In the run-up to March’s parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe, the imperialist media once more ramped up its campaign of vilification of Zanu-PF in general and Robert Mugabe in particular. The CPGB-ML’s recent meeting gave a rare opportunity to British workers to find out the truth about land redistribution and anti-imperialist struggle in Zimbabwe.
On Saturday 19 March, the CPGB-ML held a very successful public meeting on the subject of the situation in Zimbabwe at Conway Hall, London. The guest speaker was Zimbabwean Ambassador to the UK, Simbarashe S Mumbengegwi.
The meeting was chaired by CPGB-ML chair Harpal Brar and was also addressed by Comrade Ranjeet Brar, who spoke on behalf of the CPGB-ML.
Comrade Mumbengegwi gave a highly informative presentation on the situation in Zimbabwe, focussing especially on the land reform issue and the steps currently being taken to improve the lives of Zimbabweans in areas such as health, education and electrification.
He then answered a large number of varied questions from the floor. We list some of the most pertinent and illuminating points here:
– Sanctions, far from having an adverse effect on Zimbabwe, have actually had a positive effect in the sense that:
i) Zimbabwe has established extensive and mutually beneficial trade relationships with non-imperialist countries such as China, India and various South American and African countries, and consequently it is far harder for the imperialists to hold the country to ransom;
ii) Zimbabweans have learnt to stop depending on foreign aid; people have been empowered to do things for themselves. Comrade Mumbengegwi pointed out that, in the past, charities would squander aid money on commissioning endless reports and consultations from British and US consultancy firms.
He gave the example of the countryside electrification project, which for years had been moving at a snail’s pace owing to this endless cycle of reports. Once the aid had gone as a result of sanctions, he said, the Zimbabwean state and local communities simply got on with it. He commented that electrification is not all that difficult. All one really needs is to put up poles and wires and then flip the switch!
– There has been a concerted drive to improve healthcare and literacy in Zimbabwe. Consequently, every Zimbabwean is now within walking distance of a health clinic or hospital, and Zimbabwe has achieved 94 percent literacy (exceptionally high for a ‘third world’ country), and free primary and secondary education is now available to every child.
– In regard to why it had taken Zimbabwe so long to embark upon a full land redistribution programme, comrade Mumbengegwi pointed out that, at the time of independence, Zimbabwe still had on its border a highly militaristic apartheid South African regime, which was ready to invade if it felt that the Zimbabweans were being too radical.
Furthermore, the Zimbabwean government was, naturally, very keen that their brothers and sisters struggling against apartheid in South Africa should be successful in their fight, and wanted to give lie to the argument of the apartheid South African government that an end to apartheid would mean that whites would be left with nothing and treated as second-class citizens. Knowing that their actions would be misrepresented in this way (as indeed they are being misrepresented in Europe and the US today) and used as an excuse to prolong apartheid in South Africa, the Zimbabweans held off full-scale land redistribution.
– The land redistribution programme has been highly successful. This was considered the ‘third Chimurenga’ (third liberation struggle), and Zimbabwe has now embarked upon a ‘fourth Chimurenga’ – the economic struggle to hand over control of the country’s businesses, eg, mining, to the Zimbabwean population. This way, they hope to finally remove imperialist influence and pressure from their country and make themselves truly independent.
– In response to a question from the floor asking what Zimbabwe had secured, in financial terms, from its intervention in Congo, supporting the government against the imperialist-backed invaders, Comrade Mumbengegwi said: “absolutely nothing!”
He pointed out that Zimbabwe had in fact voluntarily expended a considerable portion of its own economic resources in defending the DRC. He added that Zimbabwe was simply honouring its responsibility under the mutual defence pact of the Southern African Development Community, and that those countries in the SADC that hadn’t come to Congo’s aid had succumbed to the immense pressure applied by the imperialist countries not to get involved.
Comrade Mumbengegwi also praised Harpal Brar’s book, Chimurenga! The Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe, saying that it was an excellent and comprehensive account of Zimbabwe’s struggle for independence, the likes of which had never been published before. He added that the book was being read at the highest levels of Zimbabwean government and that he hoped it would be made available for Zimbabwean children to study in schools.
The meeting was a very successful event, and the 50-strong audience enjoyed and benefited from it greatly. We look forward to future collaboration with the Zimbabwean embassy, and will continue to defend the Zimbabwean people and government from the vicious attacks of imperialism.