Defend Zimbabwe

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 4, May/June 1980

In our previous issue, we saluted the glorious anti-imperialist victory of ZANU and ZAPU. A bloody blow to the imperialists! An occasion for joy for anti-imperialists throughout the world! In concluding our article, we warned:

‘In the months ahead as the wounded imperialist hawks circle Zimbabwe, the need for solidarity action in Britain will be as urgent as it was during the Lancaster House talks and the elections. All the anti-imperialists in Britain must rally both to celebrate and to defend the historic victory of the Patriotic Front.'

The victory has been achieved. But imperialism is preparing to counterattack. It is preparing its plans to overturn the victory of the people, for it is not prepared to tolerate its ill-gotten gains, the wealth it has robbed from the people being swept from its hands. And to defend its plunder it will use any means it can to deny the people the fruits of their victory.

And its most powerful weapon is its deadly stranglehold on the economy of Zimbabwe. Seventy per cent of the economy, valued at £1.5 billion is controlled by imperialism. Over half of this is in the hands of British imperialism and South Africa. During the 15 years of UDI, foreign investment in Zimbabwe increased by 300 per cent, and British capital stock rose from £200m to a staggering £717m! The Zimbabwean economy, in the words of the Financial Timesis: 'one of the most heavily dependent on external capital in black Africa'. And the imperialists are using this to full effect. Any attempt to nationalise imperialist capital and they threaten to retaliate. Zimbabwe now has a foreign debt of £250 million, over two thirds owing to South Africa, for its assistance to the reactionary Smith regime! Any attempt to cancel this debt and the imperialists threaten to retaliate. And the means of retaliation they have. Their grip on the Zimbabwean economy means that they can destroy it and reduce the people to even more abominable squalor than they have suffered under imperialist rule. In addition, imperialism can rely on South Africa for military assistance against the Zimbabwean people. Already South Africa is militarily prepared to move against the new Zimbabwean Republic.

In these conditions, the people of Zimbabwe face an almost impossible task in reconstructing the devastated economy and in overcoming the product of decades of barbaric oppression, especially that inflicted on the masses during their liberation war — poverty, hunger, disease, unemployment, slum housing and education. The war has left a million people homeless, a quarter of a million as refugees, 75 per cent of the already inadequate clinics and schools have been closed down, black unemployment is soaring, wages are below starvation level.

But efforts to meet the justified expectations of the black people of Zimbabwe who fought so heroically will be met by threats and blackmail. With imperialism threatening the people of Zimbabwe, holding over it the awesome weapon of starvation, economic blockades and further war, the duty of anti-imperialists is clear: Defend the historic victory of the Patriotic Front! Crush imperialist attempts to limit the freedom of Zimbabwe!

These most elementary principles of anti-imperialism and internationalism are being trampled in the mud by the petit-bourgeois socialists of the SWP, IMG, RCT and their ilk. Before the victory of the Patriotic Front, they constantly criticised and denounced it (see FRFI 1 and 2). Since the landslide victory of the Patriotic Front they have continued their vicious, dirty and snide attacks. Socialist Challenge, the newspaper of the IMG, immediately after the election said:

‘The ZANU-PF election manifesto is remarkably similar to those of the other main African parties ... Private enterprise will be allowed ... until "circumstances are ripe for socialist change" — a sentiment vague enough to grace a Labour Manifesto. Far from marshalling his forces to smash the white power structures ... has enthusiastically taken part in ... attempts to "integrate" elements of the two guerilla armies into the white security forces ... On land reform ... it talks only of "resettling" blacks on underused white land — a plan supported by the white farmers. White fears of Mugabe are therefore largely delusions.'

Socialist Worker, the SWP's organ of opportunism said:

‘... Robert Mugabe reassured the white settlers ... Things were going to be all right . . . Zimbabwe would be another Kenya where white wealth and privilege have survived the installation of a black government. ... Even worse, Mugabe is talking of a "good neighbour" policy towards South Africa.'

The IMG's comparison of ZANU-PF with the Labour Party reveals the complete hypocrisy of the petit bourgeois left. The IMG is second to none in covering up for the Labour Party and, indeed, wants to affiliate to that Party. These hypocrites have one standard for the oppressed and quite another for the imperialist Labour Party.

The petit bourgeois left did its level best to isolate the Zimbabwean movement with its constant attacks on ZANU and ZAPU. By doing so, they strengthened the hands of the imperialists. Then, after the victory, they turn round and attack ZANU-PF for the problems which arise directly from that isolation and, in particular, from the complete failure of the British movement to support and defend the Zimbabwean people. The Zimbabwean revolution faces massive problems of reconstruction whilst the apartheid butchers are massed on its doorstep ready to strike at any time. The Zimbabwean revolution needs our support, solidarity and defence against allits enemies.

Eddie Abrahams



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