Monday, October 22, 2007

Revolution: A Great Teacher

Revolution: A great teacher

By Reason Wafawarova
Zimbabwe Herald

THOSE living in luxury from the exploitation and suffering of others have traditionally always been opposed to emancipation struggles; they continue to be opposed to such struggles by the people today and will be even more so tomorrow.

The ever-inspirational Thomas Sankara, speaking about the Burkinabe Revolution of 1983-87, in August 1987 just before his assassination (October 15), outlined the expected reaction from neo-liberal middle class members and those presiding over the current global imperial authority, the Western ruling elite.

Said Sankara: "What have they not done, what are they not prepared to do even today, to stop (the) forward march? Economic sabotage, smear campaigns, corruption, and provocations of all sorts, blackmail, and threats — these are the kinds of enemy manoeuvres we have had to identify and confront . . ."

These are the words that summarise the key tactics employed every time an exploited people try to find their feet from the treading powers of imperialism, be it through agrarian reforms, investment policy reforms, nationalisation of resources or the building of regional economic groups.

The intellectual community, particularly its rightwing element, called these imperialist excesses on weaker countries Cold War collateral damage during Sankara’s time when Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Cuba, Angola and much of Eastern Europe were making international headlines for their "unsound communist/socialist policies".

Today the honest ones call the imperialist excesses on Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba etc, the New World Order collateral damage while the less honest find it more prudent to ride on the media tide of a smear campaign and allow themselves to drown with commoners in the Western media mass deception endeavours.

Indeed, there are whole professors out there who allow themselves to believe that the attempted isolation of Zimbabwe by the European Union and the Commonwealth, the sealing of credit lines from international funding institutions as well as the United States’ so-called Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, all have a benign effect on the status of the Zimbabwean economy right now — of course, blissfully embracing the propaganda that all that has gone wrong with the economy is solely based on unsound or bad policies, especially if such policies can all be reduced to the person of President Mugabe.

The revolution that brought political independence to Africa in general and Zimbabwe in particular sought to empower the peasantry of Africa, a peasantry averaging 75 percent in many African countries to this day. This revolution did not seek to perpetuate the exploitation of the ordinary African as a source of cheap labour and neither did it seek to celebrate the backward peasant, who is resigned to fate, naive, a slave to obscurity and ferociously conservative. Rather it sought to address the ills inherited from the colonial legacy; ills such as illiteracy, obscurity, pauperisation, harassment, economic exploitation, endemic diseases, poverty, famine and so on and so forth.

The first phase of the revolution was indeed difficult in that it sought to remove foreign political administration from the whole of Africa, but it was the easier of the two phases of the revolution as the current phase meant to provide economic emancipation is made all the more difficult by the resistance offered from within African borders — yes, by fellow Africans.

Contrary to what many people would want to believe, the revolutionary repossession of land by black Zimbabweans was not a Zanu-PF issue. This was a revolution that achieved its first goal (land repossession) because it drew its strength from the invincibility of the masses and not from the alleged desperation of the Zanu-PF leadership, as some would prefer to put it.

A ‘‘desperate bunch’’ of politicians cannot dislodge such deep-rooted neo-colonial power as was entailed in the white farming establishment in Zimbabwe before 2000; only a people’s revolution could. The mass mentality that brought land reclamation adopted a refusal of a perpetual reproduction of cultural alienation and political servitude shaped by imperial processes in the perpetuation of domination of Africa and its people.

It is the transformation of this mentality that has divided Zimbabweans into two separate groups, rather unfortunately.

On one hand, there are the peasants and part of the unemployed youths who have resolved to shape their own future by working hard on the newly acquired land; and, on the other hand, there are the middle class beneficiaries of neo-liberal economics, middle class aspirants studying in universities and colleges as well as another section of the unemployed whose hope is in providing cheap labour for any willing investor at whatever cost.

The first group is cynically referred to as super patriots or "eaters of sovereignty" by those from the other group as well as from part of the private media. In turn, the first group calls those from the second group traitors or "those who think with stomachs". The current African middle class — led by that minority in Zimbabwe — is largely made up of people who take foreign norms as their point of reference in judging the quality of their social, economic and cultural lives. These are people who live in Africa, who live in Zimbabwe, yet they refuse to accept the concrete reality around them. They preach submission to imperialism and perpetual begging as a philosophy and policy of social development — and with the zeal of fire and brimstone evangelists.

On the other hand, the collective consciousness of the Zimbabwean masses continues to teach the rural peasantry to depend on their own forces and to energetically reject all servile mimicking and humiliating grovelling. These are the masses that seem too aware that theirs is a popular revolution that needs a convinced people, not a conquered people.

On the other hand, the minority but vociferous middle class seems to cling to anything that can help them to shout to the world that they are dying for a world where they can be submissive to market forces and where they can passively endure their destiny as shaped by the powers of global capital and its market forces.

The masses have learnt to be firm in the defence of the agrarian revolution without ever giving in to rage, something that has spared the middle class the reality of counter demonstrations; a reality that can mean a clash with the majority and dire consequences. While these two groups continue to make up the two-way dimension of the Zimbabwean agrarian revolution, there are two other developments that need to be analysed.

The status of opposition politics in Zimbabwe, especially as seen in the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction, would seem to show signs of impatience and fatigue in the middle class as they more and more begin to see the futility of hoping for the success of a mass uprising.

Signs of fractures, diverse interests, inherent irreconcilable differences and power politics are beginning to show each day as more and more people begin to lose sight of what they have for sometime believed to be victory in sight. It is war everywhere, war over the ongoing MDC-Zanu-PF talks, war over the MDC women’s assembly, war over the powers of the so-called standing committees and war over access to the MDC handlers and masters in the United Kingdom.

All these wars help to measure is the loss of momentum in the regime change agenda that the MDC has been pursuing on behalf of their Western backers — of course, banking entirely on the support of a middle class protesting against a people’s revolution that has threatened its own interests. The middle class seems to be increasingly aware that they are in no position to either halt the people’s revolution or to prop up the MDC opposition to power for the same cause.

While at this, there is also apparent adversity within the ranks of the agrarian revolution itself. Erroneous practices and ideas harmful to the emancipation of the common person have been surfacing among the masses themselves and some masquerading as leaders of the revolution, sometimes actually addressing themselves as revolutionaries. These are the people who have either become impatient and smitten with the unfortunate zeal of the novice or plainly frantically pursuing personal ambitions and selfish aspiration as well as self-gain – all at the expense of the revolutionary common goal.

There is no known revolution that has been spared the thornbush of opportunism; just like counterrevolution is always part of any revolution. In any revolution, opportunism will continue to show itself at different moments, under different circumstances, and in extremely varied forms, all the way from its most rightwing expressions to its most ultra-left and its crass radicals.

The opportunists in Zimbabwe’s agrarian revolution seem to be failing to cope with the difficulties of the struggle against imperialist forces, and failing to cope with the demands of political activity, with the amount of sacrifice needed to make success of the struggle and with the harshness of class struggles – factors that have contributed to some comrades deserting the ranks of the revolution while others have rushed ahead of the masses, in the processes earning themselves isolation and oblivion and yet others have clearly been targeting the wrong enemy.

It would appear like some of the opportunists of the Third Chimurenga are dreaming of throwing in the towel but have big qualms on how best to do so.

They keep tossing on whom to follow between the foreign-sponsored reactionaries and the homegrown revolutionaries — all the time being guided by their materialistic minds that always take the better of their hearts.

The Third Chimurenga, like any other revolution, cannot and will not be sustained and built to fruition by a barren, monolithic, paralysing and sterile kind of unity. It needs the enriching, varied and manifold expression of many different thoughts and activities – all geared towards the unwavering goal of the emancipation of our Zimbabwean masses; the equality of all in terms of opportunity to realise our full potential.

It is against this backdrop of a resolve based on the undying spirit of concluding the Third Chimurenga to its logical intentions that the current political environment should be viewed.

It is highly dangerous to superimpose the opinion that says the ongoing talks between the MDC and Zanu-PF should be directed by the plight caused by Zimbabwe’s current economic hardships. The hardships are biting and real, but one cannot lose sight that they remain hardships orchestrated from outside for purposes of compromising the revolution at the least or stopping it all together if possible. These are hardships meant to coerce a certain form of behaviour — all for the benefit of those whose privileges were swept away by the revolution.

In this context, the talks must be in the spirit of making the Third Chimurenga a success for the majority of Zimbabweans, including its urban population as much as the rural masses. Anything short of the will of the people is counterrevolutionary and should be treated as such.

The revolution itself is a perpetual teacher and those who fought for the liberation of African countries will testify as to how many can fall by the wayside as the revolution winds its way driven by the invincible power of the masses.

The land reform programme is not up for sale and those fronting foreign interests must get that clear and seek ways of enhancing equal or fair partnerships between Zimbabwe and those interested in investing in the country’s economy. It is this kind of partnership and not loans and aid that should be occupying the mind of every Zimbabwean politician, at least those worthy the name.

One reader has asked this writer to write an article about documenting the legacy of the liberation struggle as well as the current land reforms so that future generations will have a referral point when the achievements of this revolution have to be defended and sustained in future and this writer believes this is the kind of advice we Zimbabweans cannot afford to ignore.

Zimbabwe will forever be for Zimbabweans, for its indigenous children and together we will overcome.

--Reason Wafawarova is a Zimbabwean political writer and can be contacted on

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