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Constitutional Amendment 18 of 2007 - Index of articles, opinion and anaylsis
18 - the great betrayal
Socialist Worker, zimbabwejournalists.com
September 25, 2007
the special index of articles, analysis and opinion on Constitutional
HARARE - For
the first or second time, at least known publicly, the two main
political parties agreed on constitutional amendments supposedly
meant to resolve the crisis in the country. The Constitution
of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill, No 18 was unanimously passed, "amid
thunderous applause from both Zanu -PF and MDC legislators."
The Bill harmonises
presidential, parliamentary and local authority elections next year
to be done in one day, increases the number of MPs and a few other
111 MPs voted
for the Bill and none voted against. Speakers from ZANU PF and MDC
spoke vociferously, applauding the coming together of the enemies
for a decade. The ZANU PF chief Whip Joram Gumbo had this to say,
"We from this side of the House want to say the chickens have
come home to roost. We realise now that we are Zimbabweans. We,
as Zimbabweans, are able to come together and solve our issues."
The MDC (Tsvangirai)
deputy president, Thoko Khupe stated: "We supported the Bill
because we do not want to see Zimbabwe burning.. It does not mean
we have abandoned our demand for a new people-driven Constitution.
It is our understanding that this will be delivered in due course."
of the MDC (Mutambara) was even more forthright . "Zimbabweans
are faced with a national crisis. We may differ, but we agree there
is a crisis. Some where along the way we lost each other. This is
our attempt to find each other."
leader stated - "Today is the beginning of a historic moment
in this house....We are in the process of making history and finding
solutions to the crisis."
from viciously warring parties in the last few years, including
in the opposition. Tuesday the 18th of September was the outcome
of the secret ongoing Mbeki talks between the two MDC's and ZANU
PF led by Chinamasa and Goche for ZANU PF and Tendai Biti and Welshmen
Ncube for the two MDC's.
- varombo kuvarombo vapfumi kuvapfumi.
This deal is
not for the poor and oppressed who have bravely withstood the hard
times we have been going through and have been the necessary fuel
to the existence of the MDC. Now the last decade of inspiring work
by labour, civic society and social movements has been sacrificed
by leaders only interested in getting into power and accumulating
wealth. Indeed on that Tuesday 18 September 2007, while 'they' took
Zimbabwe through this 'historic moment', labour and students activists
were in police cells over the ZCTU
stayaway. Truly the moment was historic.
A turn in the
direction of where the struggle for liberation is going. Yesterday
showed us that "varombo kuvarombo, vafumi kuvafumi," must
now be the slogan of the day and that the opposition leaders have
accepted Mugabe's invitation at the tractor feast that "Nyaya
yekudya inyaya yedu tose . kana toita politics tinenge taguta."
The ideological mist that masked a false unity of purpose in the
opposition forces has now been blown away.
key civic society groups and the ZCTU have rightly denounced it.
Arnold Tsunga, the chairman of Crisis
Zimbabwe Coalition and Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights director said - "We think the
MDC has sold out, and it will be very difficulty to work with them
in future, taking into perspective the minor adjustment they and
ZANU PF have agreed to."
and the NCA
were even more blistering in their attack: We are disgusted by the
MDC. I don't see myself sitting under the same tent with both Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara discussing the future of this country.
We are severing ties with the MDC over their going into bed with
ZANU PF... The MDC's decision to abandon the principle of a people
driven Constitution and opting for a process driven by political
parties in Parliament is an act of treachery."
The NCA gave
other reasons to reject the deal, including that:
(1) it allows
Mugabe to appoint his own successor through Parliament, instead
of there being elections;
(2) the size
of parliament has been massively increased beyond the capacity
of the country and economy, from 150 to 210 MPs and Senate from
66 to 93 - all these will be given brand new 4 x 4 double cabs!
(3) it does
not provide Zimbabweans in the Diaspora with the right to vote
as in other SADC countries;
(4) the appointment
of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission remains under the control
of Mugabe, who also retains his massive executive presidency powers
and control of the state, courts, security arms and media;
(5) the Bill
of Rights remains the same not guaranteeing the rights of workers,
the poor and oppressed or effective freedoms of movement, association
and expression. There can be no free and fair elections under
such conditions yet the MDC did not even bother to consult its
members and civic society before agreeing only consulting the
(6) All elections
are being reduced to one day , which is impossible logistically.
As some have already commented, this is a sick deal in which the
MDC has got even less than Muzorewa got from Smith! Like Smith,
Mugabe is today in a tight corner as the economy collapses, and
instead of escalating resistance with other forces as the Patriotic
Front did in 1978, the MDC is giving the Mugabe regime a life-saving
Social Movements, Labour and Civil Society, must celebrate this
event as a refreshing moment which has vindicated a whole decade
of ideological analysis of how to deal with the Mugabe dictatorship.
Since at least 2001, we in the ISO
have warned about how the opposition MDC has been hijacked by elitist
capitalist forces and the need to construct an autonomous alternative
anti-neoliberal united front to carry on the struggle, with the
MDC, but independent of it if need be.
We argued -
"Thus any strategy of fighting the dictatorship based on a
movement dominated or controlled by the MDC will remain prisoner
to the glaring ideological and strategic confusion it has shown
since 2000 and is bound to fail. its primary preoccupation is towards
reaching a sell -out settlement with the Zanu PF dictatorship that
will not benefit the poor and working people. The possibility of
an elite political settlement between the ruling party and opposition
around a western supported full neo-liberal programme is thus real.
This will be centred around the neo-liberal economic turnaround
programme of ESAP 2 that has been spearheaded by Gono since 2003.
The drive towards a settlement is driven by several factors including
the ruling classes' fear of an economic-social implosion because
of the worsening economic crisis with unforeseeable political implications,
and the fact that both parties are now dominated by elites who subscribe
to neoliberalism and are exhausted and fearful of the crisis of
the last decade.. (ZANU PF) elites now want the peace to grow and
launder the wealth acquired in the last decade but cannot do so
in the context of a crisis ridden state under siege from the west.
But to ensure
that Zanu PF elites do not relapse as they did in 1997, the forces
of global neo-liberalism demand a political guarantee in the form
of co-option in government of their trusted agents in Zimbabwe,
the MDC and
(the exit of Mugabe). On the other hand, the opposition is dominated
by the petite bourgeois elite, who long ago prostrated themselves
before western neoliberal political and economic forces and are
now eager to get into state power, even as junior partners, and
accumulate property as a neo-colonial dependent capitalist class"
It is such elitist
settlement to pre-empt social-revolution, that the Mbeki Talks and
Const Amendment 18 are designed to achieve supported by Mbeki and
the west, with, as Mukundu of MISA aptly puts it - Tsvangirai likely
to be "the unwilling sacrificial lamb, sacrificed at the altar
of quiet diplomacy and the quest for power by those inside his 'cabinet,"
and as a price for Mugabe to agree to retire - a price not only
the opportunist elites in MDC will be willing to pay but also the
west, who have always seen Tsvangirai as naïve and dispensable.
The West's interests in Zimbabwe may be summarised simply - Re-launch
of the Free Market dictatorship in Zimbabwe.
The West would
want to be vindicated that the SAP's under the IMF work but were
mismanaged in Zimbabwe, besides banishing forever the "bad
precedent" set by Mugabe on the land question. Mbeki wants
to ensure that Tsvangirai does not set an example for COSATU/SACP
to follow as Chiluba did in Zambia. So they will be prepared to
ooze from all their financial tanks into the "New Zimbabwe"
as soon as the new deal succeeds. SAP's have had a history of dismal
failure and in the Latin Americas they have been shoved off by resurgent
anti-neoliberal forces. It will only be wise to sanctify them with
a Zimbabwe renewed and reengaged.
the ICG, EU
and McKinnons of the Commonwealth now wanting dialogue with Mugabe.
Convention and Jambanja now! But the elites in power and in opposition
may not have it all their way. Now that the talks have been lubricated
by the Number 18 Amendment, and vice versa, the driving seat seems
to have been secured. But the major question remains the destination.
Number 18 represents a political crisis and storm coming down. This
is however still veiled by an unpredictable Mugabe trajectory, momentarily
shrouded in speculation. It remains to be seen how Mugabe will manage
his political campaign for the coming elections. The economic crisis
that has threatened Mugabe's political power is still pending. Price
hikes may be well on their way back to madness. So the economic
crisis resolution is yet to be propounded. Neither is it all clear
in MDC (Tsvangirai). There are stirrings of serious opposition,
with reports that the youths, the women section, key provinces like
Harare and Bulawayo, the Diaspora and other radicals are opposing
the sell - out deal, with support coming mainly from the self-seeking
MPs. Indeed over the week-end, Mugabe's spokesperson, George Charamba,
had revealed such stirrings and predicted that whilst the MDC (Mutambara)
executive would easily support the deal, it was going to face stiff
and insurmountable resistance in the Tsvangirai one, sending Biti
The above provides
a historic moment for the progressives in labour, civic society,
revolutionary socialists and MDC radicals to reclaim the initiative,
smash this sell -out neoliberal elitist deal and re-launch the struggle
to smash the dictatorship and the attempts at accelerating ESAP.
These forces must urgently convene a 2nd Working People's Convention
which will discuss the treacherous Mbeki Talks and Amendment 18
and the way forward. Central will be that harmonised elections be
done in 2008 but only under a democratic, people driven and anti-ESAP
constitution. If the regime rejects this, then the struggle must
be shifted to all out mass action - jambanja or civil disobedience
in which there is no co-operation whatsoever with the regime but
a determined struggle to throw it out as has happened elsewhere.
The ZCTU has
already started the ball rolling, but to succeed we need united
action of labour and civic society. Like Smith in 1978, the regime
is nowcornered, which is why its making concessions. History teaches
us that success is possible. For instance the March 1961 Zhii -Zhanda
strikes forced Nkomo to abandon the sell -out constitutional deal
he had made with the British giving blacks 15 out of 65 parliamentary
seats. In 1978, after ZANU refused to accept the Internal Settlement
deal, Nkomo also withdrew from any further deals with the Smith-
Muzorewa regime and opted for continuing with the struggle under
the Patriotic Front. In 2005 Tsvangirai gave in to pressure not
to go into the Senate elections.
The same can
happen today if we are resolute! Jambanja Ndizvo!
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