As reported in the last issue of Proletarian, the people of Zimbabwe went to the polls on 29 March in harmonised parliamentary, senate and presidential elections. Owing to various anomalies found by the Zimbabwe Election Commission, as well as requests by both of the main parties for re-counts in several areas, the final results of the presidential election were not released until 2 May.
When the results did finally arrive, they revealed an unexpected and, from a progressive point of view, undesired result: 47.9 percent of votes to Morgan Tsvangirai – the darling of the western governments and media – and 43.2 percent to Robert Mugabe, with the remainder going to independent candidate Simba Makoni (for a full analysis of each of the candidates and their parties, see the May/June 2008 issue of Lalkar).
A run-off election between Tsvangirai and Mugabe will now be held on 27 June.
Legitimacy of the election process beyond question
For several months in the run-up to the election, the mainstream press in Britain and the US had been loudly predicting that Zanu would attempt to rig the results. The purpose of these cries was transparent: to de-legitimise a Zanu victory.
As soon as the results were announced, the media frenzy about rigging, which had gained such an extraordinary momentum over the course of the preceding few months, came to an abrupt stop. If nothing else, the results prove beyond doubt that Zanu made absolutely no attempt to illegally subvert the election.
People were allowed to vote as they wished, without fear of intimidation, and no ballots were stuffed. The MDC, of course, was quick to claim that Tsvangirai had won a clear majority, but, not having the slightest means of backing up this assertion, its members soon had to quietly drop their protest, especially since the results announced were consistent with those predicted by the Zimbabwe Election Support Campaign – a NGO with proven links to the MDC and its foreign backers.
Why did Tsvangirai get so many votes?
As we have pointed out many times before, Tsvangirai and his so-called Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are nothing more than a façade for the barely-disguised attempt by Britain and the US to make a neo-colony of Zimbabwe.
The MDC has taken a reactionary stance in relation to every important political issue in Zimbabwe in the last decade: it opposed the land reform; it opposed the decision to leave the Commonwealth; it opposed the law allowing for majority indigenous ownership of businesses operations in Zimbabwe. Its leading lights have close links with the IMF and World Bank, and it’s no secret that an MDC-led government in Zimbabwe would reverse Zanu’s programme of economic independence, opting instead for a model of privatisation and liberalisation that would, whilst making Britain and the US very happy, bring destitution and disempowerment to ordinary Zimbabweans. There is no doubt that the MDC would, in power, attempt to reverse some of the gains of the land reform programme.
Given all this, why have so many Zimbabwean people given their electoral support to the MDC?
The most important point is that Britain and the US have, using methods both subtle and blatant, been making every effort to bribe and intimidate the Zimbabwean people – in this respect, the elections were not ‘free and fair’ by any means.
Suffocating sanctions have been applied, and these have had a significant negative impact on the economy. The state of the economy has, of course, found its expression at the ballot box, especially since sanctions were ramped up in the run-up to the election.
Meanwhile, the IMF stands ready to invest heavily in Zimbabwe as long as the MDC is elected. As Mugabe put it:
“Yesterday they ruled by brute force. Today they have perfected their tactics to be more subtle. They are literally buying people to betray their government and accept to be politically manipulated in abandoning their rights. We are being bought like sheep because they have money and because we are suffering …” (Speech at a rally marking Zimbabwe’s 28th anniversary of independence)
Furthermore, given that MDC had been steadily waning over the last seven years, Zanu clearly hadn’t expected it to wage such a thorough campaign (it was, of course, very well financed). Hence Zanu had gone into the election with a complacent attitude, assuming the people of Zimbabwe would simply ignore all the reactionary propaganda being fed to them.
Speaking to Zanu’s Central Committee on 16 May, Comrade Mugabe said: “We went to the election completely unprepared, unorganised and this against an election-weary voter. Our structures went to sleep, were deep in slumber in circumstances of an all-out war …
“They [the structures] were passive; they were lethargic, ponderous, divided, diverted, disinterested, demobilised or simply non-existent. It was terrible to see the structures of so embattled a ruling party so enervated.
“As leaders, we all share the blame: from the national level to that of the branch chairman. We played truant; we did not lead, we misled; we did not encourage, rather we discouraged; we did not unite, we divided; we did not inspire, we dispirited; we did not mobilise, we demobilised. Hence the dismal result we are landed with.” (Quoted in ‘Unite for Victory’, Zimbabwe Herald, 17 May 2008)
Predictably, the MDC launched its campaign for the presidential run-off with a barrage of lies and slander to the effect that Zanu and the War Veterans Association have been attacking MDC supporters in order to intimidate them into voting for Mugabe on 27 June. They have even alleged that Zanu has enrolled snipers to assassinate Morgan Tsvangirai.
According to MDC Secretary Tendai Biti: “Mugabe’s military intelligence has compiled a list of 36 to 40 people to be assassinated. Top of the list are our leader Morgan Tsvangirai, myself and our spokesman Nelson Chamisa.”
Such obscure and unsubstantiated slanders are the MDC’s stock in trade, but in the imperialist press they are repeated as undisputed fact. The government responded calmly to the wild allegations: “The claim is absolutely baseless and frivolous. As usual, Mr Tsvangirai is seeking to gain cheap political mileage by making unsubstantiated allegations. The people of Zimbabwe should not take such statements seriously.” (Zimbabwe government spokesperson quoted in Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe, 18 May 2008)
Whilst diverting the world’s attention with false claims of Zanu violence, the MDC have in fact been engaged in an ugly campaign of intimidation.
“Such violence is needless and must stop forthwith. Our fist is against white imperialism; it is a fist for the people of Zimbabwe, never a fist against them.
“Support comes from persuasion, not from pugilism. Let us build genuine support for the party and such support cannot come through coercion or violence.
“We have disturbing evidence of motorised gangs trained and equipped by the MDC, and of returning white commercial farmers who have been visiting terror on villages and party supporters. They have targeted resettled farmers, in the process triggering anew the land question.
“Expensive equipment bought and distributed by government through the central bank has been burnt. Granaries have been gutted by fire in naked cases of arson. Such acts of banditry must stop forthwith. The MDC and its supporters are playing a dangerous game.
“They should know they cannot win that kind of war which they have carried to rural constituencies in the hope of destabilising our supporters. We need peace and freedom everywhere in our country. They should take heed.” (President Mugabe, op cit)
We hope that the Zimbabwean people will ignore the vicious reactionary propaganda being served up to them by the imperialist forces and their Zimbabwean proxy, the MDC. Further, we hope that Zanu will raise its game and campaign seriously in order to win the popular vote for Robert Mugabe on 27 June. The people of Zimbabwe must respond vigorously to the attempts by Britain and its allies to turn Zimbabwe into a neo-colony.
“It is clear, as it has always been, that a Zanu-PF defeat is a victory for the Rhodesian settlers, never of the MDC, which is just a mere instrument for disguising their overriding interest. It is a victory for the British and Americans who arch over their kith and kin here, themselves the beachhead of western imperialism.” (President Mugabe, op cit)
Anti-imperialists, in Britain and elsewhere, must demand an end to British/US interference, in particular the suffocating sanctions and the vicious propaganda. We must not close our eyes to the danger of Zimbabwe’s independence being sacrificed at the altar of monopoly capital.