The SACP on Zimbabwe

The South African Communist Party’s Central Committee (CC) of February 13-14 this year devoted considerable time to a discussion on the deepening crisis in Zimbabwe . This is what they said:

The SACP sent a formal delegation to Zimbabwe in December, which met with senior ZANU PF cabinet ministers, the leader of the opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, and the leadership of the ZCTU, amongst others. The SACP has continued to engage actively with our own government, with our alliance partners, and with our various colleagues in Zimbabwe. The CC expressed cautious optimism that both ZANU PF and the MDC have committed themselves to formal negotiations in the coming weeks. The SACP agrees with our government that a negotiated transition offers the most probable and certainly the most desirable path to breaking the political impasse that is impacting with such devastating effect on the social and economic situation in Zimbabwe. However, the SACP is uncertain about the degree of commitment to serious negotiations, particularly from the side of the ZANU-PF government. We are concerned that there might be a lack of urgency. We are also deeply concerned at the continued repression of workers, opposition activists and of journalists. Such measures do not help to create a climate in which serious negotiations, in which both sides assume full, patriotic responsibility for taking their country out of its crisis. The SACP also believes that it is very important that we do not allow ourselves, as South Africans, to be manoeuvred into a position in which it seems that we, or at least our government, needs the negotiations to succeed more than the Zimbabweans themselves. The negotiations are, fundamentally, about Zimbabwe ‘s needs. Successes should be Zimbabwean, and failures and delays should be blamed on the relevant Zimbabwean formations. The SACP further believes that, for too long, the public debate in South Africa about Zimbabwe has been dominated by a conservative liberal paradigm. Zimbabwe is read as an allegory for South Africa , and it is supposed, if implicitly, to represent the inevitable outcome when “they” (a black majority government) “take over”. In the course of this public discourse, human rights get opposed to national aspirations – for national sovereignty, for land reform, for overcoming the legacy of settler domination of the economy. The Freedom Charter of the ANC, and the longstanding values of our own movement have always understood the profound linkage between human and broader social rights and constitutionality on the one hand, and the struggle for national liberation on the other. We must not, as South Africans, allow the Zimbabwean reality to drag us into the trap of opposing these things. The SACP agrees that the land question is very central to consolidating the Zimbabwean independence struggle. We agree that the continued monopolisation of this key sector of the Zimbabwean economy as late as 2000 (20 years after independence) by some 4 500 white farmers acted as a massive brake on transformation. However, a lawless, populist inspired land grab by an elite in the inner circles of government is a cruel caricature of the kind of land reform that the rural poor of Zimbabwe (and South Africa ) so desperately require. The “fast-track” land reform in Zimbabwe has left hundreds of thousands of the poorest of farm workers displaced and without work. In the coming period, the SACP will continue to engage our counterparts in Zimbabwe , we will continue to express our grave concern at human rights abuses, we will support all genuine attempts to take forward the social and economic struggle for full independence, and will do our best to foster negotiations.