democractic movements as terrorism

The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is the Zimbabwean political party focused on promoting democracy in a country where it has become very dangerous to associate with politics. Formed as an opposition party to the Zimbabwean African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), which is led by current President Robert Mugabe, the MDC brings together a number of civil society groups. The MDC is now labeled as a terrorist organization by Mugabe’s government, political activists are regularly beaten and arrested, and known members of the MDC disappear. The MDC front webpage tells of three recent deaths of people closely affiliated with the MDC. The site notes that this is becoming an all too common.

In a 2000 parlimentary election MDC candidates won overwhelming majorities, but there were calls of unfair elections and the issue remains caught up in Zimbabwe’s Supreme Court. The South African Development Community (SADC) and the South African Ministerial Observer team both maintain their positions that the election was free and fair. MDC members say there was harassment and force used by the ZANU-PF government at the polls. In 2004 the MDC split over the decision to take part in the 2005 parlimentary elections because of the “illegitimate outcome” of the last election. The MDC voted to take part in the elections (33-31), but Morgan Tsvangirai voted the decision down saying it was a waste of time. The MDC then split into Tsvangirai’s decision supporters and pro-senate members, led by the former MDC deputy. Some say that the split was ethnic based.

There are two main ethnic groups in Zimbabwe, the Shona (75%) and Ndebele (19%). Ndebele was an ethnic category that grew out of the military state created by the British in 1830. The ethnic term of Ndebele encompassed people of many different origins and in fact Shona people lived in this conquered area, but were placed under the Ndebele label. However, the ethnic identifications of and between these two groups were very low and there was no historical enmity between them. In 1896-7 these ethnic groups actually joined in the Ndebele-Shona Chimurenga resistance to the British. Guerilla forces grew and became political parties, but neither was purely ethnic based and recruited across the board. Needless to say the ‘ethnic conflict’ in Zimbabwe was the least serious of all African ethnic conflicts. The greatest conflict was between Black and White in Zimbabwe. There have been recent talks to reunite the split political parties.

This is the real historical problem that has led to Zimbabwe’s current problems. The problem in Zimbabwe can be summed up to a battle between Pan-Africanism and Neo-colonialism. Mugabe has called for White people to leave and so it makes the situation difficult when British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has said that he is working closely with the MDC to create a regime change. Well there may be a high degree of internal pressure, the external powers cannot be dismissed. In order for the Western powers to achieve the goal of regime change they will use their secret services, CIA, network os military bases, and economic tactics. There is this other side of the argument that says maybe the MDC is not promoting democracy at all and is really a facade for Westerners to experiment in African politics yet again (Zaire’s Lumumba?).

Back to democracy, regardless of conspiracies the basics for democarcy do not exist in Zimbabwe. Recently six MDC members were arrested under the “Law and Order Act” for holding illegal political meetings. The 2008 Presidential election is close and the MDC and ZANU-PF are in negotiations. Tsvangirai has said that the MDC wants to participate, but they want to ensure that it is a free and fair election. The MDC wants to participate to create democratic change and not to give legitimacy to a system favoring one side. The MDC is demanding that there be international control of the elections and that millions of Zimbabweans abroad be allowed to vote, a new voters’ roll and the appointment of an independent Zimbabwe Election Commission to supervise the polls. South African president, Thabo Mbeki has been chosen by the SADC to mediate the negotiations between the two political parties. There is worry that Mugabe will not comply with demands.

Zimbabwe Timeline from: 1200-2007

she’s taking on more water; the zimbabwean titanic

As a ship with a hole takes on water, so too does a state or government sink with a corrupt and ineffective government. Zimbabwe is sinking, many have noted this before, but presently its plunge to the depths seems to be even more imminent. President Mugabe of Zimbabwe is losing control of his country and is losing support from his allies. Zambian President Mwanawasa has called the Zimbabwean state to be like a <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6475851.stm
“>titanic and the BBC notes that, “he said the country’s economic difficulties were forcing its citizens to leave like passengers jumping from the sinking ship to save their lives.” Zambia had previously been a proponent of quiet diplomacy. However, now even South Africa’s criticism is increasing, but has not voiced outright criticism of the Zimbabwean government. The United Kingdom has stated that the solution to the issue of Zimbabwe will be found within Africa. This statment may be gaining strength as the economic crises continue and the devaluation of the Zimbabwean currency continues and fuel costs soar. The final paragraph of this BBC article states, “More than 80% of Zimbabweans are living in poverty, with chronic unemployment and inflation running at more than 1,700% – the highest in the world.”

Yesterday President Mugabe attended <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6499059.stm
“>’crunch talks’ in Tanzania as the southern African leaders seek to find a solution to Zimbabwe. Many African leaders see Mugabe as a hero for standing against colonial rule, however I am not so sure that a defiance of colonial rule includes not serving your people and allowing them to suffer. As these talks occurred, the headquarters of the leading opposition to Zimbabwe’s government was raided by police. This has become a common theme. The Zimbabwean government has continually attacked any opposition, demonstration, or dissent. Mugabe arrived at the Tanzanian summit and as he did it appeared as though the police had begun a new crackdown on the opposition. The Movement for Democratic Change’s leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was among 20 people detained in a police raid yesterday. Some of those arrested were accused of fire-bombing, but Tsvangirai was not among them. The opposition is seen by the Zimbabwean administration as a Western puppet to overthrow Mugabe. The Information Minister told the BBC, “You [the West] are too much concerned with your Tsvangirai because he is your puppet and you make him an international hero.”

Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, now says that he favors elections next year. Mugabe had previously said that he would like to postpone elections until 2010 to extend his term, yet his own party, the Zanu-PF party, has stated that they were, “”anxious to get another candidate”. Gone in a year? Possibly, losing support of his own party, his people, and now his own resolve seems to be failing. When dissent is not allowed, opposition is forceable put down, and people are not permitted to voice concern with their government then how can you expect your boat to float?

However I am just a Westerner writing about what I have seen and what I have read. Don’t take it from me. Check out this blog entry from the This is Zimbabwe blog. The entry linked to is a clip from the South African news about the issue of Zimbabwe.