Zimbabwe - The imperialist powers use the poor as cannon fodder against Mugabe's dictatorship

Jul/Aug 2008

There is probably no example in history of an election held in an African country which has generated as many vocal condemnations from the imperialist powers and their international bodies than the second round of the Zimbabwean presidential election, on 27 June, nor as much near-hysteria in the British media.

On that very day, the G8 meeting of foreign ministers, which was taking place in Kyoto, issued a statement to the effect that it "could not accept the legitimacy of a government which does not reflect the will of its people". At the same time, the EU Commission let it be known that it would consider the election result as "hollow and meaningless." US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned the vote as a "sham". She was immediately parroted by Britain's very own David Milliband - of course. For good measure, Berlusconi, the right-wing Italian president, called for more stringent sanctions against Zimbabwe by the EU, while US officials announced plans to make the same proposals to the UN Security Council. And since then, just about every political comment in the media, by journalists and politicians alike, has called for drastic sanctions, if not, although usually not in so many words, for outright military intervention.

That the 27 June ballot was meaningless as an election is obvious, since the incumbent president Robert Mugabe was the only candidate. But since when have the imperialist leaders shown any concern for the "legitimacy of a government which does not reflect the will of its people"? How many African dictators does the West ingratiate with its favours, regardless of the fact that their democratic credentials as just as dubious as Mugabe's - when they even bother to hold elections? How many ruthless dictators, or would-be dictators, have London, Washington and Paris supplied with funds, weapons and, in some cases, direct military aid, regardless of the resulting bloodshed among the population, simply because this suited the interests of Western multinationals? And this is not to mention the host of Gulf-based unelected royal tyrants, with which the imperialist powers maintain the most friendly relationships, despite their torturing and killing of political opponents and their medieval treatment of women!

In the book of imperialism, there are the "good" or "acceptable" dictatorships, those which are pliable enough for imperialist companies to do business with them "safely". And there are, the "rogue" dictatorships, to use Bush's own words, which are neither worse nor better than the others in terms of what they impose on their population, but for one reason or another have fallen out with their imperialist masters and must be rooted out, by all means, even if at times this involves a war, like in Iraq. For these "rogue dictatorships", only total capitulation or "regime change" can satisfy the imperialist leaders - and, once again, regardless of the resulting cost for the populations.

Such is the real substance of the tragedy being played out today in Zimbabwe.

Using the poor as cannon fodder to "punish" Mugabe

For almost two decades, despite the slaughter of 20,000 potential supporters of his only significant political rival, Joshua Nkomo, in the mid-1980s, Mugabe's regime remained a "good" dictatorship, especially for the large number of British companies which were piling up profits out of Zimbabwe's agricultural and mineral resources and even its small but not insignificant manufacturing industry.

However, everything changed in the late 1990s, when Mugabe chose to shore up his support among the population by demagogically turning a blind eye to the invasion of some of the very wealthy white-owned farms inherited from the colonial days, by war veterans.

For the imperialist powers, Mugabe had crossed a red line, by allowing his population to infringe on the sacred property rights of Western capital. Never mind the fact that Britain had never fulfilled its 1980 commitment to fund full land reform in the country, nor that, due to the monopoly of the white farmers over the most fertile land, millions of poor Zimbabwean were barely surviving! Never mind either if the stability of Mugabe's regime was threatened by the increasing impoverishment of the population. The imperialist powers could not care less, neither about the fate of the Zimbabwean poor, nor about the predicament of a dictator who had served them so well by keeping his population under his thumb - and, therefore, their yoke - since independence!

Thereafter, not only did Mugabe refuse to capitulate under pressure over the invasion of white-owned farms, but he retaliated, in 2000, with an official policy of land seizure against white commercial farmers. In so doing, he put himself beyond the pale. Within two years, Mugabe's regime was added to Bush's list of "rogue states", thereby marking the beginning of an era of Western "sanctions" against Zimbabwe. And for six years now, the Zimbabwean poor have been going through increasingly intolerable hardship because of these sanctions, something which is conveniently blamed by Western leaders on Mugabe's "mismanagement" of the country's economy - as if his regime had suddenly become more parasitical than it was before, just because of his unruly interference in imperialist interests!

One would not have to be a great strategic expert to know that the economic and political pressure unleashed by the imperialist powers against Mugabe's dictatorship would inevitably result in increasingly bloody convulsions on the part of the regime, whose main victims would be, once again, the Zimbabwean poor. And, in fact, this was exactly what western strategists where banking on and what actually happened.

Ultimately, what is being played out in the conflict between Mugabe's ZANU regime (Zimbabwe African National Union) and Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) is nothing other than the "regime change" that the imperialist leaders are hoping for in Zimbabwe, even if they conveniently refer to the expression of the "will of its people".

How closely the imperialist powers and their agencies have manipulated this conflict is impossible to say, although there are a few clues in this respect. But there is no possible doubt about the fact that, right from the word go, they have used the Zimbabwean poor as cannon fodder, on a much larger scale than Mugabe himself could possibly do, just by banking on the despair caused by their increasing deprivation and the regime's increasing use of repression.

The economy pushed into free-fall

The slide of Zimbabwe's economy into free fall was originally primed, even before the introduction of western "sanctions", by the predatory policies of the IMF in the late 1990s.

Back in 1991, Mugabe's regime committed itself to the IMF's Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP) in order to keep benefiting from international credit facilities. This programme stipulated massive job cuts in the civil service, privatisation of services and utilities, cuts in subsidies on food and fuel, removal of protective trade barriers and tariffs, etc. Eventually, in 1997, the implementation of some of these measures and the hardship this caused, precipitated a wave of strikes and the beginning of the white-owned farm invasions. As a result, Mugabe had little choice but to abandon ESAP.

This opting out of ESAP meant, however, that the provision of loans and access to foreign currency, gradually dried up. On top of that, interest rates on international loans for investment in Zimbabwe became prohibitive, so that, between 1998 and 2001, foreign investment dropped by 99%. To a large extent Zimbabwe was already being left high and dry by Western financial institutions, banks and governments.

Then came the "sanctions", which froze some of the country's assets held abroad and made access to foreign loans virtually impossible. But no poor country is able to survive without the life-line of loans from the international financial institutions nor a supply of foreign currency. In the last 5 years, Zimbabwe has had to rely on limited loans from its neighbouring South Africa or more recently, from China, to keep going. And it is probably only thanks to the country's very abundant natural wealth, that it has taken all of 8 years for the economy to reach the point of uncontrollable free-fall which is now finally also taking Mugabe's regime over the precipice.

Today, as a result of the acute lack of foreign currency, there are shortages of all essential goods and prices have spiralled completely out of control. Inflation had already begun doubling year on year from the high level of 55% in 2000, until it reached over 600% in 2004. But today it has reached absolutely ridiculous levels, with official figures for February 2008 giving an annual rate of 100,580%, up from 7,600% in July 2007. Incomprehensible levels of one million percent or even ten million percent are now cited. These are certainly the highest inflation levels in world history! As a result, the local going exchange rate for one British pound is measured in tens of billions of Zimbabwean dollars!

Of course the government has attempted to take all kinds of measures to try to cope with this untenable situation. In mid-2007, for instance, it launched "Operation Reduce Prices", but this attempt at price controls was too little, too late, given the shortages of available basic goods. Given the hyperinflation of the Zimbabwean currency it had already more or less lost its acceptability as valid tender even inside the country, especially for purchasing imports. So the price controls merely boosted the black market, which in turn fuelled inflation even more.

Today prices of goods in the supermarkets increase every 2 or 3 days. The state has had no option but to print money continuously to try to keep up with its falling value. The Zimbabwe Reserve Bank has to come up constantly with new notes of larger and larger value as the currency tumbles down more and more. So the latest notes are so-called Agro Cheques, worth 5, 25 and 50 billion Zim dollars. But some of these notes may already be useless even before being put into circulation.

Reduced to barter, charity or starvation

What is the impact of this economic catastrophe on the population? Workers paid in Zimbabwean currency have long since been resorting to barter in order to obtain their necessities, because of the impossibility of carrying around such huge wads of money and the fact that very few traders wish to accept the Zim dollar anyway.

An article in the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper reported on the 19 June about conditions in a local gold mining company. The chairman of the workers' committee explained that on the 3 June, the workers were pushing for a Zim $60bn minimum wage and were threatening to strike if they did not get this. The deal was done, but within days "prices started flying". So the worker's representative went back to demand more, but was told by the management he had been negotiating in bad faith. He explains that as a result of his failure to get a further increase, workers accused him of being bribed and he had to resign.

In fact workers would need to be get rises in their wages several times in the month, if not in the week, to keep up with the way prices of basic food go up. One example cited in the Zimbabwe Independent explained how, for instance, a senior teacher at a Harare school (one of the lucky ones!) had a pay rise from the government in May, from $6bn to $73bn a month. Before the pay rise she could buy 4 litres of cooking oil, but by the time she received her pay rise this month, she could only buy 2 litres of oil. At this rate, by July she will only be able to buy 500ml of cooking oil. As an official from the Progressive Teachers Union, was quoted as saying "We don't mind being paid a salary on a daily basis... we need a living wage and we are not looking at anything less than a trillion, because we are also caught in the web of poverty and inflation. What we want is $4 trillion."

Foreign companies operating in Zimbabwe (South African companies apparently employ a total of around 20,000 workers) use foreign currency for their transactions and many have also been using it to pay their workers. This at least allows them to purchase goods in neighbouring South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.

In fact cross-border trade has been a mainstay for the population. Since 80% are out of a job, this trade has in fact become the only viable source of sustenance for millions of Zimbabweans. It is made possible because Zimbabweans abroad are able to provide foreign exchange for goods which their relatives in Zimbabwe can then sell.

Several thousand people cross the border, buying and selling. When the Zimbabwean government announced it would crack down on the importation of groceries from neighbouring countries as part of its price freeze last year, the directive had to be reversed immediately, such was the outcry.

But of course, a large part of the population has neither income from a job nor anything to barter for food. One third to one half of the population is dependent on food aid. Out of a total population of 12.3 million, it is estimated that at least 4-5 million have crossed the border into South Africa or other neighbouring countries.

Then on top of it all, according to the World Health Organisation, 1.8m people are living with HIV infection, mostly without any treatment. Due partly to this high rate of infection, but also to the deterioration of the average diet and the resulting diseases, the average life expectancy is among the lowest in the world - for men this is 37 years and for women just 34 years.

The militarisation of society

Against this backdrop of economic and social meltdown, which began several years ago, the regime's policies, especially its attempts at protecting its own existence and undermining the opposition, have only compounded the country's difficulties. But, whatever their aim was, these policies have often resulted in the strengthening of the hand of the regime's military appendages.

Due to the land seizures, only around 600 large farms are still in white ownership today, out of 4,000 in 2000. But the reallocation of land, mostly to Mugabe's political cronies, caused the displacement of a large army of farm workers, formerly employed on the commercial farms. They came to the urban areas, swelling the shanty towns around all the big cities. That is, until "Operation Murambatsvina", which means "get rid of the filth" in the Shona language. The aim of this operation, which was launched in 2005, was ostensibly slum clearance, but it conveniently targeted the urban supporters of the MDC opposition party, who were evicted and then dumped without a roof over their heads in rural areas, miles from anywhere, where they were meant to be "resettled". The homes and livelihoods of several hundred thousand people were destroyed in this way.

Zanu's weakening grip on power has produced a policy of systematic militarisation of society, to protect the regime. In particular, there has been a militarisation of the countryside, implemented from 2005 onwards, in what seems to have turned into a rural version of "Murambatsvina", called "Operation Taguta/Sisuthi", which means "eat well".

Detachments of the army were sent to take over tracts of farmland, ostensibly to increase the maize harvest. However it is also likely that Mugabe was concerned to keep the army occupied and in a position to supplement its declining wages by extortion of the more successful small farmers.

A report by the Solidarity Peace Trust (an NGO) describes the impact of what it calls "command agriculture" in Matableleland in 2005/6. In order to plant maize, it says that the army destroyed highly productive market gardens and fruit trees, in an area where there were well-developed and well-maintained farms, fed by irrigation schemes which date back to the 1960s. In fact the operation was apparently an abject failure, due to a combination of greed, ignorance and brutality. Maize production was not only undermined, on balance, but the army also succeeded in destroying the self-sufficiency in food of the rural population concerned. But perhaps the objective was, at least in part, to implant soldiers in rural communities in order to be in a position to control them, especially in Matabele land, given that this region is one of the opposition heartlands.

Another aspect of Zanu's militarisation policy is the formalisation of the youth brigades into a permanent force called the National Youth Service (launched in 2004). Today it numbers around 20,000 youths - who receive training towards a national service certificate, are fed, clothed and housed in barracks and are paid the equivalent of around £3 a day, which is a lot more than an average worker would earn. It is these youths (in their green jackets) who are among those accused of the attacks against the population which were launched in many areas in the aftermath of 29 March.

The MDC - Trojan horse for the West?

If the British media are anything to go by, the MDC is the only political force enjoying any kind of popular support in Zimbabwe. But if Mugabe's ruling party, Zanu-PF has been able to hold onto power over the past 8 years this is evidently not just because of repression and electoral fraud. It has always had a significant base of support. After all, Mugabe is the man who, at the head of the largest of the two liberation armies, is credited with having booted out the white-supremacist regime of Ian Smith's Rhodesian Front in the late 1970s. This led to Mugabe becoming the first and, so far, only head of independent black-ruled Zimbabwe, following the Lancaster agreement signed with Britain in 1980. And this past, together with his anti-imperialist demagogy which often sounds plausible, ensures that he retains a degree of prestige. Of course, his support is shrinking now, even in the rural areas of Mashonaland, in the north of the country, which is Zanu's heartland.

The MDC has, in some ways, a more chequered history, even if, of course, it is not tainted by the wielding of power in the form of a dictatorship, as is the case for Zanu.

It is the MDC's roots which still provide part of its base of support. The party was founded by trade unionists in 1999 when a National Working Peoples' Convention mandated the unions to form a new party in the wake of the huge strikes against the government in 1996/7. Its mainstay has been primarily the urban working class, despite the fact that (right from the word go) it involved itself in an alliance with white businessmen and commercial farmers, to present a front against Mugabe.

Today's MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai was in fact the leader of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) in 1999, when he led the movement to create a new party. But Tsvangirai had been a long-time official in Zanu, since the ZCTU was originally Zanu's creation, dating back to the days of the liberation struggle, when it was used as a vehicle to organise, but ultimately to control the working class. The ZCTU remained under the thumb of Zanu until the so-called IMF riots of the early 1990s, which were followed by the huge civil service strike of 1996-7. It was only then that Zanu trade union officials chose to break with the ruling party. Tsvangirai, as ZCTU leader, used this opportunity for launching a new political career for himself.

The MDC had its first chance to oppose Mugabe's regime publicly in 2000, when Mugabe organised a referendum over a new constitution. In fact this was a big success for the MDC and an unprecedented loss for Mugabe.

Then in the June 2000 election the MDC won 57 seats against Zanu's 62 seats. But the political credentials of the MDC were already becoming suspect for some of its supporters. For instance, its economic policy was formulated at the time by prominent businessman, Eddie Cross, who advocated the privatisation of most of the economy, and even the privatisation of schools. Nevertheless, in the 2002 presidential election, Tsvangirai stood against Mugabe, winning 40% of the vote. Neither of these elections was considered free and fair, of course, and much electoral fraud was documented at the time.

In 2005, after at first refusing to participate in the elections to the House of Assembly, the MDC changed its mind and stood. This time Zanu was actually able to increase its vote at the MDC's expense, winning a two-thirds majority. It was claimed that 10% of voters had been turned away because their names had not been placed on the voters' roll.

In the run-up to the 2008 election, Tsvangirai has consciously distanced himself from pro-market language, claiming that he and the MDC are "social democrat". Eddie Cross may no longer be the party's economic spokesman, but he is still in the party and in fact its policies have changed very little. They are just put forward in much vaguer terms, especially as regards land reform. Nevertheless, the party policy is still to create a vast property market and re-privatise the communal farms created under Mugabe. Significantly, officials of the right-wing Cato Institute in Washington were asked to advise on the 2008 manifesto, in July 2007, while the membership of the MDC was only shown the manifesto for the first time in February this year!

The reactionary content of the MDC's real programme seems to have become blatant enough for the ZCTU to issue a statement, in January 2008, saying that the MDC was a negation of its founding principles and that it had been hijacked by "political charlatans". However the union confederation then merely issued a rather veiled threat, calling on the MDC to "reflect on its principles lest workers abandon it".

Electoral fraud or fraudulent elections?

In this year's general election on 29 March, the regime's vote-riggers seem to have underestimated the discontent against Mugabe. In the end, Zanu won 97 of the 210 seats in the House of Assembly, with Tsvangirai's MDC gaining 99. In and of itself this was already a humiliation for the regime. But to add insult to injury, Tsvangirai won a 47.9% share of the vote against Mugabe's 43.2% in the presidential election. This meant that a second round was required between the two of them. This run-off was originally meant to take place within 21 days of the first poll. However, it was then delayed for another month by the electoral commission, probably not least due to the need for Mugabe to organise his official and unofficial forces around the country in order to try and prevent further damage. So what has been taking place ever since the ballot, is a campaign of violent intimidation, directed chiefly at Mugabe's own disaffected electorate in Zanu's Mashona heartland as well as at MDC officials and supporters.

Tsvangirai then announced his withdrawal from the presidential election just 5 days before the second round was due, on 27 June. He claimed that the intimidation and violence against his supporters at the hands of Zanu's thugs, had reached the point where a "free and fair" election was impossible. Since March, it is thought that more than 86 MDC activists have been killed, 2,000 jailed, including the secretary general of the MDC, Tendai Biti and thousands beaten and injured. People have been burnt out of and chased from their homes so that they would be unable to vote.

Tsvangirai's withdrawal was therefore done in the name of "saving lives" and preventing further violence. This about-turn was unexpected, certainly by MDC supporters. Maybe it was intended as a smart tactical move by Tsvangirai. Or maybe it was the result of preliminary contacts or even discussions, with Mugabe, aimed at finding some sort of compromise once the election was out of the way. Only the future will tell.

However, having declared again and again that he would go on to the bitter end, no matter what, and having exposed his supporters to the predictable repression of a dictatorship which has always used such methods against political opponents, Tsvangirai's belated about-turn left his supporters high and dry. And it left them even more exposed to the repression of a state machinery which could very well interpret it as a sign of weakness, regardless of the real motives.

In the meantime, Tsvangirai had taken refuge inside the Dutch embassy in the capital, Harare. He claimed this was in order to avoid assassination, despite Mugabe's public assurance that "we do not want to kill Morgan". Then, in an official statement Tsvangirai called for negotiations to be opened to decide the future of the country. But what he wanted was "an African solution... I am asking the African Union and SADC [Southern African Development Community] to lead an expanded initiative, supported by the UN, to manage the transitional process." Significantly he made no demand that Mugabe stand down, implying that his objective was some sort of power-sharing agreement with Mugabe, similar to the one which concluded the crisis in Kenya, earlier this year - a compromise which, if overseen by the UN and the SADC, would probably put a short enough leash on Mugabe to satisfy imperialism.

The interests of imperialism

In Britain, Brown's government has been watching developments like the ex-colonial hawk which Mugabe takes every opportunity of reviling. His latest "action" against Zimbabwe has been to get the Queen to revoke Mugabe's honorary knighthood. If this is intended to placate public opinion, it is hardly convincing. Just as unconvincing as his proclaimed determination to restore "democracy" in Zimbabwe, in fact.

Anyway, the real issues for the British government lie elsewhere. After all, Zimbabwe has a certain strategic importance, given that it is slap-bang in the middle of Southern Africa and right next to the most important African economy of all, that of South Africa. The imperialist leaders would obviously rather have a stable and, above all, pliable regime at their disposal in such a position.

Besides, there are very concrete reasons behind the imperialist powers' interests in Zimbabwe. Its economy may be in a catastrophic state today, but this does not mean that the country in short resources. On the contrary, its natural wealth remains intact and continues to be a magnet for foreign companies. So much so that mining giant Anglo-American chose to announce that it intended to proceed with a £200m investment in its Unki platinum mine, on the 25 June, right in the middle of the controversy over the presidential election!

It may well be the case that the abnormally loud furore from western leaders against Mugabe's regime, is due precisely to the appetite of the big companies for Zimbabwe's rich seams of metals and minerals, particularly platinum, which has seen its price rocket over the past year.

Zimbabwe's platinum exports have been the government's key source of foreign currency. In fact platinum and other mineral exports have been a significant factor in preventing the total collapse of the economy. Their value is said to have increased from 20% of total exports in 2000, to 36% in 2004, while the share of agricultural exports deceased from 39% to 23% over the same period.

Last year, Mugabe initiated a so-called Indigenisation Act which provides for a 51% share "for black Zimbabweans" in all foreign-owned interests. While this law is probably only meant to act as a bargaining chip to sustain the government (and perhaps obtain some personal advantages), there is no doubt that the mining companies are eagerly awaiting Mugabe's demise or, in any case, guarantees that this law will be reversed.

At present the companies potentially affected most by this legislation are wholly or partly South African. 27 of South Africa's biggest listed companies have operations in Zimbabwe and some 60% of all companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange are South African. The banking and insurance multinational, Old Mutual, which is based in London and has old links with Southern Africa, is the biggest; Metallon Gold owns 60% of Zimbabwe's gold mines, while 90% of the country's platinum industry is owned or part-owned by South African companies.

The main player in platinum is Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats) which, while based in South Africa, has shareholders all over the world (61% South African, 15% US-held and 10% British-held). Moreover, its activities outside South Africa, are said to be controlled by a holding company incorporated in good old Guernsey, which certainly puts Implats' interests very close to Brown's heart.

This company mines, refines and markets the platinum group metals as well as nickel, copper and cobalt. By the early 1990s Implats had become the world's second biggest platinum producer, and between 2000 and 2004, just as Zimbabwe's economy was slipping into the red, it acquired strategic stakes in Zimplats and Mimosa which mine ore out of Zimbabwe's giant reserves in the Great Dyke, in the centre of the country. In May 2006, Implats agreed to return the right to mine 36% of the Zimplats concession to the government, in exchange for "empowerment credits and cash" and, above all, security of tenure and a special lease for the projected 50-year life of the mine.

Anglo-American, which is listed in London, New York and Johannesburg, is another player in platinum today. It has been an investor in Zimbabwe for 60 years, even if more recently it has withdrawn some of its assets. In addition to the Unki platinum mine, however, it also owns a 37% stake in Zimbabwe's main sugar producing and refining company, Tongaat Hulett. Anglo has defended itself against criticism of its investment in Zimbabwe, saying that if it gave it up, the government would just take it over! As a spokeswoman from the British Foreign Office explained: there are "no hard and fast rules that require companies to come through the government if they are setting up business interests in Zimbabwe. But we do condemn any action which would appear to support the regime directly." So Anglo-American is really only acting in line with these rules, by keeping Unki platinum out of the government's hands!

An unacceptable price for the poor

It may come as a surprise to some, in view of all the noises being made over "sanctions" by the British government, that according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, Britain is still a chief trading partner with Zimbabwe ("most favoured trading partner", in fact!). Indeed, the EU sanctions against Zimbabwe, in place since 2002 and renewed in 2004, are limited to an arms embargo, technical assistance related to arms, a travel ban on named individuals and similarly, an assets freeze against certain listed individuals and institutions. In other words these sanctions do not prevent British companies from exploiting the material and labour resources of the country.

Supermarkets like Tesco have never stopped importing vegetables like sugar snap peas from Zimbabwe, nor has Waitrose stopped importing fish from the Kariba Dam. Never mind the fact that they are taking food out of a country whose people face hunger!

Nor have Barclays and Standard Chartered stopped trading in the country, which they do under their local "wholly-owned" subsidiary, so that they are not in breach of any international sanctions. This allows them to make money out of the meltdown on behalf of the small minority of regime grandees and local capitalists, white and black, who can afford it. Barclays recently boasted of its "150,000 customers" in the country! But there are others too, who are more discreet, like the largest single shareholder of Anglo-American, for instance, which is none other than the British insurance giant Legal & General.

It is understandable, therefore, that Brown should be so worried about Zimbabwe and the unruly actions of Mugabe's regime. With so many City big wigs with large stakes in Zimbabwe, not to mention those who hope to increase their share of the platinum cake, Brown has to be seen doing his very best, looking after their interests, just as he does in Iraq, to preserve the interests of BP and Shell shareholders among others. And he certainly hopes, this time round, to be able to do it with the willing help of Tsvangirai's MDC.

This hypocritical game, however, comes at an unacceptable price for the population of Zimbabwe, who are used as disposable foot soldiers by all sides, but far more so by the imperialist powers than by any others. And no matter what is said here, in Britain, about the bloody horrors of Mugabe's dictatorship, we should always remember that the hands of British capital and its politicians are just as much stained with the blood of the Zimbabwean poor.