1 February 2009
This is quite an exciting time for those of us who have struggled so hard, for so long, to bring an end to apartheid and U.S. support for that racist system. Last year, we saw a tremendous leap forward, both in the struggle inside South Africa and in this country. With the Free South Africa Movement building on years of anti-apartheid grassroots activity, it became the catalyst for igniting the spark of mass opposition to apartheid which has swept this country. Those loud protests succeeded in raising the visibility of the apartheid issue to force the international community to intensify its opposition to the Botha regime. Here in the U.S. we have dealt a death blow to the policy of constructive engagement by forcing Reagan to sign the Executive Order – no matter how weak – imposing sanctions on South Africa. Clearly, it is not enough, and we must go much, much further. Because of our success, our enemies have recognized our strength and our power and they are fighting back.
31 January 2009
Obama’s inaugural remarks did seem in some direct way to be pointed towards Robert Mugabe: “To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
22 January 2009
Paul Collier advocates “slaying three giants” to end the food crisis: peasant agriculture, fear of scientific agriculture, and the myth of biofuels from grain to overcome US oil dependence. His analysis is, however, very much grounded in the agriculture of the last century.
18 December 2008
Could it be possible that while the public, the press, and the international community were busy with cholera, the illegal regime in Harare actually declared a state of emergency under cover of a “national emergency” (ostensibly against cholera)? I may not be the only one seeing the reality that what has intensified is not the energy with which Mugabe is combating cholera, but, rather, abducting human rights activists collecting information on human rights abuses and MDC activists.
18 December 2008
Robert Mugabe claims that the ghosts of colonialism have come to haunt Zimbabwe and caused unforetold suffering to Zimbabweans through western imposed sanctions, and with the MDC the west is the major culprit for calling for sanctions. This attempt to reinvent the political and economic history of Zimbabwe has been discussed in academic circles; thus, Professor David Moore notes the emergence of Agrarian nationalists or what Terence Ranger terms patriotic history. This illusion has informed many policy and position debates on Zimbabwe at regional and international fora as various interested stakeholders seek to unlock the Zimbabwe logjam. However this elisionistic interpretation of the Zimbabwe crisis has been allowed at the expense of Zimbabweans’ quest for change. Exhausted nationalism and anti-imperialism rhetoric has been used by the geriatric regime to gloss over the horrendous atrocities and human rights abuses it has been committing. The maiming, torture, rape, deprivation, murder and arson committed by ZANU PF becomes sanitized as a revolution brewing in Harare or what Sam Moyo and Paris Yeros terms a radicalized state seeking to undo the vestiges of colonialism. In all this blind sheepish intellectualism Mugabe emerges a hero of Black Africa.
13 December 2008
This is a story of the way internet has brought together print and audio into a diverse bouquet of weapons, giving birth to the cyber-guerrilla. It is a story that must start with Strive Masiyiwa, the man who brought the internet to Zimbabwe. A former engineer with the state-owned Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (PTC), in 1994 Masiyiwa established Econet Wireless (Pvt) Ltd. amid red-faced resistance from the regime. The state refused to grant him a license, but in 1997 the Supreme Court declared the state’s telecommunications monopoly unconstitutional. Only the intervention of Vice President and Zapu supremo Joshua Nkomo prevented Mugabe from further emasculating Masiyiwa’s project.
13 December 2008
Mugabe was re-elected as President in the run-off on June 27 2008 after the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the contest because of the high levels of political violence and other conditions that made a free and fair election impossible. Days after Mugabe was sworn in for another five-year term, the African Union (AU) encouraged the formation of an inclusive government and expressed support for the continuation of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC’s) mediation efforts. On July 21 2008, all three party leaders signed the Memorandum of Unity (MOU) committing them to establish an inclusive government. Taking much longer than the envisaged two weeks in the MOU, they signed a power-sharing agreement that provided for the creation of a new government on September 15. The agreement has yet to be implemented.
13 December 2008
The words of Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho fit Zimbabwe. If the process of ‘democratisation’, liberalisation, and all those other aspects of capitalist modernity is ‘westward,’ then Zimbabwe under a challenged Mugabe has been heading there in almost the worst conceivable way. But for the democrats struggling to enlarge their space the words of the ultimate tragic optimist are appropriate too. More than three decades (including the liberation war after the mid-seventies) under Mugabe have meant those attempting to widen space for their democratic desires being doomed to repeat Beckett’s injunction: “ever tried? Ever failed? No matter, try again, fail again, Fail better”. It’s hard not to “throw up for good” in such a struggle, but they haven’t yet. The problem, though, is finding a way to combine parliamentary and extra-parliamentary roads to that end.
13 December 2008
At the summit of the African Union in Ghana in July 2007, Robert Mugabe was given a standing ovation. Later he went outside the conference to deliver a roaring anti –imperialist speech at a huge public rally. At the Nkrumah square Mugabe was hailed as one of the most steadfast revolutionary leaders in Africa. One year later, at the African Union Conference in Cairo, Egypt, Robert Mugabe was shunned by most leaders and condemned by those who opposed the authoritarian and dictatorial methods of rule. One day prior to the conference Mugabe had been sworn in as President after a non-election where he was the only candidate. This was a far cry from his initial inauguration in April 1980 when he was sworn in as Prime Minister before a throng of hundreds of thousands. Bob Marley had led the popular anti-racist and anti-imperialist forces to this celebration and had sung, Africans a liberate Zimbabwe. By June 2008 Robert when Mugabe was sworn in his regime had degenerated from a party associated with the legacies of Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah to an organization associated with the militarism and repression of Mobutu Sese Seko and Hastings Banda. Working peoples all across the region led and inspired by the Congress of South African Trade Unions opposed the Mugabe government and called for its isolation. Nelson Mandela was moved to declare that one was witnessing a ‘tragic failure of leadership in Zimbabwe.’
13 December 2008
Zimbabweans working, or seeking to work, on commercial farms and elsewhere in northern South Africa have sought out livelihoods and some form of security by negotiating precarious economic opportunities and the contingent enforcement of immigration rules in an atmosphere of generally hostile sentiments towards Zimbabweans in South Africa. They are doing so largely due to the continuing catastrophic unraveling of livelihoods, social services, and personal security for the majority of Zimbabweans in their own country as ZANU (PF) has unleashed terror in a vain attempt to hang onto power as the national economy implodes. Whereas the actual working and living conditions on the farms vary dramatically as some farmers, white and black, ruthlessly exploit the desperation of many of the Zimbabweans seeking work (HRW 2006, 2007, Rutherford and Addison 2007, Bloch 2008), much policy and activist energy is focused on the immigration processes and living conditions of all Zimbabweans in this zone. In this article, I aim to sketch out some of the pressing concerns of some of the Zimbabweans in this border-zone in light of the varied government and non-governmental interventions. As a way to introduce some of these issues, let me provide some examples from recent research carried out in Musina, the South African border town with Zimbabwe, and the surrounding farms in June 2008.