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Let's review the history of Zimbabwe lest we forget how European White settlers killed,

plundered and stole in order to position themselves where they are today in Zimbabwe.



Sanctions on Zimbabwe: Africa Under Attack

By Connie White


The European Union and the American government have imposed sanctions on       Zimbabwe?  What is the main aim of these sanctions?  They are meant to       . . . weaken and remove the regime of  president Robert Mugabe.  Like other actions taken by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and       the World Bank, they seek to pressure and impose a government on the people of Zimbabwe in the name of 'democratic elections.' (, Issue #51, Saturday February 3, 2002, "No Sanctions on Zimbabwe")

In 2002, the fifteen member states of the European Union decided to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe.  Sanctions are war without guns and bloodshed, and have limited, if any, effectiveness for changing behavior or governments of target countries.  (Working Papers 1997 of the Institute For International Economics).

On the other hand, sanctions target to kill or injure infants, children, the elderly, and the chronically ill.  (Ramsey Clark: Report to UN Security Council re: Iraq, January 26, 2000) 

 The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 states that U.S. sanctions will remain in place against the Zimbabwean "government" [euphemism for "the people"] until the U.S. president certifies that the "rule of law has been restored in Zimbabwe, including respect for ownership and title to property. . . and an end to. . .lawlessness."  The U.S. government and its imperialist cohorts around the world are the ones who are "lawless" and defying the "rule of law" in Zimbabwe.  The Zimbabwean government has declared that it is against the law in Zimbabwe for 1 percent of the population in Zimbabwe -- i.e., white settler colonists -- to own 1/2 of the arable land, while 95 percent or more of the population in Zimbabwe are impoverished and without land.

Charles Rangels and Sheila Jackson-Lee of the Congressional Black Caucus of the Democratic Party support the lawlessness of the Zimbabwean White landed gentry and agri-capitalist in that they backed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001.  The only thing that Democratic Party members like Charles Rangels and Sheila Jackson-Lee are trying to recover in Zimbabwe are the economic interests of capital, and to maintain the presence of those interests in Zimbabwe.  The objective is not "democracy" and "economic recovery" in Zimbabwe.

Let's review the history of Zimbabwe lest we forget how European White settlers killed, plundered and stole in order to position themselves where they are today in Zimbabwe.

A History of the Plunder of Zimbabwe

In 1891, the British government recognized the South African Company's "investment" in Zimbabwe, and brokered that company's expropriation of fertile farmland from the Shona population.  Supported by the military might of the British crown, the White settlers who followed Cecil Rhodes to Zimbabwe were given 3,000 acres of choice farmland, plus 15 gold-mining claims by those who had no right to give what was not theirs.

The White settlers discovered that no significant wealth would be discovered in the gold mines in Zimbabwe and, thus, were granted 6,000 acres of choice farmland by the South African Company.  White settlers continued unabated in their invasion of Zimbabwe. Cattle was seized from the native population, native lands were taken, and the indigenous people were often forcibly prevented from plowing and sewing the meager plots of soil that were left them because of tax collection and coerced labor in White-owned farms.  By March 1899, the White settlers had seized 15,762,364 acres of choice farmland.  (A History of Africa: 1840-1914, by Michael Tidy and Donald Leeming; London: E. Arnold, 1981.)

The Zimbabwean workers and peasants rebelled on several occasions.  The "Chi Murenga" rebellion of 1896 was one rebellion that was brutally crushed by the British.  The brutal treatment of Zimbabwean mine workers culminated in the enactment of the Master and Servants Law, which made it a criminal offense to break a labor contract.

These historical acts of theft and plunder of African lands are the basis in Zimbabwe today for what U.S. Democratic Party members like Charles Rangels and Sheila Jackson-Lee call the "rule of law."  When U.S. Democratic and Republican Party members call for a "return to the rule of law" in Zimbabwe, they speak of a "rule of law" that continues to deny impoverished Zimbabweans the right to shelter and to feed themselves and their families.  This "rule of law" of White settlers who killed, stole, and plundered Zimbabwe allows the ruling class to own the land and control the economy in Zimbabwe, but also is the basis for denying the Zimbabwean peasants the land, which has always been rightfully theirs.

Europe Underdeveloped Africa

The capitalist modes of production in nations of Europe and North America gobbled up Africa, which was fractured into colonial states and settler colonies.  The economic modes of production in the colonies were determined by the economic polices of the colonizing European power.  Production in the respective colonies was determined by the colonial power and, for the most part in Africa, was agricultural production for export of goods or/and geologically determined production of raw materials from natural resources.  Thus, a dialectical power-dependence relationship grew between the European colonial power and the developing African economies.

World capitalism developed in the womb of monarchal feudal states in Europe, and was personified in the rising merchant capitalist in the context of competing mercantile systems and colonial rivalries.  These mercantile systems -- in particular, Britain and France -- subordinated the colonies to the resources of the rising capitalist classes.  The older colonial powers like Spain and Portugal were more looters than producers, and were swept aside as the rising British Empire was becoming the dominant global economy. 

In this world historical framework, Europe under-developed Africa.  In the midst of the industrial revolution in England -- which at once engendered and was engendering the capitalization of the productive forces, and the correlating proletarianization of the peasants from the countryside to the cities to be a surplus population of destitute individuals with no means of subsistence -- the conquered economies of the kingdoms of Africa were -- by way of land expropriations by the conquerors-- being transformed from diversified, self-sufficient economies into productive assets of the capitalist, and dependent upon the economy and commodities of capitalism.

The depopulation of Africa by the trans-Atlantic slave trade also retarded Africa's potential for industrial development.  By becoming dependent upon European industrial commodities -- e.g., firearms, manufactured textiles and rum -- the African countries objectively surrendered political power to its European colonizer.

Liberation War and the Lancaster Agreement 

The party of Robert Mugabe, ZANU-PF, came to power in 1979 at the time of the Lancaster Agreement, but left the land and the Zimbabwean economy in the hands of the same class that owned the lands and managed the economy prior to Zimbabwe's independence.  ZANU-PF and Mugabe achieved some measure of wealth, power, and privilege in Zimbabwe for the formerly excluded Black bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie -- e.g., the Black domestic capitalists.  As owners of the means of production in Zimbabwe, including the majority of the productive land, the capitalists -- both Black and White – run the enterprises and determine what will be governmental policy.  To wit, the "rule of law" -- established at the time of the Lancaster Agreement, and in place until the recent enactment of the Zimbabwe Land Redistribution Act -- supports stolen land acquired in the historical plunder of Zimbabwe remaining in the hands of the capitalists instead of being transferred to the Zimbabwean peasants and workers who are the rightful owners.  After enacting the Zimbabwe Land Redistribution Act, ZANU-PF sees itself on the road of Chimeranga 3 -- establishing that the [indigenous] people of Zimbabwe own the land.

The IMF and World Bank Continue the Plunder of Zimbabwe  

One hundred years after the South African Company comes the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to Zimbabwe.  As the economy in Zimbabwe stagnated in 1990, the government turned to the IMF and the World Bank and adopted structural adjustment plans. This has put Zimbabwe on a chaotic road downwards.  During the first year of implementation of the structural adjustment plan(s), gross domestic product, which had been growing at over 4 percent a year, increased by only 1 percent in 1991. Industrial production, which had been rising nearly 6 percent per year, fell back to 2 percent.

Zimbabwe had always been a surplus maize producer with stockpiles of more than 1 million tons to tide the country over drought years.  (Jean Duval, April 20, 2000, from the "In Defense of Marxism" website.)  After implementing the structural adjustment plan(s) of the World Bank -- which forced the government of Zimbabwe to sell its stockpiles of maize to make a profit so as to pay IMF and World Bank debt -- Zimbabwe now has to import maize to feed its destitute population.

The IMF and World Bank structural adjustment plan(s) have precipitated food shortages in Zimbabwe, for which the ZANU-PF government is being blamed.  These food shortages (read: famine) are part of the excuses used by the U.S. and EU to sanction Zimbabwe. Furthermore, the IMF and World Bank structural adjustment plan(s) devastated the economy of the South African country of Zimbabwe.

The Western world has plundered Africa, killed and enslaved its population, and have created the basis for the food crisis existing in Zimbabwe today.  But the Western donors -- including the World Bank and the IMF – have cut aid to the Zimbabwean government until that government puts a halt to land seizures by landless peasants.

Western Media Blames Zimbabweans For The Crisis

Western governments and media pundits blame Zimbabwe's economic devastation on the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. According to them, Zimbabwe's economic crisis is the result of havoc rendered on the economy by Mugabe's misrule of the country and his mismanagement of its economy.  But, more specifically, these critics of the Zimbabwean government indicate that the immediate cause of the economic crisis is land seizure by the Zimbabwean peasants.

In reality, the damages to the Zimbabwean economy are due to the structural adjustment plan(s) of the IMF and World Bank, are due to tobacco planters protesting land seizures by withholding tobacco crops at a time when the Zimbabwean economy was being crushed under the structural adjustment plan(s), and are due to the White settler farmers destroying prize farmland with the chemical atrozin(sp?), which kills crops for two to three seasons!

There Are No Dictators

To attribute the fate of a national economy to the decisions made by a single individual is absurd.  There is no possibility that a single individual can single-handedly rule a nation of millions -- all that needs be done is to kill that individual while s/he sleeps.

In every class society, without exception, the most powerful and dominant economic class determines the political course of its government.  Classes rule.  The state is a bureaucratic-military machine, which functions in the interests of the economically dominant class.  Neither the state nor the rule of the economically dominant class are in any way dependent upon -- let alone determined by -- a single, egotistical will of a delusional individual.

As it is in Zimbabwe and the world, so it is in the U.S.  Charles Rangels and Sheila Jackson-Lee of the Democratic Party's Congressional Black Caucus advanced the interests of the most powerful and dominant economic class in the U.S. -- against the Zimbabwean peasants -- when they rose to support the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, and to sanction Zimbabwe. Charles Rangels supported the return to the "rule of law" in Zimbabwe, and Sheila Jackson-Lee said that "[T]his legislation sends a strong message to the rest of the world regarding our intentions toward Zimbabwe."

Indeed, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 sends the message that the U.S. government is at war with the Southern African nation of Zimbabwe.  Rangels and Jackson-Lee have sent a message to the people of Zimbabwe that they have absolutely no respect for the laws of Zimbabwe.  The U.S. government, the Democratic and Republican parties, and the Congressional Black Caucus support lawless White settlers' defiance of Zimbabwe's laws regarding redistribution of land in  Zimbabwe.

Land Reform Is Justifiable and Long Overdue (2002 Zimbabwe Fact-Finding Mission, led by Elombe Brath of Harlem, New York)

The Minister of Agricultural of the National Land Acquisition Committee in Zimbabwe states that in the tradition of Zimbabwe the land does not belong to any man, but to God and is managed and administered for the good and in the interests of the people of Zimbabwe. "[S]peaking in the language of the West, land is not a commodity to be bought and sold." (Taken from the video produced by Ron Wilkins of Los Angeles, California for the 2002 Zimbabwe Fact-Finding Mission.)  The Minister of Agriculture in Zimbabwe continues: "[W]e want the landholding part of Zimbabwe to reflect the population of Zimbabwe."

In fact, the land seizures in Zimbabwe have not gone far enough, and have come late.

A member of ZANU-PF spoke to the 2002 Zimbabwe Fact-Finding Mission and said: "We are at war. We have no illusions about that.  What the media has missed deliberately is the fact that it is a war going on [in Zimbabwe].  The war goes back to 1999-2000.  Resumption of a war that ended prematurely in 1979 with [the] Lancaster [Agreement].  We had no illusion that that which we agreed upon at Lancaster would come back to haunt us.  It was only a question of time.  The agreement that imperialism has forced us into in this region was deliberate and reflected the balance of forces at the time they were concluded, and reflected the extent to which the battle had not been won fully."

Real Independence Requires Expropriation of The Productive Forces

After the independence struggles of Africa in the '50s and '60s, the ruling "Black" governments govern in name only.  The real government of most of these independent nation states is based in the hands of the dominant economic class, and not in the hands of the "people of Africa." The poverty of recently independent African nation-states from the overt political shackles of colonialism is due to persistent economic control of those economies by the same economic masters in a neo-colonialist system.  Colonialism and neo-colonialism could not and would not have happened -- nor could it continue -- without the collaboration of "Quislings" in the colonial or/and neo-colonial countries.

ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe Fall Out of Favor With Capitalists in Zimbabwe and the World

The food shortages and economic crisis in Zimbabwe have been engendered by the economic policies of Britain and the U.S. as concretized in the structural adjustment plan(s) of the IMF and World Bank. Additionally, the crisis has been exacerbated by the economic policies of Zimbabwean capitalists -- especially the tobacco capitalists who withheld or/and destroyed critical tobacco crops -- the neo-colonial Black bourgeoisie, and the ZANU-PF government.

In Zimbabwe today, we are not seeing food shortages and economic crisis engendered by famine and civil war as was/is in Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan.  Not at all!

The policies of Western capital in Zimbabwe relegated Zimbabwe to being a source of natural resources and raw materials, combined with a specialized agricultural economy based in cash crops for export -- tobacco being the most important export crop in Zimbabwe—rather than diversified agricultural production that includes production of food for domestic consumption.  These economic policies of Western capital were exacerbated by the structural adjustment plan(s) of the IMF and World Bank.  ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe have, until recently, been the "Quislings" of British and American transnational corporations.  ZANU-PF sold out the Zimbabwean peasants and workers long ago when it agreed to the Lancaster Agreement that left the Zimbabwean economy and the arable land in the hands of domestic and transnational capitalists.

Resources of Zimbabwean State Placed at Disposal of Peasants and Workers of Zimbabwe

The peasant population seizing arable lands in Zimbabwe for production of food stuffs – for example, potatoes and cabbage -- was a "wake up call" for ZANU-PF to return to the struggle for liberation of the nation of Zimbabwe.  The recent policies and enactment of laws – like the Zimbabwe Land Redistribution Act – are merely a return by ZANU-PF, and Robert Mugabe, to the war of liberation that was (in the words of a ZANU-PF member) "ended prematurely in 1979 with [the] Lancaster [Agreement]."  (Taken from the video produced by Ron Wilkins of Los Angeles, California for the 2002 Zimbabwe Fact-Finding Mission led by Elombe Brath of Harlem, New York.)

Twenty years after ZANU-PF fought a liberation struggle and seized state power, landless peasants and unemployed and homeless proletarians in Zimbabwe desperately and spontaneously began to expropriate (seize) fertile land.  ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe recognized their former comrades of the national liberation struggle.  Instead of opposing the land seizures, ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe correctly supported the landless peasants in their efforts to take back the land that had been forcibly expropriated from their ancestors.

Capital interests in Zimbabwe expected ZANU-PF to uphold the pilfering "rule of law" of the Lancaster Agreement. ZANU-PF "did the right thing" and stood with the dispossessed population of Zimbabwe. As a consequence of supporting the land seizures in Zimbabwe, ZANU-PF and Robert Mugabe have fallen out of favor with the British and American transnational  corporations, as well as with the domestic capitalists in Zimbabwe -- both Black and White.

Workers and Peasants in Zimbabwe Must Take State Power

The arable land in Zimbabwe should be transformed from production of export-oriented cash crops to the production of foodstuffs for domestic consumption.  The mines and natural resources in Zimbabwe should be nationalized or/and declared national treasures.  All foreign tools in Zimbabwe should be nationalized, and the profits derived from mineral wealth production should belong to the whole of the people of Zimbabwe.

The current economic crisis in Zimbabwe also includes fuel price hikes that have forced bus and taxi fares higher at a time when Zimbabweans are struggling with record high unemployment and eroded wages.  (Reuters, July 6, 2001)

The economic struggle can become a political struggle that leads to state power.  The urban working-class in Zimbabwe must move from the purely economic struggle (strike) against rising taxes and fuel prices to a movement for the economical emancipation of the proletariat by -- following the example of the peasant land seizures -- expropriating the industrial capitalists in Zimbabwe.  The urban proletariat in Zimbabwe must seize industry, and the mine workers must seize the mines. To make all this possible, the praxis of the economic strike must displace the bourgeois parliament in Zimbabwe by workers' and peasants' soviets.  Only the working class, in alliance with the peasant masses, can make the expropriations of industry become public property.

The landless peasants in Zimbabwe have begun the expropriations by seizing small family farms, but the dispossessed in Zimbabwe will not own or be in control of the Zimbabwean economy without peasant expropriation of commercial plantations, and workers in Zimbabwe expropriating mines and factories.

This is the way forward in Zimbabwe.

(c) January 20, 2003

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Launching the Pedagogical History of Africa Project in Harare yesterday [5 September 2011] , President Mugabe said . . . "The history that must be written by our African scholars and academics here is the history that focuses on African people in struggle as creators of their own destiny rather than mere consumers of stories written about them by passive on-lookers who oftentimes happen to be non-African outsiders . . . . Real history belongs to a people in struggle and not to the interpreters of history. The people themselves are the makers of history and therefore the real historians. The interpreters are mere raconteurs of history and not the actual history-makers as is often wrongly implied . . . Only this way can we avoid history written by colonialists as 'winners'. Our real winners are the people, whose real history or struggle the so-called winners would like to distort and suppress . . . You cannot be a historian of African people if you do not share their cry or their laughter. No. The African sensibility, reflected in African culture and worldview, is the only accurate compass to guide a historian who is genuine about writing African history. . . . Slavery and colonisation do not themselves constitute African history. They disrupt and falsify the trajectory of African history. They dehumanise Africans to fit into the scheme of European capital. The ideology of racism is created as a parallel process to rationalise the oppression of Africans. . . . I need not stress that it is imperative to edify educational systems, which embody the African and universal values so as to ensure the rooting of youth in African culture in the context of a sustainable and participatory development. This way we continue to foster the spirit of unity in Africa as embodied in the African Unity Charter”AllAfrica

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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Related files: Empires and Lynching  The Real Trouble with Zimbabwe    The Lynching of Robert Mugabe (Ogbunwezeh)  No to invasion of Zimbabwe! (Molefe)  Western Hypocrisy   

Zimbabwe and the Question of Imperialism (Goodman)  Look What I Found (video)  Choosing Sides  Trans Africa & Progressives on Mugabe  Colin Powell on Mugabe  Sanctions on Zimbabwe 

Zimbabwe's Lonely Fight for Justice     Reporting Zimbabwe    President Robert Mugabe's UN Speech   A Shattered Dream  Zimbabwe and the Question of Imperialism  A Shattered Dream