HUSSEIN BOGERE, KABONA ESIARA, AL MAHDI SENKABIRWA
Riot police yesterday fired tear gas and water canons to disperse hundreds of demonstrators protesting against the move to lift presidential term limits.
The demonstration was organised by the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). It also included members of the Democratic Party, Uganda People’s Congress, JEEMA, The Free Movement and the Conservative Party.
Police deployed heavily at all the spots where the demonstrators were expected to gather or pass.
Work along Kampala Road and Parliament Avenue was interrupted for the entire morning as police battled the demonstrators.
The demonstration was meant to coincide with the first vote in Parliament on the proposal to remove term limits, a move that is widely believed will pave the way for President Yoweri Museveni to stand for re-election in 2006.
Mr Museveni’s last constitutional term expires next year.
The demonstration was planned to start from the Constitution Square at 10:00 pm.
However, police deployed more than 20 officials at the venue who confiscated the demonstrators’ placards and arrested two men from the Uganda Freedom Party (UFP).
Police claimed that the organisers of the demonstration had not informed them in advance. “The order is immediate; there is no demonstration, they should go away,” a police officer, who declined to be named, told Daily Monitor as the demonstrators were dispersed.
Kampala Regional Police Commander, Mr Oyo Nyeko, defended the police action.
“The opposition wrote to the Inspector General of Police but he wrote back calling off the demonstration,” Oyo told journalists at his office. “Parliament has to be informed 48 hours while the police have to be informed 72 hours before the demonstration can take place,” he added.
The demonstrators shouted anti-third term slogans and carried several placards denouncing the no-term limits proponents. Some of them read, “253 MPs cannot decide for 24 million Ugandans. Please say no to third term;” “MPs, don’t murder our constitution, yours peasants;” “US and the donor community, come and save us;” “Pearl of Africa is Pearl of Mafia;” and “What shall we tell the children in the north born in camps?”
Realising that they had been outnumbered, the demonstrators, mostly male youths, retreated to Crest House along Station Road singing anti-third term songs.
From there the procession comprising boda boda riders and seven mini buses moved along Nkrumah Road, to Owino, Ben Kiwanuka Street, past CPS, Speke Road before joining Kampala Road.
What had progressed as a peaceful march suddenly became violent when police deployed five pick-up truckloads of riot police and a spray truck at the junction of Kampala Road and Parliament Avenue. The demonstrators now numbering over 100 were sprayed with peppered water. A pick-up truck carrying some of the demonstrators was abandoned in the main road.
But the protestors did not take the punishment lying down. They threw stones at the police.
The crowd soon melted, only to re-emerge in front of Parliament.
But the police were there too. One parked car’s windshield was left shattered after a police rubber bullet blasted through it. Workers at Stanbic Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Nile Bank and other nearby offices were seen inhaling through their handkerchiefs as the area around Parliament Avenue was filled with tear gas.
The scuffle also attracted several MPs from Parliament where business too came to a brief halt.
As time went by, the crowd grew smaller and eventually disappeared by 2:00 pm.
Conspicuously, apart from the FDC’s Beti Kamya and James Musinguzi, there were no other opposition leaders in sight.
Reposted from Monitor Media
Mark Doyle follows in the footsteps of revolutionary Che Guevara in Uvira, in the south-east of the country.
Almost 40 years ago, the mountains towering above this lakeside town in South Kivu province were the scene of some of the opening shots in DR Congo's post-colonial wars.
In 1965, with the world on a tense Cold War footing, the Latin American revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara came here to try to spark a left-wing revolution.
Che aimed to pit himself against what he called the "Yankee Imperialists" whom he saw as backing compliant pro-western candidates for power in DR Congo.
Among Che's would-be Congolese allies was the then 26-year-old Laurent Kabila, who he met in the Fizi Baraka mountains, now soaring up above me from the Ruzizi River Plain which empties into Lake Tanganyika at the town of Uvira.
Laurent Kabila did eventually come to power, in 1997. But the revolution he headed was far from left-wing.
He ousted the ailing President Mobutu Sese Seko after forming a tactical alliance with neighbouring Rwanda.
Rwanda wanted Mobutu deposed because he had hosted the defeated Hutu army which had orchestrated the genocide of Tutsis and other government opponents in the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
But Rwanda lived to regret its choice of Kabila as an ally in the 1996 invasion of DR Congo.
He turned against them after coming to power in 1997, a switch which rekindled the war in DR Congo as Rwanda attacked again - not with Kabila this time, but against him.
Che's recently published personal diaries make it clear that he was unimpressed by Kabila.
Perhaps if the Rwandans and their American advisers had had better intelligence from the Cold War period, they would not have made such a costly mistake.
Che Guevara's seven-month stay in the Fizi Baraka mountains was, as he admits himself, an "unmitigated disaster".
The mercenary Colonel "Mad Mike" Hoare, who had been contracted by the American-influenced government in Kinshasa, squeezed Che's small Cuban force into an ever smaller area until he had to escape back across Lake Tanganyika into the then-friendly territory of revolutionary Tanzania.
Today, this region is no less pivotal to the war, and potentially the peace process, in the DR Congo.
I drove, with a military escort of UN soldiers from Uruguay, up the Ruzizi River plain from the town of Uvira to the village of Kamanyola which is on the border with Rwanda.
Along just 50km of road I encountered such a variety of armed groups that I began to think of the Ruzizi Plains as the theatre of a wider Congolese war, but in miniature.
The first roadblock (ostensibly to denote territory but also to levy illegal taxes) was near the village of Kiliba.
The armed men there were polite to their surprise BBC guest, but uninformative.
They belonged to the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD).
Originally backed by Rwanda, the rebel RCD controlled Uvira until June when they were ousted by forces loyal to the government.
A young RCD major in uniform broke off from a meeting of officers to complain to me about his conditions in the bush.
The RCD is now a major component of the coalition transitional government in Kinshasa - although it is regularly accused of still taking orders from Rwanda.
A few more kilometres up the road, past the village of Sange, was another checkpoint.
This was ostensibly manned by the pro-Congolese government militia known as the Mai Mai after the water they douse themselves with to create a magical, bullet-proof shield.
A young man - who said he was 25 but looked no more than 17 - said he was the commander of the post.
A well-informed source in the area told me that this checkpoint was in fact shared between the Mai Mai and anti-Rwandan government rebels that have a base in DR Congo in the hills above the Ruzizi Plain.
"They share the loot", said the source, who asked not to be named.
There were numerous other checkpoints - at least a dozen in total - but many of these were quickly dismantled as the men with guns saw the small Uruguayan army convoy approach.
It would have been very different if we had been ordinary Congolese civilians.
Along the road, I came across a village which had been attacked by one of the groups because they were perceived to support another.
The villagers were clearly terrified, hungry and desperate.
My last stop was the village of Kamanyola, on the border with Rwanda.
Tired now of men with guns, I was relieved to do something ordinary.
I bought some tomatoes and pineapples for a snack and visited a school.
A teacher there said one of the sanest things I had heard all day: "The situation here is very bad", he explained, "because we fear war at any moment."
Brothers and Sisters:
First and Only - We are informing you that, since the middle of 2002, the EZLN has been engaged in a process of reorganizing its political-military structure. This internal reorganization has now been completed.
We have the necessary conditions in place to survive an attack or enemy action that would do away with our current leadership or which would attempt to annihilate us completely.
The chains of command and the succession of responsibilities have been clearly established, as well as those actions and measures to be taken in the event of being attacked by government forces and their paramilitaries.
The CCRI-CG of the EZLN is letting it be known that conditions are in place to continue leading the zapatista struggle even if it were to lose – be it through jail, through death or through forced disappearance – some or all of its publicly known current leadership.
To National and International Civil Society:
Señora, señorita, señor, young person, boy, girl:
This is not a letter of farewell. At times it is going to seem as if it is, that it is a farewell, but it is not. It is a letter of explanation. Well, that is what we shall attempt. This was originally going to go out as a communiqué, but we have chosen this form because, for good or for bad, when we have spoken with you we have almost always done so in this most personal tone.
We are the men, women, children and old ones of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation. Perhaps you remember us - we rose up in arms on January 1, 1994, and ever since then we have kept up our war against the forgetting, and we have resisted the war of extermination which the different governments have waged, unsuccessfully, against us. We live in the furthest corner of this country which is called Mexico. In that corner which is called "Indian Peoples." Yes, like that, plural. Because, for reasons we shall not give here, the plural is used in this corner for everything: we suffer, we die, we fight, we resist.
Now, as you know quite well, it so happens that, ever since that dawn of the beginning of '94, we have dedicated our struggle - first with fire and then with the word - our efforts, our life and our death, exclusively to the Indian peoples of Mexico for the recognition of their rights and their culture. It was natural - we zapatistas are overwhelmingly indigenous. Mayan indigenous, to be more precise. But, in addition, the indigenous in this country - despite having been the foundation of this Nation's great transformations - are still the social group which has been the most attacked and the most exploited. If they have shown no mercy against anyone with their military wars and the wars disguised as "political", the wars of usurpation, of conquest, of annihilation, of marginalization, of ignorance - it has been against the indigenous. The war against us has been so intense and brutal that it has become routine to think that the indigenous will only be able to escape from their conditions of marginalization and poverty if they stop being indigenous...or if they are dead. We have been fighting to not die and to not cease being indigenous. We have fought to be - alive and indigenous - part of this nation which has been lifted up over our backs. The Nation for whom we have been the feet (almost always unshod) with which it has walked in its decisive moments. The Nation for whom we have been the arms and hands which have made the earth bear fruit and which have erected the large buildings, edifices, churches and palaces that those who have everything take such pride in. The Nation of which - through word, look and manner, that is, through culture - we are the root.
Are we raining insult upon injury? Perhaps it's because we are in June, the sixth month of the year. Well, we just wanted to point out that the beginning of our uprising was not just a "Here we are", shouted to a Nation that was deaf and dumb because of the authoritarianism above. It was also a "This is what we are and shall continue to be...but now with dignity, with democracy, with justice, with liberty." You know this quite well, because, among other things, you have been accompanying us since then.
Unfortunately, after more than 7 years committed to that path, in April of 2001, politicians from all the parties (primarily the PRI, PAN and PRD) and the self-styled "three branches of the Union" (the presidency, the congress and the courts) formed an alliance in order to deny the Indian peoples of Mexico the constitutional recognition of their rights and culture. And they did so without caring about the great national and international movement which had arisen and joined together for that purpose. The great majority, including the media, were in agreement that that debt should be settled. But the politicians don't care about anything that doesn't get them money, and they rejected the same proposal that they had approved years before when the San Andrés Accords were signed and the Cocopa drafted a proposal for constitutional reform. They did so because they thought that, after a little time had passed, everyone would forget. And perhaps many people forgot, but we did not. We have memory, and it was they: the PRI, the PAN, the PRD, the President of the Republic, the deputies and senators and the justices of the Supreme Court of the Nation. Yes, the Indian peoples continue today in the underbelly of this Nation, and they continue to suffer the same racism they have for 500 years. It doesn't matter what they are saying now, when they are preparing for the elections (in other words, to secure positions that will make them profits): they are not going to do anything for the good of the majority, nor are they going to listen to anything that isn't money.
If we zapatistas pride ourselves on anything it's honoring the word, the honest and principled word. All this time we have been telling you that we will try the path of dialogue and negotiation in order to achieve our demands. We told you that we would make great efforts in the peaceful struggle. We told you that we would focus on the indigenous struggle. And so it has been. We have not deceived you.
All the help which you have so generously contributed to this noble cause and through those means has been for that and for nothing else. We have used nothing for anything else. All the humanitarian help and aid which we have received from Mexico and from throughout the world has been used only for improving the living conditions of the zapatista indigenous communities and in peaceful initiatives for the recognition of indigenous rights and culture. Nothing of what was received has been used for the acquisition of arms or for any war preparations. Not only because we haven't needed it (the EZLN has maintained its military capacity intact since 1994), but above all because it wouldn't have been honest to tell you that your help was for one thing and to use it for another. Not one centavo of the help received for peace with justice and dignity has been used for war. We have not needed help for making war. For peace, yes.
We have, of course, used our word to refer to (and in some cases to express our solidarity with) other struggles in Mexico and the world, but just that far. And many times, knowing that we could do more, we had to contain ourselves, because our efforts - as we had told you - were exclusively by and for the indigenous.
It has not been easy. Do you remember the March of the1,111? The Consulta of 5000 in 1999? The March of the Color of the Earth in 2001? Well, imagine then what we felt when we saw and heard the injustices and the hatred directed against campesinos, workers, students, teachers, working persons, homosexuals and lesbians, young people, women, old ones, children. Imagine what our heart felt.
We were touched by a pain, a fury, an indignation which we already knew because it has been, and is, ours. But now we were touched by it in the other. And we heard the "we" which inspires us wanting to become larger, to make itself more collective, more national. But no, we had said just the indigenous, and we had to honor that. I believe it's because of our way - in other words, that we would prefer to die before we would betray our word.
Now we are consulting with our heart in order to see if we are going to say and do something else. If the majority says yes, then we are going to do everything possible to honor it. Everything, even dying if it's necessary. We do not want to appear dramatic. We are only saying it in order to make it clear how far we are willing to go.. In other words, not "until they give us a position, an amount of money, a promise, a candidacy."
Perhaps some may remember how, six months ago, we started with the "what is missing is missing." Then fine, as is obvious, the hour has arrived to decide whether we are going to proceed to find what is missing. Not to find, to build. Yes, to build "something else."
In some of the communiqués of the past few days, we let you know that we have entered into an internal consulta. We shall soon have the results, and we will inform you of them. Meanwhile then, we are taking the opportunity to write you. We have always spoken to you with sincerity, and also to those who are our heart and guardian, our Votan Zapata, the zapatista communities, our collective command.
It will be a difficult and hard decision, just as our life and our struggle have been. For four years we have been preparing the conditions in order to present our peoples with doors and windows so that, when the moment comes, everyone had all the ingredients in place for choosing which window to peer through and which door to open. And that is our way. In other words, the EZLN leadership does not lead, rather it seeks paths, steps, company, direction, pace, destination. Several. And then they present the peoples with those paths, and they analyze with them what would happen if we follow one or the other course. Because, depending on the path we travel, there are things which will be good and things which will be bad. And then they - the zapatista communities - speak their thoughts and decide, after discussing and by majority, where we are all going. And then they give the order, and then the EZLN leadership has to organize the work or prepare what is needed to walk that path. Of course the EZLN leadership doesn't just look at what happens only to them, but they have to be bound to the peoples and to touch their hearts and to make themselves, as they say, the same thing. Then it becomes all our gazes, all our ear, all our thoughts, all our heart. But what if, for whatever reason, the leadership does not look, or hear, or think, or feel like all of us. Or some parts aren't seen or something else isn't heard or other thoughts aren't thought or felt. Well, then, that is why everyone is consulted. That is why everyone is asked. That is why agreement is taken among everyone. If the majority says no, then the leadership has to seek another way, and to present another way to the peoples in order to propose until we collectively reach a decision. In other words, the people govern.
Now the collective which we are will make a decision. They are weighing the pros and cons. They are carefully making the calculations, what is lost and what is gained. And, seeing that there is not a little to be lost, it will be decided whether it is worth it.
Perhaps, in some people's scales, there will be much weight given to what we have achieved. Perhaps, in other people's scales, there will be more weight given to the indignation and shame caused by seeing our earth and skies destroyed by the stupid avarice of Power. In any event, we cannot remain passive, just contemplating, as a gang of ruffians strips our Patria of everything that gives it and everyone existence: dignity.
Ah, well, many turns now. We are writing you for what may be the last time in order to give you back your promised word of support. It is not little that we have achieved in the indigenous struggle, and that has been - as we have told you in public and in private - because of your help. We believe you can be proud, without any shame, of all the good that we zapatistas, along with you, have built up to this point. And know that it has been an honor, undeserved in any light, that people like you have walked at our side.
Now we shall decide whether we are going to do something else, and we will make the results public at the proper time. We are now making clear - in order to end the speculations - that this "other thing" does not entail any offensive military action on our part. We are not, on our part, planning nor discussing reinitiating offensive military combat. Ever since February-March of 1994 our entire military presence has been, and is, defensive. The government should say whether, on its part, there are any offensive war preparations, whether by the federal forces or by their paramilitaries. And the PRI and the PRD should say if they are planning any attack against us with the paramilitaries they are supporting in Chiapas.
If it is the decision of the zapatista majority, those who have helped us up to now in the exclusively indigenous struggle can, without any shame or regret, distance themselves from the "other thing" to which Comandante Tacho referred in the San Cristóbal de Las Casas plaza in January of 2003, two and a half years ago. In addition, there is a communiqué which establishes, from here out, that release and which can be presented in a job application, curriculum vitae, coffee klatch, editorial office, roundtable, grandstand, forum, stage, book jacket, footnote, colloquium, candidacy, book of regrets or newspaper column and which, in addition, has the advantage of being able to be exhibited as defense evidence in any court (don't laugh, there's a precedent: in 1994, some indigenous detained by the bad government - and who weren't zapatistas - were released by a judge, validating a letter from the CCRI-CG in which it released those persons from what the EZLN had done. In other words, as the lawyers say, "there is legal precedent").
But those who find in their heart an echo, even if it is small, of our new word and who feel themselves called by the path, step, pace, company and destination which we have chosen, may perhaps decide to renew their help (or to participate directly)...knowing that it will be "another thing". Like that, without tricks, without deceit, without hypocrisy, without lies.
We thank the women. All the girls, teenagers, young women, señoritas, señoras and old ones (and those who were changing from one to the other of those calendars throughout these 12 years) who helped us, who accompanied us and who, not a few times, made our pain and our steps their own. To all of them, Mexicans and from other countries, who helped us and who walked with us. In everything we did you were the huge majority. Perhaps because we share along with you, although each in their own way and place, discrimination, contempt...and death.
We thank the national indigenous movement, which did not sell itself for government posts, for travel allowances, for the flattery that the powerful classify as "fit for indigenous and animals." The one which listened to our word and gave us theirs. The one which opened its heart, its home, to us. The one which resisted and resists with dignity, raising very high the color we are of the earth.
We thank the young men and women of Mexico and of the world. Those who were boys, girls or teenagers that '94 and who nobly grew up without holding back their eyes or their ears. Those who reached youth or, despite the pages torn from the calendar, remained there, extending the hand of their rebellion to our dark hand. Those who chose to come and share days, weeks, months, years, our dignified poverty, our struggle, our hope and our foolish endeavor.
We thank the homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals, transgender persons and "everyone in their own way." Those who shared with us their struggle for respect for difference, knowing that it is not a defect to be hidden. Those who demonstrated that courage has nothing to do with testosterone and who, time and again, gave us some of the most beautiful lessons of dignity and nobility we have received.
We thank the intellectuals, artists and scientists, from Mexico and the world, who helped us in the struggle for the indigenous. Few movements or organizations can pride themselves on having had the backing (always critical, and we thank them for that) of so much intelligence, ingenuity and creativity. You already know that we always listened to you with respect and attention, even when we didn't share your points of view and that something of the light you shone helped to illuminate our dark paths.
We thank the honest workers of the press and the decent media who showed, truthfully and to the entire world, what they saw and heard, and who respected, without distorting, our voice and path. We extend you our solidarity in these hard moments you are going through in the exercise of your profession, where you are risking your lives, you are attacked and, like us, you find no justice.
And, so that no one is missed, we thank everyone who, honestly and sincerely, helped us.
I said, at the beginning of this letter, that it was not a farewell. Well, it so happens that for some people it is. Although for others it will be what is, in reality, a promise...Because what is missing can now be seen...
Vale. Salud and, from heart to heart, thank you for everything.
In the name of all the zapatistas of the EZLN.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos
90% of UPDF officers are naturally thieves. Major Gen Kazini at the tender age of seven, he used to steal tomatoes from the local market.
ZIMBABWE; As the MDC and Zanu PF grow closer
Only Mass Action can stop Operation Murambasvina… Mobilise !!!
Over 22,000 now arrested and dozens shot. As winter sets in thousands of cabins, flea-markets and houses have been razed to the ground nationwide, whether licensed or not And with thousands retrenched and 80 % unemployed, mainly because of the IMF sponsored ESAP, the livelihoods of millions of those dependant on flea –markets, informal trade and gold panning has been destroyed. With biting transport shortages hundreds of commuter buses are impounded and others thrown out of the city center.
However, the masses led by township women who now fill more than half of the police cells, are now responding back in fierce riots uniting MDC and Zanu PF supporters, forcing the weakly leaders of the opposition movement to call for some action. The MDC – dominated Broad Alliance which also includes the NCA and ZCTU, have in an Operation called Resistance Povo Yaramba, called for a nationwide stayaway – general strike on the 9 – 10th June. The Zimbabwe Social Forum Youths Council has endorsed this action. The urgency of the situation required action earlier than the 18th June action, initially bravely called for by WOZA. We say this is the only way to stop these barbarians and thousands must mass at Africa Unity Square on Thursday the 9th June when Mugabe officially opens Parliament and people are allowed to come whilst MDC Members of Parliament must walk out when Mugabe starts speaking, never to return to that useless pigsty again, and let Mugabe impose his iniquitous Senate and other constitutional amendments on his own. For unless we rise up now, expanding the brave resistance started in the townships into national mass actions paralyzing the regime, more is bound to come. Mugabe, after some silence, testing the waters, has now finally openly come out in support of Operation Restore Order – Murambasvina.
And let us be clear. This operation, fuelled by Zanu PF’s anger at its rejection by the urban poor in the recent elections, goes beyond just punishment of their supporters, as wimpishly claimed by MDC leaders, but is war on the entire urban poor on behalf of the rich. This is why victims have included war veterans, gold panners and informal traders in known fanatical Zanu PF supporting in urban and peri-urban areas, such as Whitecliff, Hatcliff and Chimoi and Nyadzonio camps near the Airport. The last two ironically named after liberation camps were thousands were massacred by the Muzorewa – Smith regime. And where is the west, the UK, USA, BBC, CNN and IMF in denouncing Mugabe as millions suffer, as they did with the invasion of the white farms? And in the midst of this hell, the British ambassador met Vice President Mujuru on the 3rd June to assure her of continued British support through DFID, the UN special envoy is in Harare and last week Bush met Mbeki, and not a single word on Operation Murambasvina despite it being a major story in Newsweek!!
No this is more than just cheap party politics. Mugabe and Gono have declared ‘2005 - the year to attract investment.’ With the elections over, their war on the poor to facilitate this, has just started. Through Operation Restore Order they are intent on sending a clear and unambiguous message to their capitalist paymasters in the world that the country has turned a new leaf and ready to do everything it takes to advance and protect the private property and wealth of the capitalists and the rich. The first step, being to ensure that the plebians are forced back into their place, after the years of lawlessness starting in 1997.
In the February Socialist Worker we had predicted as much: - “In ZANU PF we see the old guard winning a factional fight against the ‘young turks’, in a battle that is far less a case of age differencies but more of an ideological fight between the right-wing neo-liberal faction of the party and the hardliner, albeit opportunist anti-imperialist faction. Mugabe … swung his weight behind the old guard who have opportunistically used the gender cover through Mujuru to advance their anti-working people, anti-women neo-liberal agenda. Developments in Zanu signal a big shift or preparations for a big shift to the right, i.e. a return to full bloodied ESAP after the elections.”
It is therefore no coincidence that Operation Restore Order started simultaneously with Gono’s post election Monetary Policy Review in which he railed against every arm of the state and called upon them to urgently join his jihad against so-called economic sabotours. He promised billions to build new prisons, anticipating this massive crackdown. He promised the evicted white farmers he was inviting back, that this time they will be ‘backed by a resolute fight against any disruptions on the farms by the relevant arms of Government.’ A few days earlier Police Commissioner Chihuri, publicly savaged his senior officers for being ‘arm chair strategists’ soft on economic crime and demanded immediate action. Gono’s RBZ and Chihuri’s ZRP started holding joint workshops to unleash terror.
This is why in the last two issues of Socialist Worker, we have been warning that Gono has become a Chidzero – reicarnate, the deadliest enemy of working people, whatever their party.
However, even us have been surprised by the timing of this action. It is simply unprecedented in its scale, ferocity and brutality in the post 1980 period, rivaled and beaten only by the devastation visited upon peasants in Matebeleland and Midlands during Gukurahundi in the early 1980s. We had assumed that given its massive defeat in urban areas, Zanu PF would first cover its flanks by co-opting MDC leaders.
And how risky has been shown by the growing street battles in the townships of St Marys, Glen View, Budiriro and Glen Norah, shaming all those wont to cry out that Zimbabweans are docile.
And hirtheto, all, the main opposition MDC leaders, who in fact facilitated this action by loudly denouncing mass action after the rigged elections and joining the parliament gravy train, had done was issue weak and ineffectual statements and talk of going to court, as if the regime ever obeyed court orders it doesn’t’ like. But rising mass anger has forced them to call for some action, even if half-heartedly.
The first reason behind Operation Murambasvina is the massive and growing crisis of neoliberal capitalism in Zimbabwe, in the context of western imposed sanctions. Our rulers have resolved that the only way to get out of such crisis is to introduce a massive ESAP neoliberal programme, as demanded by the west and capitalists. Despite Gono, the economic crisis has worsened as shown by the dramatic collapse in the Zim dollar, the return of the black market, fuel, electricity shortages. Western governments led by the UK and USA have demanded that to lift sanctions and resume aid, the Zanu PF government must: restore ‘the rule of law’, accommodate their political allies the MDC and its supporting NGOs and return to a full scale IMF supervised ESAP programme. They demand the restoration of order and an end to the attacks on private property that have characterized Zimbabwe since 1997 as workers, the urban poor, peasants and war veterans rose up against the effects of ESAP. In the words In desperation Mugabe sought political survival by condoning and encouraging farm invasions and factory invasions and partially reversing ESAP through commandist policies like price controls, subsidies, refusal to devalue or privatize and interest regulation.
To ensure that Mugabe is not tempted to use his new two thirds majority any other way, the capitalists have increased the pressure, threatening an economic implosion, which could lead to mass insurrections like in Ukraine, Kyrgystan, Georgia or Serbia. To avoid this eventuality Mugabe, using Gono, is now ready to play ball and do the bidding of the capitalists – this is why this is called ‘operation restore order’ - to stop the lawlessness of the last six or so years. Gono was very open about this in his Review:
“Government has declared 2005 as the year of investment attraction …Government and Monetary Authorities have, over the last few months been working on a framework to regularize bilateral investment protection agreements that were inadvertently adversely affected during the emotive stages of the Land Reform Program, which has now been concluded …We are pleased to inform our potential investment partners with whom we have been negotiating for investment that Zimbabwe, as part of the global community, is fully aware of the need to protect and encourage inward investments as a tool to attract international capital mobilization… With the Parliamentary Elections now over, the marked peace … prevailing in the economy forms a solid launch – pad to deepen our turnaround thrust…we find ourselves at cross roads …Our Lord Jesus Christ also found himself at the crossroads of choice between pain and surrender …But God must have said ‘My Son take it like a man for it is written that You have to suffer the pain and die for the sins of mankind …’ We must realize as Zimbabweans today that we cannot postpone the turnaround, we have to take the pain like grown-ups and must know that the responsibility to turn around this economy squarely lies on our shoulders …”
So herein lies the three fundamental objectives of Operation Murambasvina: firstly and most importantly, it is to send the right signal to the local and global capitalist classes that the political elites of Zanu PF have turned a new leaf and are now ready and prepared to defend and advance the interests of capitalist private property at all costs including: re-introducing ESAP, restoring some of the former white farmers and destroying Zanu PF’s radical base which spearheaded the previous ‘lawlessness’ or jambanja to save Zanu PF from imminent defeat by MDC in 2 000. This is well captured in the words of John Worswick, chairman of the extreme right-wing white farmers group, JAG, on Gono’s invitation to the white farmers to come back: “Farmers are demanding the return of the rule of law, respect for property rights, security of tenure, uncontrolled markets and financial incentives as prerequisites for coming back to the farms.’ Secondly, the operation is designed to deal a decisive pre-emptive blow against all lingering and potential centres of resistance amongst the urban poor, workers, informal traders, war veterans, peasants before Gono unleashes the promised full pain of his turnaround programme, i.e. an ESAP hasher than the original one. Thirdly, just like under colonialism, to kick out of the towns as many as possible of the urban poor, whom they are calling ‘tsvina’ or dirt, because they again overwhelmingly rejected Zanu PF in the recent elections, by destroying their houses and livelihoods. With no homes or livelihood they will be forced to the rural areas and the new farms of black chefs to provide cheap labour .This also means the regime is relieved from spending money in towns on new houses, electricity, water, transport, clinics, schools for people not directly needed now in production and are political MDC –supporting ‘tsvinas.’ Thus in his Review Gono slashed 40% of money earlier earmarked for local authoritites and parastatals and instead gave it to agriculture, meant mainly for the new black farming elite and old white farmers, although some peasants will get some crumbs to make them happy. Zanu PF supporters in the urban areas and peri-urban areas are being sacrificed because they have failed to win seats for the party – after the elections, the party leaders have now calculated that they can attack the entire urban poor as part of launching their ESAP programme, including their own supporters there, but still remain their hold on power, as long as they do not attack their rural stronghold, which will in fact receive some levels of subsidies from Gono. The timing of this blow has been dictated by the conducive political conditions, currently existing, that is that the organs of resistance of the masses are at their weakest, organizationally and confidence wise, as discussed below.
Political Conditions that have enabled Operation Murambasvina
The first political condition is within Zanu PF itself, namely the defeat, post Tsholotsho, of the radical anti-imperialist base of Zanu PF composed of poor and ordinary peasants, war veterans and informal traders. They received support of anti-imperialist but opportunist intellectuals led by Jonathan Moyo, and whose massive strategic blunders at Tsholtosho, ultimately led to the victory of the neoliberal right-wing faction.
The later faction led by the so-called ‘old guard’, includes the likes of the Mujurus, Msika, Grace Mugabe, Nkomo, Zvinavashe, Dabengwa, Chombo and Gono. This faction has been more than willing, since 2000, to end the ‘lawlessness’ and re-intergrate Zimbabwe back into the neoliberal international community, which is why MDC so warmly welcomed the victory of Mujuru and the ‘election’ of Nkomo as Speaker of Parliament. Just after the 2 000 elections, when it first tried, with for instance Nkomo and Chombo trying to destroy informal settlements in Kuwadzana and WhiteCliff, it was stopped by the mass mobilization of the Zanu PF poor, led by war veterans. Now, bolstered by the crushing of their opponents at Congress including the expulsion of Moyo, the rise of Mujuru and the subsequent overwhelming election victory of Zanu PF, they are driving their advantage home, seeking to deliver the fatal blow to the party’s radical base ‘to attract investors.’ Operation Murambasvina could only be possible after Dabengwa, Zvinavashe and Mujuru had successfully dismembered and neutred the war veterans.
The second condition is the leadership crisis in the MDC, labour and the NGOs. The Mugabe regime has attacked now, in the midst of a massive economic crisis, because it is convinced MDC and ZCTU leaders will not lead their supporters to fight back. In the last few weeks, the leaderships of both organizations have been involved in severe power struggles, paralyzing their organizations. Critically MDC leaders announced two weeks ago, that they will not call for mass action to protest the rigged elections but go back to the courts and call on their western friends to increase pressure. Such cowardice, together with the deferment of congress by a year, so angered the youths, that they tried to physically kick out of office all members of the National Executive, excerpt Tsvangirai and Matongo and repossess party vehicles. Leaders assaulted, included socialist renegade Last Maengahama, whose sell-out tendencies had long been exposed before when he engineered an opportunist split in ISO to form the still born Left Wing in 2001.
Indeed the emerging alliance between the Zanu PF and MDC leaders was dramatically shown last week, when the police, despite being busy with brutalizing the poor, rushed to protect MDC secretary general, W. Ncube, whose house was under siege from angry party youths!
Trevor Ncube, owner of The Zimbabwe Independent / Standard / Mail and Guardian had been the first amongst the local capitalists to call for such an alliance, with the MDC as a junior partner, in order to prevent social revolution and save capitalism. He wrote on the 31st January 2003– “The public’s confidence in the MDC waned after its failure to devise strategies to challenge Zanu PF’s fraudulent victory…This political paralysis must not be allowed to continue any longer. It is time for those patriotic Zimbabweans inside and outside Zanu PF and MDC to put real or imagined differencies aside and work for the good of the nation … Let us all cut our losses whilst there is still time… The way forward is one that recognizes we have one common destiny and that none of us benefits from allowing the country to go to the dogs …” He reaffirmed this with another statement just before the March 2005 elections declaring, ‘Only Mugabe Can Save Zimbabwe.’
The ZCTU has been severely weakened by disillusionment amongst members because of the failure of most of its leaders to mobilize a fight for a living wage and to defend jobs and their corruption. General Secretary Chibhebhe recently received the CIA – imperialist inspired George Meany award complete with a reception at USA ambassador’s Dell’s house and subsequently invited another of Dell’s favourite local boys to a ZCTU general council meeting, Gono! And shockingly denounced the increments granted domest6ic workers as too high, opening the way for bosses and government to start manouvres to reverse such increments. Meanwhile the rest of the NGOs have been paralysed by fear of the long running NGOs Bill.
The above is why the rightwing neoliberals now in charge of Zanu PF and the state have calculated that now is the right time to attack.
Way Forward: Mobilise for mass action and fight back!
From the above, it is clear that no salvation will come from either appealing to Zanu PF leaders as some of the poor, in desperation, are now doing, or expecting MDC leaders to mobilize for a real fight.
The MDC leaders long made up their mind, that they will not lead serious street fights against Mugabe, (who knows it), which is why they are issuing weak and ineffectual statements and even now are afraid to openly and directly call for an uprising as Pius Ncube did, hiding behind the so-called Broad Alliance. Essentially, what Zanu PF is now doing, restoring ‘order’ and going back to the IMF, is exactly what they have been calling for in the last five years. Their statement and weak calls for mass action are only meant to pacify their angry supporters, whose suffering has been maximized because of their loyalty to MDC. But instead of protecting such supporters by mobilizing them into action, in the week Harare burned, all they could do was hold meetings to try and ensare the NCA and ZCTU into restarting the Broad Alliance! Thus the biggest mistake that all those who want to fight back, including rank and file MDC members, could do is to surrender leadership of action, including that of next week and 18 June, to such ‘leaders’, who will sure kill it like they did with the ‘Final Push’ of 2003.
Similarly, the end of week Zanu PF Central Committee meeting, chaired by Mugabe himself, fully endorsed Operation Murambasvina, supporting positions earlier taken by Chombo, Sithembiso Nyoni, Makwavarara and others. Officer Commanding Harare Senior Assistant Commissioner Edmore Veterai told over 2 000 police thugs, before dispatching them into action: ‘Why are you letting the people toss you around when you are the police? From tomorrow, l need reports on my desk saying that we have shot people. The President has given his full support for this operation so there is nothing to fear. You should treat this operation as war. Those people fighting back need to be taught bitter lessons because that is the only way to avoid further confrontation.”
In the meanwhile Zanu PF leaders offer ‘alternative places’ to affected persons, their real aim, like MDC leaders, being to pacify the anger of their supporters and to divide them from uniting with ordinary MDC supporters in fighting back as they did in Glen View, only to evict them, once things quieten.
The only way forward now is united protest action and strikes, uniting workers, housewives, informal traders, lodgers, war veterans, the youths from across the different parties, as happened in Glen View, as reported by the Daily Mirror, quoting a resident -‘ This is a protest … The whole of Glen View was here… Zanu PF, MDC and NAGG supporters were all involved, they are fighting back. They hit back soon after police had destroyed the vegetable markets.’
Such united action, in 1997 reversed the taxes, in the January 1998 Food Riots forced reversal of price increases of bread, in 2000 stopped the demolition of settlements in WhiteCliffe. Earlier on in 1978 a 1000 year old Iranian royal dictatorship was overthrown by riots which started when the poor protested the destruction of a shanty town by the King’s police. And in February 1917 in Russia a 900 year old Czar dictatorship was overthrown by demonstrations which were started by women demanding bread and peace.
Workers and trade unions must fully join the action, because even Gono’s new revised 100 – 120 wage % increments for the year is a joke, and in any case he also sent a coded message to bosses saying these figures were not binding, repeating what happened in the first half, when most unions ended up spending massive time at useless arbitrations. Their next biggest target are workers and organized labour, which is why they have infiltrated the ZCTU, causing confusion. Our rulers know that workers have the potential to mobilize all the other poor and paralyses the economy, as they did in 1997 – 98. Workers and radicals in ZCTU including the likes of its radical president L. Matombo, must move before Mugabe and Gono do. Since most unions are already bargaining for the second half of the year, it makes sense to unite all efforts, with the unions joining in the national protests in which one of the main central demands must be that government uses section 20 of the Labour Act to gazette a national minimum tax free, monthly wage of $2.5 million and 120% increments across the board. Wages for domestic workers must not be reduced and those for agriculture brought to the same level. This is not just talking. ZCTU successfully won such a 20% national increment in 1998 when it threatened a 5 day general strike. The ZCTU remains potentially the most powerful instrument of working people and the poor and must arise to take its leading position, in this the nation’s greatest hour of need.
We need all out mobilization for the coming mass actions starting with the 9 - 10th June stayaways and demonstrations, including possible mass action at Africa Unity Square when Mugabe officially opens the new Parliament. If the regime does not back down this must be followed by further mass actions, starting with the 18th June national and international demonstrations called for by WOZA which must grow into an indefinite general strike from the 20th June until victory. Simultaneously solidarity must be organized across the world, especially in places like the UK, SA and the USA with strong Zimbabwean populations, in actions that will expose the fake leftness and true neoliberal and rightwing colours of the Mugabe regime. A key responsibility in assisting with co-ordinating lies with the Zimbabwe Social Forum, which in the last two years has been developing a platform for many of these groups to learn to work together and has developed important alliances with other struggling masses and organizations of the poor in the region and internationally. ZSF, under pressure from its youths section, now seems to be rising up to this, its historic role, although a few cowardly middle class conservative elements are still trying to derail this. They must not be allowed to succeed at all costs!
To ensure success we must build and strengthen the emerging united front of the poor, spearheaded by the Zimbabwe Social Forum, to comprise all communities affected including informal traders, comutter bus people, residents of informal settlements, AIDS/HIV activists and war veterans together with trade unions, residents associations, churches, progressive and militant NGOs in particular the NCA, ZLHR and ZimRights, students, housewives, militant rank and file leaders and activists from the main political parties including MDC and Zanu PF and revolutionary socialists. This will also ensure that the MDC chefs and their NGO – labour friends in the Broad Alliance won’t be tempted to again stab us in the back, call off action as in 2003, and strike deals with the regime at the expense of the poor.
Our demands must include an immediate end to Operation Murambasvina, return of goods and full compensation for victims in flea markets and destroyed cabins and houses; restoration of rights to trade at areas of vendors’ choice; new houses and stands for lodgers; a minimum $2.5 million tax – free month wages for workers; free and fully state – funded health and education facilities for those earning below this sum; living allowances for pensioners, the elderly and war veterans; subsidies for inputs for peasants and rural development; drugs and living allowances for AIDS / HIV patients; the immediate resignation of Gono, Chihuri, Chombo and Makwavarara and most importantly to also reject the entire free market neoliberal ESAP policies of the IMF and Gono and the system of capitalism that breeds all this. Forward to gutsaruzhinji – socialism!
Our rulers, in their desperate efforts to protect themselves and the capitalist system they serve, have stirred a honesty’s nest and opened a great historic opportunity for working people here to unite and smash the poverty and dictatorship bred by their system of capitalism, as others are doing in places like Bolivia and Venezeuala. Now is our time. Our World is not for Sale! Povo Yaramba! Let Operation Murambasvina be turned into Operation Murambanhamo! Another Zimbabwe is Possible! Shinga Murombo! Jambanja Ndizvo!
At the university of Fes in Morocco 193 students are on hungerstrike now against the privatisation of their universities. The hungerstrike and the protests have been organised by the clandestine members of maoist and trotskiyst organisations. The slogan of the hungerstrike is: "We are communists. We love life. But we are prepared to die for it!"
We are very proud of your resistance against the privatisation of your universities. Uganda anarchists un-conditionally supports all the struggles you are waging against monarchist that are pimping your(future) universities to the World bank criminals. The neo-liberalist wants to control the world and hold our Brothers and Sisters at ransom when they feel like. Lets unite as workers of the world and fight global-pimps.
Forward with the National Union of Students in Morocco!
We shall continue to fight the dominance of the few!
ViVa NUS of Moroco!
New uganda tabloid
A model of the Virunga Mountains, Gorillas in the Mist' nature preserve, straddling the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Uganda.The elevation data is from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), which was designed to produce the first detailed near-global elevation model. The SRTM data was acquired in February 2000 during a flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.
We thought the Marathon project would be a very interesting experiment: No one knows how this Clandestine radio project might become. Recycling green technology, Kisoro anarchists came-up with this idea that new-media could be recycled into a clandestine radio stream and we could broadcast a people's radio from Muhavura(Virunga) mountains.
Project proposal: Alluta
24hr Live radio
Project Duration: 1 month
Content:Global community magazine, political sound-bites & Music
Participants: Open to all freedom fighters Mail:
Cost: energy & dedication
After Week 1
Free itunes download:
After Week 2
Week three: An experiment with a tabloid newspaper