Socialist Worker

Work stoppage and riots in Harare, Zimbabwe

Issue No. 1955

Zimbabwe's trade union leaders called a two-day stayaway for this week in protest at president Robert Mugabe’s latest assault.

Over 20,000 people have been arrested and dozens shot as the government unleashed its attack on workers and the poor. Around 200,000 people were made homeless.

As winter sets in thousands of cabins, fleamarkets and houses were razed to the ground nationwide.

With 80 percent unemployment, mainly because of IMF-inspired policies, the livelihoods of millions were destroyed.

President Mugabe, after some hesitation while testing the waters, came out in support of this Operation Murambasvina (Restore Order).

This operation goes beyond the claim by leaders of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that this is punishment of their supporters.

Some of the biggest victims have been war veterans, gold-panners and informal traders in areas known for their fanatical support for the ruling Zanu-PF party, such as Whitecliff, Hatcliff and the Chimoi and Nyadzonio camps.

Where are the Western governments denouncing Mugabe as millions suffer — as they did with the invasion of the white farms?

Mugabe and his coterie have declared 2005 “the year to attract investment”. With the elections over they have started their war on the poor to facilitate this.

Through Operation Restore Order they are intent on sending a clear and unambiguous message to their capitalist paymasters in the world that the country has turned a new leaf.

They are saying they are now ready to do everything it takes to advance and protect the private property and wealth of the capitalists and the rich.

What is happening now is one of the most brutal and ferocious assaults since the end of white rule.

It has been met by street battles in the townships of St Marys, Glen View, Budiriro and Glen Norah, shaming all those who believe that Zimbabweans are docile.

The masses are already charting the way forward, in riots that have united the poor of both Zanu-PF and MDC. Only such action can stop these barbarians.

We need to build these into national action, into indefinite general strikes that shut down the entire country.

There is turmoil in the streets, but workers and trade unions must now join the action because, despite the government’s fake promise of wage rises, the next big target is organised workers.

Our rulers know that workers have the potential to mobilise all the other poor and paralyse the economy, as they did in 1997-8.

Munyaradzi Gwisai is a leading member of the International Socialist Organisation, Zimbabwe

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Sat 11 Jun 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1955
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