A new bourgeoisie emerged in several countries with totalitarian, Bonapartist, and dictatorial regimes, from privileged relationship of the State bureaucracy with the State apparatus. The example in Latin America is the “Boli-bourgeoisie” form Venezuela. But in the African continent, this happens more regularly: in several countries, a black “rentier” bourgeoisie (rentista) emerged, parasite, extremely corrupt and violent, with bonds with imperialism.
By Americo Gomes.
This type of bourgeoisie divides into cliques that dispute for power from time to time, eliminating the opponents – violently or not, in a bloody or pacific way depending on the relationship of forces.
We saw something somewhat like this in the XIX Congress of the Chinese CP, with the consolidation of the bourgeois fraction of Xi Jinping. Also with the palace coup by Mohamed ben Salman, inheritor prince, in Saudi Arabia, who defeated the entire oligarchy and established his own autocracy by killing the leaders of all other clans (and about 2 thousand imprisoned). This also happened recently in Zimbabwe.
A Palace Coup
On November 6, Robert Mugabe, the oldest president in the world (93), separated his former ally, the Vice President Emmerson “Crocodile” Mnangagwa. The goal was to privilege his wife Grace Mugabe, and the G40 (Generation 40) in the road to power.
However, this irritated the other fraction of the leading clique: supported by imperialist investors, the military elite imposed a coup, led by the Chief of Army, General Constantino Chiwenga. A coup with tragi-comic traces.
The MDC (Movement for Democratic Change,) main opposition party, right-wing and with pro-imperialist stands, supported the coup.
But on the next day, journalists showed Mugabe, General Chiwenga, and the ones sent to South Africa, smiling at the State House, while they shook each other’s hands. Mugabe refused to resign, and the impasse began.
On the weekend, thousands went to the streets encouraged by the pro-coup demanding to take Mugabe down. Even like this, the militaries kept their hands away from the State House, protecting the one they claimed to be taking down.
On Sunday, the traditional leadership of the ZANU-PF, between chants and dances, approved the removal of Mugabe from the Presidency of the Party, the expulsion of Grace [Mugabe’s wife] together with 20 of her associates, and named Mnangagwa to replace him. This seemed to be the final action of Mugabe’s government after 37 years, matching the popular outrage against this dictatorial and corrupt regime.
The crisis became chaos when, on the same day, Mugabe made a broadcast speech through national network, next to his “former-fighters” (who supported the coup,) stating he would preside the upcoming Congress. According to the Generals present at the event, Mugabe changed the speech that was agreed with them, in which he would announce his resignation. The definitive resignation took place only on the 21 [Tuesday].
Mnangagwa took power on Friday, promising to reimburse the white agricultors that were expropriated, and to protect foreign investment in the country, what was really well received by imperialist and Chinese investors in particular.
To complete the farce of coup, Mugabe was rewarded with 10 million dollars and the maintenance of his salary of 150 thousand dollars a month for the rest of his life. Also, he and his family will have impunity. In other words, he will not pay for any of the crimes committed when he was President, and his State “gifts” and privileges will be guaranteed by the new ruling clique.
The problem is that, in this fight for the power, Mnangagwa’s fraction was forced to rely on the mass movement support to defeat Mugabe. Mugabe’s fall unleashed extraordinary hopes, and hundreds of thousands of Zimbabwean went to the streets to commemorate. This, combined with the economic institutional crisis, might drive the people to not accept another dictatorial government peacefully. Also, the wave could expand to other African countries, where dictatorial regimes like Yoweri Museveni’s, in Uganda, or Joseph Kabila’s, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, might see their terror kingdoms close to the end.
Zimbabwe’s bourgeois cliques
Mugabe, Chiwenga, and Mnangagwa are civil war veterans, make part of the ZANU-FP, and they are in power since the independence, in 1980. They keep the country in an organized chaos under a dictatorial, corrupt regime.
During the 60s, Mugabe joined Joshua’s Nkomo ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People’s Union). He went to jail during Ian Smith’s turn as Prime Minister, the chief of Rhodesia’s racist regime. In a country of black majority, his slogan was “a whiter and shiny Rhodesia.” In prison, Mugabe broke with Nkomo and founded the ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union).
Freed in 1974, Mugabe ran to Mozambique and joined the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA). He got to the power after a harsh liberation war that cost over 30 thousand lives to defeat Rhodesia’s racists.
Mugabe has a wealth of about £ 1 billion, split into secret accounts in Switzerland, the Channel Islands, and the Bahamas; besides castles in Scotland, properties in Sandton and Johannesburg, Malaysia, Hong-Kong, Singapore, and Dubai. In Zimbabwe, he owns the farm Omega Dairy, one of the largest milk farms in the South of Africa, which is only 1 of the 14 farms he owns (even against the Constitution, which limits the number of lands per person).
His main ally was the chief of Security, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who supervised the surveillance operations of the CIO and the Fifth Brigade. His nickname, Crocodile, comes from his cruelty with his enemies. His fraction is called Lacoste, and it is formed by war veterans only. He defends a liberal financial State but linked to imperialism and the Chinese government. He wants reforms on the free market, fully opening Zimbabwe to international investments. This is why he has full support by the opposition, the MDC. He is directly linked to the diamond mining company Anjin, which is linked to the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company Ltd., from China.
Clashes in Zimbabwe
When Mugabe got to the power, many members of the Security apparatus of Rhodesia, serving the racist (white warriors of the CIO, Central Intelligence Organization), turned to the new government. Mugabe also looked for China and North Korea, which provided tractors and technicians but also guaranteed military agreements. They trained the army and provided weapons. The Koreans trained and equipped the Fifth Brigade of the National Army, that operated separately from the regular unities and became Mugabe’s private army, used to crash the rival structure, ZAPU, and massacre his former allies.
In all these clashes, Mugabe’s main ally was the chief of Security, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who supervised the surveillance actions of the CIO and the Fifth Brigade.
Joshua Nkomo was always an element of distrust to Mugabe. He made concessions and attempts of conciliation, but he refused to give him the Minister of Defense, incorporating Nkomo as a Minister with no Ministry, instead.
In 1982, double agents of South Africa and the CIO planted weapons in farms that belonged to the ZAPU, to accuse it of coup attempt. Mugabe stated that “The ZAPU and its leader, Dr. Joshua Nkomo, are like a snake at home. The only way to deal with it efficiently is to attack and destroy its head.” After this, he ordered the Fifth Brigade to carry out the Operation Gukurahundi, which killed over 20 thousand civilians from Ndebele in an attempt to destroy the ZAPU.
After the massacre, in 1987, Nkomo agreed with the absorption of the ZAPU by the ZANU, which became the ZANU-PF. Years later, Mugabe announced amnesty to all dissidents, and Nkomo was named Vice-President, with no powers.
A rich country in bankruptcy
Mining was 62% of the total exports in 2016, with over US $3.2 billion. Zimbabwe was the eight bigger diamond producer in the world, with 4.7 million carats in 2014. Gold production was the leading industry for several years, with a production of over 24 tons. The Reserve Bank estimates gold delivery will reach 25 tons in 2017.
It is exploited by global mining giants, like Anglo American, BHP-Billiton, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, Aquarius Platinum, and Anglo Gold Ashanti.
The revenues that could help develop the country was given to the police, military officers, and officials loyal to Mugabe.
Mugabe was always a fraudster. In the year 2000, with a “Stalinist” speech, he launched a “fast-track” agrarian reform that expropriated 4000 white agricultors. Their lands were given to generals, army officials, and political allies. The agricultural production collapsed, the country went from food export to import, the prices increased, the black market grew and so did the inflation. The prices doubled day by day. The monthly inflation in 2008 reached 231,000,000%. Unemployment raised, public services collapsed, and the economy fell 18%.
Zimbabwe changed its coin in 2009, forcing transactions to use US dollars, South-African rands, and other 7 coins.
In 2010, Mugabe prioritized mining over farms, forcing almost all diamond miners to interrupt their activities and abandon the establishments. The plan was to create a State body to handle the operations, but the true goal was to hand-over the exploitation to the multinationals.
Artisanal miners were massacred for desperately protecting the recently discovered fields of diamonds in Marange. It is denounced that over 200 of them were murdered. The ones expelled from the region increased the unemployment number, and the ones that stayed were subjected to forced labor. Meanwhile, the ZANU-PF bureaucrats were directly benefited from this brutal exploitation of hundreds of people, including children.
Mugabe left Zimbabwe with high debts, an impoverished population, 90% unemployment, 72% of the population under the poverty line, and one of the highest HIV rates in the world. Chaotic roads, entire communities without electricity, a weak basic education, and an almost non-existent public health.
There is a systematic individual appropriation of the country’s wealth by the high commands and officers, under a “socialist speech.”
Since 2008, in a careful estimation, diamonds for at least 2 billion dollars were stolen by Mugabe’s squad associated with international trade from South Africa, China, Dubai, India, and Israel. It is the biggest diamond looting ever seen since Cecil Rhodes, the white racist that gave name to the country in the past.
In 2011, a stock of 2.5 million carats, valued at 200 million dollars, mysteriously disappeared.
In 2012, 10 million carat of diamonds from Marange were exported to Dubai for 600 million dollars, half of its real value, due to a price-manipulation scheme.
Zimbabwe, a China’s business
China is the biggest investor outside Africa, and Zimbabwe’s partner, with strong investment in mining, agriculture, energy, and construction. The Chinese companies are also involved in telecommunications, irrigation, and electricity. In 2015, China bought 28% of Zimbabwe’s exports.
The link with high-commanders of Zimbabwe’s Army goes back to the civil war: ZANU’s commanders were trained in China. Today, the link is completely financial. To have an idea, the Chinese tobacco company Tianze, established by the China Tobacco Import & Export Corporation, gave loans of over 100 million dollars, without taxes, to the State militaries and officials to produce tobacco in the farms that were under State administration after the expropriation of the white owners in 2000. Zimbabwe is the fifth bigger tobacco exporter in the world, and China, with the highest number of smokers in the planet, buys 54% of Zimbabwe’s tobacco annually.
Chinese investors also bought farms confiscated from their former white owners and given to Mugabe’s friends, who later neglected them.
In 2015, the State company Power Construction Corporation, from China, signed an agreement of US $1.2 billion to expand the biggest thermal plant in Zimbabwe.
China also gave a medical loan of US $100 million in 2011, and build a new Hospital in the rural zone. It financed and built the National Defense College of Zimbabwe, and it helped train the People’s Liberation Army – besides the US $46 million to build a new Parliament in Harare.
When the US and the EU imposed sanctions, after Zimbabwe’s election in 2002, China invested in over 128 projects until 2012. Beijing blocked the movements of the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo and restrictions to the regime.
Xi Jinping visited Zimbabwe in December of 2015 and he promised US$5 billion for additional help and investments. The Chinese Yuan was adopted as a legal coin in the country.
Green Light for the Coup
Through its investments, China has economic businesses and [provides] financial aid, strengthening the dictatorial and totalitarian regimes in Africa. In Zimbabwe, it monitors the battles to the interior of Mugabe’s regime, and the economy of the country.
China was truly alarmed when Mugabe announced the “indigenization” law, that would affect the Chinese companies directly. Beijing warned that it was an ally of ZANU-PF, that it would not swipe to the opposition, but that it would not stand political and economic instability.
Thus, when the general Constantino Chiwenga, chief of the Armed Forces, who has regular contact with the Chinese, met the Minister of Defense from China, Chang Wanquan, in the past weeks, he got a green light for a military intervention.
The green light was also given by Jacob Zuma, who sent special envoys to Zimbabwe, as the South African company Impala Platinum, which manages the biggest mining operation in the country, Zimplats, had also taken stand against the “indigenist” law – just like Anglo Platinum, which controls the mine Unki, in Shurugwi, Midlands (considered a fortress of the former Vice-President Mnangagwa).
It was also given by Israel, which in the 1970s provided weapons and military equipment to the racist government of Rhodesia, and now does to Mugabe (weapons and riot-control vehicles).
In 2015, exports from Israel to Zimbabwe were for US$7.14 million, while Zimbabwe exported diamonds almost exclusively to Israel for US$13.8 million in the same year. These diamond exports were denounced by the Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières for financing the ethnic cleansing through the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.
To defeat the General’s Dictatorship
The working class cannot trust either military group fighting for power. They have to build their own way, through their own bodies and mobilization process, to defend its demands.
They have to stay on the streets and stand for No Support to the Mnangagwa Government, and demand Free Elections Now for a Constituent Assembly, with the founding of new parties of the working class, to create new institutions, Nationalize the land, expropriate Mugabe and his clique in a true agrarian reform, as well as the Nationalization of the entire mining industry under workers’ control.