The army has always been and is still part of the problem in Zimbabwe: SAFTU
The South Federation of Trade Unions strongly has always warned that a failure to pursue a revolutionary agenda will lead to chaos and things falling apart.
President Mugabe massacred 20 000 people in Matabeleland in 1983 and, just like the ANC government who mowed down 34 mineworkers in 2012, Mugabe faced no consequences for mass murder. Mugabe has brutally suppressed workers, crushed and divided the ZCTU to the point that it is irrelevant today, the same as COSATU which was divided by the ANC factions.
SADC too has blood in its hands. They, under the leadership of our own Thabo Mbeki, abetted the stealing of democracy in 2008 when Mugabe lost the election but was helped to stay in power. A government of national unity in terms completely in favour of Mugabe was installed. Today regrettably the SADC and South Africa in particular lacks credibility and cannot be trusted by those who remember their role in the stealing of elections in 2008.
Although at the moment it falls short of a coup, the army’s actions last night have already led to the seizure of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and forced its staff to leave at gunpoint. It is a blatant attack on democratic rights and is clearly not motivated by anything but factional fighting within the ruing class and ruling party ZanuPF.
The army actions are not intending to save Zimbabweans from the total collapse of their economy and political system but are meant to reinforce a faction that too has played a critical role in sending millions of Zimbabweans out of their country as economic refugees.
The move followed a media conference at which General Constantino Chiwenga condemned President Mugabe’s sacking of Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week: “We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in".
He seemed to be referring to the increasingly open efforts of Grace Mugabe - who is widely believed to be wanting to replace her 93-year-old husband when he dies - to elevate her public position and publicly undermine her opponents - one of whom is Mnangagwa.
SAFTU is highly critical of Mugabe who betrayed the people who won their independence from British imperialism in 1980. He turned from a revolutionary militant and political leader into a president who implemented the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the IMF and World Bank.
When those neoliberal policies led to economic decline and failed to rescue the people from poverty. Mugabe did an about-turn, at least in words, and pursued a program of seizing white-owned farms, 70 percent of which remained in the hands of 4,000 large-scale, mostly white owners.
He also started resisting the implementation of IMF plans, which had some initial success, but left the basic structure of the country unchanged. The working class became disillusioned. The ZCTU refused to endorse Zanu-PF in the 1990 elections and in 1996 there was a militant two week-long strike by government workers, which ended up winning important concessions from the government.
The economy began to collapse and the currency went into free-fall in 2007-2008, when inflation reached 500 billion percent, from which it has never recovered. There is no money in the banks, imported goods are running out and economists say that, by some measures, inflation is now at 50 percent a month. The country cannot repay its foreign and domestic debts, and both healthcare and education services are collapsing
In order to survive through this ongoing crisis, Mugabe has degenerated into a brutal and corrupt dictator, who has rigged elections, attacked human rights and created a kleptocracy, like the one developing apace in South Africa. This has led to splits in ZanuPF, which just like that on the ANC are not over policy differences but in the fight to sort out the eating queue.
Also as in the ANC both factions claim demagogically to the ‘protecting the revolution’, while each is pursuing increasingly counter-revolutionary, pro-capitalist strategies. Much as we oppose the Mugabe regime, we are under no illusions that at the military or the Mnangagwa faction have any better solutions to the economic crisis.
Mnangagwa, according to intelligence documents reviewed by Reuters this year, has been planning to revitalise the economy by bringing back thousands of white farmers kicked off their land nearly two decades ago and patching up relations with the the World Bank and IMF.
‘The Crocodile’ Mnangagwa butchered opponents of Mugabe for so long and now he is crying because that he is victim of the same thing. He is the Blade Nzimande of Zimbabwe.
SAFTU will strongly opposes any military coup, which will only compound the already insufferable poverty and hardship for the poor, with even more ruthless attacks on human rights and civil liberties than those already imposed by Mugabe’s regime.
General Chiwenga is certainly no democrat. He is on record as saying that, as a public servant he is partisan, and that he and his military colleagues would not recognise the opposition party, the MDC, if it wins an election and would not salute its leader Morgan Tsvangirai if he became president.
The army generals are not concerned with improving the lives of the people, but only engaging in a factional battle for resources and power, for which the workers and the poor will pay an even higher price than they are now if the military take over.
The only way to remove Mugabe is by mass action from the workers and civil society, in elections but also in the streets and workplaces, given that elections have been rigged to ensure that ZanuPF remains in power. Only then can this potentially rich country recover and build a better life for all Zimbabweans.
Statement issued by Zwelinzima Vavi, SAFTU General Secretary, 15 November 2017