Socialist Worker

Zimbabwe vote puts the country at the crossroads

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2096

The vote of the people of Zimbabwe against president Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party has shown the desire for change in the southern African country.

Zanu-PF was still refusing to announce the presidential election results as Socialist Worker went to press.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has said that its leader Morgan Tsvangirai won those elections, to add to the party's victory in the parliamentary elections. But Mugabe is calling for a presidential election run-off.

Munyaradzi Gwisai of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) in Zimbabwe told Socialist Worker on Monday of this week, 'After the elections the working class and poor across the country were very happy.

'Despite all the hurdles that stood in their way the working class has moved a substantial amount.

'The decisive vote was that of the peasants, who voted with their stomachs against Mugabe. The last year has seen a worsening of the economic crisis, with NGOs increasingly supplying the peasants with food as the state has failed to provide relief.

Consciousness

'High numbers of workers were forced to go back to live in rural areas as the economic crisis increased. They changed the political consciousness in these areas and were the core around which the MDC could organise.

'There was a very big mood of expectation and confidence after the election, but there is a feeling of anger and frustration in Zimbabwe at the moment.

'In the immediate aftermath of the election, the MDC leadership subdued any protests against Mugabe's regime, even though he was not finished. The dictator is hurt, but he is still standing.'

Tafadzwa Sando, an ISO member in Harare, told Socialist Worker, 'People are no longer afraid to speak out. We are talking about the election everywhere.

'When I was at the bank on Monday, someone shouted that the MDC shouldn't go to the courts to get the election results announced as the courts will back Mugabe. Another shouted there should be a strike.

'People are saying that they are ready for a re-run of the elections if necessary. My mother, who lives in a rural area where Zanu-PF won by a narrow margin, told me they want a run-off there so people who voted for Mugabe out of fear can correct their mistake.'

The key question is how the current government will be brought down. This will shape the future of the country. If workers and the poor use their power to get rid of Mugabe's regime, it will influence the way any new government acts.

'Zimbabwe is at a crossroads,' said Munyaradzi. 'One possible solution to the crisis put forward by the upper classes is a settlement between Zanu-PF, the MDC, business and civil society to form a government of national unity.

'But this will be an empty solution for Zimbabwe's poor and workers. The working class and the peasantry have shown their willingness to move. Even though we have serious questions about the MDC and the elections, the ISO is calling for a vote for the MDC in any presidential run-off.

'The way to defend the votes of the people is not to appeal to the West, as the MDC leadership is doing, but to organise the workers and the peasants to take on Mugabe's regime.

'An MDC government will increase the democratic space in the country, giving more room to organise. But it will also be neoliberal – and workers will need to build an alterative to it.

'We will need to fight against neoliberalism and capitalism, which are the root causes of the crisis in Zimbabwe.'


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Article information

International
Tue 8 Apr 2008, 19:57 BST
Issue No. 2096
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