Sides: Zimbabwe Peasant Land
By Lil Joe
In the wake of land expropriations by
Zimbabwean peasants -- officially called the "Zimbabwean
Land Redistribution Act" -- the British and American
governments have ordered economic and political sanctions against
Zimbabwe. An "Open Letter to Mugabe"
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Black Radical Congress,
Trans-Africa, and other Americans who happen to be Black, has
placed the signatories in bed with the British and American
governments in denouncing the Zimbabwean government for allowing
land expropriations by landless Zimbabwean peasants.
In denouncing Mugabe, these American
organizations are providing references for British and American
governments: "See, our economic and political sanctions
against Zimbabwe are not racist imperialism. The Coalition
of Black Trade Unionists, the Black Radical Congress, and even
Trans-Africa are denouncing Mugabe, ZANU-PF and the
'lawlessness' of the expropriation of lands owned by White
The leadership of the Coalition of Black
Trade Unionists, Trans-Africa, and the Black Radical Congress
have joined with British and U.S. imperialism -- and
transnational capital that they represent -- in attacking
landless Zimbabwean peasants in their efforts to expropriate the
expropriators of Zimbabwean land.
These lackeys of American imperialism attack
the African peasants of Zimbabwe for being "lawless."
In particular, they reduce the natural occurrence of Zimbabwean
peasants taking back the land stolen from their Zimbabwean
forefathers to the private motives of a single individual:
Robert Mugabe, the head of the ZANU-PF government in Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, they reduce these mass acts of expropriation by
Zimbabwean peasants to Mugabe "initiating" same in
order to get re-elected.
On the defensive because opposed by
African-Americans in the United States who support the land
expropriations in Zimbabwe, the Black Radical Congress has been
circulating a February 14, 2001 speech made by Zwelinzima Vavi,
COSATU General Secretary, in which he denounced the African
peasants in Zimbabwe for seizing the lands that were stolen from
Zimbabwe is still characterised by
unequal distribution of land - still largely in the
hands of whites. At the core of the liberation struggle
in Zimbabwe was the land question and it is important
that this be addressed in an orderly manner. However, we
could not associate ourselves with the chaotic and
anarchic fast track land resettlement programme
unleashed by the Zimbabwean government in 2000. This
programme was in flagrant disregard of the law and
unleashed a wave of violence that threatened the very stability
of the society.
This snip tells the real story! The
snip is taken from a statement by a labour bureaucrat in South
Africa that -- instead of engaging in a struggle to expropriate
the capitalist-owned mines and industries in South Africa have
attacked the African peasant movement in Zimbabwe to take back
their historic land! The real deal in Zimbabwe is the land
issue, and not "democracy" or "corruption,"
as is masqueraded in the British and American media on one hand,
and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Black Radical
Congress, and Trans-Africa on the other. These are the
kind of Negroes that are described by Nathan Hare as Black
Anglo-Saxons. Whether they are conscious of it or no,
their Open Letter to Mugabe for instance indicate that for all
their claimed Blackness they have internalized of Anglo-American
views and are promoting Anglo-American imperialist interests in
Similarly COSATU looks at the world from the
perspective of the English colonizer instead of the Black
proletariat. Rather than view the land expropriations as
rightfully instigated by indigenous Zimbabwean peasants, this
South African COSATU bureaucrat, Zwelinzima Vavi, accuses the
Zimbabwean government of "unleashing" the African
peasants in a "wave of violence." This says a
lot about the world-outlook of a South African trade union
bureaucrat. Are African peasants "savages" -- wild men
and women as animals that need to be kept on a leash? This
COSATU union bureaucrats seem to think so!!
What of the issue of "law"?
Do all working-class militants, socialists, and communist
workers in Africa and the world not understand that the State is
an instrument of class rule? Capitalists today own the
world. Except for Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and parts of
China where the land and industry remain nationalized or/and
publicly-owned property, capitalists and imperialists who are,
in comparison and in contrast to the vast majority of workers
and peasants, a tiny minority of exploiters, own the world's
Democracy is nothing but a bullshit ideology
insofar as capitalist class society is concerned. The
"tiny minority of exploiters" historically has
determined which party is the ruling party, and capitalist class
parties in every so-called "democracy" has written
constitutions and legislated "laws" that govern civil
society in their interests. Since they see themselves as
the last best representatives of humanity, bourgeois politicians
identify capitalist interests as "human rights."
So-called International law is nothing but agreements between
bourgeois governments on rules by which they have consensus on
how to govern the world.
Every Third World Liberation movement was
"illegal" as far as imperialist "laws" were
concerned -- imperialist "laws" were written against
the liberation of indigenous people. Every hitherto existing
labour movement started out "illegally." When
trade unions are organizing, "laws" are usually
written to declare their organizing activities and actions to be
"illegal." For example, in the United States
"wildcat" strikes, secondary strikes, and secondary
boycotts are illegal -- the Taft-Hartley Act is governing
"law" related to these united worker activities.
Were American workers, say a Black labour struggle in a Detroit
plant to take to the streets in a wild-cat strike, would the
Coalition of Black Trade Unions, the Black Radical Congress, and
COSATU denounce them for "lawlessness"?
I remember reading somewhere that in a
discussion between Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Martin
Luther King, Jr. regarding the civil rights demonstrations in
Birmingham, Alabama in 1962-3, Kennedy said that what the Blacks
were doing in Alabama was "illegal." To Kennedy,
King replied: "Yes, and everything that the NAZI government
did in Germany was "legal"! It was "against
the law" for Blacks and Chicanos to sit in the front seats
of buses, enter segregated restaurants, swimming pools, and
drink from "White Only " water fountains.
"Laws" do not exist in the
abstract, as some kind of independent, universal determination
of ethical principle. Men and women in power write
"Laws," and men and women in power represent class
interests. Most all "laws" in place today were
written and legislated by capitalist class parties in place to
represent capitalist economic or/and political interests -- in
every capitalist country, including the United States, South
Africa and, yes, Zimbabwe the "rule of law" is the
articulation of capitalist class interests in the form of laws
backed by the armed might of the state.
The end of apartheid in South Africa did not
change property relations -- Black capitalists merged into a now
ethnically integrated, economically determinate class, the
bourgeoisie, joined the White capitalists. The South
African Constitution and its legislated laws still today
protects capitalists from worker expropriations! It seems
to me that rather than denouncing the Zimbabwe government for
"unleashing" African peasant expropriations in
Zimbabwe as violating the law that instead COSATU would be
plotting to do a little law violating of their own: that is,
expropriating the productive forces in South Africa!
The "rule of law" is nothing but
class rule. The Lancaster Accords set the laws on the
books in Zimbabwe in place. The objective of these
"accords" was to trade off for political independence
to the African bourgeoisie in Zimbabwe in exchange leaving
capitalist property rights in place, and that includes
imperialist ownership or/and partnership in owning the
productive forces in Zimbabwe.
Neither COSATU in South Africa, nor the
"Black radicals" in the United States criticized ZANU-PF
for the Lancaster Accords sell-out of the Zimbabwean peasants,
leading directly to the necessity of violating the Lancaster
Accords' laws by the peasant expropriations. Africans
should be attacking the Lancaster Accords "laws" in
place, which COSATU is defending. Those are the laws
leaving the majority of arable land in the clutches of the
children and grandchildren of settler-colonialists.
Compensation of white settlers for land they expropriated from
the people of Zimbabwe, reminds one of the French imperialists
forcing the Haitian revolutionaries to "compensate"
their former slave-owners/land owners, in order to be recognized
as a self-governing republic.
The land issue/resolution in Zimbabwe today
is no trick of the ZANU-PF.
The times of that superstition which
attributed revolutions to
the ill-will of a few agitators have long passed away.
Everyone knows nowadays that wherever there is a
there must be some social want in the background, which
is prevented, by outworn institutions, from satisfying
itself. (Karl Marx, Revolution and Counter Revolution)
|Land seizures are not new to Zimbabwe.
Groups of landless peasants have invaded white-owned farms
numerous times since 1980. The present land seizures were
not, nor could it be engendered by Mugabe nor ZANU-PF. The
final cause in this wave of land seizures is engendered by the
factual situation on the ground.
That is, land seizures by peasants
presupposes that there existed (exist) a condition of
landlessness among the peasant masses themselves. The
landless peasants have taken matter into their own hands.
What is different is that Mugabe or/and ZANU-PF have recognized
the inevitable, and stepped aside to let nature run its natural
It is a tautology to say were the peasants
not landless there would be no land seizures. My criticism
of ZANU-PF is not that these peasant land seizures are allowed
without State suppression -- that's what the so-call "rule of
law" would mean in Zimbabwe: suppression of the peasants
movement -- but that the government suppressed them in the past.
The "rule of law" -- based on the Lancaster Accords (Agreements)
was enforced by the government until 2000, when ZANU stepped to
The return to the "rule of law" as is
demanded by the COSATU labour bureaucracy, the BRC,
Trans-Africa, the so-called "Coalition of Black Trade
Unionists," and other representatives of capitalist law and
order, is nothing but a counter-revolutionary demand upon
African peasants to return African land to White capitalists and
Imperialist property interests.
The psychoanalytical "analysis" of
Mugabe, as an individual engendering these objective material
processes in order to be re-elected as President, has no basis
in empirical science, but is ESP! (Mind Reading!) Because
no one knows what are or aren’t Mugabe's personal motives
unless they have ESP or can provide empirical documentation.
The imperialist critics have not presented any documentation,
nor have their Negro mouth-pieces (COSATU, BRC, Trans-Africa,
There are no revolutionary socialists or
communists in the COSATU labour bureaucracy, the BRC,
Trans-Africa, the so-called "Coalition of Black Trade
Unionists," nor among the other opponents of the peasant's
expropriation of imperialistic/settler colonist lands.
Were they representatives of the African or/and African-American
working-class, as such their criticism of Mugabe and ZANU-PF
would not be that he supposedly "initiated" these
"land grabs" -- nor that the lion's share is going to
his cronies in the Black or African bourgeoisie because
redistribution of the land is a bourgeois demand. Rather,
if they were socialists or communists their criticism would be
that the expropriations are limited to the bourgeois-democratic
stage while the proletarian expropriation of capitalistic
property -- that is, the tobacco farms, the mines, and the
factories are NOT on the agenda!
African Communists and Socialists in South
Africa, e.g., the Socialist Party Of Azania (SOPA), should
defend and support the African peasants in Zimbabwe,
understanding it as an historical process objectively determined
and not about Mugabe or even ZANU-PF or/and personal motives.
The issue is progress in the peasants
revolution: bourgeois-democratic land expropriations, into
proletarian revolution: socialist expropriations by wage-labour-employees
of agribusinesses, mines, factories, financial institutions and
of course the state by which these expropriations will be
achieved. The point is to make the peasant's
expropriations in Zimbabwe continental and thereby permanent
revolution in that the proletariat in the industrialized African
countries will expropriate capital.
Of course the revolutionary proletarian
expropriation of the means of production is "illegal"!
Since COSATU is opposed to peasant's expropriation of land, and
its bourgeois redistribution to the rural petty- bourgeois
(peasants) and bourgeois, it is anticipated that COSATU will
oppose the "illegal" expropriations by African
wage-workers of capital.
It has been said -- even in the statement by
COSATU's Zwelinzima Vavi -- that "power corrupts, and
absolute power corrupts absolutely" (This statement
in the COSATU statement is attributed to having originated with
Mandela, but it is an old Christian statement based on the myth
of original sin without taking it to its logical conclusion: God
the omnipotent is absolutely corrupt!)
In any case, the productive forces in every
country in Africa are in the hands of the bourgeoisie or/and
Western-based transnational capitalists. They are a
cosmopolitan but small minority of capitalist exploiters of
wage-labour. COSATU and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
as working-class organizations should be pushing for the
extension of the peasant's expropriation of single farms into
the expropriations of the landed plantation estates, the
agribusinesses by the working-class. COSATU and the
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, were they actually
representing a proletarian solution to the economic crisis in
Zimbabwe, they would be pushing for the expropriation of the
mines, and factories, along with agribusinesses by the working
If COSATU does not think that the landless
African peasants are expropriating the settler-colonists land
the correct way, then they should show them the right way to do
it by initiating in South Africa a process of landless African
peasants expropriations of the capitalist and imperialist owned
agribusinesses in South Africa! South Africa is the most
industrialized country in Africa.
South Africa therefore has the largest, and most class
conscious and best-organized proletariat in Africa.
Therefore, COSATU ought to be about making the expropriations of
land by African peasants regional in combination with workers
expropriations of mines, agribusinesses, factories and banking
institutions, under workers control throughout the region.
And throughout Africa! This is proletarian
internationalism in the Pan-African context.
As to the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
they are American Negroes who have not even taken over and
radicalized the American trade unions. The American
AFL-CIO supports anti-communist coups in Third World countries
-- most recently the attempt to overthrow the left-government in
Venezuela. And the AFL-CIO is presently supporting the
American wars on Muslim and Arab countries, and the
Anglo-American colonization of Iraq. It would seem that
the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists would be trying to get
their own reactionary house of labour unions in order, rather
than joining in with the AFL-CIO leadership in endorsing U.S.
and British imperialism economic and political sanctions on
Zimbabwe by denouncing ZANU-PF.
The American trade union bureaucracy, and
large sections of its rank and file are the most reactionary in
the world and this includes the Coalition of Black Trade
Unionists. Rather than publishing "Open Letters" to Bush
and Blair denouncing the economic and political sanctions on
Zimbabwe, on the contrary, they stand in the camp of
U.S. imperialism demanding that Mugabe resign: "regime
The anti-colonial struggle in Africa was
bourgeois-democratic, which led to the Lancaster Agreement.
The present expropriation of land by landless peasants is the
completion of the bourgeois democratic revolution. It is
not therefore surprising that in these expropriations based on
capitalist redistribution, that the Black bourgeois represented
by ZANU-PF is getting the lions share.
The same thing happened in the English
Revolution in the 17th century, and the French Revolution in the
18th century, and so on.
What is different in 21st century in southern
Africa is that in Zimbabwe and especially South Africa there is
developed industry in place, and a large class of wage-workers
that is capable of organizing itself into a regional class
party, and culminate the present bourgeois-democratic land
redistribution in socialist expropriations of the
agribusinesses, the mines, the banks, the factories, and so on.
But to do this the class conscious
working-class has to develop relations with the landless
peasants not in calling for the return to submission to the rule
of law, bourgeois law, but to act independently of the ZANU-PF
by breaking all the laws in expropriating the land reserved for
big "farmers," Black and White alike. The
industrial working-class and mine working proletariat in
Southern Africa by forming an alliance with the poor and
landless peasants supporting land to the tillers by their direct
expropriations in collaboration with proletarian expropriations
of mining and industrial capital.
The objective of class conscious wage-labour
in Zimbabwe is the same as the class conscious working-class
objectives in South Africa, indeed of class conscious workers in
every advanced industrial capitalist country: organize the
workers into a party, overthrow of bourgeois supremacy, conquest
of political power by the working-class. The working-class
will use this power to wrest, by degree, all capital from the
bourgeoisie. But, in southern Africa, given the momentum
of the peasants expropriations of land, this could engender
proletarian expropriations of the agribusiness, that for ZANU-PF
is a no no.
The expropriation of landed capital could
easily engender, by its extension to the mining proletariat
working-class expropriations throughout southern Africa.
"Zimbabwe's Changed Land" by
Carolyn Dempster in Harare 28 February 2003 BBC News Online
Black farm workers who stayed on
after the invasions and violent eviction of their former
white employers are now co-operating with the new
settlers to eke out a living, using the seeds and
implements abandoned by the white farmers. Close
to two million farm workers and their families were
profoundly affected by the land resettlement
programme. The Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe
says up to 70% of farm workers lost their jobs and a
means of income as a direct result.
This situation can be remedied by the
co-operation of workers and peasants expropriations reorganizing
production and distribution as co-ops.
I suggest that the African working-class
study what the Argentine working-class is doing, already it is
expropriating factories. The defense of these expropriated
factories engendered nation-wide, class-consciousness in
confrontation with the state.
Under conditions of land expropriations in
Zimbabwe, and factory occupations in Argentina, the world
working-class movement is being brought to a new, higher level
of class-consciousness, the future of working-class goals and
The Zimbabwean peasants expropriations and
the Argentine workers occupations represent the future in the
The real issue in Zimbabwe is not Western
style bourgeois democracy, but a social revolution in peasant's
expropriations of the land taken from their forefathers.
The radical critique of "Mugabe," i.e., ZANU-PF, is
not that the land seizures are going too far but that they are
limited, the expropriations must be extended to the
agribusinesses, mines, and factories.
June 20, 2003
See also: http://www.leviy.ru/news/2002/23_08_2002_zn10.htm
* * *
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
* * *
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
* * *
Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in
By Melissa V.
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.
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
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
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
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If you like this page consider making a donation
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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updated 11 June