As this is being written, Zimbabwe is getting ready for an election tomorrow.
What’s going to happen in the Battle of Giants between the near-nonagenarian struggle hero, mass murderer and loudmouth, and the late-middle-aged philanderer, turncoat trade unionist, catspaw of foreign interests and loudmouth? Does anybody care sufficiently to show up to cast their ballots, which may be a little like casting a pebble into an infinitely deep pit?
The smart money claims that the two sides are neck and neck. Of course, the smart money is being paid out by the British Foreign Office through the Secret Intelligence Service and a network of southern African NGOs funded by Britain. You would expect, therefore, the smart money to be saying that the Movement for Democratic Change, the Western imperialist tool in the same way that Zambia’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy was a Western imperialist tool, is going to walk into power. Why aren’t they saying this? It might be a get-out-the-vote thing, believing that the MDC’s voters need to be reminded that they aren’t automatically going to win, so as to prevent complacent MDC voters from staying away in the end.
That isn’t very likely, however. The MDC’s voters are not complacent about anything. They believe that the 2008 election was stolen from them, and they are not happy about that. MDC voters are going to turn out in numbers, undeniably, without assistance from propaganda agencies. So, assuming that the MDC is popular with the majority — an assumption uncritically made by all allies of Western imperialism — the MDC ought to be going to win, unless the 2013 election is stolen, which isn’t very likely to happen even if 2008 was.
So then why does the propaganda predict that the MDC is not going to win outright? Presumably, we are being prepared for the probability that the MDC is not going to win, that it is going to lose. Thus those who predict a close race will not look too ridiculous, and will be able to claim that their side only lost because it was cheated, because the elections were rigged.
This, of course, is the whole problem with Zimbabwean elections. Ever since the West set up the MDC, they have insisted that the only sign that a Zimbabwean election is free and fair is an MDC victory. Anything else is simply evidence of the corruption of Zimbabwean society under the evil ZANU (PF). The obvious fact that a lot of Zimbabweans dislike and distrust the MDC, and vote for ZANU (PF) for want of anything better, cannot penetrate the skulls of people who believe the propaganda, and that’s a large number of people because there is almost nothing but propaganda available anywhere, whether on the Web or the official ideological state apparatuses.
It is quite understandable that the West wants to get rid of ZANU (PF). It is an old liberation party, and therefore has at its core some values, such as national independence and the service of the cause of the mass of the people, which are anathema to globalist imperialism. Of course, its core is rotten — though not quite so rotten as the core of the ANC. This doesn’t make it attractive to the West, however, it merely makes it vulnerable. Most of the other countries of southern Africa have fallen to Western control (although some, like Zambia, are kicking against the pricks) and in a sense the West just wants to collect the full set by installing its man Morgan Tsvangarai in State House in Harare.
Yet — and this is odd — this doesn’t seem likely to happen just yet. There has been a curious absence of the frenzied anti-ZANU (PF), anti-Zimbabwean independence, pro-settler propaganda which we saw in the last two elections, when for a month or so before the elections papers like the Sunday Times were splashing imperialist lies on every front page and the Mail and Guardian consisted almost entirely of material drafted by the SIS and by the MDC’s handlers. Why is this not the case now? The West’s agenda has not changed — if anything, it has become more extreme — so has Zimbabwe changed, or is it something to do with circumstances?
Well, Zimbabwe has changed a bit. Inevitably, the economy bottomed out and then began to improve again — it’s hard to prevent investment completely, at least within the SADC region. Furthermore, much of the problems in Zimbabwe’s economy related to trying to regain the support of the World Bank, and once Zimbabwe had done everything that was asked of it and the World Bank still refused to respond, there was no more reason for ZANU (PF) to continue ruining Zimbabwe for the sake of foreign plutocrats. In addition, the deal brokered by Mbeki in 2008 made a lot of sense in itself, and served to obscure and obstruct the consequences of the violent hostility between ZANU (PF) and the MDC, and at the same time reduced political tensions sufficiently so that ZANU (PF) became less paranoid and less likely to unleash state violence against its opponents. All this makes for less opportunity to foment violence and instability in the country.
It is worth wondering whether circumstances have also changed a little. For one thing, South Africa is now under the West’s thumb, meaning that having got the first prize in the region, they need not pay too much attention for the second prize. For another thing, the Tories are now in power in Britain — and, weirdly, they seem slightly less brutal and violent towards Africa than New Labour were, and less obsessed with imposing their will by violence at all costs — although the victims of their policies in Libya and elsewhere might find that a rather fine line to draw. Also, bluntly, they’ve got their own problems — which may also explain why they failed to capitalise on the chaos which erupted after the 2008 Zimbabwean election, and how they could not prevent Thabo Mbeki from saving the situation there, in his last success before he was erased.
In any case, the Western propaganda blasts against the Zimbabwean government have been curiously muted. Of course, the MDC claims that the elections are going to be rigged. In Africa, every losing party claims, preferably in advance, that there has been foul play — otherwise the party would have to acknowledge its incompetence and unfitness to rule. But there has been little or no bribery and bullying, and the whingeing of the usual suspects has been surprisingly restrained.
Most importantly, the MDC shows no sign of having anything to do. The farmers are resigned to not getting their farms back, and the MDC dare not pledge to restore them in any case for fear of losing vast support. The Zimbabwean economy is in a bad way, but the MDC cannot admit this because it is largely in charge of it — and yet the MDC’s biggest accomplishment was eliminating the national currency, which was necessary because it was useless, but which was a huge humiliation which the MDC must accept for its own if it is to take credit for what recovery has happened.
And, meanwhile, the MDC has virtually nothing to offer except more of the same. But nobody seriously claims that ZANU (PF) is going to offer anything particularly new. Hence, why bother to vote for the MDC if you’re going to get the same stew from the same pot as is offered by ZANU (PF)? And, if you think the MDC has plans which they aren’t talking about — which they almost certainly have — those plans consist of things which Zimbabweans don’t actually want, like mass privatisation and substantial dismissals of government workers. So those who believe what ZANU (PF) are saying have good reason to vote against MDC, while those who believe what MDC are saying have difficulty telling it and ZANU (PF) apart. The election itself has been as empty of any real policy debate as an American election.
So what can we learn from all this? Nothing much that is new. Of course, it is possible that if ZANU (PF) wins, it will save the country somehow, but not very likely. It is possible that if MDC wins, it will save the country somehow, but not very likely. It is, in fact, more likely that Zimbabwe will continue to muddle on its present course regardless of who wins.
Meaning that Zimbabwe is becoming a normal country, in the terms under which “normal” has meaning today — this being a sort of code word for decay and degeneration short of disaster. Which is, no doubt, pleasant for Zimbabweans who have experienced far worse over the last decade or so. But it’s sad for those who ever had hopes that Zimbabwe might be any kind of example for others to follow — even if it’s also sad for those who have been trying to ensure that Zimbabwe was becoming an example which nobody else would dare to follow.
A last appendix. The West’s hypocritical commentary about the Zimbabwean election looked all the more hypocritical when the West was demanding that everyone accept the results of the genuinely disgusting and ludicrous Malian election, held under foreign military occupation and involving a choice between two corrupt Western stooges.
The MDC failed to provide any evidence that the election had been rigged (or at least had been more rigged than the average African election). Eventually they even withdrew their last court challenge, which they certainly wouldn’t have done if they had possessed an effective case. What they are apparently hoping for is that the West will resume its economic offensive against Zimbabwe and destroy its economy again, thus making it possible for the MDC to gain votes. What is more likely is that the West will simply lose interest in Zimbabwe altogether, and that the MDC will become an irrelevance. In which case, one has to acknowledge that ZANU (PF) did the right thing at the right time, and that the critics of ZANU (PF) have been wrong throughout.