From a statement by the International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe
After the elections enthusiasm, as we revert to our routines, we are faced with the critical task of implementing our Central Committee resolutions — amongst them, unconditional but critical support to the MDC. This, obviously, will be difficult for comrades who had been firm with our previous perspective of no to elections arguing for the formation of an alternative to the MDC. Two things need to be carefully considered now.
Firstly, how tactically to jump onto the changing wagon as late-comers who vehemently opposed the MDC yesterday. And secondly, the fact that the MDC is maintaining its reliance on the west and other external forces, neglecting its grassroots support. We cannot of course unconditionally support the MDC when it is begging for support from imperialists and their proxies in bodies like the Southern African Development Community and heads of state, ignoring the need to mobilises the masses on the ground, involving other working people regionally and internationally as we saw recently with the South African dock workers.
The long awaited presidential elections results were finally made public: with Mugabe having garnered 43%, MDC 47% and [dissident ZANU PF leader Simba] Makoni 8%. The MDC, despite its previous claims that it won 53%, did not formally contest the results, implying somehow they are agreeable or they were not serious with their claims. On the other hand Mugabe himself seems be getting more and more stubborn and confident with the passage of each day.
Since end of March, Mugabe has prepared for a run off by militarizing the entire state and its institutions, putting solders and armed police in every street and rural areas. 32 people have been killed and more than 40,000 people displaced, whilst those in urban areas are living in fear of curfews.
Against all these harassments, most MDC leaders fled out of the country, joining Tsvangirai who is now based in Botswana and flying into South Africa daily, leaving a leadership vacuum here. Tsvangirai`s dithering attitude on the run off has exacerbated the confusion among his supporters.
To those who had faith in elections or viewed Mugabe as an impartial character, Mugabe’s response has taught them numerous lessons on dealing with entrenched dictators. It is now clear that power in dictatorships is protected by the barrel [of a gun], and power can not be drawn from ballot booths alone.
For MDC to ignore this and proceed to participate in the coming elections will be tantamount to digging their own grave, as there is no enough guarantee that Mugabe will not repeat what he did after being beaten. What is happening now shows that he is more secure than before and he has instilled enough fear in people to avert any possibility of grassroots resistance to his rule, meaning any further electoral fraud can now be executed with less hesitance than before.
Constitutionally a run off is supposed to be held within 21 days of the announcement of election results but as of now we have not yet heard anything from Zimbabwe Electoral Commission regarding the date. Recently we heard the secretary for legal and parliamentary affairs in ZANU PF saying on national television that, regardless of the law, the ZEC may as well postpone for a period of up to twelve months.
This confirms that Mugabe is not willing to go anywhere soon. Meanwhile he is shored up his base by any means necessary, including arbitrary arrests of MDC parliamentarians and activists and ZCTU leaders.
Since the elections, the economic crisis has deepened sharply and things promise to get worse in the near future. Things have been tough but this time it’s worse. We are into full-fledged neoliberalism.
Mugabe had opposed moves by Reserve Bank Governor Gono and his other business people in ZANU PF to embark on full-blown neoliberalism, to benefit only the best off at the expense of the poor majority. Mugabe resisted by insisting on fixing exchange rates, price controls and subsidies, simultaneously printing lots of local currency but maintaining the exchange rates at very low levels.
Now Mugabe has allowed the Reserve Bank to introduce a “willing buyer, willing seller” arrangement as basis for all foreign exchange transactions. From Saturday 3 May banks have been offering much more lucrative exchange rates, with some banks offering as much as Zim $250 million for US$1, meaning if you change US$100 with a bank you will be given Zim $25 billion dollars. Higher denominations of $100 million and $150 million have also been introduced to cater for the high demand for cash.
Whilst the elites are celebrating this development, the poor are in danger as prices skyrocket daily. Workers are earning on average $6 billion a month - whilst on 12 May a rough calculation of how much is required for a family of three to survive was $50 billion.
All this tells us there is real struggle waiting against the twin enemies of Mugabe`s dictatorship and neoliberal capitalism.
• A critique of this statement will be published in the next issue of Solidarity.