Zimbabwe socialists call for workers' united front

Submitted by on 15 March, 2002 - 12:03

"Forward to Madagascar" is the slogan circulating among some activists on the left in Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe declared himself the victor in the presidential elections of 9-11 March.
In Madagascar, a disputed presidential election was followed by a huge general strike, and the officially-defeated candidate has now established himself as an alternative power, in an alternative capital.

Zimbabwe's opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change, has - even according to the figures from the election run, patrolled and rigged by Mugabe's ruling ZANU (PF) party - large majority support in the country's big cities. Whether it is the sort of movement ever likely to lead a "popular revolution" - even of the sort now in train in Madagascar - is another matter. It is tied into the web of diplomacy, international connections, and international pressure, a web which Mugabe seems to have under control with the crucial endorsement of his election victory by the South African government.

Zimbabwe's army is solidly under ZANU (PF) control. A sweeping clampdown is possible after the election victory. Dozens of opposition activists were arrested during the election. MDC general secretary Welshman Ncube has been charged with treason; MDC presidential candidate, and former leader of the country's trade union movement, Morgan Tsvangirai, may well be arrested on similar charges.

In the run-up to the election, Mugabe threatened to ban the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, replacing it with a stooge "Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions" set up by his government.

The Zimbabwean socialists of the ISO (International Socialist Organisation) decided, as the polling opened, to shut down their office and take themselves "underground" for a week, so as not to be picked off by repression. They stated:

"We are caught between on one side ZANU(PF) who view us as an opposition enemy and on the other side MDC who view us as a threat because of our anti-neo-liberal politics and for fighting for ordinary workers.

"However, we must point out that in the event of a prolonged backlash from workers [against Mugabe stealing the election] we will get involved with all our resources and with our minds as clear as possible and with the determination to lead and direct the struggle to further workers' aims. This is the only road for the survival of the workers (and ourselves)".

Although the ISO's immediate situation is bleak, they are continuing to work flat-out for "a workers-based united front after the elections". They need support.
Please send donations for the ISO to the following bank account: First Direct Bank, 40 Wakefield Road, Leeds LS98 1FO, account name John Page, sort code 40-47-78, account number 1118 5489. Please email details of deposits to the ISO.
For more on Zimbabwe, try the Indymedia site.

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