Tag Archives: Independence

New England’s Flirtation w/Independence

pressed via the Hartford Courant:
Hartford Convention of 1814 started secession, states’ rights talks in New EnglandA Map of New England from 1830

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Graft, T-shirts and the Promise of Land

Land has long been the issue for the disposed average Zimbabwean. During British colonialism, whites controlled the land, converting the finest soils into plantations of cash crop, grown for export. Blacks were left with nothing but the equivalent of ethnic ‘reservations’. The land issue was the impetus for a violent revolution against what was then called Rhodesia, white controlled, and newly independent of Britain. (Schleicher, 2004) Racism from whites was and is currently less, an ingrained feature in sub-Saharan Africa, and that was met with anger and envy by much the landless poor. President Robert Mugabe is a man that promised land to millions of people. His mission for a controlled land redistribution program has fell short in its goals by legal measures, which often get excused for lack of Western “funding.”

In the race prior to the 2013 Elections, the party was the recipient of ‘foreign aid’ from China that consisted of promotional campaign material. President Mugabe described China as “Zimbabwe’s all-weather friend,” making the claim that “we have many friends from the East.” It is curious if by ‘we’ he was speaking of Zimbabwe or himself, as Mugabe is accepting the gift of “over one million T-shirts…and other campaign materials to the ZANU-PF party to aid in their election efforts.  According to news outlet Bulawayo 24, the donation “comes a few days after Mugabe promised party supporters…in Harare that he would get cars and cash from China to bankroll the party’s campaigns.” (“China donates more,” 2013) The Chinese did not supply MDC-T similarly, and, if judged by international standards, Mugabe would be clearly in violation of campaign fundraising ethics or, tangentially, attempted voter intimidation. Mugabe has long been known to outfit his supporters, on this occasion in prominent yellow and green. An in-demand look, the giveaways of the campaign gear was not without violence between supporters (“Zanu pf t-shirts,” 2013), but also, the marker clothing has led to street clashes between supporters, the ZANU-PF affiliated Chipangano youth gang and the opposition MDC-T supporters, politicians, and activists.

The party has long unofficially supported the Chipangano group, which functions as a youth cadre and violent, street-level support apparatus. The group/gang funds itself by extorting the commuter bus drivers in the capital of Harare, charging a fee to depart the bus stations. “In a day, the militia is said to be raking over $30 000,” and the bus Operators Association are attempting to bring their grievance to the government in early 2012. ZANU-PF Secretary Didymus Mutasa “told them that the former ruling party was not running the extortion ring, and told them the party (referring to ZANU-PF) made its money from selling membership cards not from bus termini.” However, the Chipangano ARE extorting and fund themselves from bus termini, whether it’s a top down directive or otherwise, and for the most part they continue to get away with it, while claiming their effort is at the behest of the party and support of Mugabe’s reforms. Receiving little support for their case from politicians, the Operators approached the police, to bring in the Jimmy Kunaka, the chief organizer of the Chipangano, and certain drivers alleged to be part of the ring. Kunaka and his associates called the charges “fabricated” and claimed that he had “protected the minibuses” and that “they should be thanking me,” adding that the group “deserved to be paid for loading the minibuses, but denied that he was the recipient of the cash.” Kunaka claims that he’s a provincial chairman within the party, as if it would absolve him of any criticism. And requisitely, he deflects, telling the Daily News that “these allegations are being made by agents of the MDC who are trying to tarnish my image. I will not lose focus.” (“Zanu pf terror,” 2012)

Being a culture of corruption, the party has resorted to making offers of appeasement to the opposition. Reportedly, from the state controlled newspaper ZimEye, “Thousands of dollars have been received by MDC-T officials behind closed doors.” The news was likely an attempt to damage the reputation of their political opponents, this time spinning a claim that is usually leveled against ZANU-PF.  The report suggests that Solomon Madzore, his wife, and his elder brother Paul received farm lands from the Indigenisation Office via a former ZANU-PF minister. It has been denied as “rubbish” by the MDC-T Youth leader that the claims were brought against. The Anonymous author which presented the charge states that “other unnamed MDC-T officials were rumoured to have received more money although the finer details could not be fully established at the time of writing” and that “the state media has compiled another list of MDC officials reported to have approached government for lands.” (“Tsvangirai-officials receive farms,” 2013) Whether the claim is factual or turns out to be fraudulent, the purchasing of political submission and the promise of a plot of land has long been an example of how ZANU-PF consolidates its support.

While there are beneficiaries of the Mugabe/ZANU-PF regime, outsiders, political opposition, and the apolitical Zimbabwean at-large suffer physically under their management. There has been incidences of beatings and rape by groups, who purport themselves to be acting on behalf of ZANU-PF. Once incident describes how three unidentified gunmen burst into a family home demanding ZANU-PF membership cards. When their young daughter couldn’t present one, the gunmen left with her, in order to “check some issues” because “she doesn’t have a ZANU-PF card.” She was taken to the bushland 10 miles away, chained to a tree, and raped repeatedly over the course of days before escaping and crossing the border into South Africa.  The incident happened in 2003 when the MDC-T first began challenging the Mugabe government, and the victim, now in the UK, is bringing her case to broader international attention. (Bulawayo 24, 2013) Another series of incidents, representative of almost every election in Zimbabwe since Independence, occurred in 2013 when youths near Chigovanyika went “door to door writing names of all MDC-T activists and threatening to ‘deal’ with them.”  They did this driving around in the ZANU-PF candidate’s car, in ZANU-PF regalia, attacking anyone representing another political party or dissident opinion. Activists received no sympathies from the local police inspector who is a ZANU-PF sympathizer. Also common is forcibly ordering people to vote for Mugabe. (Karimakwenda, 2012) While the President may not personally be one the “vicious animals” who perpetrated these offenses, they were carried out in support of him and the party—not the people—he leads. (“Zanu pf youths,” 2013)

According to Mugabe, the issue of land reform was the “last colonial question.” He has also stated his intention to “to settle it once and for all.” Thus far, it has been by violent confrontation and confiscation of white-owned farms by former “war veterans,” ZANU-PF party members, or other Mugabe loyalists.  “Possession of a ZANU-PF card (means) that one will access socioeconomic resources easier, and most importantly, one would not be persecuted by state and non-state actors.” This members-only club of Zimbabwe’s governance has only served to foster a culture of intimidation and corruption.

 

Works Referenced

Schleicher, A. (2004, April 12). Zimbabwe’s land program. PBS Online NewsHour. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/africa/land/gp_zimbabwe.html

Zanu pf youths victimise mdc t supporters. (2013, August 16).Votewatch 263. Retrieved from http://votewatch263.org/reports/view/1028

Woman ‘gang-raped’ for not being a zanu-pf card holder. (2013, October 12). Bulawayo24 News. Retrieved from http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-international-byo-37315.html

Zanu pf terror gang cornered. (2012, September 1).Nehanda Radio. Retrieved from http://nehandaradio.com/2012/09/01/zanu-pf-terror-gang-cornered/

Karimakwenda, T. (2012, April 13). Violent chipangano gang campaigning for zanu pf. SW Africa Radio. Retrieved from http://www.swradioafrica.com/2012/04/13/violent-chipangano-gang-campaigning-for-zanu-pf/

China donates more than a million t-shirts to zanu-pf. (2013, July 8). Bulawayo24 News. Retrieved from http://bulawayo24.com/index-id-news-sc-national-byo-32797.html

Tsvangirai-officials receive farms & cash from zanu pf. (2013, October 16). Zim Eye. Retrieved from http://www.zimeye.org/?p=91843

Zanu pf t-shirts scramble victim named. (2013, July 17).New Zimbabwe. Retrieved from http://www.newzimbabwe.com/news-11739-Zanu PF t-shirts scramble victim named/news.aspx

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“Armed Struggle” and the “War Veteran”

via: http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org/1063/the-role-of-war-veterans/

via: http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org/1063/the-role-of-war-veterans/

While the majority of east, west, and northern Africa attained their independence by the ballot during the early 1960s, the countries of southern Africa were forced to armed struggle to gain majority representation. Zimbabwe (then, Rhodesia) was one of the last on the continent to do so. Being a ‘settler-colony’, the white-managed Ian Smith regime sought to keep the country under permanent white rule. They declared Rhodesia independent from the United Kingdom, who at the time, were granting self-rule to their other colonial holdings. Smith refused to allow wider ballot access, believing that the masses of people, black or white, were not all competent enough to vote. Political parties such as ZANU and ZAPU were formed, though they were quickly banned and their leaders imprisoned. Holding on to his principle of a ‘qualified vote’, Smith forced black Zimbabweans to radicalize, in order to obtain political equality.

Matebele, followers of ZAPU (ZIPRA) and Shona followers of ZANU (ZANLA) took up arms under militant wings of the political parties. They conducted guerilla warfare from the bush, hiding and training across the border in neighboring countries that had already obtained their independence. The widest population in the country, by in large supported the ZANU effort led by Mugabe, who advocated a form of socialism via armed struggle. [1] This would bring independence by 1980, but not before all manner of atrocities were committed on all sides, including plane bombings of Air Rhodesia and the mass murder of Matebele ZAPU supporters by ZANU militants shortly after. Throughout the past 30 years, Mugabe and the ZANU-PF party line have attested that it was the war veterans’ effort which has brought the country’s freedom and independence. The war veterans are seen by the people as liberating Zimbabwe from white colonial rule and providing the hope of land and self-determination to the Zimbabwean people.

Since independence, ZANU-PF has made attempts to honor its war veterans with payouts and monthly pensions, a ceremonial burial ground, and the promise of land. The myth of the ‘liberating war veteran’ (and capitulating to them) is the source of Mugabe’s power, as well as his and Zimbabwe’s primary weakness. In 1997, war veterans numbering in the thousands demonstrated and rioted before confronting Mugabe personally, with the demand of higher pensions and farm land. That November, the increased pensions were granted, and the Finance ministry printed millions of dollars to accommodate the unbudgeted spending. The payments devalued the Zim Dollar by ½ in one day, with analysts labeling it ‘Black Friday’. Mugabe, unable to offer land legally, but to a few through his patronage system, told the war veterans that they would still have to fight to claim land of their own.  This led to reign of terror by many war vets against white farmers, and the first stage of the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy. [2]

While the image of the War Vets became tarnished internationally for their tactics, and detrimental effect on the economy, their reputation still carries much weight in the mainstream (state-controlled) Zimbabwean news outlets and with the average ZANU-PF supporter. The war veterans are covered with kid-gloves, despite their exacerbation of Zimbabwe’s ruination and their role as ZANU-PF political enforcers, prior to elections. Stories of the government’s failure to implement their demands dominate the Zim press, and since the initial payouts, War Vets are still demanding between 21% and 30% of seats in Parliament and ministry to cater specifically to their needs. In 2012, they sought retroactive pay of $18,000 (US), which they claim was an unfulfilled promise of the 1997 agreement. While they rightly deserve a ministry to address their issues, and representation within government, they have done so by, literally, holding Mugabe and the white farmers who still remain hostage to their demands.[3]

The pension demand has increased to $20,000 individually, nearly $1 billion in concessions, and has now come to include a share in the new Zimbabwean diamond trade. [4] The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), headed by the Jabulani Sibanda and the Joseph Chinotimba, both well-known commanders of farm invasions, denounce any change in tactic, as well as any attempt at reorganization. It is speculated that during the initial dole, ZNLWVA leaders raided the funds of the veterans account. “Those who are calling for either a new body or association are sick in the head. There is not going to be any other organisation because there is only one organisation that represents all the war veterans – that is the ZNLWVA,” declared the self-described ZANU-PF loyalist Chinotimba. A strategy employed by the veterans now includes weak attempts at accessing the diamond revenue to “cure cancer” and demands for the needs of the children of veterans. Since the 2013 election Chinotimba has received a ministry position in the Zimbabwe parliament, advocating these positions.[5]

Other superficial attempts from the ZANU-PF government to keep the favor of the War Vets, outside of regular tales of graft and corruption, include the ceremonial ‘Heroes’ Day’. “The memory of the anti-colonial war as the revolutionary founding event is conveyed and sustained most powerfully in ceremonies held on Heroes Day, and re-presented at the state funeral of each newly proclaimed hero.” Heroes’ Acre has been the home of such ceremonies, which occur with greater frequency with time. The memorial complex was built on land which was originally intended for a new Rhodesian Parliament House. It contains murals depicting the history of the anti-colonial struggle from 1960 to 1980, and as “a place of pilgrimage, designed to arouse national consciousness, forge national unity and identity.” It is regularly featured in the media during frequent state burials. It is also often mentioned for the lack of progress towards a planned museum at the site, and misappropriated funds to that end.[6]

Heroes’ Acre, as presented by Mugabe and other loyalists is intended to be a national monument which tells the Zimbabwean independence story. The monument doesn’t address what has become of the country post-independence, and it is near impossible to tell whether this country was liberated by the War Vets or terrorized by them. As with the countries land issue, the dole has not been equitable, and has rested on ethnic lines and political loyalty. Cars, cash, contracts, and cabinet positions come as a result of services rendered to Mugabe and ZANU-PF. To those who disagree with the party rhetoric, the monument is an example of the corruption of their ethics to the detriment of their country; a regularly looted investment coffer, pillaged by those entrusted to keep it, and a symbol with the purported claim of unity, regularly denounced for its disunity.

 

REFERENCED:

[1] Mhanda, W. ‘The Role of War Veterans in Zimbabwe’s Political and Economic Processes’. 13 May, 2011. Solidarity Peace Trust

2 Ibid.

3 “War vets demands outrageous.”.News Day. 20 February, 2013.

4 Zvauya, C. $1 billion for war veterans in Zimbabwe. Nehanda Radio. 19 February, 2013.

5 Manyukwe, C. What to make of Joseph Chinotimba. Nehanda Radio. 31 October, 2013.

6 Fisher, J. L. Pioneers, settlers, aliens, exiles the decolonisation of white identity in Zimbabwe. Canberra, 2010.

[1] Mhanda, W. ‘The Role of War Veterans in Zimbabwe’s Political and Economic Processes’, 13 May, 2011. Solidarity Peace Trust

[2] Ibid.

[3] “War vets demands outrageous.”.News Day. 20 February, 2013.

[4] Zvauya, C. $1 billion for war veterans in Zimbabwe. Nehanda Radio. 19 February, 2013.

[5] Manyukwe, C. What to make of Joseph Chinotimba. Nehanda Radio. 31 October, 2013.

[6] Fisher, J. L. Pioneers, settlers, aliens, exiles the decolonisation of white identity in Zimbabwe. Canberra, 2010.

Daniel Ernest Malo – Undergraduate, University of Connecticut; Social Sciences ‘14

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