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Updated: 16.06.2005 13:32

Ein Streik, der keiner war

Der zweitägige Proteststreik, zu dem die "Broad Alliance" am 9. und 10.Juni aufgerufen hatte, war kein Erfolg: zwischen "Schlappe" und "Durchwachsen" waren die diversen Bewertungen. Währenddessen geht die Säuberungskampgne weiter: Ein Polizeisprecher gab am 16.Juni bekannt, die Zahl der Festgenommen läge jetzt bei über 32.000. Ein Versuch, die Lage nach dem Proteststreik zu anlaysieren von der "International Socialist Organisation": der (englische, mit kurzer deutscher Zusammenfassung) Beitrag "Operation Povo Yaramba: "Great stir in the air" - We must continue the struggle!" vom 11.Juni 2005.

Kurze deutsche Zusammenfassung

Der Text der ISO zielt zunächst vor allem darauf, eine differenzierte Betrachtung des schwach befolgten Generalstreik-Aufrufs einzufordern. Dabei wird hervorgehoben, dass es durchaus eine beachtliche Minderheit von Werktätigen gab, die in den Streik traten. Der Hauptgrund, der für Nichtteilnahme angegeben wird ist die bloße Angst der Menschen im Angesicht der enormen Wucht, mit der die Säuberungsaktionen surchgeführt werden. Ausserdem seien die Menschen nach dem Scheitern der MDC-Kampagne 2003 zögerlich geworden und der Gewerkschaftsbund ZCTU sei weitgehend paralysiert gewesen, seine Aktionsfähigkeit durch die Erwerbslosigkeit von rund 80 Prozent aller Einwohner Zimbabwes ohnehin eingeschränkt.

Man könne aber auch aus einem schwach befolgten Streik etwas machen - erinnert wird an 1997 als die MDC - gegen den Willen der ZCTU-Führung - zum Solidaritätsstreik mit den kämpfenden Krankenschwestern aufgerufen hatte - und trotz recht schwacher Wirkung wurde dies ein Wendepunkt in der Entwicklung der gesamten Gesellschaft, nicht zuletzt in Hinblick auf die Entwicklung radikalerer Positionen in der Gewerkschaftsbewegung.

So seien positive Ansatzpunkte in der Beteiligung zahlreicher neuer Organisationen zu sehen, im Zurückdrängen der Entspannungsversuche zwischen moderatem MDC-Flügel und der ZANU-PF, und, was als besonders wichtig betrachtet wird, im Auftreten von Spaltungslinien innerhalb einer der wesentlichsten Organisationen, die Mugabe stützen, in der Vereinigung der Kriegsveteranen.

Dies seien aktuelle Ansätze zum weiteren Kampf, wird in dem Text betont, wie auch die zunehmend aktivere Rolle der Kirche und - von den meisten Organisationen "übersehen" die ganz wesentliche Tatsache, dass der grösste und heftigste Widerstand von den Frauen der Slums und Strassenhändlerinnen gekommen sei.


Operation Povo Yaramba: "Great stir in the air" - We must continue the struggle!


Assessment of weaknesses of stayaway. Assessments of 9-10 June are varied, some calling it a flop and others a mixed bag. But to assess the success or otherwise of the action merely on the basis of the turnout and closure of businesses would be a grave mistake. Admittedly turn out was much poor than we expected. But a strong minority of workers heeded the call.

There were several negatives stacked against the action: (a) as the first real action called since the disastrous failure of the MDC's 2003 "Final Push", people are still cautious, afraid and numbed by the sheer scale of Operation Murambasvina; more so because of (b) the massive deployment of police and soldiers into townships ahead of the action, (c ) the belated luke-warm support by MDC leaders, who only publicly came out on support on Wednesday, (d ) the complete paralysis of the ZCTU, with key leaders away in Geneva, and those remaining saying they had no mandate from General Council; (e) the fact that bosses and capitalists, partly out of fear of the state but mainly because as capitalists they are basically in support of Gono's anti-poor actions, did not close their businesses as in 1997. Capitalists can never be trusted as consistent fighters against dictatorships, for they always put first, their business and profits; (f) the objective reality of 80% unemployment and massive poverty, made most workers choose the safer option, even if most supported the mass action in spirit. More so in the context of weak and hesitant leadership from MDC and ZCTU and an apparently overwhelmingly superior enemy; and (g) finally, in the above context, the tactic of a pure stayaway not backed by public protests, is not ideal. By its passive and individual nature, such action isolates and atomises the masses, failing to visibly show our strength and mobilize the weaker ones. Sadly, in the above context, emotions and anger alone were not enough to carry us through.

But we scored many achievements!

But many positives can be identified: (a ) there was indirect support by most ordinary people, shown by the feeling in the air in the days leading up to and during the action, forcing reluctant MDC leaders to come out in support. This shows that the fighting spirit is coming back, although for now hesitant, cautious and confused. This reminds us of the situation in February 1997, following the abortive two day general strike that was bravely called for by Tsvangirai in support of the nurses, against the will of the majority of ZCTU leaders. Although the strike failed in terms of turn out,it marked a turning point in developing a radical mood amongst workers and the poor, who exploded less than six months later in the biggest urban and rural strikes, demonstrations and farm invasions in the history of this country.

To stop now would demoralize the masses and strengthen the conservative and cowardly elements who want to collaborate rather than fight the regime. Already MDC's W. Ncube has disassociated himself from the action saying he is not in the Broad Alliance, even though on Wednesday he was calling for public support for the action; (b) the action saw the emergence of an enthusiastic layer of young activists and workers drawn from different organizations who wholeheartedly mobilized for the action distributing tens of thousands of leaflets despite the lukewarm support of their leaders and harassment from the police. They were drawn from as many and differing organizations as the Zimbabwe Social Forum, NCA, CHRA, ISO, WOZA, students, MDC and rank and file union activists. A new militant cadreship is being born for the oncoming struggles; (c) our actions have restored the Zimbabwean crisis back on the headlines of the world-stage, with support not only from the traditional left and socialist movement regionally and globally, but also forced western governments and media to give crocodile tears support and coverage. This is critical because i stops or slows down the détente between the elites of Zanu PF and MDC, which Gono, the moderates in both parties and the capitalists are pushing for. With more action, MDC leaders, will be forced to support the movement, even if nominally, or stand to be swept aside by history! (d) despite its apparent bravado, our action has shaken the regime. It has started some back-pedalling, with the operation virtually suspended during the two days of action. Now the emphasis of its propaganda is rehabilitation and distribution of new stands etc. But most importantly, our actions have encouraged sections of Zanu PF supporters to waiver, in particular the war veterans, as revealed in the statements of Jabulani Sibanda, the chairperson of the War Veterans Association, quoted in the Financial Gazette: "the government has this time ignited a bonfire which is going to backfire. Once government started valuating itself against the strength of its army, its police and its airpower, then there is something wrong. We cannot have a situation where government strength is measured by the strength of its forces as opposed to support from the masses. People are like a coiled spring: if you suppress it, it comes together and becomes dangerous. They might not rise today, but rise they shall - war veterans are prepared to defend the revolution whether within Zanu PF or outside, and the revolution is the will of the people, not a few government officials."

He is damn right --- the rising might not have been yesterday, but the coil is now recoiling!

What now: way forward

There is only one way forward. To build up for more actions, even if the cowardly elements might want to derail us. For the cost of inaction, i.e. demoralization, would derail our struggle by decades. The Broad Alliance, CHRA, WOZA, ISO, ZSF and the progressive wing of the churches, need to urgently meet to map out the next actions, including deciding whether to continue with the 18th June action initially called for by WOZA or postpone slightly as seems to be suggested by Broad Alliance co-ordinator L. Madhuku.

But to move forward we need to learn from our strengths and weaknesses in the past action. (a) Firstly the bedrock of our resistance hirtherto has been the township women, who have led some very inspiring riots and struggles on their own. Its true, when you hit a woman you hit a rock.The epicenter of our actions must move to the townships, so that we optimize the participation of women; (b) the action must this time be direct protest actions and marches that unite and give us spirit. In the context outlined above, the stayaway or general strike cannot for now remain our main tool, but will be rescucitated once the movement has grown and become more confident, for ultimately, general strikes backed by mass demonstrations are the most powerful weapon we have for they hit the system were it hurts the most - the source of profits, money and power; (c )the actions must be done on a day that maximizes the potential participation of everyone, such as a Saturday; (d) to counter the justified cyncism and distrust amongst the masses that leaders call for action which they themselves don't participate in leaving the povo to make all the sacrifices, whatever protests are called, the leaders of the Broad Alliance, civic and social movement groups, churches and trade unions and progressive opposition MPs and councilors must lead from the front, suffering with the people; (e) we must choose the most strategic areas from which to start our actions. Today, the only sanctuary left which the regime has not yet dared attack is the Church, which is why it has not taken action against many church leaders who have come out denouncing its harsh actions and rule, including the National Pastors Conference and the Catholic Bishops led by Bishop Ncube. For maximum effect, the progressive church now needs to unite its actions with the other sections of society, as was done historically by Martin Luther King Jnr, clerics like Tutu, Chikane and Boesak in the anti-apartheid struggles in SA in the 1980s who worked with the UDF, or the Catholic bishops in Malawi under Banda. As the church is the only place which the regime might not yet possibly dare attack and as many people will have confidence congregating there, we suggest that the progressive church leaders support whatever day of national and international protests, is agreed on. We could start with prayers at designated local churches followed by marches and protests from the churches led by pastors and leadership of the movement to hand in petitions to local police stations or council offices supporting our demands. And let the regime dare attack such movement. Such actions, if successful will then be the launch-pad for growing and more radical mass actions in the near future; (f) the past actions show that only united and democratic action of the poor and those in support of democracy, regardless of party or organisation affiliation, can we succeed.

We need to further strengthen two aspects of our movement. Firstly, strengthen the democratic traditions, seeking to bring into the Broad Alliance, representatives from all groups and organizations of the poor that are ready to fight, and ensuring that decisions are democratically made. Further leaders must go to report back, receive feed-back and mobilise their constituencies on agreed actions. Secondly making all out efforts to bring into this growing movement, the ordinary war veterans and other poor Zanu PF supporters who too are under attack, and as J. Sibanda's statement shows are getting ready to work with the rest of the poor and oppressed, reminding them that only through action and not begging did they successfully stop Chombo and Chihuri from destroying their settlements in 2002. This time we must not allow the regime to survive by dividing the poor, as it did in 1997.

Finally, we need to build on the massive support emerging from the global and regional movement of the poor, the churches, the anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation movement and Zimbabweans in the diaspora, as Mugabe's fake left and anti-imperialist postures become increasingly exposed. We must notify them on time on the dates we agree as days of national and international protests, so that they too mobilize solidarity actions, in particular demonstrations at Zimbabwean embassies.

We should refuse to be intimidated or demoralized in our struggle for an end to Operation Murambasvina, compensation of victims, resignation of those responsible like Gono, Chihuri, Chombo and Makwavarara and democracy including a new people driven, democratic and anti-neoliberal constitution.

Let Mugabe and his minions like Gono know that they can build as many prisons as they want, but they will never be enough to fill all of us --- we are the vast majority and they the tiny few! No prison cell in history has ever stopped a people's revolution whose time has come! Not under Smith, Not under Botha, Not under Banda and today certainly Not under Mugabe!

National Co-ordinating Committee (NCC) International Socialist Organisation

11/06/05 Harare

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