The Southern African nation of Zimbabwe will hold “harmonized elections” on July 31. Registered voters will select local and national representatives for legislative and administrative positions. This process is the culmination of nearly five years of negotiations that grew out of the crisis that developed around elections held in 2008.
In 2008, the government was split. The opposition Western-backed Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai led the legislative branch by a slight majority and the municipality of the capital city of Harare. The Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which fought for national liberation of the country from British settler-colonialism, maintained its support in most rural areas.
ZANU-PF, under the mediation of then South African President Thabo Mbeki, arrived at a Global Political Agreement (GPA) with the MDC-T and another split from this opposition tendency, the MDC-Mutambara, and formed a coalition government. Morgan Tsvangirai was prime minister and President Robert Mugabe remained head of state. Opposition parties held several cabinet portfolios, while ZANU-PF kept control of defense, justice and others.
Britain, the United States, the European Union and Australia have subjected Zimbabwe to draconian sanctions since 2000, when the ZANU-PF government and the national legislature approved a radical land redistribution program that returned large-scale farms from European settlers to the African masses, as promised during the revolutionary war for liberation during the 1960s and 1970s.
After the compromise Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, ZANU-PF and other liberation groups agreed to establish a majority-minority government with the regime of racist former Prime Minister Ian Smith in order to declare independence in April 1980. Although the British and U.S. governments had agreed to buy back the most arable land from the white farmers for redistribution, this had still not happened by 2000.
The Western media castigated the ZANU-PF government for its land reform program, calling it undemocratic and an utter failure. Rather than acknowledge the economic impact of the sanctions, the imperialist states and their allies said that the initial problems after land reform were the result of the farm seizures.
Recently, academic research of Ian Scoones, of the Institute for Development Studies at Sussex University in Britain, and other scholars has proven that the land redistribution did result in creating tens of thousands of independent African farmers who have increased productivity in the agricultural sector and raised household incomes in Zimbabwe.
GPA stalls third ‘Chimurenga’
A key ZANU-PF campaign theme highlights the problems associated with the GPA since 2008. MDC officials in government, they say, have stalled the land reform program and other efforts aimed at the “Indigenization” of mining and manufacturing.
“Chimurenga” is a Shona word meaning revolutionary struggle. The first Chimurenga was launched during the late 19th century when British settlers arrived in Zimbabwe and attempted to seize the land and place the people in colonial slavery. An uprising in 1896-97 led by a woman warrior, Nehanda, resisted imperial rule but was crushed by the Europeans’ superior weaponry. In 1898 British colonial authorities captured and hanged Nehanda and her companion Kaguvi.
Later in the 1960s, the second Chimurenga was launched through the armed struggle by the armed wings of ZAPU and the Zimbabwe African Nationalist Union, which resulted in the liberation of the country in 1980.
The 2000 land redistribution program launched the third Chimurenga. Imperialism and its allies in Southern Africa and throughout the world have opposed all these liberation efforts.
In a campaign address reported in the July 21 Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe Vice President Joice Mujuru said, “We have missed our economic and infrastructural development goals over the past four years because of this double-headed government. The MDC formations are against the emancipation of the people.” Mujuru blamed MDC-T Secretary-General Tendai Biti, who is finance minister in the inclusive government, with delaying assistance to African farmers.
In a July 21 New African magazine interview, ZANU-PF Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs Patrick Chinamasa called the MDC-T “obstructionists in the continuing liberation process.” Chinamasa noted that there are 28 different parties registered and that most of them are participating in the election, which is proof of the democratic character of the political process in Zimbabwe.
In the same interview Chinamasa also reported that some 3,500 so-called nongovernmental organizations are operating in Zimbabwe. He indicated that they were all opposed to the ZANU-PF party and funded by the imperialist states. The European Union “admitted to me that they have channeled [$2.6 billion] through the NGOs in the last five years.”
To win despite this blatant interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe, the ZANU-PF party must work very hard to counter the oppostion’s propaganda. The MDC-T’s efforts to postpone the July 31 vote has failed. If ZANU-PF wins the vote, which is widely predicted, the Western-backed opposition will attempt again to use this as an excuse to question the legitimacy of the poll.
The Zimbabwe government denied official recognition to monitors from the U.S., Britain and the EU. Of course there will be monitors from the regional Southern African Development Community and the African Union.