CPGB-ML » Posts for tag 'sanctions'

Zimbabwe reelects Robert Mugabe as president

Zanu-PF sweeps parliamentary election on platform of land and freedom

"You, like Bolivar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter. Mugabe continues, alongside his people, to confront the pretensions of new imperialists." Hugo Chavez on Robert Mugabe – one liberation fighter to another.

By Dave Schneider, via FightBack! News

Although official vote totals in the 31 July election are still coming in, the people of Zimbabwe voted overwhelmingly to reelect President Robert Mugabe to another five-year term. Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), also won the parliamentary election in a landslide, making gains and solidifying their majority.

Despite claims by Mugabe’s opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), that the elections were rigged, monitors from the African Union called the elections “peaceful, orderly, free and fair”.

Mugabe’s victory is a mandate for the Zanu-PF manifesto, which calls for over $1.8tr in idle mining assets and $7.3bn in foreign-owned assets to be turned over to Zimbabweans. Voters similarly favour the Zanu-PF plan for “education for all”, “housing for all”, and gender equality “through laws, empowerment programmes and promotion of women in sectors and positions previously held by men only”, according to the Zanu-PF 2013 election manifesto.

This is the third and latest defeat of MDC candidate Tsvangirai, who ran against Mugabe for President in 2002 and 2008. Although Tsvangirai led the 2008 presidential election, he failed to garner a majority vote and lost decisively in the runoff to Mugabe.

WikiLeaks cables from 2010 revealed collaboration between Tsvangirai with his MDC party and the US. Tsvangirai called on the western countries to toughen the economic sanctions on his own country and people after he lost the election. Since that time, more and more Zimbabweans disapprove of the MDC in opinion polls.

In February 2013, Zimbabweans approved a new constitution, ending a power-sharing deal between Zanu-PF and the MDC. A decisive election victory for Zanu-PF provides a mandate and curbs outsider meddling in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe.

Indigenisation programme central to election

Zimbabwe’s election comes at a time of profound revolutionary changes in the nation. In May 2012, Zanu-PF announced the implementation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Programme, to transfer ownership of the major national industries to Zimbabweans and workers.

According to the Zanu-PF’s election manifesto, called Taking Back the Economy, the indigenisation “seeks to enforce the transfer to local entities of at least 51 percent controlling equity in all existing foreign owned businesses”. The aim is to “create dignified employment especially for the youth, distribute wealth amongst citizens more equitably, cause a general improvement in the quality of life of every Zimbabwean and bring about sustainable national development which is homegrown”.

Zanu-PF’s campaign focused on strengthening the nation’s land reform – which redistributed more than 7 million hectares of land, mostly to African peasants and farmworkers – and deepening the indigenisation policies. In a preface to the manifesto, Robert Mugabe and his wife, Grace, write: “The essence of Zanu-PF’s ideology is to economically empower the indigenous people of Zimbabwe by enabling them to fully own their country’s God-given natural resources and the means of production to unlock or create value from those resources.

Indigenisation policies already distributed more than 120 mining companies to black Zimbabweans, organised into employee ownership trusts. These trusts allow working people in Zimbabwe to share in their nation’s resources, rather than western companies taking profits out of Zimbabwe.

Zanu-PF also aims to transition the current stock exchange into an indigenised market owned by Zimbabweans called the Harare Stock Exchange. They claim that shares will be distributed to at least 500,000 people in the first year, with the greatest beneficiaries being women, youth, and disabled people.

Zimbabwe’s struggle against colonialism and imperialism

Zanu-PF’s victory demonstrates the continued importance of Zimbabwe’s revolutionary history. British imperialists, led by infamous mass murderer Cecil Rhodes and his British South Africa Company, invaded and colonised Zimbabwe around 1880. Rhodes named the country after himself as white colonists seized the best land.

With most of the land and the government in white hands, the whites ruled the country despite never being more than 4.3 percent of the population. In 1966, Zimbabweans waged a 13-year liberation war against white minority rule that ended the racist Ian Smith regime in 1980.

Mugabe’s continued popularity and re-election as President comes from his leadership during the liberation war, called the ‘Second Chimurenga’ by Zimbabweans. Influenced by the Chinese communist revolutionary Mao Zedong, Mugabe founded Zanu along with other black revolutionaries in Zimbabwe. Ian Smith imprisoned Mugabe for more than a decade, and then he was elected President of Zanu in 1974 shortly before his release.

After winning majority rule, most black Zimbabweans remained dispossessed and poor while white colonisers kept the best farmland. After a series of austerity measures forced upon Zimbabwe by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the people of Zimbabwe began occupying large farms and taking control of their own resources in 2000.

Almost 75 percent of the beneficiaries of the land reform were poor peasants, former farmworkers and urban workers – many of whom were women – making it one of the most progressive land reforms in the history of Africa.

By stripping wealthy whites of their land and political power, Zimbabwe angered the US and Britain, who responded with economic sanctions that sent Zimbabwe down a destructive path of hyperinflation and economic turmoil. However, with new investment from socialist countries like the People’s Republic of China, Zimbabwe’s economy began to recover, with their gross domestic product growing by 11 percent in 2011 alone.

Unemployment remains a persistent struggle in Zimbabwe, caused by the continued sanctions placed on Zimbabwe by the US and Britain. However, Zanu-PF designed the indigenisation programme to create dignified jobs for Zimbabwean workers and allow them greater ownership of the nation’s resources.

At 89, Mugabe is the oldest African head of state, and constitutionally this will be his final term as president. Zanu-PF spent the past five years, after the 2008 election, holding party cadre schools to train activists to continue the revolution. With a new victory on the horizon, the days ahead shine bright for Zimbabweans.


More about Zimbabwe
Who is Mugabe? Who are Zanu-PF?

Black propaganda: imperialist lies about Zimbabwe (Proletarian, August 2008)
Zimbabwe will never be a colony again (Lalkar, November 2004)

Chimurenga! The Liberation Struggle in Zimbabwe by Harpal Brar

Students occupy British embassy in Tehran

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 3 December

Britain and Iran have closed each other’s embassies.

The Iranian parliament voted to expel the British ambassador and downgrade diplomatic relations to the level of chargé d’affairs after the British government joined in with further US-led economic sanctions against Iran. On the spurious pretext of Iran’s nuclear development, Britain has been targeting Iranian financial institutions including the Central Bank of Iran.

The decision had to be ratified by Iran’s Guardian Council of clerics and lawyers that vets parliamentary activity. However, so enraged are the Iranian people by the unjust measures taken to pauperise their country that on 29 November hundreds of students laid siege to the British embassy in central Tehran, as well as to the embassy’s residential compound in a Tehran suburb.

Buildings were badly damaged and official and personal possessions seized or destroyed. Six British embassy staff were briefly held by the protesters, but were freed following intervention by the Iranian police.

Apparently, although the embassies have been closed, and Britain has both withdrawn its diplomatic personnel from Iran and expelled all Iranian diplomats from the UK, Britain has not actually broken off diplomatic relations with Tehran.

More on this issue here.

Syrian ‘rebels’ being armed by imperialism

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 3 December

The Arab League has allowed itself to be persuaded to announce sanctions against Syria, as have Turkey and Jordan. Syria has been expelled from the Arab League, and international sanctions are in place designed to make sure it is unable to export its oil or import essentials.

The justification for these sanctions is supposedly that the Syrian regime is ‘killing its own people’, which is especially rich coming from the likes of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which have both been drowning the Bahraini protesters in blood.

China and Russia are resisting allowing any resolution to pass the UN Security Council that opens the way for military intervention in Syria by imperialist forces, but it is clear that the so-called ‘rebels’ in Syria are being given armaments and military support from outside.

On 20 November, the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’ launched a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the headquarters of the ruling Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party in the heart of Damascus. Three days earlier they had attacked an air force intelligence complex in a Damascus suburb.

The myth of ‘peaceful protesters’ has been well and truly exploded – and it turns out that most of them are not even Syrian!

Myanmar government making moves to conciliate the West

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 5 November

There has been an unexpected decision by the government of Myanmar (formerly Burma) to free some 600 political prisoners, following the release last year of Aung Suu Kyi, the prominent pro-western dissident. The moves appear to be linked to a hope of lifting of western sanctions against the country, supposedly imposed because of Myanmar’s violation of human rights and suppression of political freedom, but actually intended to force Myanmar into alliance with the West at the expense of China.

At the end of September the Myanmar government suspended a hydroelectric dam project led by a state-owned Chinese company, the Myitsone dam project, that had been criticised by Aung Suu Kyi and environmental groups, but which would have been the first to span the Irrawaddy river, the largest waterway in Myanmar, and would have produced massive amounts of electricity for the benefit of both Myanmar and China.

Imperialist drums beating for war against Iran

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 5 November

The bellicose rhetoric of US imperialism and its allies against Iran, which became somewhat muted during the Arab spring has now been taken up again at an even more hysterical level.

In October, the US claimed to have uncovered a failed plot on the part of Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US on US soil. This alleged plot is strenuously denied by Tehran, and even most bourgeois press reports are skeptical about its likelihood.

Having mounted this absurd aunt sally, the US regime has gone on to demand that UN nuclear inspectors release classified intelligence information showing Iran is designing and experimenting with nuclear weapons technology, obviously hoping to set up another ‘weapons of mass destruction’ hue and cry (which is rich coming from a country that has been supplying the thermobaric bombs deployed in Afghanistan and Libya).

What the US expects to get from this is greater enforcement of sanctions against Iran on the part of countries desperate for trade with Iran (or anywhere else). By strict enforcement of banking transactions US imperialism hopes to bring Iran’s oil exports to a complete halt, which could cause such hardship to the people that regime change might come about through popular discontent. Failing that, tighter sanctions can be expected to weaken Iran considerably, as happened to Iraq, preparing the ground for imperialist military intervention of one kind or another.

In Britain, Ofcom has contributed to the aggression by closing down Press TV. The latest news is that “Britain’s armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran’s nuclear enrichment programme …

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.” (Guardian, 3 November 2011)

US openly planning for the overthrow of Syria’s government

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 1 October

With effect from 3 September, the EU, which buys most of Syria’s oil, has brought in a ban on importing that oil with a view to crippling Syria’s economy and bringing about the downfall of the Syrian government of Bashar Assad.

Syria produces only about 400,000 barrels of oil a day, less than 1 percent of global production, and exports about 150,000 barrels a day, 95 percent of it to Europe. The exports provide about 25 percent of Syria’s income, which is already under pressure from the IMF. By denying the government this income, the imperialists are hoping to frustrate the attempts of the Syrian government to meet the demands of the Syrian people with such popular measures as fuel subsidies.

The US government is openly planning for the future of Syria after what they hope will be the certain downfall of Assad. While other imperialist countries have withdrawn their embassies from Damascus, the US in all its arrogance has left its ambassador, Robert Ford, in place, with a view to his liaising with opponents of the Syrian government.

According to one report, “In coordination with Turkey, the United States has been exploring how to deal with the possibility of a civil war among Syria’s alawite, druse, christian and sunni sects.” (‘US is quietly getting ready for Syria without Assad’ by Helen Cooper, New York Times, 19 September 2011)

Imperialism is desperate to overthrow the Syrian regime because of its alignment with Iran and Hizbollah, as well as its influence in Lebanon among those who battle for national independence and safeguarding their national sovereignty from imperialist interference.

While claiming, as in the case of Libya, to be intervening to prevent the regime from ‘killing its own people’, it is perfectly clear that US imperialism knows perfectly well that the overthrow of the Assad government poses a serious risk of unleashing a sectarian civil war in which tens of thousands will die and further tens, if not hundreds, of thousands will be forced into exile. Certainly the christian minority in Syria – about 10 percent of the population – is extremely fearful of the consequences of Assad’s possible overthrow.