Zimbabwe's two major political parties agreed to a new draft constitution Jan. 17. After nearly two years of deliberation, the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), reached an agreement that may replace the country's current constitution and pave the way for a presidential election later this year. This draft proposal will go before the Zimbabwean people for approval in a nationwide referendum later this year.
Following the agreement, President Robert Mugabe, of ZANU-PF, called for peaceful presidential elections as early as March 2013. Fearing defeat, the unpopular MDC immediately came out against holding elections.
Most analysts believe that Mugabe and his party, ZANU-PF, will handily defeat Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC at the polls. An August 2012 survey by Freedom House, a pro-imperialist Western think-tank, found that more than 31% of people support ZANU-PF compared to the 20% who support MDC in the upcoming elections. The study found that the MDC had lost 18% support since 2010 while ZANU-PF had gained 17% support in the same period. Even Zimbabwe Vigil, a pro-MDC firm based in Britain, predicted in September 2012 that ZANU-PF would win the upcoming elections because of corruption in the MDC.
The draft constitution comes amid the profound revolutionary changes taking place in Zimbabwe. White colonists, never more than 4.3% of the population, ruled Zimbabwe for many decades. Then Zimbabweans waged a 15-year liberation war against white minority rule that led to negotiations and ended Ian Smith’s racist regime in 1980. This victory established African majority rule and most whites left the country. Still, wealthy whites continued controlling most of Zimbabwe's good farmland and resources. Former colonial power Britain claimed to support land reform and resettlement, but failed to fund it. Britain ignored their agreements with Zimbabwe’s government and stirred up trouble.
After a series of austerity measures forced upon Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the people of Zimbabwe began occupying large farms and taking control of their own resources in 2000. President Mugabe and ZANU-PF supported these farm occupations through the Fast Track Land Reform Program. The reform redistributed 7 million hectares of Zimbabwe's land to more than a million small farmers. Many large landowners were dispossessed and their land given to the rightful owners.
The land reform drastically changed ownership and power relations in Zimbabwe. The U.S. and Britain responded with economic sanctions, sending Zimbabwe down a destructive path of hyperinflation and economic turmoil. In the 2008 presidential election, Britain and the U.S. tried to use Zimbabwe's economic crisis to violently destabilize the country and oust Mugabe, trying to replace him with the puppets of the MDC.
Although the MDC won a plurality of the votes in the first round of the 2008 presidential election, they withdrew from the runoff in an attempt to delegitimize the democratic process. In the runoff, Mugabe defeated the MDC candidate Tsvangirai in a landslide. Mugabe nearly doubled his absolute vote total from the first round of elections - 1.1 million in the first round to 2.2 million in the runoff. Shortly after the election, Mugabe and ZANU-PF formed a power-sharing government with the MDC that included Tsvangirai as prime minister.
Land reform is not the only area of Zimbabwe's economy experiencing serious progressive change. In 2012, the Zimbabwean government began enforcing the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Bill, which requires at least 50% black local ownership of all businesses and companies. This policy is extremely popular among the Zimbabwean people, who see it as means of exercising their right to control over their own resources. By November 2012, Zimbabwe had indigenized 120 major mining companies and created 400 Employee Share Ownership Trusts to better redistribute the nation's wealth to the people.
In spite of the continued sanctions and economic warfare from the U.S. and Britain, Zimbabwe's economy continues to recover and has grown at a remarkable rate since 2009. According to Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti, the country saw 8.1% growth in 2010 and 9.3% growth in 2011. Agricultural production experienced growth from the land reform as well, with tobacco production expanding from 2008's record low of 105 million pounds to 330 million pounds in 2012. As Zimbabwe recovers, more black Zimbabweans will share in their nation's wealth than in the 33 years since the end of white minority rule, leading to a more balanced, collective economy.
As Zimbabwe approaches its 2013 elections, the danger of imperialist meddling in southern Africa runs high. Wikileaks revealed in August last year that Tsvangirai, of the MDC, had used his 2009 visit to U.S. President Barack Obama to lobby for greater sanctions on Zimbabwe in order to bring down Mugabe and ZANU-PF. Banks and corporations in the U.S. and Britain have a vested commercial interest in seeing an end to ZANU-PF's progressive, national democratic policies and anti-imperialism. True to form, the MDC showed their loyalty to their foreign masters by unveiling the Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and Environment Plan on Nov. 29 of 2012. This scheme proposes to reverse ZANU-PF's indigenization policy, facilitating U.S. and British corporate domination.
It's no surprise that the people of Zimbabwe have turned against the MDC, given the party's allegiance to Britain and the U.S., at the expense of the people. However, the US, Britain, France and other Western European powers are waging a campaign to re-colonize Africa, most recently seen in the U.S.-backed French military intervention in Mali.
Military interventions by imperialist powers in Somalia, Ivory Coast, Libya, Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now Mali demonstrate the willingness of the U.S. and Western Europe to use military force against governments or people that resist their dominance.
Progressive activists, organizers and revolutionaries in the U.S. must resolutely oppose any attempt by Western powers to intervene in Zimbabwe, especially with elections on the horizon. People in the U.S. should support the right of the Zimbabwean people to determine their own destiny, as expressed through the policies of ZANU-PF, and they should fight moves for the re-colonization of Africa.