People-power is the way to fight for change – Gwisai

The lack of opposition leadership means that ordinary people need to organise themselves at grassroots and revive the struggle for democracy, says former MDC MP and general coordinator of the International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe, Munyaradzi Gwisai.

Munyaradzi Gwisai: Our people have no choice but to fight back. There is no short-cut and there is no option.
Munyaradzi Gwisai: Our people have no choice but to fight back. There is no short-cut and there is no option.

Gwisai, a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, told The Zimbabwean that people needed to realise the MDC would not take them to the Promised Land.

He urged the nation to build a new foundation among workers, the struggling poor, student unions and other like-minded organisations. Unity among the urban poor, rural communities, workers, farmers and young people was described as the main pillar in the fight for democracy.

People were urged to plan ahead and dump their illusions that the MDC and its present leadership would successfully champion the struggle for emancipation from tyranny.

“The way forward would be to come up with movements driven by ordinary people fighting for bread and butter issues. Any confidence invested in the obsolete MDC should be withdrawn lest the struggle gets wasted,” said Gwisai.

The MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai was accused of being obsessed with getting into political deals with Zanu (PF) and drinking tea with Mugabe at State House, at the expense of people’s freedom.

Gwisai said opposition leadership lacked the guts and interest to bring about a new politics in the country.

“Poor strategy and lack of vision”, which made Morgan Tsvangirai and his lieutenants join the GNU after the disputed 2008 elections, were described as cause for concern.

Gwisai said that when “Mugabe stole the March 2008 elections, if Tsvangirai had refused to join the GNU and continued fighting in the trenches, autocratic rule would have been a thing of the past. Tsvangirai sold out the struggle started by workers in 1999,” he said

He expressed a hope that Mugabe would not be an exception to the trend around the world, and in some African nations such as Tunisia and Egypt, where people power prevailed.

Gwisai said those at the reins of power in Zimbabwe and capitalists elsewhere had proved their inability to address the economic challenges.

He said instead that government would fight against workers’ rights at every opportunity.

Poor salaries, a high unemployment rate and lack of government support for farming activities reflected “an uncaring and failed administration”.

In light of this, according to Gwisai, people had no choice but to fight back and sustain the struggle against tyranny for as long as it took.

Commenting on Zanu (PF)’s performance at the July 31 election, Gwisai said the ruling party fought well around the land reform policy, but it was disturbing to note that the party supporters were naive and had illusions about Mugabe and the rich autocrat ruling Zimbabwe.

He said the spirit which propelled liberation fighters to victory over Zimbabwe’s former colonial masters should be used to fight for true democracy in the country, despite the limitations of the clipped democratic rights of citizens.

The authoritarian structures of Rhodesia adopted by Zimbabwe made a mockery of the so-called democracy. The constitution failed to put a cap on terms of office across important sectors of the economy.

“People like Robert Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, Sydney Sekeramayi and others have continued to hang onto office since 1980. The two-term democracy should not only be applied to political offices but everywhere,” Gwisai said.

Another grey area that called for redress, according to Gwisai, was that of the distribution of resources. He said former minority whites had enjoyed 70 per cent of the national cake and the privilege had since been turned over to the new black oligarchy aligned to Zanu (PF), which took control of the country’s arable land.

Zimbabwe’s mineral resources were reported to be controlled by a few, while some city housing waiting lists were “owned” by Zanu (PF) officials such as Philip Chiyangwa and Fredrick Mabamba of Chitungwiza. Life was said to be hard for ordinary Zimbabweans, while the country had its share of billionaires.

To preserve political relevance, MDC was advised to adopt a pro-poor ideology and make in-roads into rural areas.

It was suggested that one of the best ways forward for workers, was to break away from MDC and lay a foundation for a new working people’s movement to continue with the struggle against the regime.

“We need a movement that is clear ideologically, rejecting the failed capitalist system and fighting for socialism and not the fake nationalism of Zanu (PF),” said Gwisai. “The movement should be democratic, internationalist, able to unite the urban and rural poor and articulate a framework of democracy.”

“Tsvangirai sold out the struggle started by workers in 1999.”

He called on Zimbabweans to come up with a united front of workers, farmers, women, young people, activists and the poor that would fight against the Zanu (PF) dictatorship for full political democracy, as well as the maximum expropriation of mines and other crucial economic activities.

“Our people have no choice but to fight back. There is no short-cut and there is no option but to fight. If there is no democracy and socialism in our lifetime, this has to be realised by future generations,” said Gwisai.

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