
· In our country where the rule is that the greatest wealth is surrounded by the greatest poverty, the army and the police constitute the pillars of the present totalitarian government. The strength of the police force and the power of the army are proportionate to the stagnation in which the rest of the nation is sunk. By a dint of yearly loans and grants, concessions have been snatched up by foreigners, scandals have become numerous, ministers have grown extremely rich with foreign accounts, the members of parliament have feathered their nests and there is not a soul down to the simple policeman or customs officer who has not joined in the great procession of the corruption.
· The opposition has become more aggressive and most of the urban people seem to be catching up with its propaganda. Their hostility to the leadership and the ruling class is plainly visible. They too wave manifestos which are nothing more than those of the ruling classes. They do not see the problem facing the nation as a legacy of the colonial past. They too do not recognize the fact that the problem lies in this that there has never been any change at all since independence change that would have impowered Zimbabweans to participate in the political and economic business of their country-change that would have induced the ruling class to create political and economic conditions necessary for every Zimbabwean to create his own wealth and- change that would have concentrated the nation’s efforts in an agrarian revolution to reduce if not completely wipe out rural poverty and the resultant drift of young people from rural to urban areas.
· All these observations bring us to the inevitable conclusion which should cause no surprise. In our country like in many other third world countries the national middle class should not be allowed to find the conditions necessary for its existence and growth. In other words the combined efforts of the majority of the people led by a genuine party and of intellectuals who are highly cautious and armed with revolutionary principles ought to prevent the emergency and growth of this useless and harmful middle class. The middle class phase in our country can only justify itself in so far as the national middle class has sufficient economic and technical strength to build up a middle class society, to create conditions necessary for the development of a large-scale program of mass participation to mechanize agriculture and finally to make possible the existence of an authentic national culture. A middle class similar to that which developed in Europe is able to elaborate an ideology and at the same time strengthen its own power. Such a middle class, dynamic, educated and secular has fully succeeded in its development and undertaking of the accumulation of capital and has given to its European nations a minimum of prosperity. In our country as we have seen, no true middle class has ever existed since “Uhuru”, there has been only a sort of little greedy caste, avid and voracious with the mind of a huckster, only glad to accept the dividends that the former colonial master hands out to it. This get-rich-quick middle class has shown itself incapable of great ideas or of inventiveness. It remembers what it has read in European text books and imperciptibly, it becomes not even the replica of Europe, but its own caricature. Our middle class which has turned its back more and more on the people as a whole has not even succeeded in extracting spectacular concessions from the West – such as investments which would be of value for the country’s economy or the setting up of certain crucial industries. On the contrary, assembly plants have sprung up and have consecrated the type of neo-colonialist industrialization in which the country’s economy has floundered. Thus it must not be said that the national ruling middle class retards the country’s evolution, that it makes it lose time or that it threatens to lead the nation up blind alleys. In fact the middle class phase in our country has been completely a useless phase in terms of political and economic developments. When this caste has vanished, devoured by its own contradictions, it will be seen that nothing new ever happened in Zimbabwe since independence was proclaimed, and that everything must be started again from scratch. The changeover will not take place at the level of the structures set up by this caste during its reign, since that caste had done nothing more than take over unchanged legacy of the economy, the thought and the institutions left by the colonialists.
· The local middle class, which has adopted unreservedly and with enthusiasm the ways of thinking of the former colonialists, which has become wonderfully detached from its own thought and has based its consciousness upon foundations which are typically foreign, will realize, with its mouth watering that it lacks something essential to a middle class-money. It is therefore important that if we are going to bring the country out of its stagnation and set it well on the road to development and progress, we must first and foremost nationalize the middle man’s trading sector. The middle class, who wish to see both the triumph of the spirit of money making and the enjoyment of consumer goods, and at the same time the triumph of their contemptuous aspect of profit making (should we not rather call it robbery), will want to largely invest in this sector. The intermediary market which formerly was dominated by the settlers was invaded by the national middle class.
· Nationalizing the intermediary sector means organizing wholesale and retail cooperatives on a democratic basis. It also means decentralizing these cooperatives by getting the majority of the people in the business of the public affairs. We will not be able to do all this unless we give the people some political education. Emphasis on educating the people politically is also expressing our desire to govern with the people and for the people. We ought not to speak a language destined to camouflage a middle class administration. In the developed countries, the middle class governments have long since left this infantile stage of authority behind. They govern with the help of their laws, their economic strength and their police.
· In fact the greatest task before us today is to understand at each moment – what is happening in our country and why that is happening. We ought not to cultivate the exceptional or to seek for a hero, who is another form of leader. We ought to uplift the people, we must develop their brains, fill them with ideas, change them and make them respected human beings. To hold a responsible position in our country should be to know that in the final analysis everything depends on the education of the majority of the people, on raising the level of their thoughts and on political education. Political education means opening the minds of the people, awakening them and allowing the birth of their intelligence. To educate the people, does not and cannot mean making a political speech. What it means is to try relentlessly and passionately to teach the people that everything depends on them, that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we move forward and make progress it is due to them too, and that there is no such thing as the great leader- the hero, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything but that the hero is the people themselves, and the magic hands are finally only hands of the people.
· In order to put all this into practice the prerequisite is that we come out with a new constitution that is a true and clear reflection of the norms and values of the people of Zimbabwe as a whole - a constitution that takes into account the various rich cultures of the people of Zimbabwe, be they pink, blue, navy blue, white or black. Having done that we must govern with a typical Zimbabwean law, not Roman/Dutch law because it is quite clear that there are no Romans, nor Dutch in our country. This constitution should emphasize that the movement from the top to the bottom and from bottom to the top must be a fixed principle. It is indeed from the base that forces mount up which supply the summit with its dynamic and dialectically make it possible for it to leap ahead, and undoubtedly the country can reach higher heights. I have a dream that Zimbabweans can, in the shortest possible time develop their country to the extent that they can enjoy the highest standard of living on the continent of Africa. I have a dream that it is in Zimbabwe that “the beautiful ones will be born” and will bear the torch that will light the whole of Africa.

1 comment:

Robert said...

This is a briliant analysis of the problems African countries are going through and the solution to end these problems. How I wish our leaders could be bold enough to take such sound advice to indeed start afresh in building the political and economic structures of our countries for the people to appreciate the true meaning of independence.