Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Smash State Brutality and Persecution! Build Action and Defense Committees!

Image result for Zimbabwe labour strikes August 2016
Zimbabwe Teachers on Strike

The police and the judiciary, on behalf of the evil and anti-poor ZANU-PF government are brutalising and persecuting the democracy fighters and the poor who are fighting for a better life and a an accountable way of government. The past two months have witnessed a growing number of protests by civic groups, trade unions and opposition political parties(as well as counter protests by the youths aligned to the ruling party in its defence).The protests have mainly been against dictatorship, corruption and poverty. These concerns have united all the anti-government forces, including sections of the ruling party, with the resultant proposed solution being the resignation of the president (and the party) to pave way for new elections (under a “neutral” National Transitional Authority, NTA).In scenes reminiscent of the colonial era, the police has reacted with extreme and ruthless violence towards anyone excising the democratic right to protest and assemble. As we speak over fifty people have been severely beaten by the police with some in life threatening conditions. Apart from using tear gas and baton sticks, the regime also used water cannons to disperse crowds resulting in many injuries and the loss of life by an infant.

Many activists and fighters have been arrested by the state on trumped up charges of public violence and attempting to topple the government. As we speak over two hundred fighters are languishing in jails with some like Linda Musariri clocking two months. The judiciary, working under executive instructions, has been denying bail to most of the activists and employing delaying tactics in order to frustrate and harass the comrades. Now the farmer judges and prosecutors are under clear instructions to set an example to anyone who will dare confront this thuggish regime. One comrade collapsed in court due to lack of food and medical attention for those beaten (comrade Ostallos has been denied medical attention to injuries inflicted by beatings at the ZANU-PF HQ).The prison services has joined the bandwagon of state brutality denying inmates food from outside (a deliberate plan to starve and kill them) and medication for those suffering from chronic ailments. Of the more than seventy comrades arrested during the demonstration calling for electoral reforms, only ten were given bail. This group included security guards who were caught in the cross and the old. As for the rest the regime is intent on sending a clear message that it will not reform itself out of power. The harsh tone of the chief government prosecutor betrays a cannibalistic appetite to devour the comrades and instil fear in everyone.

The months of July and August have been very decisive in re-awakening the spirit of self-activity in the masses, albeit in sporadic actions. Prior to July, groups like the Occupy Movement of Zimbabwe, Tajamuka, vendors association and the main reformist opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai, MDCT-T has been holding marches, sit-ins and protests demanding an end to corruption and against the introduction of bond notes (a local currency pegged to the US dollar). It was only with the massive protests by cross border, against a ban on importing household goods, informal traders at the country’s main border post that things started to change. This was soon followed with riots by commuter bus drivers and conductors against rampant police corruption on the roads and a growing number of road blocks. Soon to follow was the massive strike by all civil servants against the failure by government to pay them on time. The protests by cross borders, riots by commuter bus drivers and conductors and more importantly the on-going (at the time) strike by civil servants ensured the “success” of the first national shutdown on the 6th of July.

The subsequent shutdowns, without the critical involvement of labour, were mere propaganda stunts. Ever since the first shutdown, who’s so called success was attributed wrongly(and deliberately) and for political purposes to pastor Evan Mawire of Thisflag online campaign, we have been witnessing protests and marches on a very regular basis (at least two per week) mainly by the Tajamuka outfit, a conglomeration of youth members from political parties and civic groups. The MDC-T, sensing the danger of being swept aside, quickly organised its youths to action under the MyZimbabwe label and it was during the maiden demonstration by this outfit that the youths and police fought running battles forcing businesses to a standstill. Unlike other previous campaigns which were calling for the resignation of Mugabe, this group (in order to snatch the initiative) demanded that the regime should be forced to leave power now as 2018 (time for the next elections) was a long time away. Soon after the demonstration the state went around arresting leading members of the party and other democracy activists.

The mega demonstration by most opposition political parties, scheduled two days after the one by MDC-T youths, was brutally attacked by the police despite legal authority to hold the demo. This was when a large number of party and social activists were arrested and beaten. In the meantime the government, through a police officer, has gazetted a ban on demonstrations In Harare for two weeks up to the 16th of September. Tajamuka, NAVUZ (the vendors association) and the MDCT-T youth group have vowed to go ahead with demonstrations despite the ban. The protests and industrial actions have shaken the regime and there is no consensus on how to deal with them. The moderate and imperialist leaning faction headed by the other vice president, Mnangagwa is suggesting that there should be dialogue to resolve issues being raised by the protestors whilst the hard-line comprador capitalist faction headed by Mugabe’s wife (read Mugabe) prefers to crush the protests which are threatening its power, accumulation of wealth and the interests of the imperialist powers especially Chinese and Russian. Mugabe has lashed at the judiciary for being lenient with protestors and allowing demonstrations to take place and it’s not surprising that the judiciary has convicted Maengahama and two other comrades on the he basis of a politically motivated murder case. The state clearly knows what is at stake as evidenced by its serious strategists (Charamba, Jonathan Moyo and Chinamasa) who are calling for decisive action against the poor and workers of this country. It is time that the working people take stock of the situation on the ground and draw relevant lessons from the previous actions in search of a commensurate response to the attacks and provocations by the government on behalf of its imperialist handlers.

It’s time for the organised bodies of workers, students, urban poor, informal workers, small scale traders, poor farmers and youths to come together and spearhead the anti-government protests. The message should go beyond being against poverty and dictatorship to include the real cause of poverty and dictatorship which is capitalism, historically expressed in austerity measures being imposed by imperialist and semi-colonial states alike. The political parties, and their surrogates, are only interested in changing the political playing fields and ensure that their chances of getting into power are enhanced. It is incumbent upon the working poor to affirm that austerity, poverty and dictatorship can only be defeated in the workplaces, the streets, townships and colleges and not through electoral reforms and voting.

Clearly the question should not be about which party will rule but which class will prevail. The protests against the government should move beyond the reformist and miss-leading superficial demands towards demands that conquer a better life for workers and the poor through the abolition of the capitalist system which breeds poverty, inequality and dictatorship (overt as in semi colonial states like Zimbabwe and Covert as in imperialist states like USA where an election is reduced to a choice between two candidates imposed by big capital).

In order to win the working poor should organise themselves in workplaces, colleges, townships and the streets and be prepared to defend themselves against police and state brutality and take UNITED ACTION to defend themselves both physically in the streets and legally the comrades who are in detention. While others may want to pray for the demonstrators and arrested we must organise, train and mobilise worker led defence guards. To be able to financially sustain worker’s lawyers and families an international campaign to publicise the cases of the arrested  as well as demand that labour take the lead to free all political  and class struggle prisoners must be taken. As such we must fight for:

-An immediate end to police brutality and persecution by the state, the release of all political prisoners and withdrawal of the conviction against Maengahama and fellow comrades!
-For workers and oppressed self-defence from capitalist state repression!
-Free quality health care for all! For clinics in every township. For socialised medical care under the control of medical service providers, nurses and doctors.
-For free quality education for all! From pre-school and 24 hour day care through primary, secondary college and university. For social education run by students, teachers and parents.
-For jobs for all! Full unionisation of the workforce. For contracts that provide living wages and benefits. For safe workplaces with health and safety protections that eliminate speed ups and provide for personal protection and safe work practices. Share the work: Thirty hours work for forty hours pay!
-For workers council control over prices and wages.
-For easy credit terms with highly regulated no-usurious rates for small businesses, informal industries and street vendors.
-Land for the landless.
-Open books of the corporations and business of the capitalist and imperialist companies which do not provide benefits the masses require.
-Nationalisation of industries owned by imperialism and the native capitalists who do not provide the needs of the masses.
-For workers control of nationalised industries.
-For a Congress of all the fighting groups to call for the formation of action and defence committees.
-Coordination of action and defence committees to prepare for united actions culminating in an indefinite general strike to end ZANU-PF rule and open the road for workers and poor farmers’ government.
-For the workers and poor farmers’ government that expropriates the expropriators.
-For the revolutionary workers party that fights for socialist revolution internationally building the world party of socialist revolution.
-For regional alliances of workers states that make socialist revolution permanent.

07 September 2016, Harare.

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