THE PRESIDENT of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was forced to abandon his planned visit to the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos this week and return in a desperate attempt to hold back the revolutionary tide that is sweeping the country.
Last week Zimbabwe’s largest trade union confederation (ZCTU) called a three day national strike following the government’s decision to increase the price of petrol and diesel by 150%, making it the most expensive fuel in the world.
This massive hike in fuel prices, increases which mean that workers are unable to even afford bus fares to work, comes on top of months of protests throughout the country over food shortages, inflation and the depreciation of the local currency. The three day general strike saw thousands of workers across the country come onto the streets in demonstrations that were met by brutal attacks by the army and police.
At least 12 protestors have been killed while more than 600 have been arrested, including trade union and opposition party leaders being detained arbitrarily. In addition to using live ammunition against protestors the army and police have carried out ‘systematic torture’ according to the official government-appointed Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
In a statement the commission said: ‘Armed and uniformed members of the Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic Police instigated systematic torture’ targeted at men close to where barricades had been erected.
Homes of anyone suspected of involvement in protests were broken into at night, with children as young as 11 years beaten by security forces. A government spokesman rushed to defend the brutality of the state forces saying: ‘When things get out of hand, a bit of firmness is needed.’
On his return to Zimbabwe Mnangagwa was keen to try and head off the uprising against his regime, urging all sides to ‘set aside our differences and come together’ and calling for ‘national dialogue’ to put both the economy and the people first. At the same time he promised in a series of tweets that violence and misconduct by security forces was ‘unacceptable and a betrayal of the new Zimbabwe’ adding: ‘If required, heads will roll.’
Mnangagwa is right to be mortally afraid of this revolutionary movement of workers and youth. In November 2017 tens of thousands marched on the office of the then president Robert Mugabe demanding his removal and an end to the corrupt regime of the bourgeois nationalist Zanu-PF party he led.
In order to head off revolution the military organised a coup to install Mnangagwa, a former close associate of Mugabe who as his security chief was implicated in the most brutal repression under Mugabe’s rule.
This change of president has done nothing to alleviate the huge sufferings of the Zimbabwean people, with over 5 million living in extreme poverty and the high cost of food leading to a massive increase in malnutrition.
Under Mugabe the exploitation of Zimbabwe by imperialism continued unchecked with the ruling nationalist Zanu-PF joining in by seizing land and parcelling it out amongst government officials following independence.
The mass movement that threw out Mugabe is now poised to remove his equally corrupt successor. The way forward for the millions of Zimbabwean workers rising up against Mnangagwa and his regime is through building the revolutionary party, a section of the Fourth International, to bring down not just the president but the whole bourgeois regime and advance to a workers’ republic that will nationalise the land and major industries.
The land must be given to the rural poor to produce the food that is needed and industries placed under the workers’ management as part of a planned socialist economy.
This revolutionary mass movement will spread like wildfire throughout southern Africa and unquestionably lead to workers in South Africa joining alongside to kick out the hated ANC government of Cyril Ramaphosa and go forward to a workers’ and small farmers’ government that will end capitalism.
Revolution in Zimbabwe and South Africa will ignite revolution throughout the African continent and create the conditions for the entire working class of Africa to unite in the struggle to smash capitalism and imperialism, replacing them with the Socialist United States of Africa.