15th February 2017
Open Letter To President Robert Mugabe on the occasion of his 93rd birthday.
Dear President Robert Mugabe!
Our African tradition requires that, l congratulate you on your 93rd birthday irrespective of our political differences. As a practising Catholic yourself, l believe you are thanking His Almighty for a long life.
Your peers never lived to celebrate this milestone in your life. Some died in the hands of the colonialists during the liberation struggle, others died during your rule due to poverty following the neo liberal policies that your regime implemented over the years ,while others died during Gukurahundi , which in your own words, "was a moment of madness".
I therefore find it difficult to wish you a happy birthday but as tradition requires , l say to you, happy birthday Cde President.
In IsiNdebele we say, " akusilima sindlebende kwaso", this basically means, despite your "moment of madness" you are still one of us - an African.It is in that African spirit that, l have chosen to write you this open letter.
Some few years back, the ZANU(PF) Youth League adopted, through your advice a political programme known as the '21st February Movement'.
This 21st Movement is meant to coincide with your birthday, it is on this day that young people in Zimbabwe and abroad are expected to celebrate your political ideas as articulated by yourself as leader of ZANU since its inception and your leadership of an independent Zimbabwe.
Over the years, the 21st Movement had sought to confer a cult status on you. We have seen the hero worshiping of you by members of your party.
Some have even gone to call you 'the second Son of God'. This cultism was rejected by Cde Fidel Castro, the father of scientific socialism.
At the funeral of Cde Fidel , the Cuban President , Cde Raul Castro said,"The leader of the revolution rejected any manifestation of a cult of personality and was consistent in that through the last hours of his life, insisting that, once dead, his name and likeness would never be used on institutions, streets, parks or other public sites, and that busts, statutes or other forms of tribute would never be erected,"
The 21st Movement has nothing to do with the Zimbabwean struggle against colonialism and imperialism, but has everything to do with a selfish individual who seek personal glory at the expense of poor Zimbabweans who gave their all for the liberation of our people, of whom some paid the ultimate price.
As the ZANU (PF) Youth League gather in Matobo district, Matabeleland South in a few days time to sing your praises, its critical for me and other progressive Africans to unpack your political ideas and what they mean to the youth of today.
You will agree with me Cde President that we can not separate your political ideas from those of your party ZANU (PF).
You will recall Cde President, that as a young man teaching in Ghana, you were inspired by the Ghanian independence to an extent that you joined the only authentic liberation movement ZAPU, a broad nationalist liberation movement at the time, supported by the Soviet Union, Cuba and other Communist countries. ZAPU at the time was in alliance with the ANC and other progressive liberation movements.
As you will recall Cde President, this was during the Cold War, where the imperialists as led by the Americans and the British were engaged in struggle , seeking to limit the influence of Soviet Union in Sub Saharan Africa.
The imperialists used the CIA as a tool in destabilising the liberation movements through splits and by sharing intelligence information with colonial governments in arresting the political leadership as was the case with Cde Nelson Mandela and others.
The arrest of President Nelson Mandela in 1962 on his way from Durban was part of the imperialist plot which sought not only to derail the revolutionary liberation movement but to fight communists. Agence France -Presse writes - "A tip from a CIA spy to authorities in apartheid-era South Africa led to Nelson Mandela's arrest, beginning the leader's 27 years behind bars, a report said on Sunday.
Donald Rickard, a former US vice-consul in Durban and CIA operative, told British film director John Irvin that he had been involved in Mandela’s arrest in 1962, which was seen as necessary because the Americans believed he was "completely under the control of the Soviet Union", according to a report in the Sunday Times newspaper.
"He could have incited a war in South Africa, the United States would have to get involved, grudgingly, and things could have gone to hell," Rickard said.
"We were teetering on the brink here and it had to be stopped, which meant Mandela had to be stopped. And I put a stop to it" It is the Americans and their British friends who characterised the ANC as a terrorist movement.
This is the liberation movement which inspired nationalists in Zimbabwe to embark on revolutionary journey by establishing the UNDP which latter changed to ZAPU following the unbanning of the UNDP. At the time Cde President, you were the Secretary of Information and Publicity in ZAPU.
The CIA had to infiltrate other liberation movements and governments to exert the imperialist influence. It was during this period that Congo's liberation hero Cde Patrice Lumumba was assassinated and the imperialists installed their man, Mobuto .
In Mozambique and Angola , the imperialists created and funded Renamo and Unita respectively. In our case, the imperialists used some of our leaders to split the liberation movement in 1963.
You are one such leader who broke away from ZAPU to join ZANU, a reactionary movement. A reactionary movement is characterised by thuggery , lack of organisational discipline, looting of resources, killing of those who hold different political views, advances the imperialist agenda. This defines ZANU from the days of the liberation struggle up to date.
You will recall Cde President that, the 1963 split was not based on ethnicity but was influenced by the West. The CIA recruited some of our intellectuals who caused the split, in the process raising the tribal card as a way of dividing our people.
Your government has over the years taught lies in our schools claiming that, Dr Nkomo never wanted to commit to the liberation struggle hence the split.
It is common cause Cde President that, ZANU was created by the imperialists in 1963 with the sole purpose of installing a puppet government. This imperialist political project paid off in 1980 when you were sworn into office on the 18th April 1980 as the Prime Minister of an independent Zimbabwe. Your "victory" in 1980 was celebrated by the imperialists.
The then American diplomat Andrew Young, said that your victory was a victory for the Western diplomacy as your victory would push back the Soviet influence in our region.
When vote rigging was reported to Margret Thacher in 1980 and was asked to nullify the results, she refused. To her and others , Britain could not just hand over political power to the black people but she had the responsibility of handing over political power to a man who would protect British interests in a newly independent Zimbabwe.
You became that man Cde President until the Conservatives lost power in Britain in 1997 and you could not be trusted by the Labour Party as led by Tony Blair.
When you assumed political office in 1980, your cabinet became the managers of British business interests ,whipping into line the workers, ensuring that the workers struggle for better working conditions and a living wage was defeated. You facilitated the formation of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) , appointed your late brother Albert Mugabe as its first Secretary General.
The ZCTU was basically the organ of your party. It began to fight for autonomy and independence after your government attempted to force through the one party state, corruption, and the introduction of the neo liberal Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) in 1991.
The whole idea of the 21st February Movement by the ZANU (PF) Youth League to indoctrinate our young people with what they call , your political ideas or to be specific, 'Mugabeism' is totally misplaced.
The Robert Gabriel Mugabe l know is a creation of imperialist forces, who got dumped by his handlers as they did with Mobuto of Zaire and others.
I was listening to you Cde President when you spoke of the late Brother Leader, Col Gaddafi in 2011 following his assassination by NATO and her allies. You seemed to offer wise counsel, that the mistake Brother Leader did was to trust the imperialists , not forgetting that your party ZANU and its entire leadership was created by the same imperialists in 1963.
I have had the opportunity to speak to my brothers and sisters in Johannesburg, who come from the rest of the Continent. They speak highly of you Cde President, they see you as a true Pan Africanist. I might say, you have done well in controlling the media and projecting yourself as a true champion against imperialism.
But your charm is fading away Cde President, one of the young leaders who once admired you, Julius Malema now says you are a 'national disaster' and we must declare you as such. His message is beginning to resonate with young people across the Continent who are fighting for economic and political freedom.
One thing you did Cde President after you were dumped by your political handlers, the British and the Americans, you moved to the far left, typical of National bourgeoisies who are always in competition with imperialist forces for the control of our natural resources, not to the benefit of the masses , but for its selfish benefit.
The looting of diamonds , our gold, our timber, our coal, our cattle, our money has been the hallmark of your leadership as you sought to prevent the imperialists from looting while ,you , your family and your political appointees continue to loot.
As you celebrate your 93rd birthday in Matobo, the whole nation is in mourning over the genocide you committed in the '80s in Matebeleland and parts of Midlands, over the collapsed economy, and over other evils associated with your leadership.
Our African custom does not allow young people like myself to give advice to an elderly person like yourself Cde President. I will stick to our tradition and customs by not giving you any advice. What l will do though, is to give political advice to the young people in your party who mistake you for a revolutionary. You are not and you have never been one.
My advice to the young people in your party is that, first and foremost, they must study Marxism and Leninism. One of the great revolutionaries Che Guevara says, "one of the things that young people must do, is to learn".
The study of Marxism and Leninism will open their revolutionary eyes and begin to disassociate themselves from a reactionary movement like your party ,ZANU (PF) which they mistake for a revolutionary party.
It is not revolutionary in character. A revolutionary party will never drive its citizens out of the country, it will instead transform the commanding heights of the economy to the benefit of the masses not to the benefit of its political leadership like yourself who buy holiday homes in the Far East or get medical treatment in foreign lands.
A revolutionary party advances, deepens and defends the struggle of the working class and the poor, it does not destroy the economy and force 94% of the working people into the informal economy who get abused by the military police on daily basis.
Nor does a revolutionary party hold the peasants into hostage by destroying industries and agriculture ,then use food aid as a political weapon. The peasants in villages are not interested in food aid, they want to control the decisive means of production. They can not be given land without title deeds, how do they apply for agricultural loans?
A revolutionary party defends our sovereignty, rejects imperialism and national bourgeoisie. It advocates for peoples power in communities and the workplace.
This is why a revolutionary party builds peoples power in communities and the working place. This political power must be used by the masses in electing their political representatives and reject this notion of building a centre of power to an individual as is the case in your party. The Freedom Charter says , among others, "...the people shall govern" , it does not say, "the leadership shall govern".
Our own heroes , the likes of Makhathini Guduza, whom you denied hero status participated in the drafting of the Freedom Charter before they joined the liberation movement back home.
Cde President, let me once again wish you well as you celebrate your 93rd birthday amid poverty in our society. If l had my way, l would confine you to your village in Zvimba and allow you to celebrate your birthday with your family only. As you celebrate your birthday, as young revolutionaries, we get inspiration from the words of Cde Che Guevara who said, " Am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people shall liberate themselves". Indeed, we the people shall liberate ourselves from your dictatorship.
Cde Ngqabutho Nicholas Mabhena
A political activist and a student of Marxism and Leninism.