May 17, 2008

Pallo Jordan slams Zanu PF

Veteran Cabinet minister Pallo Jordan has called on Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party to "surrender power" to Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Jordan’s comments are the first of their kind by any member of President Thabo Mbeki’s senior Cabinet, and are in radical contrast to Mbeki’s refusal to openly condemn either Mugabe’s refusal to accept election defeat or the accompanying violence.

In a searing critique appearing on the ANC website, Jordaan said Zanu PF only has itself to blame "for losing the confidence of a substantial number of the citizens of that country, such that the only means by which it can win elections is either by intimidating the people or otherwise rigging them." Referring to those who label Mugabe’s Zanu PF critics as "imperialists", Jordaan said ‘nobody doubts the anti-imperialist credentials of Zanu PF, but that cannot be sufficient reason to support it if it is misgoverning Zimbabwe and brutalising the people."

Jordaan’s analysis was a direct response to a document authored jointly by academics Eddy Maloka and Ben Magubane which circulated in political circles and various media houses, including the Sunday Times, in which they labelled the MDC an imperialist movement. Said Jordaan: "Perhaps the most alarming suggestion of all is that opposition to Zanu PF, irrespective of its merits, is ipso facto illegitimate and necessarily counter-revolutionary, and therefore pro-imperialist. This curious line of reasoning dominated in the Communist Parties of the Soviet Union and other east European countries. When workers complained about the conditions of work (as they did in Poland) that was characterised as counter-revolution. If intellectuals complained about rigid censorship and the repression of the free flow of information, ideas and knowledge, that was counter-revolution. Even youth, yearning to enjoy rock and other forms of popular music produced in the rest of the world, that was counter-revolution."

Jordaan said "democracy is not a luxury, perhaps affordable in a few rich countries, but far too expensive for peoples and countries emerging from decades of colonial domination. What is more, I insist that democracy is not merely the right to participate in elections every few years; it is a complex institutional framework that serves to secure the ordinary citizen against all forms of arbitrary authority, whether secular or ecclesiastical. It is an undisputed historical fact that colonialism denied the colonised precisely these protections, subjecting them to the tyranny, not only of imperialist governments, but often to the whims of colonialist settlers and officials. All liberation movements, including both Zanu PF and Zapu, deliberately advocated the institution of democratic governance with the protections they afford the citizen. All liberation movements held that national self-determination would be realised, in the first instance, by the colonised people choosing their government in democratic elections."

"The questions we should be asking are: What has gone so radically wrong that the movement and the leaders who brought democracy to Zimbabwe today appear to be its ferocious violators. What has gone so wrong that they appear to be most fearful of it? Maloka and Magubane want us to ignore the will of the Zimbabwean people, as expressed in elections, and do what the imperialists did in Congo and Chile. Such action, they claim, would be anti-imperialist. In other words, we must behave like the imperialists to demonstrate our commitment to anti-imperialism. Rather than raising and attempting to answer such tough questions, they skirt around them by marshalling a mixture of emotive arguments and outright political blackmail, again reminiscent of the far-right and its adherents. You are either with Zanu PF in the anti-imperialist camp, or against it (and therefore with Blair, Bush, the DA, etc)."

Jordaan said "it cannot possibly be right that, while we in South Africa expect our democratic institutions to protect us from arbitrary power, we expect the people of Zimbabwe to be content with less. Let all recall that the people of Zimbabwe endured a 15 year war of national liberation, during which the colonialist regime employed every device from beatings, to torture, to executions and massacres to repress them. They did not waver. Yet it is being suggested that today, for no apparent reason, they have fallen under the sway of the helpers and agents of that colonial power. I think that betrays a worrying contempt for the ordinary Zimbabwean. A contempt reminiscent of the colonialists’ contention that the people rose against them because they had been incited by "outside agitators! We will not assist Zanu PF by encouraging that movement to proceed along the disastrous course it has embarked on. Offering it uncritical support because it is anti-imperialist will not help Zanu PF to uncover the reasons for the steep decline in the legitimacy it once enjoyed. That party would do well to return to its original vision of a democratic Zimbabwe, free of colonial domination and the instruments of that domination - such as arbitrary arrests, police repression of opposition, intimidation of political critics, etc." Given the outcome of the recent elections, said Jordaan, "Zanu PF should surrender power to the party that has won." (The Times, South Africa)

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