Zimbabwe after 30 years of independence
Indigenization & gender equality on agenda
Published Mar 11, 2010 9:24 PM
Against all odds the southern African nation of Zimbabwe is celebrating its
30th year of independence from British settler-colonialism.
In February and early March of 1980, nationwide elections were held inside the
former Rhodesia, named after racist colonialist Cecil Rhodes, in which the two
leading national liberation movements, the Zimbabwe African National
Union-Patriotic Front and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union-Patriotic
Front, won the overwhelming majority of votes leading to the recognition by the
international community of an independent state on April 18 of that year.
The elections grew out of a 14-year armed struggle waged by the African
majority against the Rhodesian state headed by Prime Minister Ian Smith. After
tremendous gains were made in the national liberation war during the late
1970s, the U.S. and British imperialism pressured the Smith regime to negotiate
an end to the war.
These talks held in December 1979 resulted in what became known as the
Lancaster House Agreements. A ceasefire was declared, and 16,500 guerrillas
from the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, which was the armed wing of
ZANU-PF, and 5,500 fighters from the Zimbabwe African People’s
Revolutionary Army, the military section of ZAPU-PF, returned to the
The survival of Zimbabwe as an independent country committed to the empowerment
of the African majority as well as an anti-imperialist foreign policy is a
testament to the unity and fortitude of the ZANU-PF party, which merged with
ZAPU-PF in late 1987. Over the last decade, since the imposition of the Third
Chimurenga — a radical land reform policy that seized control of half of
the farm land previously controlled by white settlers even after national
independence — the Western imperialist states have enacted sanctions
against the country and its leadership.
Over the last twelve years, since the land redistribution process became
national policy in 1998, the governments of Britain, the United States and the
European Union have taken hostile measures against Zimbabwe. During 2000, after
much political discussion and debate, revolutionary war veterans took control
of hundreds of farms operated by British settlers who held both Zimbabwean and
After 2000, the imperialist interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe
became apparent. In that year, an election held in June witnessed the wholesale
financing and political support by Western interests and local capitalists of
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Although ZANU-PF maintained its
majority in the national government, the opposition utilized its electoral
gains to further push for the regime-change policies of U.K. and U.S.
Zimbabwe’s leaders were banned from traveling to various European
countries and the U.S. during this period. Under George W. Bush, the U.S.
unsuccessfully attempted to pressure the African National Congress-led
government in South Africa to cut off electrical supplies to Zimbabwe and to
refuse to allow goods to enter the country.
In 2002, when ZANU-PF won an overwhelming victory in the national elections,
the sanctions imposed by the imperialists intensified. By 2008, the national
currency was in free fall and the country was under fire by the Western states
that sought to add more sanctions against the Zimbabwe government.
Nonetheless, the ZANU-PF government maintained its unity and forced the
opposition MDC, which had by then split into two factions, to enter into
negotiations for the creation of a Global Political Agreement and a national
coalition government. MDC-Tsvangirai boycotted the presidential elections in
June 2008 after it had won a narrow majority in the parliamentary poll earlier
The realization of the GPA was a major victory for the government of President
Mugabe. Since the Western imperialist states were saying that ZANU-PF should be
removed from power, the appointment of opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and
Arthur Mutumbara as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, respectively, of
the coalition government created the conditions for the Zimbabwe state to
demand the immediate lifting of sanctions against the country.
However, the sanctions and political attacks on President Mugabe and ZANU-PF
have continued. The United States under the Obama administration and Britain
led by Gordon Brown have maintained the sanctions against the government.
South African President Jacob Zuma traveled to Britain in early March and
demanded that sanctions be lifted. The Brown government refused to consider
this request and called for the Zimbabwe government to make greater concessions
to Western imperialist interests before this economic war would be ended.
Zimbabwe domestic and foreign policy
During the process of attempted isolation and regime change in Zimbabwe, the
country has intensified its relations with neighboring states, including the
Republic of South Africa and other members of the regional Southern African
Development Community. In 2008, in contravention to the pressures
exerted by the U.S. and Britain, the African Union meeting in Egypt reaffirmed
its support for the government’s efforts to reach a political settlement
with the opposition MDC-T, with the Republic of South Africa the principal
In addition, Zimbabwe enhanced its economic and political cooperation with the
People’s Republic of China, whose socialist government extended credits
and trade agreements that bolstered the national economy. China was also
instrumental in blocking several attempts to pass resolutions against Zimbabwe
before the United Nations Security Council.
In January a new series of agreements between Zimbabwe and the PRC were signed
involving projects in the national steel, pharmaceutical and fertilizer
industries. Government officials from both countries reached a Memorandum of
Understanding for financing these projects.
According to the Jan. 28 Zimbabwe Herald, Ziscosteel is one of the companies on
the West’s illegal sanctions list, which has constrained its operations.
Officials from the Ministry of Finance and representatives from China’s
Eximbank and Sinosure, a Chinese State enterprise, signed the deals in Harare
on Jan. 27.
According to this agreement, “The first phase of the program will see
Eximbank financing fertilizer supply, medicines and water chemicals for the
City of Harare.” The team paid a courtesy call on Vice President Joice
Mujuru after the deals were sealed.
In the article Mujuru acknowledged the critical role China is playing in
combating the economic crisis facing the southern African nation. “I am
glad that you have agreed to reschedule the debt. This will enable us to solve
some of the problems that we have been facing regarding the loan
In regard to domestic economic policy, the government has emphasized
“indigenization” of local industries. Saviour Kasukuwere, Minister
of Youth, Indigenization and Empowerment, said that the aim is to achieve
sustainable development of the national economy and to fight poverty among the
majority African population.
The March 8 Zimbabwe Herald pointed out, “The indigenization regulations
require companies to — within the next three months — explain how
they intend to fulfill the requirements of the law on empowerment and to have
51 percent ownership by Blacks in the next five years.”
According to the article, Minister Kasukuwere stated that the government had
made progress in the areas of social issues, including health and education
since independence in 1980 but had achieved little in the area of participation
and ownership in the mainstream economy. The official noted that
Western-initiated sanctions were still negatively impacting the country because
the economy was foreign-run and dominated.
“We are under sanctions and these sanctions work because the economy is
in the hands of foreigners,” Kasukuwere said. He also illustrated the
role of the Western media, saying that “Journalists are being asked to
write hate stories about their country and surprisingly they write as many
stories as they can falsifying some facts in a bid to find negative stories
about their country.”
Efforts to achieve gender equality
Zimbabwe is also undergoing a process of formulating a new constitution
resulting from the Global Political Agreement between ZANU-PF and the two MDC
parties. In a March 8 Zimbabwe Herald article, Biata Beatrice Nyamupinga, who
chairs the Zimbabwean Women Parliamentary Caucus and is a ZANU-PF Member of
Parliament, said, “With 52 percent of its population being women, it is
paramount and legitimate that women participate in this process as respected
and equal citizens.”
Nyamupinga indicated that the country must work toward 50 percent
representation for women within governmental structures. This policy is in line
with the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which was adopted by the
Zimbabwe Parliament on Oct. 23.
“However, as women have already argued, it is quite evident that they are
underrepresented in the management structures of the constitution-making
process,” Nyamupinga said. Women’s participation in the process is
Nyamupinga continued, “Women’s Caucus expresses gratitude to Vice
President Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe for coming out
forcefully to seeing to it that women representation is effected within the
constitution-making process management structures.”
According to the Jan. 31 Zimbabwe Herald, at the January meeting of the ZANU-PF
Women’s League, National Secretary Oppah Muchinguri noted that the
country is obligated to reach the 50-50 representation in decision making as
mandated by the SADC protocols. Muchinguri announced that a two-week induction
course will prepare women party activists to ensure the achievement of these
“We will also walk them through various achievements the League has made
since independence and the effects of sanctions on ordinary persons. It is also
in this context that we are urging the MDC-T to tell the West to remove
sanctions,” she said.
ZANU-PF Women’s League Secretary for Information Monica Mutsvangwa said
that they were demanding that the sanctions be lifted. She pointed out that
“David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary has finally owned up to
the imposition of illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.”
Mutsvangwa emphasized, “The ZANU-PF Women’s League appeals to
Britain, the European Union and the United States to remove the sanctions. We
call for a new chapter in Africa-Europe relations.”
Mutsvangwa added: “For the first 15 years of independence, we went
through the bliss of hard won freedom. We saw our country make great progress
in all human indices of progress as we filled our granaries. Alas our respite
from pain and suffering was short-lived. Soon after we embarked on the land
reform program the West imposed sanctions.”
Dr. Olivia Muchena, the Zimbabwe Minister of Women’s Affairs, Gender and
Community Development, stated in a recent lecture, “With adequate
support, women could contribute significantly to the turnaround of the
country’s economic fortunes.” (Ziana News Agency, Feb. 2)
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