[Leftist Critic is an independent writer, researcher, and comrade who cares about the world around them. Other than posting on radical subreddits, they also tweet infrequently at @leftistcriticabout about the murderous US empire, international solidarity with nations and peoples under attack, and provide necessary criticism of the Western “Left.” They can be reached at leftistcritic@linuxmail.org.]

By Leftist Critic

On November 16, I wrote about the Zimbabwean military’s actions, which seem to be a coup and/or inter-party struggle within the ZANU-PF, news gobbled up by the bourgeois media to slam Robert Mugabe as an “authoritarian” and “dictator” who has been “repressive” to the Zimbabwean people. Since then as those acute to world events know, there have been a rash of developments. While new stories about Zimbabwe come out every day, I will try to summarize what has happened from November 16 until November 29 (the date this article was written), then examine what the future of Zimbabwe may hold, especially for the Zimbabwean proletariat.

Summary of the events of the past days

On November 16, the leader of the discredited Western-backed puppet opposition, the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai declared that “in the interest of the people, Mr. Robert Mugabe must resign and step down immediately” and Mugabe held his ground even as groups like the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) remained cautiously optimistic about the coup, saying that “President Robert Mugabe must hand over political power to the next generation” since the “Zimbabwe Defence Force [ZDF] is within its rights to protect Zimbabwe from factions that are opportunistically using Zimbabwe for self-enrichment,” along with other statements demanding amnesty for Mugabe, and opposing any plan to restore land ownership to the dispossessed white farmers. Unfortunately, it seems their hopes for a peaceful transition to the next generation are quickly evaporating.[1] 

The following day, the Commander Bulawayo Brigade Colonel Ratham Moyo of the ZDF urged the “country’s uniformed forces are there to protect the country at all cost” saying that the county’s destiny should be “guided by its touching history which saw several men and women perishing in their quest to see a liberated Zimbabwe.” Additionally, ZANU-PF’s Youth League’s Kudzanai Chipanga apologized for criticizing the ZDF, as he fell in line, even accusing others of being the author of the statement. In terms of Mugabe, he appeared at a university graduation ceremony while the ZANU-PF seemed to turn on him as bourgeois media claimed, with state media in Zimbabwe reporting that eight provinces and the ZANU-PF called for his resignation. [2] At the same time, the ZDF claimed that progress has been made in their military action, while calling on people to stay patriotic, as some wondered if the revolution was at the crossroads.

The next day after that, Nov 18, the pressure on Mugabe seemed to increase. For one, bourgeois media reported that the ZANU-PF was set to “sack” him and that crowds were rejoicing, of course only on Harare, and not in the rural areas where the ZANU-PF has its strongest support. [3] Even as there was a “solidarity” rally against Mugabe which seemed to consist of those who detested him and his policies for a while (a.k.a. the neoliberal “opposition” and The Guardian seemed to say Mugabe’s power was “close to collapse,” negotiations continued between Mugabe and ZDF generals. It is also worth noting that the rally against Mugabe was led by war vets which are strongly anti-Mugabe.

By Nov 19, the next day, Mugabe continued to hold his ground. The date of resignation which was set by the ZANU-PF for him, under pressure from elements which favored the coup plotters, passed, and the party prepared to expel him, recalling him as First Secretary. [4] Later that day, Mugabe addressed the Zimbabwean people. While those in the West were shocked that he did not “announce his resignation,” he did acknowledge that the ZDF had brought issues to his attention which were of deep concern, commended the “ZDF for maintaining peace, law and order and allowing expressing of grievances with a high level of dignity,” said that the problems “in the ruling ZANU PF were caused by lack of unity which was affecting the economy,” and added that “the country’s independence was won after a protracted struggle whose goals must drive the future.”[5] As the war vets kept up their anti-Mugabe posture, even having a “sit-in” in Harare, the chairman of the group, Cde Chris Mutsvangwa said that “Zimbabweans should not rest until President Mugabe vacates office.” Even so, negotiations still went on, as the ZDF was glad to see that people engaged in “composure, order and discipline during various marches which occurred at the weekend without any public violence” and Dr Misheck Sibanda, the Chief Secretary to the Office of the President and Cabinet, advised all government “ministers, permanent secretaries and civil servants in general that government machinery should continue to function as usual,” even with the military action. More significantly, the impeachment process began, as they had not received the “anticipated confirmation of his resignation from the Speaker of Parliament” since the negotiations continued. This was live-blogged by the state media, The Herald, and the deliberations continued into the following day.

That following day, Nov 21,  Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, the 2nd vice president who Mugabe fired, called on Mugabe to leave the presidency, and agreed with Mugabe that he would return to the country. The same day the anti-Mugabe war veterans approached Zimbabwe’s high court, looking for an order to legitimize the action by the ZDF on legal grounds! If that isn’t enough, Mugabe called for a cabinet meeting, but ministers were said to have snubbed the meeting (or maybe the military stopped them from coming?). Then there was the bombshell: Mugabe resigned with some apprehension about the aftermath in the Western bourgeois media. Even so, General Chiwenga “said acts of vengeful retribution or trying to settle scores will be dealt with severely and above all he encouraged religious organisations across denominations to pray for peace and stability in Zimbabwe.” [6] His resignation letter was as follows:

The honourable Jacob Mudenda, notice of resignation as President of the Republic of Zimbabwe in terms of the provisions of Section 96 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe (Amendment Number 20), 2013. Following my verbal communication with the Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda at 13:53 hours, 21st November, 2017 intimating my intention to resign as the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, I Robert Gabriel Mugabe in terms of section 96 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe hereby formally tender my resignation as the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe with immediate effect. My decision to resign is voluntary from my heart and arises for my concern for the people of Zimbabwe and my desire for the smooth, peaceful and non violent transfer of power that underpins national security, peace and stability. Kindly give public notice of my resignation as soon as possible as required by section 96 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.”…The announcement was followed by jubilation among legislators and members of the public that had come to witness the impeachment proceedings at the HICC [Harare International Conference Centre]. The joint sitting of the Houses of Parliament had been convened to discuss the President’s impeachment after he had failed to resign on Monday, as directed by ZANU-PF’s Central Committee on Sunday.

On the next day, November 22, the ZANU-PF nominated Mnangagwa to fill Mugabe’s seat as President. The same day, ZDF commander General Constantino Guveya Nyikadzino Chiwenga said that “against the backdrop of the latest developments in our country, your defence and security services would want to appeal to all Zimbabweans across the political divide to exercise maximum restraint and observe law and order to the fullest.” Additionally, The Herald declared that Mugabe’s resignation was a “new beginning for Zimbabwe,” noted that “rallies are no substitute for meeting real people with real concerns and real ideas” and gave recommendations to President Mnangagwa. Other articles the same day noted that the ZANU-PF welcomed the resignation of President Mugabe, with some saying that “the writing was on the wall,” said that the G40 group “admitted defeat in its quest to have Mrs Grace Mugabe be the country’s next president,” while Mnangagwa said in front of the ZANU-PF’s headquarters that “I appeal to all progressive Zimbabweans to come together so that we grow our economy, we want peace, we want jobs jobs jobs, we need the cooperation of our neighbours.”

By November 23, preparations for Mnangagwa’s inauguration were clear as the Zimbabwean state media said he was getting a “hero’s welcome.” The following day, November 24, he gave an inauguration speech. He declared that he would serve as “the president of all citizens, regardless of color, creed, religion, tribe or political affiliation,”while also saying that “those who lost property would receive compensation,” as Reuters reported, which was talked in various forums.[7] He also said that there should be no vengeful retribution, echoing the ZDF as noted earlier. Later Xinhua added quotes from his speech, saying that “as we build a new democratic Zimbabwe, we ask those who have punished us in the past to reconsider their economic and political sanctions against us…The bottom line is an economy which is back on its feet. Only that way can we recover our economy, create jobs and reduce poverty.” The same day, the IMF mission chief in Zimbabwe, Gene Leon said that “the economic situation in Zimbabwe remains very difficult. Immediate action is critical to reduce the deficit to a sustainable level, accelerate structural reforms, and re-engage with the international community to access much needed financial support,” which was even seen negatively by a prominent Trotskyist group, WSWS. [8] Later that day, Nature published an article which legitimized imperial propaganda, declaring that “those working in the nation hope that the shift will unlock and attract research funds from overseas’ and claiming that the ZANU-PF’s “programme of land expropriation…destroyed investment in its agricultural sector and undermined confidence in the economy” leading millions “to flee the country, many into neighbouring South Africa.” Of course, that’s the type of propaganda that would make capitalists cheer from the rooftops like a bunch of giddy schoolchildren.

The following day, the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) noted that the court declared that the military action, the coup, was constitutional! Not a good precedent to go forward. The Herald had varying articles on Mnangagwa’s speech that same day. Some noted that “his speech was thick on issues and thin on rhetoric.” Other quoted from Mnangagwa, who said that

…our economic policy will be predicated on our agriculture, which is the mainstay and on creating conditions for an investment-led economic recovery that puts premium on job creation. Key choices will have to be made to attract foreign direct investment to tackle high levels of unemployment, while transforming our economy towards the tertiary. The many skilled Zimbabweans who have left the country for various reasons must now come into the broad economic calculus designed for our recovery and take-off. The fabulous natural resources that we have as a country must now be exploited for national good, through mutually gainful partnerships with international investors whose presence in our midst must be valued and secured. The bottom line is an economy which is back on its feet and in which a variety of players make choices without doubts and in an environment shorn of fickle policy shifts and unpredictability. Only that way can we recover this economy, create jobs for our youths and reduce poverty for all our people who must witness real, positive changes in their lives. People must be able to access their earnings and savings as and when they need them. We must shed misbehaviours and acts of indiscipline which have characterised the past. Acts of corruption must stop forthwith. Where these occur, swift justice must be served to show each other and all, that crime and other acts of economic sabotage can only guarantee ruin to perpetrators. Grief awaits those who depart from the path of virtue and clean business…It cannot be business as usual. You now have to roll up your sleeves in readiness to deliver. We have an economy to recover, a people to serve. Each and every one of us must now earn their hour, day, week and month at work. Gone are the days of absenteeism and desultory application, days of unduly delaying and forestalling decisions and services in the hope of extorting dirty rewards. The culture in Government just has to change, unseating those little ‘gods’ idly sitting in public offices, for a busy, empathetic civil service that Zimbabwe surely deserves. I stand here today to say that our country is ready for a sturdy re-engagement programme with all nations of the world. As we bear no malice towards any nations, we ask those who have punished us in the past to reconsider their economic and political sanctions against us. Whatever misunderstandings may have subsisted in the past, let these make way to a new beginning which sees us relating to one another in multi-layered, mutually beneficial ways as equal and reciprocally dependent partners. In this global world, no nation is, can, or needs to be an island, one unto itself. Solidarity and partnerships are and will always be the way. We are ready to embrace each and all, on principles of mutual respect and common humanity. We will take definite steps to re-engage those nations who have had issues with us in the past. Equally, will take measures to ensure that we acknowledge and begin to show commitment towards settling our debts and enter into new partnerships. My Government is committed to compensating those farmers from whom land was taken, in terms of the laws for the land. Complex issues of land tenure will have to be addressed urgently to ensure finality to the ownership and management of this key resource, which is central to national stability and sustained economic recovery.

He also gave, as noted by The Herald, a special tribute to a “surviving father of our nation, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe…let us all accept and acknowledge his immense contribution towards the building of our nation.”

As the days continued to pass, the state media seemed to be optimistic about Mnangagwa. They reported that “people in Midlands province” welcomed his swearing-in, some saying that he is a “business-minded person” and others saying that “the President also said the cash crunch will be attended to and corruption will be dealt with.” It was also said that by Fidelis Mukonori, a priest, that Mugabe would stay as a “senior citizen” who gives advice, with Leo Mugabe adding that “we didn’t offer him anything… He resigned for the good of Zimbabwe. He is actually looking forward to his new life – farming and staying at the rural home. He has taken it well.” [9] This same priest also said that “the man [Mugabe] had already realized that this is the end of the road” when the military intervened. At the same time, the opposition press claimed that “cash-strapped Zimbabwe has reportedly offered a $10 million payout to deposed President Robert Mugabe,” who already receives that “a $150,000 annual pension.” It almost seems like a news story aimed to smear Mugabe.

By November 27, the Zimbabwe Republic Police resumed their regularly duties, with the spokesperson of ZDF warned that “criminals that were taking advantage of the situation to loot and illegally occupy other people’s properties.” The same day the state media of Zimbabwe noted that Mnangagwa’s speech was patiently followed in “bottle stores, homes, clubs and workplaces” while others praised his words on “job creation and economic development…peace and security…that all investments would be safe in Zimbabwe would likely attract international partners.”

The following day, November 28, there were major changes. Mnangagwa has dissolved the cabinet Mugabe had put in place, appointing Patrick Chinamasa to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and Simbarashe Mumbengegwi to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, along with pledging that “government will immediately implement sweeping measures across sectors to stimulate economic growth and create employment.” It was also reported that Mnangagwa’s speech “has struck the right chords in business corridors and optimism,” meaning that he is viewed “as pro-business.” The same article noted that Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), and Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers were pleased with him anymore. Also that day, the Zimbabwean parliament “expelled five legislators…Ignatious Chombo (Zvimba North),Saviour Kasukuwere (Mount Darwin South), Professor Jonathan Moyo (Tsholotsho North), Kudzanayi Chipanga (Makoni West) and Mandiitawepi Chimene (Makoni South),” leaving those vacancies vacant. Additionally it was noted that advocate “Ray Hemington Goba remains the substantive Prosecutor-General of Zimbabwe,” an appointment that Mugabe made! Finally there was a story that Mnangagwa would have a “three-month amnesty window for the return of public funds illegally stashed abroad by individuals and companies” while saying that “putting together a “leaner” government, which would see the merging of some departments to enhance efficiency…Mnangagwa, however, said only workers of retirement age would be laid off.” He also said, as they reported, that “my government will have no tolerance for bureaucratic slothfulness, which is quick to brandish procedures as an excuse for stalling service delivery to citizens, investors and other stakeholders.”[10]

On November 29, The Herald condemned the G40 group, while saying that “a mass political party like ZANU-PF cannot survive when it is detached from the people.” It was also applauded that the budget for the party congress would be slashed and the said party congress would reduce the number of days from six to three. As a party publication, basically, The Herald supported this, saying that they all “point to a new culture that we all expect to emerge from the ruling party, as the new leader rallies everyone to put their shoulders to the wheel.” Other articles in the same publication confirmed this. One was a reprinted article, from New Ziana, noting that the 2018 national budget is expected to be around $4 billion with new policies “targeted at jump-starting the economy through boosting exports, creating jobs and attracting foreign investment. The other article noted that President Mnangagwa pledged to have an “essentially leaner” government, firing those in the civil service who have “reached retirement age,” working on “rebuilding of our national economy” and having a focus on “the implementation of practical solutions to grow our economy, create jobs and boost the incomes of our people.”

Before ending this section, we should remember those who snarled at Mugabe. Of course, oil man Rex Tillerson threatened Zimbabwe, the DPRK, and thanked puppet African governments for letting US imperialism expand across the African continent. Following suit, the Editorial Board of Chicago Tribune declared that “…no one should shed tears that his [Mugabe] grip on power has been shaken” while adding that “the country’s need for new leadership is hard to deny,” claiming that “the ruling regime is a showcase of repression, corruption and impunity. Democracy is just a memory.” Even as they added that “if a transfer is underway, the world should not expect too much” they basically endorsed the coup, saying that “the army’s intervention gives the country a chance of moving toward democracy and the rule of law. But Zimbabwe has had that chance before.” [11] Even Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report seemed to throw Mugabe (and the ZANU-PF) under the bus. He claimed that Mugabe had a fluid political view over the years, that “Zimbabwe also took part in the invasion of Congo,” along with saying that “the Zimbabwean army and some of the president’s cronies are thought to have lucrative mining and other interests in Congo to this day…Zimbabwe could be far worse off than it is.” As a collorary to that, he repeated Ajamu Baraka’s declaration that “Zimbabwe is not Cuba” and proceeded to smear the ZANU-PF, saying that “despite some progress, ZANU-PF seems to have failed to use its four decades of state power to organize the handoff to the masses of its people the power to run their own economy, their own country. The fruits of ZANU-PF’s successes and failures will be reaped by its people.” You can dislike the ZANU-PF, but it’s not fair to even say this in the slightest, as anyone with sense realizes. I had expected better from Black Agenda Report to be honest. The same goes for Binoy Kampmark. He basically sides with Western imperialists, writing that “the strongman lost some muscle this week. Robert Mugabe, a leader of the liberation movement that transformed colonially pressed Rhodesia into post-colonial Zimbabwe, had issued a letter of resignation…The ruling ZANU-PF party was itself the progenitor of internal struggles that eventually saw military intervention.”

If that isn’t enough, the Real News Network which bills itself as anti-establishment, anti-corporate and progressive interviewed a man named Horace Campbell who smeared Mugabe. He of course held the imperialist line, declaring that the struggle continues among ZANU-PF factions “as to who will inherit the structures of the state to exploit the Zimbabwean people” and claiming that there needs to be a “national transitional authority to rule Zimbabwe,” the same idea endorsed by Tsvangirai! Additionally, he slammed the land redistribution program, claiming it only gave land to Mugabe’s “cronies,” saying that the military has always “repressed” the people, that Mugabe is apparently no radical, and basically that Mugabe stands against the liberation struggle. The only thing he says which is valid is saying that Mugabe isn’t radical, which has some merit, as I’ve written about before. Then there’s the article The Atlantic that called for imperial meddling in Zimbabwe, also supporting Tsvangirai’s idea, and then saying that Zimbabwe will need “external support,” declaring that “the United States could back democratic forces by strategically countering the apparent support for Mnangagwa from South Africa and Britain. Washington would do well, on the other hand, to advocate for a genuinely representative political transition and a timely path to credible elections.” [12] They further ad that US assistance can “expedite electoral changes and raise the odds that Zimbabwe’s new leadership will reflect the will of the people” and further says that the “road to recovery [for Zimbabwe] inevitably runs through Washington” while holding out the “hope of a fresh start and a more prosperous future” as would be expected by such imperialist scum. Finally there’s an article in the Green Left Weekly, a purported socialist publication out of Australia, by Patrick Bond, which holds the “opposition line,” slamming Mugabe’s speech before his resignation, says that “if donor aid to the new regime is not forthcoming, a desperation mentality will rapidly emerge…It appears that in this context, only the Zimbabwean government’s full-fledged relegitimation can attract sufficient foreign aid to avoid an economic meltdown,” which claiming that the MDC should join the government even though it a Western-backed puppet force. Clearly, Bond has really has fallen off his rocker and into the pool of mud.

What happened in the coup?

There have been varying accounts of what happened. Eric Draitser wrote in MintPress News what happened, from his determination. He argued that “a more critical analysis reveals that this episode is decidedly different from the countless coups that have taken place in the post-colonial history of Africa” because the ZDF “intervened to block one faction of the ruling party from assuming power in favor of another faction…[part of the] the intra-party infighting within the ZANU-PF.” He added that during the military’s actions, “high-profile arrests of key government ministers close to Grace Mugabe” which are deemed “criminals,” meaning that they laid the “groundwork for a transition of power from Mugabe to other members of the old guard of the party.” He ends by saying that “one can only hope that, for the people of Zimbabwe, the political and international rivalries at the heart of this crisis translate into a stable politics and a better life.”

A few days later, Abayomi Azikiwe wrote in the newspaper of the Workers World Party, Workers World, his account of what happened. He seemed to also see it as a “factional struggle” within the ZANU-PF, saying that the eight-day “project” by the military, called “Operation Restore Legacy” led to Mugabe’s resignation. He added that while it seemed on the surface to be “the outcome of divisions within ZANU-PF,” with recent divisions coming more to the forefront when Mnangagwa was fired as vice president “in early November,” that here was more to it: that “the ZDF was only targeting ‘criminals’ surrounding the president in order to prevent a further deterioration of the social situation, which could become violent.” He added that Mugabe did not resign on November 20, passing the ZANU-PF Central Committee’s deadline on November 20, so party members in Parliament threatened “impeachment resolutions.” Furthermore, he added that “four important aspects of ZANU-PF’s domestic and foreign policy will be significant in the days and weeks to come in order to assess the Mnangagwa government’s direction,” saying that the land reform program, “the Indigenization policy,” a  “commitment to regional integration and industrialization, both within SADC and the AU” and keeping “Africom out of Zimbabwe.” With that, he ended a similar way to Draitser, arguing that “it is up to the Zimbabwean people themselves to chart a future course.”

An article by Gregory Elich, printed in Dissident Voice and CounterPunch, gave more details than Azikiwe or Draitser. He noted that back in 2015, “Mnangagwa began reaching out to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss plans to implement a five-year transition government, in which both men would play a leading role” with the compensation and re-integration of “dispossessed former owners of large-scale farms” making Mugabe fear he would reverse land reform. In July of this year, Jonathan Moyo “played a damning video that exposed Mnangagwa’s plans,” accusing Mnangagwa of “working to systematically undermine President Robert Mugabe by capturing the party and state institutions,” with General Chiwenga “deeply involved” in such plans. In response, “Mnangagwa delivered an 85-page report to President Mugabe in September,” saying that he was loyal, accusing Moyo of being “a CIA agent”and went on in such a fashion, with the evidence for “Mnangagwa’s perfidy was too abundant to ignore, and on November 9 he was expelled from ZANU-PF and removed from his position as one of Zimbabwe’s two vice presidents.” After that “Mnangagwa turned up in South Africa and issued a statement threatening that President Mugabe and those around him” would be driven from the party, echoed by General Chiwenga. The article further added that “Grace Mugabe has sent mixed signals on succession,” arguing that Mugabe blundered “in not arranging an orderly transition to a successor while he was in a stronger political position,” with the failure leaving the door open for ” schemers like Mnangagwa and Chiwenga.” As for the coup itself, the “army…on the night of November 14-15,” eliminated any “opposition by attacking policemen at the Parliament building and seizing the police paramilitary camp and armory” with gunfire throughout the city, while the “military hunted down and arrested every Mugabe supporter and member of G40 it could lay its hands on, not shying from the use of violence.” The article adds that “President Mugabe refused to buckle under intimidation, describing the coup as illegal,” with Mugabe “not playing ball” in getting Mnangagwa in his place. As a result of the “absence of Robert Mugabe’s supporters, [the] ZANU-PF voted to expel the president from the party, and in his place appointed Emmerson Mnangagwa as head of the party.” He ends with a sorrowful note, saying that “it can be expected that it will not be long before Western economic advisors are paying visits to the transitional government, urging it to enact reforms to liberalize the economy to suit Western investors.”

The western bourgeois media has a similar story. One Wall Street Journal article scoffs (rightly) that Mugabe’s “resignation was largely seen as a victory for the people of Zimbabwe—an expression of their collective will,” saying point-blank that “his ouster resulted from a struggle between elites.”[13] In terms of context, it was noted that “Mnangagwa had deep ties to the military” while the “police loyal to Mr. Mugabe positioned themselves at the airport,” to arrest Gen. Chiwenga for treason but that “the army had been tipped off, and its commandos were also deployed there—disguised as airport workers,” so the police scattered. Not only was there “little resistance from the security apparatus that had protected Mr. Mugabe for decades,” to the military’s action, but by the time Mugabe awoke on Wednesday, his “presidential palace had become a jail.”. Later on, when the day progressed, the “presidential guards who patrol the palace were already collaborating with the rebellion” with Mugabe’s head of security, Albert Ngulube, detained and beaten by the military for trying to see what was happening. They also noted that “Mr. Mugabe stunned the nation by accepting the military’s intervention but saying nothing about quitting.”

There is a similar account of events by Reuters.[14] They noted that on November 16, there was a “tense meeting with…military top brass” by Mugabe who said to bring in a copy of the constitution “which lays out that the president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” further arguing that “the army was the problem, according to the sources present.” Even so, he indicated that “perhaps they could find a solution together.” As a result, there was “an extraordinary five-day standoff between Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s supreme law on one side, and the military, his party and Zimbabwe’s people [only ones allied with the opposition and Mnangagwa’s ZANU-PF faction] on the other” with the generals wanted Mugabe to leave but have a peaceful transition of power “that would not irreparably tarnish the administration aiming to take over, according to multiple military and political sources.” It is also worth noting that documents from the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO), noted that “the army was backing Emmerson Mnangagwa, then vice president, to succeed Mugabe when the time came” with a report detailing how the former would “cooperate with Mugabe’s political foes in order to revive the economy.” As a result of that, on October 30, “Mugabe confronted the army chief  [Chiwenga] about his ties to Mnangagwa” and reportedly said that “going against Grace would cost him his life,” with Mnangagwa ousted on November 6,ultimately ending up in China, where “he met up with Chiwenga.” Back to the coup itself, “two armored vehicles rolled into the Pockets Hill headquarters of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)” on November 14, sealing off the site, “stormed into the studios where they accosted staff, snatching their phones and halting programs” with the ZBC switching to “broadcasting pop music videos.” Ngulube tried to confront “the soldiers and threatened to shoot them, [but] they beat him up and detained him.” The article ends by saying that Mugabe stuck it out as “Chiwenga and his forces tried to engineer a peaceful, and quasi-legal, exit for the long-serving leader” but that ultimately Mugabe “accepted defeat” as they declare.

In summary, these stories all seem to have a common theme: intra-party struggles within the ZANU-PF. That seems evident from the nature and rhetoric of the ZDF, as I noted in my previous article. Additionally, it reasonable to say that the action by the military was not a “peaceful” as it seemed to be often portrayed but was a violent action, shrouded in respectability so it would not be called a “coup.” The result of these events are not completely known at the present, but the outlook doesn’t look good, as explained in the next and final section of this article.

Where does Zimbabwe go from here?

The future of the Republic of Zimbabwe seems inherently uncertain. The indications do not seem good at all. The Mnangagwa’s indications of attracting foreign investment from Western capitalists, firing certain public servants, compensating some white farmers for confiscated land, looking to re-join the British Commonwealth (pure British neocolonialism), and seeming to be strongly “pro-business,” along with much more, are all alarm bells. It seems that maybe even privatization of state assets may be on the table, if you read between the lines. The new cabinet appointee Patrick Chinamasa (Finance Minister)was previously the finance minister under Mugabe, is a strong ally of Mnangagwa and seems to be dedicated to the land reform program to an extent. The same is the case for Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Foreign Minister). So, they seem to be placeholders for now. But that likely will change soon, without a doubt.

Mnangagwa, even more than Mugabe, seems to favor the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie. They would like a more “productive” economy and more jobs, along with more power in the government. Perhaps they even want the IMF and World Bank to come back, which Mugabe and the ZANU-PF broke with in the later 1990s, as I’ve written about before. Currently, as Gallup seems to indicate, even as Mugabe’s approval ratings were “at 69% in April and May,” there is a higher faith in the “military that just detained him than in their national government.” The pollings indicate that currently “three in four Zimbabweans said they were unable to afford food in the past year (74%) and were finding it difficult or very difficult to get by on their household income (78%).” While you could say this is the doing of the ZANU-PF and their failed policies under the direction of Mugabe, this line of argument would only aid the victorious coup plotters who seem to consist of a pro-imperialist faction of the ZANU-PF, as disturbing as that sounds. It seems more evident that the damage to Zimbabwe’s economy is because of overarching Western-backed sanctions, aimed to promote bourgeois “democracy” and undermine Mugabe.

Some may be optimistic about the road forward but I am not in the slightest. If this coup brings back those who exploited Zimbabwe and its proletariat for so many years, the British and with them the greedy Americans, then people will be much worse off than they are now, without a doubt. While the current policies in Zimbabwe (like majority Black ownership and land reform) are socially democratic and not socialist, removing them would leave the country prey to the vultures of capitalism, just like Puerto Rico. The removal of comrade Mugabe was a loss for the Zimbabwean proletariat, from his victory in March 1980, and past the deadly “ceasefire” in Zimbabwe the year before.

Michael Roberts, a British & Marxist economist, wrote that Marx proposed two types of rent in the capitalist economy: absolute rent where “monopoly ownership of an asset (land) could mean the extraction of a share of surplus value from the capitalist process without investment in labour and machinery to produce commodities” and differential rent which came from the “ability of some capitalist producers to sell at a cost below that of more inefficient producers and so extract a surplus profit” leading to “blocking entry to the market… controlling patents and making cartel deals.” The latter, he adds, could be “achieved in agriculture by better yielding land (nature)” or through another form of rent, a technological rent” which includes the “monopolising [of] technical innovation.” He further writes that capitalism “cannot tolerate any ‘eternal’ monopoly” with a continual battle “to increase profit and the share of the market,” putting monopolies “continually under threat from new rivals, new technologies and international competitors.” As such, the “concentration and centralisation of capital increases,” while the “monopolies redistribute profit to themselves in the form of ‘rent’ but do not create profit” since profit itself is “the result of the exploitation of labour.” In terms of the Zimbabwean situation, if Mnangagwa allows the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie to get what they want, while letting in the Western bourgeoisie, allowing capital to concentrate in fewer hands, especially if the land reform program is relaxed or even eliminated. As such, capitalists would be engaging in differential rent, and further exploiting the Zimbabwean proletariat.

In another post by Roberts, he writes about rising wealth inequality worldwide, noting that the “top 1%” or the world capitalist class is made up of Americans (half of them), “Britons, Japanese, French and German,” along with those from “Russia, Brazil and South Africa,” constituting, as a result, “the owners and controllers of the capitalist system and the strategists and policy makers of imperialism.” He adds that inequality within the “major capitalist economies increases as capital is accumulated and concentrated in ever smaller groups.” The same would happen in Zimbabwe if Mnangagwa gave in and/or cooperated with the varying bourgeoisie, Zimbabwean and Western. The “owners and controllers of the capitalist system” would be able to play with Zimbabwe like a puppet on a stage, a frightening prospect. The Chinese seem to be willing to play ball with the new government but should be trust the new rulers? After all, the “reform” they aim to put in place, applauded by The Herald, does not seem to benefit the proletariat from all the indications so far.

Roberts has one other article which is also relevant here. After arguing that it is is “not possible to pull quotes from Marx like random rocks in a stone quarry” with each quote placed in its appropriate context, he says that “capitalism is now global, finance capital has expanded dramatically, imperialist power blocs have developed and capital has become ever more concentrated and centralised.” He adds to this that only a unified global proletariat can bring about socialism, resulting in a “revolutionary transformation of the capitalist mode of production,” saying that capitalism could stagger forward with certain “revival in profitability after new slumps and the renewed opportunity to exploit new sources of labour in Africa and the periphery.” As a result, he argues, “it will require the action of the global working class to achieve socialism. It won’t come just because capitalism flounders economically.”

To build off what Roberts said, in terms of Zimbabwe, the “imperialist power blocs” concentrated mainly in the West would love to enter into the “closed” Zimbabwean market (not really closed, but just volatile and more open to non-Western countries). Going forward, we, as comrades in the “industrial” West should stand with the Zimbabwean proletariat. Even so, we should be wary of siding with the Western-backed puppet opposition in the country, which may be incorporated in the government. While I hope for the best as always, I fear for the worst. We should stand with whatever forces have the interests of the Zimbabwean proletariat at heart. Those who govern the country at the present under an unelected man, Mnangagwa, put in the presidency thanks to the military’s action, the latter of which is a worrying prospect for the future of Zimbabwean democracy. Only time will tell what happens in Zimbabwe.


Notes:

[1] MacDonald Dzirutwe, “Zimbabwe’s Mugabe digs in heels as ruling party moves to depose him,” CNN, Nov 16, 2017.

[2] Kevin Sieff, “Big protest rally planned in Zimbabwe as Mugabe hangs on,” Washington Post, Nov 17, 2017; Jeffrey Moyo and Alan Cowell, “After Coup, Even Mugabe’s Own Party Is Dumping Him,” New York Times, Nov 17, 2017; Farai Sevenzo and Dominique van Heerden, “Mugabe supporters mull his fate: ‘It’s as if their father has died’,” CNN, Nov 18, 2017; David Mckenzie, Euan McKirdy and Angela Dewan, “Zimbabwe ruling party says Mugabe should step down,” Nov 17, 2017.

[3] BBC News, “Zimbabwe crowds rejoice as they demand end to Mugabe rule,” Nov 18, 2017; Joe Brock, MacDonald Dzirutwe, “Party set to sack Mugabe, Zimbabweans celebrate expected downfall,” Reuters, Nov 18, 2017; Jason Burke and Emma Graham-Harrison, “Zimbabwe: Mugabe’s grip on power appears close to collapse,” The Guardian, Nov 18, 2017; Kevin Sieff, “Thousands march in Zimbabwe to demand Mugabe step down, but when and if remain in question,” Washington Post, Nov 18, 2017.

[4] Amy Held and Scott Neuman, “No Word From Zimbabwe’s Mugabe As Deadline For His Resignation Passes,” NPR, Nov 19, 2017; David McKenzie, Brent Swails, Angela Dewan and Marilia Brocchetto, “Zimbabwe’s Mugabe vows to stay in power despite pressure to resign,” CNN, Nov 19, 2017; Godfrey Marawanyika, Brian Latham, and Desmond Kumbuka, “Zimbabwe Ruling-Party Leaders Gather to Decide Mugabe’s Fate,” Nov 19, 2017.

[5] Katelyn Newman, “Will Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Resign or Be Impeached?,” US News & World Report, Nov 20, 2017.

[6] William Saunderson-Meyer,  “Commentary: Africa’s deft handling of Zimbabwe’s ‘coup’,” Reuters, Nov 21, 2017; MacDonald Dzirutwe, “Zimbabwe’s Mugabe resigns, ending four decades of rule,” Reuters, Nov 21, 2017; Jason Burke, “‘The people are free’: Zimbabweans react to the fall of Robert Mugabe,” The Guardian, Nov 21, 2017; Christina Goldbaum, “Mugabe Resigns at Last, Opening the Door to New Tyrants,” The Daily Beast, Nov 21, 2017; Stephen Chan, “Those coming after Robert Mugabe are not good men,” CNN, Nov 21, 2017; Peter Thornycroft, Roland Oliphant, and Louise Burke, “Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe finally resigns, sparking wild jubilation on the streets of Harare,” The Telegraph, Nov 21, 2017.

[7] Emelia Sithole-Matarise, “Mnangagwa vows to rebuild Zimbabwe and serve all citizens,” Reuters, Nov 23, 2017; Angela Dewan and Brent Swails, “Mugabe’s ex-No. 2 man to become Zimbabwe president on Friday,” CNN, Nov 23, 2017. Says Nov. 23 for Reuters article because of time difference between New York and Harare.

[8] BBC News, “Zimbabwe needs immediate economic reforms, warns IMF,” Nov 23, 2017; Sarah Wild, “Zimbabwe’s researchers hope political change will revitalize science,” Nature, Nov 24, 2017.

[9] BBC News, “Mugabe will play elder statesman role in Zimbabwe, says mediator,” Nov 26, 2017; Christopher Torchia, “Mugabe was relieved after quitting, Zimbabwean mediator says,” Associated Press, Nov 26, 2017.

[10] MacDonald Dzirutwe, “Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa opens amnesty window for return of stolen funds,” Reuters, Nov 28, 2017.

[11] Chicago Tribune, “Editorial: Can Zimbabwe move past Mugabe?,” Nov 17, 2017

[12] Todd Moss and Jeffrey Smith, “The Meaning of Robert Mugabe’s Stunning Non-Resignation,” The Atlantic, Nov 19, 2017.

[13] Gabriele Steinhauser, Joe Parkinson, and Bernard Mpofu, “Waking Up Alone: How Elite Plotters Toppled Mugabe’s 37-Year Reign,” Wall Street Journal, Nov 21, 2017.

[14] MacDonald Dzirutwe, Joe Brock, and Ed Cropley, “Special Report: ‘Treacherous shenanigans’ – The inside story of Mugabe’s downfall,” Reuters, Nov 26, 2017.

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