Defend Zimbabwe

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 4, May/June 1980

In our previous issue, we saluted the glorious anti-imperialist victory of ZANU and ZAPU. A bloody blow to the imperialists! An occasion for joy for anti-imperialists throughout the world! In concluding our article, we warned:

‘In the months ahead as the wounded imperialist hawks circle Zimbabwe, the need for solidarity action in Britain will be as urgent as it was during the Lancaster House talks and the elections. All the anti-imperialists in Britain must rally both to celebrate and to defend the historic victory of the Patriotic Front.'

The victory has been achieved. But imperialism is preparing to counterattack. It is preparing its plans to overturn the victory of the people, for it is not prepared to tolerate its ill-gotten gains, the wealth it has robbed from the people being swept from its hands. And to defend its plunder it will use any means it can to deny the people the fruits of their victory.


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Imperialism eyes renewed plunder of Zimbabwe in post-Mugabe era

Robert Mugabe Zimbabwe President

Robert Mugabe has finally been deposed as Zimbabwe’s President. After 37 years, it was unsurprising that it took a military coup to unseat the 93-year-old. Mugabe’s leadership in the national liberation struggle movement ZANU-PF against minority white rule in the 1960s and 1970s placed him in an unassailable position in his early years as President, but he took an undemocratic and corrupt turn. The new government failed to reform land ownership among the black masses who had been robbed of their birthright by British colonialism. Nonetheless Mugabe was never forgiven by the imperialist powers for his part in the destruction of white minority rule. His ousting does not mean progress for Zimbabwe. The US, Britain and the EU, eyeing future investments, all welcomed the development. They see this as an opportunity to liberalise Zimbabwe’s economy and plunder its resources – it has close to 40 different minerals and one of the largest known coal-bed methane gas deposits in Africa. Barnaby Philips reports.

On 15 November 2017, the Zimbabwean military placed Mugabe under house arrest, saying that they were ‘targeting criminals around him who are causing social and economic suffering’. Yet the military was acting on behalf of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who, as one of his closest aides, is implicated in the corruption associated with Mugabe, who has been granted immunity and will be allowed to keep his private assets. Mnangagwa, 75, has been installed as the new President. Tellingly, The Guardian (24 November) described him as ‘more business friendly and pragmatic than many other senior officials within ZANU-PF’.


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Victory! Landslide win for ZANU and ZAPU

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 3 March/April 1980 

We salute the landslide victory of ZANU and ZAPU in the Zimbabwean elections. It will give an enormous impetus to the struggle against the racist apartheid regime in South Africa. This overwhelming victory will be joyfully greeted by the Irish people fighting against the same ruthless British imperialism. A body blow to the British ruling class, it is a great step forward for the British working class and the world-wide movement against imperialism.

Despite the enormous obstacles placed in its way by the British state and the racist Rhodesian regime the Patriotic Front has won 77 out of 80 seats. The imperialist puppet Muzorewa won 3 seats thus demonstrating conclusively that the Muzorewa regime existed solely by virtue of the backing it received from Britain and South Africa.

British Imperialism Exposed

How thoroughly the Patriotic Front's overwhelming victory exposes British imperialism! The British had claimed that the Patriotic Front had no mass support, that it existed by intimidating the Zimbabwean masses, that the Patriotic Front forces were 'terrorists' and ‘criminals'. The British state has made the exact same claim about every liberation movement it has confronted. It says the same about the Provisional Republican Movement in Ireland today. It attempts to justify its own terror, torture and repression of Irish republicans on these very same grounds.


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Hands Off Zimbabwe: 19 Years of Torture for Freedom

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No.2 - January/February 1980

At a press conference in London, Eddison Zvobgo, spokesman for ZANU, paid this moving tribute to Maurice Myagumbo who had arrived in Britain that day, having been released after 19 years' detention by the racist Rhodesian regime.

Let us meet a very strange, unusual individual. He is a beautiful man, one of the most beautiful people this world has been privileged to have. He has just been released from Salisbury Prison after 19 years in prison, Maurice Myagumbo. Nothing special about him. He started as a waiter in South Africa, waiting for whites in their hotels in Johannesburg. He moved to East London, was promoted, he became a chef.

Then he moved to Port Elizabeth from East London and became aware of the oppression in South Africa of all people. He quit his job and came home in 1956. In 1957 he was among the first five to launch the nationalist struggle in our country, the African National Congress. They had one truck, it was his. That car vanished, disintegrated, during the next two years. He was detained in 1959 by Whitehead. We saw no more Maurice until 1963 — he was released after Winston Field fell. We formed ZANU together. He vanished once again in 1964. Zimbabweans did not see anything of Maurice again until 1975, 11 years after. Immediately he came out, he intensified his campaign for the liberation of the country, recruiting, day and night, forces to cross the border into Mozambique. He was again arrested, tried and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

He is out here. Just a personal note. His daughter is here. She was born as a result of the visit of her mother, his wife, to a detention camp in 1960. She saw him when she was three years old in 1963 when we formed ZANU. Then he vanished. She grew up and did not know her father. He came out in 1975. She was now here in Britain as a student. He vanished four months after he came out — back to jail. She got married and had two children. She was born when he was behind bars for freedom. Two of his grandchildren have been born when he has been behind bars for freedom. Something the world has not seen very often. He's a grandfather, his daughter was born when he was in jail, his two grandchildren have been born when he has been in jail. He is a beautiful person. And for what remains to free Zimbabwe he will be there. Never has history been so made by living people than is the case in Zimbabwe. Maurice Myagumbo is it. You can sum it all up — he is it. Zimbabwean history here. He saw it when nationalism began. Talk of torture and pain and suffering he has been through it. Let us clap to 19 years of torture for freedom.


Hands Off Zimbabwe! - Interview with Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No 2 - January/February 1980

The following interview was given to Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! by Comrade President Mugabe — President ZANU — Patriotic Front. The interview took place at Heathrow Airport on [22 December 1979] — just before President Mugabe flew out of Britain. It is the last interview he gave before leaving Britain.

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!: What positions would you like organisations in this country to take on the settlement, and what would you like us to do over the coming weeks and months in your support?

Comrade President Robert Mugabe: The struggle hasn't ended. It's only just begun in our view. In the sense that if all goes well during the elections and we emerge as the government there will still be another form of struggle. But there's going to be lots of work in reconstruction, resettling people. In the initial period we will expect all the support groups we have here in Britain and elsewhere to concentrate their efforts in enabling us to resettle our people. There are many refugees, if not more refugees inside the country than outside the country. There is also the question of working to aid us at the present moment when we are campaigning for elections.


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Hands off Zimbabwe! Victory to the Patriotic Front


Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No 2 - January/February 1980

The most dangerous stage of the Zimbabwean liberation struggle has now been reached. The Lancaster House settlement has not ended the war but has taken it to a new and perilous phase. Perilous for the Patriotic Front and the black masses of Zimbabwe. The same forces which underlay the war continue to exist. The suffering and injustice which drove the people of Zimbabwe to take up arms under the leadership of the Patriotic Front still exists. The same reactionary racist state apparatus still exists. The same imperialist interests which have tried time and again to 'stabilise' Southern Africa by procuring the defeat of the Patriotic Front still exist. The victory of the Patriotic Front still threatens the ability of imperialism to exploit the resources and the masses in Southern Africa. Most of all it threatens the very existence of the bastion of reaction — the South African apartheid state itself.


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Hands off Zimbabwe!

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 1 – November/December 1979

‘David Owen in drag' was how one Rhodesian newspaper described Margaret Thatcher after her apparently surprising change of position at the Lusaka conference in early August. In April the Tory election manifesto had promised to gain international recognition for a Muzorewa type regime, and the Conservative delegation which reported on the elections in May argued that sanctions should be lifted. The Tory government was forced to come to the conference table in September because of the decisive successes of the Patriotic Front, and because they thought this might be the only way to salvage something from Rhodesia.

The struggle in Zimbabwe is now at a decisive stage and offers the anti-imperialist forces an opportunity which will not recur for many years. The armed forces of the Patriotic Front have driven the Rhodesian army and British imperialism into a corner. For many years they have fought heroically against a vicious and racist regime. British imperialism is failing to meet its NATO commitment, unable to defeat the national liberation movement of the Irish people, and it cannot at the moment conveniently send a military force of any consequence to Zimbabwe. It can only hope to buy time by attempting to split the Patriotic Front or to coerce the Front Line states into withdrawing their support for the liberation movement. The British ruling class is aware of the gigantic issues at stake. A victory for the Zimbabwean people would mean an enormous threat to the beleaguered apartheid regime of South Africa, and a smashing blow to the arrogant confidence of the British ruling class. Such a victory would be a victory for the working class and the oppressed peoples of the world of even greater importance than the defeat of American imperialism in Vietnam.

The key factor in the present situation is that the Patriotic Front forces are winning the war against the white racist regime, and are thus well on the way to such a historic victory. They control 4/5 of the area of Zimbabwe and 1/5 of the population lives in the liberated zone. In their raids on Salisbury and Bulawayo earlier this year, they showed their ability to strike right at the heart of the racist regime. Lieutenant-General Peter Walls, the chief commander of the Rhodesian armed forces, has publicly admitted that there is no possibility of his army winning the war, and that the response to 1.5 million leaflets dropped in the liberated zone offering amnesty to 'guerillas' who surrendered was a 'mere trickle' (in fact it was about 100, compared to an estimated total of 15,000 freedom fighters). As a last measure of desperation, the call up now extends to all white men up to 60 years old. Even this is ineffective, given that so many white Rhodesians are voting with their feet, so that an increasingly large proportion of the Rhodesian army consists of foreign mercenaries — ZAPU estimates put this as high as 43%.

It is only the success of the Patriotic Front forces which has forced British imperialism and Smith to the conference tables, and made them apply the thin and patchy cosmetic of the Muzorewa regime. The 1976 Geneva conferences, the 77-78 Anglo-American plan, championed by David Owen with the full support of the Labour Party, and now the Muzorewa constitution, all foundered on the rock of the armed resistance of the Zimbabwean people.

Faced with this reality, Thatcher adopted a different line at Lusaka, agreeing to the talks which began in September. This was not because of a change of heart by the Tories. It was not because they recognised that elections held without a registered list of voters, with thousands of Patriotic Front supporters detained and the Patriotic Front itself detained, with large numbers of voters brought under armed guard to the polls, could hardly be regarded as democratic; but because they realised that in the present situation, the David-Owen-Labour Party approach is the best tactic for imperialism. That is, to play on the divisions between the Front Line states, in particular Zambia and Tanzania, and by political, economic and military blackmail to sow discord between them and the military forces of the Patriotic Front.

‘Constitutional' conferences may come and go, but the brutal repression of the Zimbabwean people continues in all its barbaric ferocity. Just one week after the installation of Muzorewa and his fellow puppets, the Rhodesian Air Forces attacked Patriotic Front bases in Mozambique, only the first of several 'hot pursuit' raids into the territory of the Front Line states. Whole populations are moved at will by the 'security' forces. As a result, in 1977, during the very period of the Labour Party's 'democratic initiative', 600,000 Zimbabwean peasants were living in `protected villages' — in fact these are concentration camps in all but name, surrounded by barbed wire, subject to the daily harassment, torture and rape by auxiliary' forces. One in twelve of the entire black population lives in these camps the equivalent total for Britain would be about 5 million people: the proportion is far higher than that of the European population imprisoned in Hitler's concentration camps. In the refugee camps in Mozambique and Zambia, 200,000 people fleeing from the Rhodesian armies cling precariously to bare existence, just surviving from day to day with the ever present threat of murderous raids by the Rhodesian army. There are as many black refugees in the camps as there are whites in Zimbabwe as a whole.

In this situation, the key questions are not so much the constitutional niceties, or the details of electoral procedure, but: who will rule Zimbabwe in the interim period up to the next elections? Whose armed forces will have effective control? Anti-imperialists in Britain must resolutely oppose any suggestion that British troops could be sent into Zimbabwe to play a 'peace-keeping role' during any forthcoming elections—even if initially it is proposed that they will only be playing an equal or even a subordinate role to the forces of the Patriotic Front. For where would these troops be drawn from? From Northern Ireland — where they were sent ten years ago under the pretext of `keeping the peace'? For the last ten years of British imperialism's rule, the Unionist statelet has been maintained by the open slaughter of Irish nationalists, by the undercover murders of unarmed Irish working class men and women, by the torture centres at Castlereagh and the prisons of Long Kesh and Armagh. Are the vicious butchers of the Irish people to be transformed over night into messengers of peace, into guardians of a truly democratic constitution—one which would sweep away minority racist rule for ever? We must oppose all British plans for Zimbabwe —constitutional or military. Recognising that victory for the Patriotic Front is a victory for the British working class and a blow against the racism of the British state, we must give complete support to the Patriotic Front. This is what the Zimbabwean people have every right to demand of British anti-imperialists!

Patrick Newman



Zimbabwe: deciding its destiny

The battle between the imperialist nations is intensifying as they stake claims on markets and resources worldwide. This battle is spreading to every continent, not least of all Africa. From the Horn of Africa in the north, to the Nigerian and Angolan oilfields in the west, to the political crisis in DR Congo, Kenya, Uganda in the centre and the east, imperialist greed lies behind wars and crises that are made to appear like internal conflicts. Ask the imperialists and they will tell you that the continent suffers from the greed and corruption of African political leaders and parties. What they don’t tell you is that this corruption, for undoubtedly it exists, is not only fostered by imperialism, but is also a pale shadow of the rapacious greed of the imperialists themselves. This is the background to the sustained attack by British and US imperialism on the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Carol Brickley reports.

Despite the untold mineral resources of Sub-Saharan Africa, and the comparatively advanced industrial development of South Africa, the region is the poorest in a poor continent. Zimbabwe, formerly with a stable economy and an agriculture that could feed its own population, now has an economy in total collapse; it is suffering hyperinflation and is threatened by famine.


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