Reorganisation of Parastatals in Zimbabwe, Paper presented at the Public Enterprise Seminar: Focus on Role, Performance and Management of Parastatals, organised by Conference Promtion Services (Pvt) Ltd, Harare, Sipho Shabalala, Harare, 1987, 19 pages.
Robert Mugabe became the leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) in 1975 – at the height of the National Liberation War against the racist and colonial regime of Rhodesia – eventually leading the organisation (and the people of Zimbabwe) to success and the establishment of a Government led by and comprising a majority of Black Zimbabweans.
In the 1970s and 80s he professed himself a Marxist-Leninist but as international pressures and economic difficulties increased during the 1990s his approach became more ‘pragmatic’ – although he always considered himself a socialist.
In many ways Mugabe was the only honourable participant in the Lancaster House Conference in late 1979. He accepted a disproportionate participation in the Parliament of the tiny white minority in order to undermine any arguments of the odious Ian Smith – the erstwhile Prime Minister of the renegade country since the 1960s . This agreement was due to last for ten years and probably one of Mubabe’s biggest mistakes was that he honoured that agreement.
If he had attacked white majority power during the 1980s, when there was definitely a revolutionary fervour in the country, Zimbabwe might had been more able to face the various ‘setbacks’ of the 1990s. These were a combination of events which, using the modern cliché, created a veritable ‘perfect storm’ for the country.
The events that hit the country included;
droughts in the 1990s, which followed drought years in the 1980s,
the collapse of the Soviet Union removed a potential, non-Western ally (although with conditions) from the equation,
the refusal of the governments of the United Kingdom (both Conservative and Labour) to live up to their end of the bargain and provide assistance (including finance) for the white minority land (the very best, most fertile and most easily irrigated) to be transferred into the hands of black Zimbabwean farmers,
a growing level of corruption at too many levels in the Party, Government and the country in general which were undermining any attempts to move forward without any interference from the past colonial ‘masters’,
the efforts of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) to force conditions upon any country receiving loans. This primarily manifested itself in the forced privatisation of national resources – a policy which was developed throughout the 1980s but which had become institutionalised by the 1990s. The fact that, throughout his time as Prime Minster/President, Mugabe refused to accept such conditions must always stand in his favour.
The documents below allow the reader to get an idea of how Mugabe thought during the time of the National Liberation War and the early years of the independent Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe – an appreciation of a revolutionary
I will be one of those today who will be saddened by the news of the death of Robert Mugabe. He was, without a shadow of a doubt, the finest leader the African continent has produced to date and because of this his death will be celebrated, although behind closed doors (hypocrites that they are), by those who regret the loss of the African colonies to the European imperialists.
In a version of the famous phrase of Chairman Mao ‘to be attacked by the enemy is a good thing and not a bad thing’ what commentators will be saying over the next few days about Robert Mugabe will be directly connected to the way in which they see the end of colonialism.
In an attempt to present themselves as ‘impartial’ many will praise Mugabe for the early years of his leadership of the independent state of Zimbabwe. But they will do this as the first 15 to 20 years or so of independence was when Mugabe (an honourable man as he was, sometimes to a fault) adhered strictly to the agreement made at Lancaster House in London at the end of 1979.
As part of that agreement the handful of whites that still lived in the country (an estimated 100,000 out of a population of 7 million in 1980) were given a ten per cent guaranteed representation in the Zimbabwe legislature for a period of ten years. This was as ludicrous a situation as the similar number of people who imposed the buffoon Johnson upon a population of more than 60 million Brits earlier this year.
Whereas the more recent example just demonstrates the stupidity of the British population the acceptance of this ‘crime’ in the Zimbabwean context was to ensure the speedy end of the war against white minority rule that had already cost the lives of 47,000 black Zimbabweans both fighters and civilians – the Rhodesian fascists considering anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time to be a guerrilla and therefore fair game.
Also as part of this agreement there would be no forceful takeover of the lands of the white colonialist farmers who controlled the most fertile land and with access to ample supplies of water – even in the situation of a drought.
As these measures didn’t affect the fundamental situation of who controlled the wealth of the country it’s no surprise that the ex-colonialists will consider this period to be the time of the ‘good’ Mugabe. Revolutionaries – although accepting that Mugabe only did this as he wanted to stand true to an agreement he had made in good faith – will consider this period as a time when the revolution lost momentum.
The British establishment didn’t like Mugabe preferring Joshua Nkomo, who they correctly thought they could use as their puppet and surrogate representative of colonial interests. Over the years many politicians around at the time of the agreement openly stated this. Neither did the British government, whether Conservative throughout the 80s or Labour when they came to power in the 90s, provided the monies and the expertise that was promised in order to transfer a great deal of the agricultural wealth of the country to the black majority. .
If I have any criticism of Mugabe at this time it was that he was too honourable and kept to an agreement which was being ignored by the other signatory.
Droughts caused local problems during the 80s and when the protection to white representation and the restriction on the takeover of white farms was effectively lifted Zimbabwe was hit by another blow in the way the country was denied credit and loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund – unless Zimbabweans agreed to the privatisation of the principal wealth generating industries (which included the very lucrative mining industries) in the country. A combination of these varied pressures made things difficult for Mugabe as leader of the government and this allowed for the promotion of a so-called alternative in the jumped up trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
His arrest and removal in 2017 was the result of frustration in the country that was unable to thrive under enforced international isolation. He became, in effect, a scapegoat for the problems that were not of his making.
The way in which the ex-colonialists supported this pretence of a leaders demonstrates the fact that should never be forgotten – the colonialists will NEVER give up and they will continue for decades if need be to re-establish their influence in those countries they have lost to independence struggles by the African majority. The bloodstained hands of the British, French and Portuguese can be seen in South Africa, Rwanda and Angola.
Mugabe also never gave up on the idea that armed struggle was the only way that colonised and oppressed peoples can ever gain their freedom and independence. This was something else for which the capitalist and imperialist could never forgive. Even though the wars they have instigated in the past, and will promote in the future, have cost the lives of millions and the suffering of many millions more with their highly sophisticated weaponry they cannot accept the taking up of the AK47 by the exploited and oppressed of the world. They will even go so far as to destroy the world if need be to achieve their goals.
Imperialism would rather those calling for reconciliation and a forgetting of the past – such as Nelson Mandela – be the role model for any future wars of independence. The economic situation in Zimbabwe is a result of the isolation and pressures placed upon the country by international capital but it would take a true optimist indeed, if not a blind fool, to argue that the situation in South Africa for the majority of the African population has improved substantially since the end of Apartheid. And South Africa is very much still in the clutches of the imperialists.
If Mugabe’s reputation and past will be trashed by those looking back to a time when the predominantly white countries of the world could rule wherever they wished with impunity his legacy will be treasured by those who fight for a better future for the oppressed and exploited of the world. It must be remembered that whilst the white cretinous leaders were fooling around and taking ‘selfies’ at Mandela’s memorial gathering it was Robert Mugabe who received the warmest welcome by the African crown.
Yes, Robert Mugabe made mistakes. Only those who don’t try something new will never make mistakes. Even the true giants of world Communism, Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin and Chairman Mao Tse-tung, made mistakes. Those mistakes don’t detract from their achievements and neither will those of Robert Mugabe detract from his.