----- Original Message -----
From: "Green Left Parramatta" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2000 8:43 PM
Subject: [communist think-tank] GLW: Interview with Zimbabwe socialist MP

The following article appeared in the latest
issue of Green Left Weekly (http://www.greenleft.org.au),
Australia's radical newspaper.


ZIMBABWE: `We hope to influence events'

MUNYARADZI GWISAI, a member of the International Socialist
Organisation (ISO) Zimbabwe, was elected to the national
parliament in the June 24-25 general election as a Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) MP. PETER MANSON, from the British Weekly
Worker spoke to him.

Question: What kind of campaign did the ISO run?

The ISO ran the campaign in Harare's Highfield constituency under
the MDC umbrella. We were able to put forward our own platform.

The program we stood on rejected the free market approach as the
way forward -- the approach put forward by the MDC leadership and
implemented by the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic
Front (ZANU-PF) government. It called for a national minimum wage
linked to the inflation rate and for a labour act guaranteeing
the right to strike, with the same rights for government and
private sector workers, to be overseen by a strong labour court.
We also called for maternity rights on full pay for women.

We demanded the introduction of price controls and subsidies, and
an end to privatisation. The program also called for the seizure
of commercial farms without compensation and the giving of land
to the peasants. It contained the demand for state funding for
education and health, summed up by the slogan, “Tax the rich to
fund the poor and the workers”. We called for the cancellation of
the foreign debt.

Then there was the call for workers' control of the MDC itself --
the party has shifted to the right. Finally we called for
workers' power and socialism. Our posters proclaimed: “Power to
the workers and the poor -- for workers' power and socialism!”.

Question: Were there other “worker MPs” elected?

There were nine or so, out of the 57 MDC MPs, who come from a
trade union background or were workers, but we were the only ones
who issued an independent platform. The vast majority were
middle-class academics, lawyers or other professionals. There
were also some business people and one or two farmers. But mostly
they are petty bourgeois -- this class composition is a very
worrying situation.

Question: Presumably this reflects the balance on the leadership?

Trade unionists make up only about a third of the national
leadership, reflecting the bourgeois and petty bourgeois
dominance. White bosses and white professionals are playing an
increasingly important role, which will create problems for
workers in the party.

Question: Surely this cross-class alliance cannot last long?

I don't think the conflict will be immediate. Workers feel good
about the elections, but the MDC did not win and so the pressure
to deliver will not be so high.

[Zimbabwe's President Robert] Mugabe has been sounding
conciliatory [since the election], but we are likely to see an
increase in the attacks on the working class early next year. The
economy is bad.

The worsening conditions are likely to bring the government into
conflict with the workers and quite possibly we are going to see
spontaneous working-class struggles, particularly over the labour
bill, which prohibits stay-aways and general strikes. The
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is demanding a national minimum
wage and the right to strike -- the kind of things we were
putting forward in our program.

This situation will bring to the fore the inherent class
contradictions in the party. The MDC has an anti-peasant program
-- it is not in favour of far-going land redistribution. Land is
the only card Mugabe has. He will want to continue with some kind
of direct redistribution, while the MDC says that it should be
based on a commission of “experts” and that the peasants should
move off the land they have occupied.

Question: What is the ISO working to achieve within the MDC?

There will be presidential elections in 2002, which will tend to
hold the party together. It is important for us to be closer to
the working class in the key towns. The danger had been that we
would remain on the sidelines.

Our main reason for working in the MDC was to stay relevant and
grow from there. We are a small group, but we hope to influence
events where we are organised.

It all depends on the class struggle. If it intensifies, our role
will come under the spotlight. It is possible that the working
class will reassert its influence over the party, but we are
under no illusions -- there will be conflict between our section
and the whole party.

However, we are clear about the imperative of building a
revolutionary alternative. And now we have major opportunities to
use the MDC.

Question: So will you be looking to split the MDC?

It will depend on the nature of the conflict. Workers must build
their factions, especially in the two major provinces where they
have the most influence. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, has
moved to the right, but he remains the most popular figure for
the working class.

I can't say at this stage what we're going to do -- everything is
very uncertain and unclear. We are still small and we need to
build our influence. But I know that major conflict will arise
between myself and the other MPs.

Question: You have given a clear indication of the class
composition of the MDC, but what about Mugabe's ZANU-PF?

It is a bourgeois party dominated by the black bourgeoisie with a
very strong nationalist orientation. While the black bourgeoisie
controls the party, they are also struggling to retain their
peasant base.

There is of course some common ground between the MDC and
ZANU-PF. They are both for cooperation with international
capital, but Western governments have a much stronger influence
over the MDC than over ZANU-PF. However, the MDC's base is
working class. What remains unclear is how this working-class
base will interact with the middle class with its strong
orientation towards international capital.

In fact, Mugabe himself reflects the old ZANU-PF with its
Stalinist influence. But his peasant base is becoming more and
more marginalised within a bourgeois party and is not reflected
in the majority of the ZANU-PF parliamentary group. So there will
be a struggle for domination within both parties and a
cross-party alliance could emerge in parliament.

Question: Some revolutionaries in countries like Britain note
that the MDC leadership appears more amenable than ZANU-PF to the
West, and say that Mugabe should be supported because he is an
anti-imperialist. What do you say to them?

The orientation of revolutionaries ought to be towards the
working class. The class struggle should determine our position.

It is very superficial to say that just because Mugabe has
assumed certain anti-British and anti-imperialist positions we
should support him when he has been guilty of many anti-working
class actions. The role of the international revolutionary
movement must be to support an independent working-class base.

Yes, the MDC is in alliance with international capital (while
seeking the best position for itself). But we have condemned
ZANU-PF too for its collaboration with international capital.

ZANU-PF is committed to privatisation, and Mugabe's last piece of
legislation was the labour bill prohibiting stay-aways and
general strikes. His so-called movement to the left has been
driven by motives of keeping power.

The MDC's form is clearly pro-West. But in terms of content, the
interests of its base run contrary to the aims of the leadership.

Question: What is your position on the land question?

Our position is very clear. Mugabe has realised that land is now
the key. In 1997, there were land invasions in Matabeleland, and
he knew that this would be a major potential issue around the

Contrary to the views expressed in the Weekly Worker, we support
the seizure of the commercial farms without compensation ... Once
the land seizures started, it was imperative for the working
class to support the struggle of the peasants.

The peasants should distribute the land in an orderly way -- to
both men and women -- and farm workers should also get a share of
the land. We support the establishment of farm workers'
cooperatives, including peasants who desire to be there.
Democratically run state farms are also a possibility.

We need to build a worker-peasant alliance. In order to win
peasant support for the working-class base of the MDC, the party
must call for land redistribution. Despite the rhetoric, Mugabe
is only going for around 40% of the commercial farm land -- four
million hectares out of about 11 million. He is going to leave
the core of white commercial farming intact.

Question: It seemed to us that the land seizures were purely a
ZANU-PF stunt.

Even if that was true, we still need to back them. The peasants
voted for ZANU-PF because of the land question, and they are
still moving into new farms. Mugabe might have given the
occupations a kick-start, but that was in response to a clear
demand from the poor peasants. Now he is going to have major
difficulties, as the momentum has gone far beyond his subjective

It was the mass strikes and demonstrations that encouraged the
peasants to seize the land in 1997. If there is a spontaneous
working-class revolt over the next few months, there is a real
possibility that it could end up linking up with the peasantry.
This is our most urgent task.

[The Weekly Worker is published by the Communist Party of Great
Britain. It can be viewed at the CPGB's web site at



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