Violence in Zimbabwe and the MDC and its Social Imperialist Supporters

By Stephen Gowans

It was MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who said to Mugabe, “If you don’t want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently.” [1]

It was MDC faction leader Arthur Mutambara who said he was “going to remove Robert Mugabe, I promise you, with every tool at my disposal” and that “We’re not going to rule out or in anything – the sky’s the limit.” [2]

It was secretary general of Tsvangirai’s MDC faction, Tendai Biti, who warned of Kenya-style post electoral violence if Mugabe won. [3]

It was opposition principal Pius Ncube, then Archbishop of Bulawayo, who said he was “ready to lead the people, guns blazing,” to oust the Mugabe government. [4]

It was the Zimbabwe Resistance Movement that promised to take up arms against the Zanu-PF government if “the poodles who run the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,” failed to declare Tsvangirai the victor of the presidential run-off election. [5]

In light of this, is it any surprise that Zanu-PF supporters are “outraged that the Security Council that never saw the need to convene and discuss Kenya when more than 2,000 people were hacked to death over two months, at times in front of Western cameras, saw it fit to meet and discuss Zimbabwe on the back of” claims by the opposition that it was being repressed by a campaign of violence? [6]

The Social Imperialist Project

With Western media coverage on Zimbabwe monopolized by the views of the neo-liberal MDC, the US and British governments, and “independent” election monitors and human rights groups funded by the US Congress and State Department, the British government’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy, George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the CIA- and Council on Foreign Relations-linked Freedom House, one might think it would be possible to find a measure of relief from the blanket uniformity of ruling class dominated opinion on a socialist web site. Just a tiny break.

Instead, the Socialist Project [7] served up an article on Zimbabwe, “Death Spiral in Zimbabwe: Mediation, Violence and the GNU”, by Grace Kwinjeh, a founding member of Zimbabwe’s neo-liberal MDC party and member of its executive committee. [8] The article, not surprisingly, re-iterates a view that is friendly to the party the author is a principal member of.

Kwinjeh has a habit of disguising her background, one that’s hardly irrelevant to the subject she’s writing on, by presenting herself as simply an independent journalist living in South Africa – kind of like John McCain submitting analyses on Obama’s politics while calling himself an independent journalist living in Arizona. Kwinjeh, a regular on the US propaganda arm Voice of America’ Studio 7, traveled to Washington not too long ago on George Soros’s tab to testify to the regime changers in Washington. She is neither independent, particularly interested in national self-determination, nor an opponent of neo-liberalism. [9]

One might expect the Socialist Project to offer a view from the other side, especially given its professed support for “the national self-determination of the many peoples of the world” and ostensibly implacable opposition to neo-liberalism.

Unlike Kwinjeh, I am sympathetic to Zimbabwe’s project of national self-determination, I am implacably opposed to neo-liberalism, and while many of my articles have been published in Zimbabwe’s state-owned newspaper, The Herald, (none of which I submitted or was paid for) I have no membership in any political party in Zimbabwe, disguised or otherwise, much less a relationship as a founding member.

ISO’s Latest Silliness

Here’s what wrong with the MDC, according to the Zimbabwe section of the International Socialist Organization: “The increasing domination of the party leadership by capitalist and Western elites and the marginalization of workers and radicals…will lead to its likely pursuing a neoliberal capitalist agenda if it assumes power to the detriment of the working people.” [10]

Funny that it has taken this long for the ISO to figure this out. Here’s then MDC spokesman Eddie Cross, formerly vice-chairman of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, in advance of 2000 elections – eight years ago!

“We are going to fast track privatization. All 50 government parastatals will be privatized within a two-year time-frame, but we are going to go beyond that. We are going to privatize many of the functions of government. We are going to privatize the central statistical office. We are going to privatize virtually the entire school delivery system. And you know, we have looked at the numbers and we think we can get government employment down from about 300,000 at the present time to about 75,000 in five years.” [11]

Moreover, the principal role in the formation of the party played by the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust, whose patrons are former British foreign secretaries Douglas Hurd, Geoffrey Howe, Malcolm Rifkind and whose chair is Lord Renwick of Clifton, should have provided more than an inkling of what was ahead.

So now that the ISO has belatedly figured out that the MDC is dominated by “capitalist and Western elites” and will likely pursue “a neoliberal capitalist agenda,” what does it recommend radicals and working people in Zimbabwe do?

Unconditionally support Tsvangirai. Yes, that’s right. “The ISO…has now modified its position to call for unconditional but fraternally critical support to Tsvangirai.” [12]

A Canadian connection: Roger Annis and John Riddel are part of a Canadian organization called Socialist Voice, whose web site links to The International Journal of Socialist Renewal, the journal in which ISO-Zimbabwe’s latest silliness appeared. A few years ago Annis and Riddel made essentially the same analysis, but in connection with Canada’s New Democratic Party. After taking the NDP to task for acting “as a faithful defender of the capitalist order,” whose parliamentary program hews “close to the Liberal model” and whose leader “opposes or at best abstains from … mass struggles” — closing with “they are committed defenders of capitalist rule” – the two recommended that “socialists…give critical support to the NDP.” [13]

Do these guys go to the same confidence trickster school?

Morgan Tsvangirai and the New Humanitarianism

During the run-up to the predatory NATO war on Yugoslavia, groups of people who came to be known pejoratively as “cruise missile leftists” and the “new humanitarians” sought to provide a new legal basis for Western imperialism by arguing that ideas of state sovereignty were no longer valid, and that the West should be free to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries on humanitarian grounds. The elevation of the Rwandan civil war to the status of a genocide helped, for calls for interventions in numerous places could be justified by the need to “to prevent another Rwanda.”

In an article published in the British newspaper The Guardian on June 25, Morgan Tsvangirai trotted out the same argument. ”Our proposal,” he wrote, “is one that aims to remove the often debilitating barriers of state-sovereignty” to open the door for “the words of indignation from global leaders to be backed by the moral rectitude of military force.”

So the military pursuit of imperialist goals has now become the moral rectitude of the West’s military force.

Tsvangirai Speaks the Truth

In the same article, Tsvangirai opines: “The battle in Zimbabwe today is a battle between democracy and dictatorship, justice and injustice, right and wrong.”

He’s right. The battle in Zimbabwe today is between the democracy of popular land ownership and self-rule and the dictatorship of rule by outsiders working through proxies; between the justice of Zimbabweans reclaiming the land that was stolen from them and the injustice of sanctions; between the right of struggle for national independence and the wrong of neocolonial oppression.

1. BBC, September 30, 2000.
2. Times Online, March 5, 2006.
3. Herald (Zimbabwe), March 27, 2008.
4. Sunday Times (UK), July 1, 2007.
5. The Zimbabwe Times, May 31, 2008.
6. Herald (Zimbabwe) June 25, 2008.
9. You can learn more about Kwinjeh here and here
11. John Wright, “Victims of the West,” Morning Star (UK), December 18, 2007.

9 thoughts on “Violence in Zimbabwe and the MDC and its Social Imperialist Supporters

  1. WSWS is not only attacking Zimbabwe with Ann Talbots articles, (my response letters never get put on their site, nor are they ever answered) but Bill van Auken always manages to invoke the working classes against Hugo Chavez.
    No wonder the left has been marginalised….they would love to save the Venezuelan revolution and Zimbabwe by destroying them.

  2. Let me add this. Just as any other group of Western anticommunist left, WSWS is always on the side of Western imperialism. The only exception are those colonial and semi-colonial countries, like Haiti, that cannot realistically challenge imperialism.

  3. “See my letter to WSWS, There site is very left wing, but on Zimbabwe, they prefer the Mainstream media account of events.”

    This is a common illusion. In 2004 I recall thinking: Oh, well, WSWS is on the side of Ukrainian fascists and their CIA handlers, but they are very left wing as far as all other countries of the world is concerned of which I know nothing.

  4. I am in Zimbabwe . I was born here 33 years ago and grew up under President Mugabe. I will confine my contribution to the issue of violence. While is naive to attribute all political violence to either ZANU PF or the MDC it is also prudent to note that the MDC is a party of liars. The level of political violence is nowhere near what they say. Such claims like 82 dead, militias in the rural areas, the army beating up people and women been raped are nothing more than propaganda campaigns meant to create another Belgrade in Harare. The isolated cases of political violence are regrettable but the MDC must stick to the truth if it wants ti push its agenda well

  5. Keith
    See my letter to WSWS, There site is very left wing, but on Zimbabwe, they prefer the Mainstream media account of events.
    Ive seen the same attitude at Dissident Voice, Axisoflogic,and most notably Green Left Weekly.

    Being left does not mean MDC has the best interests of Zimbabwe at heart.

    You seem unaware that the MDC has a policy of privatisation…How can that be if there are left wing elements there?

  6. Keith,

    There are plenty of left-wing populists who support the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK, but that doesn’t make these parties any less pro-capitalist or any less committed to imperialism. It doesn’t really matter who the vote-fodder is, or whether left-wing populists belong to the MDC. What matters is what the MDC’s policies are and who provides the party with its significant political and financial support (not left-wing populists, who can’t possibly hope to compete with what the US, Eurpoean corporations and European governments can offer.) The suggestion that the MDC isn’t neo-liberal, because some left-wing populists support it, is naive at best, and intellectually dishonest, at worst. Apparently, you haven’t been reading Tsvangirai’s columns in the Wall Street Journal, or have, and are beclouding the issue.

    Just as dishonest is your attempt to attribute violence exclusively to Zanu-PF, a claim that is at odds with reality. See

    By the way, for every person who has spent seven months in Zimbabwe who tells me Zanu-PF supporters are the perpetrators of the violence, there’s another who has lived in Zimbabwe all his life who tells me the opposite.


  7. Stephen, your description of the MDC as “neo liberal” is dishonest. The MDC is a broad-based opposition party, which is made up of people of all kinds of political stripes. Anyone who knows anything about Zimbabwe knows that that the MDC has both left-wing populists and neo liberals. It is dishonest, therefore, for you to selectively quote MDC neo liberals, such as Eddie Cross, while ignoring the sigificant number of MDC members, who are solidly left wing and anti-neo liberal. I note, for example, that you have never mentioned the fact that Morgan Tsvangarai once described the IMF as “devils” (after your beloved ZANU PF implemented structural adjustment programs in the 1990s).
    That said, there is a not an insignificant risk that the MDC will become neo liberal if and when it takes power in Zimbabwe. There will undoubtedly be a power struggle between the pro and anti neo liberal factions of the party at that time. It is also possible, of course, that the progressive, anti-neo liberal wing of the party will win out. To be frank, no one knows what is going to happen.
    I also want to comment about some of your analysis with respect to the violence that is happening in Zimbabwe. I spent seven months in rural Zimbabwe in the early 1990s. I was very impressed by the government’s commitment to education and health care (lots of money for schools and health clinics), but not impressed at all by the thuggish behaviour of local ZANU PF party members and the local Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) office. Basically, they would intimidate, threaten and beat up anyone, who got in their way or had a different opinion. None of their victims had any relationship with white colonialists or neo liberals. They were just local farmers and teachers. I am not surprised at all by the level of violence that they are now unleashing on the population.
    Again, your attempt to portray the violence as coming equally from ZANU PF and the MDC is dishonest. ZANU PF has the entire state apparatus (the army, the police and the CIO) behind them.

  8. WSWS has been engaged in a demonisation campaign against Robert Mugabe. Here is my letter to one recent eg:

    The talbot article:
    Ann talbot has written :
    ‘Such was the hostility to ZANU-PF that the MDC won a victory in the March elections against their own expectations. But it does not enjoy the type of active mass support that would allow it to combat Mugabe’s repression. Its aim has always been to win power courtesy of US and British backing for regime change. Even the MDC’s most active supporters are flocking to the MDC headquarters for protection only to be carried off to torture camps by the military’

    what torture camps? Care to provide any evidence? Why do you suppose in spite of the media demonisation Mugabe and ZANU are still so popular? Thats because the people of Zimbabwe understand they are for the people. MDC is for the neocolonial ambitions of US UK and Australia
    SHAME on WSWS for being a echo chamber of western propaganda.

    And again. WSWS MUST prove its allegations of torture camps.

    I will be posting this around the internet.


  9. Morgan totally didn’t follow up on his promise…although I don’t think I would have in the situation either…i bet the people over at the mill would like to see that

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