Understanding what’s going on in Zimbabwe is a tall order, but an article in today’s Guardian (20/6/2008) about who might follow Mugabe with a description of the present locus of power illustrates one aspect. The military became involved in politics after 2000 when a possible alternative to Zanu PF appeared. What the successive generals made clear is that they were not prepared to see a reversal of what they considered they had won through the liberation struggles.
In this regard socialists might have sympathies, particularly if it was clearly a peoples’ struggle. However it seems most people are seen as the enemy now and a powerful elite has emerged enjoying the privileges brought with it.
“On January 9 2002, the then Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) commander Vitalis Zvinavashe declared to the country:
‘We wish to make it very clear to all Zimbabwean citizens that the security organisations will only stand in support of those political leaders that will pursue Zimbabwean values, traditions and beliefs for which thousands of lives were lost in the pursuit of Zimbabwe’s hard won independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and national interests. To this end, let it be known that the highest office in the land is a straitjacket whose occupant is expected to observe the objectives of the liberation struggle. We will therefore not accept, let alone support or salute, anyone with a different agenda that threatens the very existence of our sovereignty.’ “
“Zvinavashe retired as ZDF commander in 2003 and was succeeded by General Constantine Chiwenga. In October 2004, ahead of the 2005 parliamentary election, General Chiwenga reiterated Zvinavashe’s 2002 statement, stating:
‘I will not hesitate to go on record again on behalf of the Zimbabwe defence forces, to disclose that we would not welcome any change of government that carries the label “made in London” and whose sole aim is to defeat the gains of the liberation struggle. The military generals not only openly sided with Zanu-PF but their involvement in politics and the national economy became increasingly intrusive. By 2006 Chiwenga could go as far as to instruct the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono to “make sure agriculture is revived and make food available so we [the military] will not be forced to turn our guns on hungry Zimbabweans’ “. Source Guardian 20/6/2008.
While Ian Smith presided over a very different economy he made it clear that black Africans should never be allowed power. Of the remaining white settlers many still hark back, still maintaining a relatively comfortable life-style with black servants (still referred to as “boys” and “maids” and addressing their bosses as “sir” and “madam”). Seems to be two sides of fantasy land here. To maintain supremacy it was forbidden to teach about the Zimbabwean black heritage.
Article “Smith worse than Mugabe” (Guardian)