BY NORM DIXON
The International Socialist Organisation of Zimbabwe has strongly condemned moves by President Robert Mugabe's government to introduce "draconian semi-fascist laws" and the violent campaign launched by the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) to defeat the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)in the presidential elections scheduled for March 9-10.
"For political survival ... Mugabe has resorted to the smashing of democracy and any potential resistance", the ISO said in a statement released on January 16. "The ZANU-PF government is preparing a multi-front attack on democracy and is preparing a fight in the elections and streets. Cases of political violence are on the increase — the youths trained by the ZANU-PF government have caused havoc in the townships."
The ZANU-PF controlled parliament in Harare has passed a series of bills will prevent free and fair elections, "smash press freedom", and deny the right demonstrate and assemble, the ISO warned. A law has been passed that makes illegal any statement that criticises the president or his policies. Mugabe is expected to sign the bills into law.
While the international press has focussed on the attacks on the press and on the government's threats to dispossess wealthy white farmers, Mugabe's moves to outlaw strikes have been ignored. "The movement of resistance to Mugabe, ZANU-PF and their neo-liberal policies was started in 1997 by strikes, demonstrations and stay-aways of workers and students. Fearful of this power, Mugabe is now seeking to outlaw all strikes and stay-aways with the Labour Relations Amendment Bill".
Mugabe is also attempting to crush the student movement by privatising colleges and universities and expelling militant student activist leaders.
The Zimbabwe military has issued warnings that it would not accept MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as president should he defeat Mugabe in March because he had not participated in the independence struggle as a guerilla. Tsvangirai was a union activist at the time.
The army statement was "meant to encourage and incite violence from ZANU-PF militias and the liberation war veterans. It is also to instill fear in the ordinary people, especially those in the rural areas, that if they don't vote for Mugabe it means the return of war like in Matebeleland in the early 1980s".
An MDC MP from Matebeleland, Lupane David Mpala, is fighting for his life in hospital after being beaten by 20 ZANU-PF thugs and left for dead with a knife wound on January 13.
On January 12, seven MDC activists were attacked by more than 70 ZANU-PF goons wielding knives and axes. The thugs raided the MDC office in Murambinda, near Harare. Two are in a serious condition in hospital.
The ISO has urged that all progressive forces in Zimbabwe to join forces "in a democratic and transparent united front, without domination of any one group" to resist the attacks on democracy by ZANU-PF and to oppose the government's "IMF-, World Bank-, US- and EU-sponsored neo-liberal agenda which has brought massive poverty to workers, students, unemployed and ordinary people".
"The movement must be based on action — general strikes, class boycotts and demonstrations" rather than rely on parliament, which is "a toothless dog", or the courts.
The ISO urged to Zimbabweans to remember that "none but ourselves will liberate ourselves. The US, EU and other imperialist countries are no friends of democracy. They are massacring innocent people in Afghanistan, with Somalia and Iraq next. They are the biggest terrorists who have killed millions in Third World countries from Vietnam and Korea to Angola and supported apartheid in South Africa and Rhodesia."
Washington is threatening to impose selective sanctions on Zimbabwe under a law signed by US President George Bush in December. The US is threatening to oppose debt relief and loans for the country. The EU is also threatening to impose sanctions and the British government has warned that it will move for Zimbabwe's suspension from the Commonwealth if Mugabe does not abide by the "rule of law".
The ISO reminded Zimbabweans that imperialism's "local 'puppets' like ZANU-PF have imposed neo-liberal policies that have brought so much poverty to the workers, students, peasants of this world ... If we are to ensure that the struggle to remove the ZANU-PF dictatorship does not result in its replacement by just another set of 'puppets' of imperialism ... we have to start combining the struggle against ZANU-PF for political democracy with the struggle for economic emancipation of the working people against neo-liberalism and imperialism."
From Green Left Weekly, January 23, 2002.
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