Elections in the “Juche” state: democracy in the DPRK

“A dancing party of women’s union officials and members took place at the plaza of the Arch of Triumph on Feb. 16, the 75th birth anniversary of leader Kim Jong Il.”- Rodong Sinmun on February 20

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Mar 8, 2017.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. Some changes have been made.

Recently, with the whole controversy over the death of Kim Jong Un’s brother and the stance of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) criticizing revisionist China whom seems to engaging in  appeasement, by banning coal imports into the country, of the imperialist desire (especially the orange menace’s arrogance) of the U$ to weaken the DPRK. [1] The DPRK is not only threatened by forces within “South Korea” (the Republic of Korea), programs like THAAD, provocations from the orange menace’s administration, leading to defense of the country with nuclear weapons (rightly so) but it has been attacked by the “human rights” organizations in the West, along with the corporate media in wild accusations. I’m specifically talking about Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The latter claims that citizens in the country “suffer violations of most aspects of their human rights”  and the former saying that under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un the country “remains among the world’s most repressive countries” with a “dynasty.” [2] This echoes the CIA World Factbook and U$ State Department which call the DPRK an “an authoritarian state” and “communist state” (saying it in a negative way), showing that “human rights” NGOs and parts of the establishment serve the same fundamental imperialist interests. [3] All of these bourgeois criticisms, like the bourgeois liberals/progressives on /r/socialism, implies that the DPRK is not democratic. A look at their elections, especially that of the SPA, shows this to be wrong.

Historical introduction

In 1945, in the aftermath of deadly World War II, the Korean Peninsula, which had been occupied by the Japanese imperialists (since 1910), was roughly divided between the Soviet occupied zone and U$ zone. In the Soviet zone in the North, different from the South where a brutal fascist puppet government was installed, socialism was advanced. As the South Korean Party for Re-Unification put it in February 1971: “after World War II, the US imperialists entered South Korea as invaders and aggressors, not liberators. This is the reason for the division of our country.” [4] In 1945, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) was created. Kim Il Sung, later the leader of the DPRK, described this process very simply, noting that people’s committees controlled the country before the establishment of a government formally, proving it wasn’t a “dictatorship”:

The foundation of the Workers’ Party representing and defending the interests of the labouring masses of Korea through the merger of the Communist Party and the New Democratic Party is the greatest event in the political life of our people at the present time…In south Korea, however, the activities of those people who are sincerely striving for the merger of the Parties, are obstructed…the reactionary forces has come all out to frustrate the merger of the democratic political parties of the working people…unity and cohesion of the democratic forces throughout Korea is the prerequisite to the building of a new, genuinely democratic Korea…One year has already passed since Korea was liberated from the colonial rule of Japanese imperialism…In the past year we have laid a solid foundation for developing Korea along truly democratic lines and building a People’s Republic by carrying out the great democratic reforms. Our people who took power into their own hands…The composition of the people’s committee membership now active in north Korea is as follows : Workers [are] 5.7% [.] Peasants [are] 71.8%[.] Office employees [are] 15.8% [.] Handicraftsmen [are] 2.1% [.] Tradesmen [are] 4.6% [.] The people’s committees…strive to guard the interests of the people…In carrying out its policies, the people’s committee relies on the firm unity and the democratic united front of all the political parties and social organizations…Already in March this year, the agrarian reform was carried out in the rural areas of north Korea, bringing about a radical change in production relations. The agrarian reform dealt a decisive blow to the landlord class…Last August the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea proclaimed the law on the nationalization of industrial, transport and communications facilities and banks which had been owned by the Japanese imperialists, pro-Japanese elements and traitors to the nation…In June this year, the Provisional People’s Committee of North Korea promulgated the Labour Law freeing factory and office workers from harsh, colonial-type exploitation and introducing the eight-hour working day and a social insurance system. And a law was passed to guarantee the women social rights equal to those of the men for the first time in the history of our country…Over 8,000 adult schools were opened last year to eliminate illiteracy…The people’s committees have done a great deal of work to improve the material and cultural life of the masses of the people and to ensure their political rights…The enforcement of the Law of Nationalization of Industries has wiped out the foundation of Japanese imperialist colonial rule and deprived the traitors to the nation…Meanwhile, the people’s committees protect the property of the national capitalists and encourage the business activities of individual entrepreneurs and traders…The workers have won all rights and possibilities to take part in the state political life…The establishment of the Workers’ Party through the merger of the two parties is of tremendous historical significance in expanding and strengthening the democratic forces and promoting democratic construction in our country. A party is the advanced detachment of a class defending its interests and fighting for the realization of its demands and aspirations…Our Party, however, is not the one and only Party existing in our country…Our Party gives active support to the democratic demands of the Chongu Party, and closely co-operates with it in order to advance together in step with it…our Party has waged and is waging a common struggle in unity with all the democratic political parties. We must maintain closer ties with members of the Chongu Party and the Democratic Party…We must by all means bring the lines and strategic and tactical policies of the Party home to all its membership and arm the entire Party with the scientific Marxist-Leninist theory and throughgoing revolutionary ideas…The persecution of the working class [in South Korea], in particular, has reached extremes. See the massacre in Kwangju…In this grave situation, the primary task of our nation and the entire working people is to unite and unite…We call for such unity of the toiling masses as can meet the democratic demands of the workers, peasants and working intellectuals…The independence and sovereignty of Korea on democratic lines can be achieved at an early date only if the labouring masses are united as one and all the democratic forces are knit together…Victory belongs to the Korean people who aspire to unity, national independence and democracy. Let us all march forward confidently to victory!

Two years later, on August 25, 1948, the DPRK, which had undertaken a 70-day debate nationwide on the draft constitution starting in February of the same year, elected its first deputes to the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA), its unicameral legislature. [5] In that election, 572 deputies, representing “workers, peasants, deskworkers, intellectuals, businessmen, merchants and religious people,” were elected, and the First SPA met between September 2 and 10, with the constitution adopted during this time, a government formed, and the founding of the DPRK proclaimed on September 9, resulting in the Korean people celebrating it annually as “their national day.” [6] In this new legislature, the 1st SPA, Kim Il Sung was elected as the Premier and head of the DPRK. To be more specific, in 1948, Juche 37, 99.97% of Koreans in the north took part, and 77.52% of those in the south, took part in the elections. The results, as displayed in the chart below, shows that while the political parties were part of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland electoral coalition, there was also a multiparty system which had developed within the DPRK [7]:

It was at that time that the DPRK could be considered socialist without a doubt. However, in later years the country would drift into the areas of revisionism, creating problems for the proletariat as a whole and forming a bourgeoisie of sorts, raising the question of how socialist the country was, as it seemed more progressive than socialist.

Quick overview of powers of the SPA

Before going further, it is best to describe the powers of the SPA. As was noted in a session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 1991, this legislature is defined by the DPRK’s constitution (Articles 73-84) as the “highest organ of State power” and is a representative organ which is formed “through an election conducted of the free will of the entire Korean people” and composed of deputies who are selected by “secret ballot on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage,” with the same principle applied to election of deputies “to local power organs such as provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies.” [8] As for the voters, every citizen, regardless of “sex, race, occupation, duration of residence, property status, education, party affiliation, political inclination and religious belief,” can vote as long as they are over 17, with the only ones who can’t including those decided by court verdict and “insane persons,” meaning that all citizens have the right to elect deputies. With only one registration and one ballot cast per voter, in elections that are announced 60 days before for the SPA and 30 days before for the “provincial, city and county People’s Assemblies,” voters cast a ballot directly for a candidate for the deputy position, which is reflected in the totals. [9] The term of office of SPA members is five years, unless there are unavoidable circumstances leading to a prolonged term. [10]

The SPA’s most important and exclusive power is “legislative power” which includes adopting, amending, and supplementing the Constitution. Take the adoption of the first DPRK Constitution during the first legislative session, with a nationwide debate “on the draft constitution,” with a 31-person committee organized by the SPA to deliberate over the draft, as people’s opinions are taken into account. [11] Later on, the DPRK’s constitution was revised due to the changing times, with the SPA’s term of office extended, the minimum age level of voters was lowered to 17 and more deputies were allocated for the population with new electoral principles. With these changes, the SPA has adopted the Constitution’s principles by passing Socialist Labour Law, Land Law, Law on Public Health, Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children, Law on Environmental Protection, the Criminal Law, the Civil Law, the Family Law, laws for the “total elimination of tax in kind and taxation which is the remnant of the outdated society” with no tax system no longer in the DPRK, and a law enacting “universal free education and the 11-year compulsory education.” [12] The SPA has enacted laws putting in place “perfect and universal free medical care.” In every instance, in laws like this and every law, the SPA follows steps of “deliberation, adoption and proclamation,” with laws submitted by numerous entities (DPRK President, the Central People’s Committee (CPC), the Standing Committee of the SPA, the Administration Council, and all SPA deputies), and approved by a “show of hands,” showing the democratic nature of the state. [13]

The SPA also has the authority to form central institutions of the state, electing the President of the DPRK (the people who HRW falsely says are part of a “dynasty”), who then picks a number of other individuals. [14] Members on SPA committees and the head of the Administration Council (the Premier) are elected and accountable to the SPA. The SPA holds regular sessions to “discuss and solve problems” once or twice a year and extraordinary sessions when needed, with quorum of “more than a half the total number of deputies to meet” and laws adopted having immediate legal effect. [15] SPA Committees, whose members are elected among deputies according to the size of leadership, debate about draft laws and budget plans before deliberation by the whole body. [16] However, they cannot “initiate legislative activities nor adopt decisions of any legal validity independently.” These committees [17] include the following:

  • Credentials Committee (credentials members in the SPA)
  • the Bills Committee (“deliberates on the bills, amendments to constitution and laws submitted to the SPA and reports its results to the SPA and its Standing Committee.”)
  • the Budget Committees (“deliberates upon whether or not the settlement account and compilation of the State budget submitted for deliberation to the SPA conforms with the needs of People and reports its results to the SPA, and examines the budget balance and adopts measures for rectifying shortcomings revealed by the relevant executive bodies.”)
  • the Foreign Affairs Committee (“discusses the issues arising in foreign affairs, draws up and makes public the documents specifying the stands of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the Committee, notifies them to the Foreign Affairs Committees of parliaments of other countries, Inter-Parliamentary Groups and individual MPs concerned and exchanges delegations with various countries the
    world over.”)
  • the Reunification Policies Committee (“recommends the measures to be taken by the Supreme People’s Assembly in connection with the national reunification question to the Supreme People’s Assembly or the Standing Committee of the SPA, and considers the issues of the north-south co-operation, exchange and travel and other matters related to the country’s reunification”)
  • Standing Committee (“When the SPA is not in session, the work with the Committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly is undertaken by the Standing Committee of the SPA. The Standing Committee works as a permanent body of the SPA in our country…the Standing Committee functions as its permanent organ between sessions…[It is] composed of Chairman, Vice-Chairmen, a secretary general and 15 members including the representatives of political parties and social organizations.”)

Resuming the historical overview: going through SPA elections

Now, back to the 1948 election. One book, by Anne Louise Strong, does a good job at telling the state of the DPRK in 1949. Summarizing the history compiled by the Korean Friendship Association (KFA), the “peaceful construction” of the new socialist (at the time) nation was stopped on June 25, 1950 (Juche 49). As revisionist Vince Sherman even says, the moves of DPRK soldiers into South Korea “was actually an attempt to re-unite a nation partitioned by a foreign imperialist power,” despite what Trotskyists over at the ISO declare. While the Korean People’s Army (KPA) had formed into a regular army but the economic state of the country was fragile, but they still were victorious against “arrogant US imperialists” who claimed the US was invincible.  As bourgeois journalist David Halberstam acknowledged, not only were Southern Koreans angry about U$ presence and the U$ units were in horrid condition, but the people of the DPRK and Chinese communists knew what they were fighting for, unlike the U$ soldiers, who had no idea what they were fighting for [18]:

“They [the Chinese Communists and DPRK troops] were absolutely sure of whom they were fighting and why. They were fighting white foreigners, imperialists, and capitalists, the children of Wall Street, and of course their puppet allies in the South. The Americans were not so sure, despite periodic lectures on the evils of Communism, whom they were fighting, or for that matter why they were fighting them. They might be soldiers stationed in Japan, but they’d no expectation of going to war, especially in a place called Korea.”

Summarizing what the KFA said, on July 27, 1953 (Juche 42), the U$ imperialists knelt before the people of Korea, signing the Armistice Agreement, with arguably a victory for the Korean people, with many losses for the United States, with losses that were reportedly “2.3 fold the size of losses suffered by the US in the 4-year-long Pacific War in the period of the Second World War.” In December 1955, Kim Il Sung first publicly addressed the idea of Juche, one year before Khrushchev’s traitorous “secret speech,” which at the time was not revisionist, although it would take on such characteristics later:

…The principal shortcomings in ideological work are the failure to delve deeply into all matters and the lack of Juche. It may not be proper to say Juche is lacking, but, in fact, it has not yet been firmly established. This is a serious matter. We must thoroughly rectify this shortcoming. Unless this problem is solved, we cannot hope for good results in ideological work… This, the Korean revolution, constitutes Juche in the ideological work of our Party. Therefore, all ideological work must be subordinated to the interests of the Korean revolution…By saying that the ideological work of our Party lacks in Juche, I do not mean, of course, that we have not made the revolution or that our revolutionary work was undertaken by passers-by. Nonetheless, Juche has not been firmly established in ideological work, which leads to dogmatic and formalistic errors and does much harm to our revolutionary cause. To make revolution in Korea we must know Korean history and geography and know the customs of the Korean people. Only then is it possible to educate our people in a way that suits them and to inspire in them an ardent love for their native place and their motherland…As far back as the autumn of 1945, that is, immediately after liberation, we emphasized the need to study the history of our nation’s struggle and to inherit its fine traditions…Today, ten years after liberation, we have all the conditions for collecting materials on our literary legacy and turning it to full use. Nevertheless, the propaganda workers remain wholly indifferent to this…One day this summer when I dropped in at a local democratic publicity hall, I saw diagrams of the Soviet Union’s Five-Year Plan shown there, but not a single diagram illustrating the Three-Year Plan of our country…In compelling schoolbooks, too, materials are not taken from our literary works but from foreign ones. All this is due to the lack of Juche. The lack of Juche in propaganda work has done much harm to Party work…If we had not organized the People’s Army with old revolutionary cadres as its core, what would have been the outcome of the last war? It would have been impossible for us to defeat the enemy and win a great victory under such difficult conditions…Our 20-Point Platform is the development of the Programme of the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland. As you all know, the Association for the Restoration of the Fatherland existed before our country was liberated…It is utterly ridiculous to think that our people’s struggle against the U.S. imperialists conflicts with the efforts of the Soviet people to ease international conflicts with the efforts of the Soviet people to ease international tension…Hearing us say that it is necessary to establish Juche, some comrades might take it simply and form a wrong idea that we need not learn from foreign countries. That would be quite wrong. We must learn from the good experiences of socialist countries…It is important in our work to grasp revolutionary truth, Marxist-Leninist truth, and apply it correctly to the actual conditions of our country…we should not mechanically copy forms and methods of the Soviet Union, but should learn from its experience in struggle and Marxist-Leninist truth…Marxism-Leninism is not a dogma, it is a guide to action and a creative theory…In connection with the problem of establishing Juche I think it necessary to touch on internationalism and patriotism…Before liberation, the mere words that in the Soviet Union the working class held power and was building socialism made us yearn boundlessly for the Soviet Union where we had never been…In order to make our Party members indomitable fighters who are always optimistic about the future of the revolution, it is necessary to intensify their Marxist-Leninist education…In order to meet this great revolutionary event, the Party spirit of the Party members should be steeled; they should be educated to have a correct mass viewpoint and to have faith in victory and optimism regarding the future of the revolution.

Beyond this, in the post-war period, the country needed to rebuild itself from much destruction, led in the effort by President Kim Il Sung. As Socialist Voice, in an opinion critical of the DPRK, notes in Marxist-Leninism Today, the partition of the Korean Peninsula was a “product of the Cold War, which in Korea turned into a very hot war of savage proportions. Hundreds of thousands died on both sides.” This piece also notes  that the DPRK “developed and rebuilt itself after the devastation inflicted on it by the war.” With the Korean people having to “tighten their belts but they built factories, enterprises, towns and rural villages,” there was a “Three-Year Plan for the Postwar Rehabilitation and Development of the National Economy” just like in Poland, which was a success, followed by a Five-Year Plan from 1957 to 1960, with Sung saying “Let us produce more, practise economy, and overfill the Five-Year Plan ahead of schedule!” [19] One could say that the DPRK had not become revisionist at this point, although that was to come in the future, sadly for the proletariat.

All of this makes it clear why the second session of the SPA was not until 1957. The DPRK was in no shape to have an election in the middle of defending itself from imperialist attack during the Great Fatherland Liberation War. In this election, the Workers Party of Korea gained seats, while other parties lost seats, showing that it was applauded by the people. The pie chart below shows the distribution of the SPA after the election in August 1957, the 2nd SPA respectively, with only 75 of the 527 members of the first session re-elected, with only 215 members comprising the body [20]:

Courtesy of 38North, an NGO is strongly anti-DPRK. Their caption: “From left to right: WPK propaganda posters for local people’s assembly elections held on August 27, 1957 (both local and national ); November 25, 1967; July 29, 2007; July 24, 2011; and July 19, 2015.”

Fast forward five years and 2 months to the next legislative election, the 3rd SPA, respectively, in October 1962, which was eight days before the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis! By this point, as revisionist Stephen Gowans noted, the country “grew at a faster pace than the south from the 1940’s to the mid-60s” and Che Guevara was so impressed after visiting Pyongyang in 1965 that he “declared north Korea to be a model to which Cuba should aspire.” Again, this makes clear that the DPRK was not, at the time revisionist, although it would be later on. The SPA, increased in size from 215 members to 383 members, with WPK keeping its majority, showing that it was supported by the populace more than any of the other parties by a long shot [21]:

Also during this session there were a number of developments, including the introduction of the single-ballot vote and representation changed to 1 delegate every 30,000 people rather than the previous electoral distribution. [22]

Also during this session there were a number of developments, including the introduction of the single-ballot vote and representation changed to 1 delegate every 30,000 people rather than the previous electoral distribution. [22] These were positive democratic developments which advanced the country forward.

The following year there were local elections, for provincial people’s assemblies. In these elections, like many past and since, and Kim Il Sung was re-elected as the DPRK’s president. [23] During the elections a total of 14,303 deputies for city, county, and district positions in people’s assemblies were elected, as were 70,250 in towns, neighborhoods, villages, and workers’ districts, for people’s assemblies, and 2,517 provincial people’s assembly deputies. [24]

Five years and one month after 1962 election, in September 1967, the elections for the the 4th SPA were held. Apart from the local elections held that year where over 300 women, out of the 3,305 delegates, were elected [25], the SPA, added new members, increasing from 383 members to 457. This development meant that not only were the amount of delegates keeping pace with the population, but there was full participation, with the deputies elected for a term of five years. [26] During this session, a number of changes were made, including revising the DPRK’s constitution and allowing the President of the country to be elected, another good development. [27] The distribution of the SPA was as the pie chart below displays colorfully, showing that the WPK gained even more support of the populace while the People’s Republic Party and other organizations lost their seats as people voted in WPK deputies instead:

That same year, Kim Jong Il gave a “Talk to the Officials of the Central Committee of the League of Socialist Working Youth of Korea.” Within this speech he argued that “young people [in Korea] are honourable activists in the vanguard of socialist construction”and that there is a “great programme for the building of socialist rural communities” beginning in the country, showing that he still believed in the strength of socialism. He also said that “the youth should take the lead in carrying out the rural technical revolution,” that ” appearance of our modern socialist farming villages is altering and the peasants’ standard of living” and that a “youth shock-force movement is an excellent school for revolutionizing young people, by tempering them through labour and organizational life,” echoing what Kim Il Sung said. He also gave a speech in 1969 about cinema in the DPRK and a speech the following year to scriptwriters.

Fast forward to 1971. That year, the DPRK was often featured in the publication of The Black Panther, the newspaper of the Black left-wing party based in Oakland, the Black Panther Party. One article reprinted a speech by a Korean comrade, Pak Ung Gil, arguing that the Korean people, in the DPRK especially, are fighting to expedite their “complete victory of socialism and the cause of national unification at the forefront of the anti-imperialism, anti-U.S. imperialist struggle in direct confrontation with U.S. imperialism” and that they extend “militant solidarity to the Black Panther Party and the Negroes in the United States,” with a promise of encouragement for their struggle and active support. [28] This aligns completely with Kim Il Sung, who condemned suppression of the Black Panthers, declaring years earlier that “where there is oppression, there is always resistance. It is inevitable that the oppressed peoples should fight for their emancipation.” [29]

Later that year, the DPRK was caught in an international dispute. A KPA pilot was engaging in tests with his airplane but he had to land because of problems with his fuel tank, if I remember correctly, and the U$ and “South Korea” (Republic of Korea or ROK) refused to give him up. [30] Later that year, Kim Il Sung received praise from multiple sources. For one, the South Korean Party for Re-Unification, argued in February 1971 that he had  taught them “the importance of combining violent struggles with non-violent struggle, illegal struggle with legal struggle.”  [31] The Black Panther Party’s Central Committee followed the next month by commemorating Kim Il Sung’s birthday and confirming the “militant solidarity between our Party and the struggling oppressed people of the U.S. and the heroic Korean people,” noting the “the unnatural division of a whole people that U.S. imperialists have perpetrated” in Korea, and pledging to intensify in their “own struggle, here inside the U.S., against U.S. imperialism, fascism and racism.” [32]

The same year, Kim Il Sung explained to a delegation of Iraqi journalists the most important experience of the “fighting people of Korea.” He started by saying that while Korea “was a colonial, semi-feudal society in the past” and had to fight off U$ imperialists, that they have, currently, “an advanced socialist system, under which all people work and live a happy life helping each other” with victories and achievements due to the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and the people themselves, with dedication to the idea of Juche (not then taken on revisionist characteristics) or “expressing such a creative and independent principle and position adhered to by our Party in conducting revolutionary struggle and constructive work.” He went on to say that the Party had maintained its independence, is working on “building an independent national economy,” dedication to self-defense of the country from “aggressors and enemies,” the innovation in the “Chollima movement” which embodies the mass line of socialist construction, and the task of driving the “U.S. imperialist aggressors out of south Korea, accomplish the national liberation revolution and realize the reunification of the country.” In response to a question about the successes of the Iraqi people, who had recently engaged in a coup on July 17, 1968, led by Saddam Hussein (who would not hold presidential or other power until the late 1970s) and Salah Omar al-Ali, among others of the Socialist Ba’ath Party, Sung replied by saying that the Iraqi people had attained “national independence through their protracted arduous struggle against the domination of foreign imperialism,” that “antagonism and discord between nations…are advantageous only to the imperialists and simply detrimental to the people” with a “peaceful, democratic solution of the Kurd national problem,” that the government of Iraq stands “firm in the ranks of struggle against imperialism and colonialism.” Sung was also asked about U$ imperial aggression in Southeast Asia. In response to that, he argued that “the expansion of the aggressive war by the U.S. imperialists in Indo-China places them in an ever more difficult position and hastens the defeat of the aggressors,” by arguing that people of Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia (not referring to Khmer Rouge) have united to fight “against the U.S. imperialist aggressors…[with] the whole land of Indo-China has become a graveyard for the aggressors” and that the Korean people will assist those fighting against U.S. imperialism in Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos. His last two questions were about the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party in Iraq and the Arab people. On the first question, he said that “the Korean and Iraqi peoples are close comrades-in-arms fighting against the common enemy…part of the great unity of the Asian and African peoples against imperialism and colonialism.” To the second question he declared that

“the Arab people are vigorously fighting in arms against U.S. imperialism and the Israeli aggressors…The armed struggle of the Arab people against U.S. imperialism and the Israeli aggressors is a just struggle to defend national independence and dignity, restore the occupied Arab territories and accomplish the cause of liberation of the Palestinian people…The Korean people will continue to resolutely support the valiant struggle of the Palestinian people for liberating their fatherland and the struggle of the entire Arab people against Zionism and imperialist aggression and will always remain a close comrade-in-arms of the Arab people in the struggle against the common enemy…I sincerely wish the Arab people greater successes in their just struggle against U.S. imperialism and the Israeli aggressors.”

With this struggle evident, the following year there was a bout of elections, five years and one month after the 1967 election, showing the DPRK’s democracy shine once more. This election for the 5th SPA may have showed a change. Apart from the supposed detente, and the local elections for People’s Assemblies with 3,185 provincial people’s assembly deputies, and 24,784 city, county and district people’s assembly deputies elected, the 1972 elections for the SPA showed change. [33] During the session, a proposal was crafted with eight provisions about the reunification of Korean Peninsula. [34] Despite searching across the internet, I was only able to find the breakdown of the assembly of 541 Deputies, then serving for 4 years, with citizens over the age of 17 voting, with all of these legislators proposed by the Workers’ Party of Korea, not “chosen” as some would claim. In fact, about 21% of the assembly comprised of female delegates. In December of that year, the composition of the new SPA, in terms of class, as the delegates are in every electoral contest, was broken down as follows:

As such, the proletariat still held the sway in the SPA, which was undoubtedly positive.

The same year, a new Constitution was adopted by the DPRK, describing the county as a “self-reliant socialist state…an independent socialist State…a revolutionary State” guided by the Juche idea, with authority ultimately derived from “workers, peasants, working intellectuals and all other working people” with power exercised through “the organs of State power at all levels, from the county People’s Assembly to the Supreme People’s Assembly” which are elected by the working class “on the principle of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.” If that’s not enough, the Constitution also dedicates the state to defending and protecting “the interests of the workers, peasants, working intellectuals and all other working people,” that “independence, peace and friendship are the basic ideals of the foreign policy” of the DPRK, and that the country “relies on the socialist production relations and on the foundation of an independent national economy.” The Constitution goes on to describe other aspects of the DPRK. Means of production in the country “are owned by the State and social, cooperative organizations,” the state’s property belongs to the people, private property is defined as “property owned and consumed by individual citizen,” working days are eight hours long, the minimum working age is 16 years, state shall direct the socialist economy, there is a “people’s nationwide defence system” to defend against imperialists, equal rights for men and women, and socialist culture will flourish. One could say such acceptance of property was the beginning of the dive into revisionism, but still the overall aspects of the state which benefited the populace remained, with socialism as one could call it, still existing in the DPRK in 1972.

More was noted about this constitution in a 1992 meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. There, the DPRK’s representative noted that the new Socialist Constitution of the DPRK was adopted on December 27, 1972, in the first session of the 5th SPA, and that the country had gone beyond its “socialist transformation of economic management” and establishment of a socialist system, by 1958, with “total eradication of exploitation of man by man, the social and class relations,” with a socialist working people. [35] He went on to say that the 1972 draft of the socialist constitution was put to debate two times in plenary meetings of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party and at the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, and then it was submitted to the SPA, adopted finally (and unanimously) by the deputies on December 27, 1972. [36] As a result, Korean people celebrate this day as Socialist Constitution Day every passing year.

It is also worth noting the economic activity in the DPRK in 1972 as shown as an aside to an anti-DPRK article. [37] While the article is horrible, the map is worth reposting:

Fast forward to 1975. The scant information available notes that 23,833 city, county and district people’s assembly deputies were elected in February of that year. [38] Nothing else is known. However, it is worth pointing out that Kim Jong Il advocated for continuation of “Juche art,” in May 1975. What he says is an interesting insight into efforts to create socialist culture within the borders of the DPRK, perhaps putting in question if the country was on a revisionist road, and expand their revolutionary spirit worldwide:

“Our Juche art is now winning fame throughout the world. All countries regard the visit of a Korean art troupe as good fortune…Through art diplomacy we are widely propagating the Juche idea of the great leader to the whole world and proudly gaining honour for our nation…We should produce more, excellent works of art and train larger numbers of talented artists…We should bring about a radical change in the creation of dance by creating more, diverse themes, and discovering more dance rhythms and actions…We need not only lyric songs, but also many militant songs. We are making a revolution, and we should inspire the people to the revolutionary struggle by means of songs…Socialist art is art which is national in form and socialist in content. We must embody a revolutionary and socialist content in artistic forms which are liked by Koreans and are congenial to their tastes…Creators should explore the reality in order to write works. Without exploring the pulsating reality, they cannot produce works that are suited to the feelings of the workers and farmers…Our works of art and literature should not only reflect the reality vividly in content but also be based on life and be close to life in their form…Not anyone can easily become an extraordinary artist. In order to become a remarkable singer, dancer or musician, it is necessary to possess artistic talent and to receive systematic artistic guidance…Therefore, schools in the arts sector should not neglect professional education while stressing political and ideological education. These schools are bases for training professional creators of revolutionary arts…Teachers are revolutionaries who educate the younger generation to become the precious revolutionaries of the motherland…All art troupes and officials in the field of art should bring about a fresh upsurge in the creation of art.”

Two years later there were elections across held across the DPRK once again. In the local elections, 3,244 deputies were elected in the provinces and 24,268 in the ordinary city district, urban district, and counties. [39] The national elections, in November, for the 6th SPA, was a rousing success. While the delineation of party affiliations, of the 579 deputies, cannot be found, a breakdown of the members who part of certain sects of the working class in society is worth mentioning, with the legislature also comprising of about 21% women. [40] It is tabulated in the chart below:

With the proletariat not having as much sway over the SPA, except if united with the farmers, showed a changing social structure in the DPRK and the opening of the doors to revisionism, to the chagrin of the masses.

During this SPA session, not only was a speech given to call for the strengthening of the government of the DPRK and Kim H Sung re-elected as the DPRK’s president but another seven-year economic plan, starting in 1978, was gladly adopted. [41] Also, a law was passed mandating that all land was “made property of the state and co-operatives, with no rights for sale or purchase.” This could be said to be an action of revisionism, but it could also be seen in the converse. Still, the socialism in the DPRK may have been slipping a bit in 1978. The session for the DPRK was reportedly had five sessions, each lasting about five days, if the people at Peterson Institute for International Economics can be believed at all. [42] In later years, as an article by a bourgeois scholar noted, a “Law on the Nursing and Upbringing of Children was passed, in 1976, when there were “60,000 nurseries and kindergartens” across the country. Additionally, a Socialist Labor Law, which stipulated that “women with three or more children under 13 years of age receive 8 hours’ pay for 6 hours’ work,” passing in 1978. Both measures were passed by the SPA members who had been duly elected in 1977.

Two years later, in March 1979, in an election with full participation, 24,247 deputies were elected, representing the city, urban, and county districts. [43] The same year, the autocrat in the ROK, “South” Korea, Park Chung-hee, was assassinated, resulting in a change in the DPRK’s policy. As such, the DPRK opened relations with the new leftist government in Nicaragua, and revisionist China began to try to get the DPRK to implement its economic measures which opened itself to the global capitalist system. [44] Having relations with China is no surprise, but it may have led to increased revisionism in the country, sadly.

In March 1981, there were again local elections in the DPRK. Exactly, 24,191 deputies were elected for the county, urban, and city districts, along with 3,705 in the provinces and municipalities. [45] The same year, the DPRK proposed a plan to re-unify the Korean Peninsula but the ROK rejected it outright and it acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. [46]

In February 1982, Koreans went back to the polls to vote for legislators for the 7th SPA. While party breakdown is not available, of the 617 deputies elected, for four year terms, 20% of whom were women, the working class was well-represented, with other professions lumping together those who are not considered workers or peasants, seemingly including farmers, and office employees for example. The chart below visualizes this reality:

The workers and peasants (which we can say are the same as farmers), did not have control of even half of the SPA, which is worrisome. If we knew what consisted of “other professions” then an even better assessment could have been made. Still, revisionism was clearly strengthening in the DPRK.

During the session there was a push for expedited self-reliance (Juche) and another attempt for peaceful reunification of the fatherland by securing a peace guarantee, with not much else known. [47] However, it is evident that there were fantastic celebrations with Kim Il Sung turning 70 years old, new economic policies announced, and the death of Leonid Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, that year, reportedly “opened the door to a warmer Soviet-DPRK relationship.” [48] Additionally, the DPRK extended its international solidarity to the state of Iran to fight in the war against Western-backed Republic of Iraq. [49] All of these actions showed that the DPRK was abandoning its anti-revisionist stance more and more, bringing in the Soviet social-imperialists to help them, sadly.

The following year, there were again elections, with full participation by the populace. 24,562 Koreans were elected as deputies who represented cities, urban areas, and counties. [50] Apart from the ridiculous speculation as to if the DPRK was going to “invade South Korea” that year, or accusations it engaged in terrorism in Myanmar, the second session of the 7th SPA met with Yang Hyong Sop elected as Chairman of the SPA and Rim Chun Chu as Vice-President. [51] The following year, the DPRK’s government announced a joint-venture law where there could be capital investment from foreign nations in the country,and possibly farmers to have private plots, which some bourgeois analysts saw as an “admission” that the self-reliant posture of the country was not working. [52] This law was the ultimate capitulation to revisionism and showed that the country was partially adopting the model of the Chinese revisionists which benefited a new bourgeoisie developing in the country, hurting the Korean proletariat, and benefiting the Chinese capitalists. As such, these were clearly sad developments to say the least.

The following year, 1985, there were local elections once again, with full participation of the populace. 28,793 Koreans were elected as deputies who represented provinces, urban areas, counties, and cities. [53] From that year until 1988, the DPRK pushed to have Olympic games on the Korean Peninsula, with enthusiastic backing of the Cuban government, and Soviet support later on. [54] This is definitely important, but it also means that the government and country was becoming more and more revisionist.

In November 1986, 4 years and 8 months after the previous election, ballots for the members of the 8th SPA were cast by the populace. While the sources say that the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland  won the 655 seats in the SPA, with amounts of seats changing with population growth or decrease, there were undoubtedly full participation. [55] Even with this electoral notation, there are no sources which note the breakdown of the deputies by party, but there are indications of the distribution of professions across the DPRK’s assembly. The following chart indicates this:

Once again with the peasants and proletariat not even constituting half of the SPA, one can wonder how socialist the country was at this point.

During this session, as sources note, a second seven-year plan was adopted, the first from 1978-1984, with President Kim Il-Sung pointing to the successes of the first plan and calling for “further modernization with a view to achieving a self-reliant socialist national economy.” A speech calling for “the complete victory of socialism” (despite questions about how socialist the country really was) was given to the public, likely by Kim Il Sung, and the country’s first nuclear reactor began operating that year. [56] Also, Sung gave a speech to a joint meeting of Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Central People’s Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in June 1986, saying, on the subject of the non-aligned movement, that

“…The non-aligned movement, which was inaugurated with a membership of 25 newly-independent countries 25 years ago, has now developed into a very extensive movement with more than 100 newly-emergent member nations and into an organized political force. It has a great influence on revolutionary change in the world and on international political life….The noble mission which was undertaken by the non-aligned movement at the time of its inauguration was and always has been to destroy imperialism and colonialism, end domination and subjugation in whatever form, oppose aggression and intervention, preserve peace and security, exercise national sovereignty, and achieve the freedom of social and economic development…Today the international situation is very complex and tense. The main trend of our time is as ever along the road of independence and sovereignty, peace and progress, but there is also an adverse current of domination and subjugation, war and destruction…Aggression and plunder are inherent aspects of imperialism, and imperialism thrives on them. Imperialism is the product of aggression and plunder, and it has grown fat on ceaseless aggression and plunder…As monopoly capital grows, so its tentacles of aggression and plunder are extended overseas. This is an inevitable outcome and a law of the development of capitalism. There is no limit to the wild ambition and greed of imperialism…Today the imperialists are employing mainly neocolonialism to invade, dominate and plunder other countries…The tendency of the rich countries to grow richer, and the poor countries to grow poorer, is more pronounced on a world scale…The imperialists are directing the spearhead of their aggression at the non-aligned countries and other newly-emergent nations…the imperialists frequently use as shock forces the Israeli Zionists, the South African racists and other stooges which they have trained and tamed…Imperialism is the common enemy of the peoples of the non-aligned nations and the progressive people throughout the world…The people can only oppose and defeat the allied imperialist force by a united effort…The anti-imperialist struggle must not be suspended or weakened even for a little while…The struggle for global independence is a decisive showdown between the anti-imperialist independent forces and the forces of imperialist domination…To dominate the world by force, wielding nuclear weapons, is the world strategy which the imperialists have persisted in since the Second World War. The danger from this strategy is growing as the days go by…The dark cloud of a nuclear war hangs heavily over all the continents, and it threatens the very existence of our planet…The world has the constant fear that a nuclear war can be triggered by the smallest incident…The non-aligned movement is an anti-war peace force, and the policy of non-alignment is a just, peace-loving policy….it must fight to stop the arms race and to effect the complete abolition of all armaments, and of nuclear weapons in particular…The non-aligned countries must give priority to the abolition of nuclear weapons and fight to prevent their production and stockpiling and abolish them completely once and for all…Outer space must only be used for peaceful purposes, not as a new theatre of the arms race…In order to abolish nuclear weapons and prevent a nuclear war, we must create nuclear-free, peace zones in many regions of the world and extend them all the time…we must fight against the imperialist policy of military blocs and of increasing military bases…we must develop a powerful anti-war, anti-nuclear, peace movement…The non-aligned countries must strengthen solidarity with the anti-war, anti-nuclear, peace movement…It is an important task of the struggle against imperialism and for independence that colonialism and racism be eliminated and the cause of national liberation be accomplished…the South African racists and Israeli Zionists overtly pursue the racist and expansionist policy of aggression…The South African racist regime pursues the vicious policy of apartheid, of racial discrimination, and the policy of brutal repression…In order to realize their ambition to establish a “Great Zionist Empire” in the Middle East, the Israeli Zionists have occupied Arab lands…without putting an end to the policy of apartheid in South Africa it would be impossible to accomplish the cause of national liberation…we must foil the expansionist, aggressive schemes of the Israeli Zionists. Zionism is a form of racism and colonialism…The just cause of the Palestinian and other Arab people for the restoration of land lost to them…we must strengthen solidarity with those people who are fighting for independence, sovereignty and to build a new society…South-South cooperation is a noble way for the developing countries to strengthen their economic independence and achieve complete economic freedom through close economic and technical cooperation…Today the international economic situation is changing to the disadvantage of developing countries…The running of joint venture hospitals will also be an effective means of cooperation in the sphere of public health…One of the important tasks confronting the non-aligned and developing countries today is to do away with the old international economic order and to establish a new fair one based on the principles of independence, equality and mutual benefit…To strengthen and develop the non-aligned movement steadily is an important guarantee for the accomplishment of the cause of independence in opposition to imperialism. The non-aligned movement is a powerful independent force of our times which is opposed to imperialism…The Government of the DPRK will in the future, too, remain loyal to the principles and ideal of the non-aligned movement and will make every effort to strengthen and develop this movement.”

The following year, in November 1987, there were again elections in the DPRK. That year, 26,539 people were elected as local deputies, representing numerous parts of Korean society. [57] Two years after that, the Korean people cast their ballots for local elections. As such, 29,535 Koreans were elected to local and provincial people’s assemblies. [58]

In April 1990, three years and six months after the previous election for the SPA, Koreans cast their ballots again. The electoral alliance, the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, won a sweeping victory out of the 687 total seats in the 9th SPA. [59] Over 20% of the deputies elected were women, 37% were manual workers, over 10% were farmers, and about 53% were office workers or in the military. This raises a question, yet again, about the supposed socialism of the country and indicates that revisionism was becoming even stronger than ever. The below chart shows the distribution in the national legislature of the political parties within this electoral alliance, which shows that the DPRK has a multiparty system once again:

In this ninth session, which started six months earlier than “usual,” 37% of whom were workers of factories and enterprises, 10.4% who were cooperative farmers, and the rest “shared by officials or parties,” there was revision of the DPRK’s constitution, and Kim Jong-il elected as chairman of the National Defense Commission. [60] The DPRK, which then had a population of over 21 million with a Gross National Product of $20 billion, more than half of the population working outside agriculture, and had trading partners such as social-imperialist China, social-imperialist USSR, and capitalist Japan, was going entering into a troubled period. [61] This wasn’t wholly their fault. With the full-throttled embrace of capitalism and fanatical revisionism by the Soviet social-imperialists, they ceased giving aid to the DPRK, leading to a faltering economy, like in many states across the world which benefited from Soviet aid. [62] Even so, the DPRK stuck to their beliefs. The Soviet aid going disappearing hurt the DPRK badly because they were dependent on the Soviets for “the supply of large amounts of crude petroleum and coking coal,” leading to problems in the country. The DPRK dealt with this in later years by “opening a limited area to foreign capital and securing a supply of crude petroleum and coking coal from China” and trying to build nuclear power plants. [63] More capitalist concessions like this one strengthened the bourgeoisie of sorts in the country, along with the bourgeoisie of other countries, and hurt the proletariat.

The following year, in November 1991, Koreans again had a chance to vote for those on the local level. With full participation of the populace, 26,074 people were elected to local and provincial assemblies. [64] With the DPRK’s economy lacking aid from the Soviet social-imperialists, it faltered with the final demise of the Soviet Union on December 26, even as the Chinese social-imperialists took the place of the Soviets as the country’s main trading partner. Soon, the DPRK became a member of the United Nations in September of the same year reluctantly as it argued in previous years that separate membership of the DPRK and ROK “would amount to international ratification of the 46-year partition of the Korean Peninsula.” [65] This action was the action of a desperate government, one which had accepted revisionism and sided with the Soviet social-imperialists, not one that was “isolated” from the world.

The same year, Kim Il Sung, who would die on July 8, 1994 and Kim Jong-Il taking his place after that point, addressed the opening ceremony of the 85th Inter-parliamentary Conference on April 29. He said that

“The national assembly of each country, as its highest legislative body, has a mission and responsibility to realise democratic government. Democracy must be not only the basic ideal of state administration for championing people’s right to independence, but also a common ideal of world politics for ensuring equality and cooperation among countries. the foreign policy of a state is the extension of its domestic policy. Therefore, making individual countries democratic is closely connected with the undertaking to make the international community democratic. The members of national assemblies who are working with devotion for the development of democratic government in their own countries should also contribute actively to making world politics democratic, and thus fulfill their responsibilities and role as statesmen of the present age…Today, humanity finds itself at a turning point in historical progress. The old age of domination and subjugation that lasted for thousands of years has come to an end, and a new age is being ushered in, the new age when all countries and all nations shape their destiny independently. Mankind is now faced with the common task of strengthening the historical current and building a free and peaceful new world. In order to build the new world aspired to by mankind, it is necessary to abolish the unequal old international order in all fields of politics, the economy and culture and establish an equitable new international order…No privilege and no arbitrariness should be tolerated in international relations; friendship and cooperation among countries must be fully developed on the principles of mutual respect, non-interference in the affairs of other countries, equality and mutual benefit…Disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons and other types of weapons of mass destruction is the most pressing task in ensuring peace…The Korean people, who are constantly under the threat of nuclear weapons, have proposed the abolition of nuclear weapons as a vital matter relating to the destiny of the nation. We strongly assert that the Korean peninsula should be made a nuclear-free, peace zone. We strongly support the peace movement of the peoples of many countries for disarmament and for the creation of nuclear-free, peace zones…The unity of the people throughout the world and cooperation among them are the guarantee for the victory of their common cause of creating a new world…The political philosophy of our state is the Juche idea which requires that all consideration should be centred on man and that everything should be made to serve him. By fighting in single-hearted unity under the banner of the Juche idea our people have been able to build, even under the most difficult conditions and circumstances, man-centred socialism in which the people are the genuine masters of the society and everything in society serves them…Reunifying Korea is the vital requirement of our nation; it is an important question in international politics. The Korean people are a homogeneous nation that has lived on the same territory generation after generation, a nation celebrated for its long history and fine cultural traditions…The desire of our nation for reunification has already become fused to surmount the barrier of division, and their belief that Korea is one has become unshakable…I hope that your stay in our country will be pleasant and useful and I wish you success in your honourable work.”

Two years later, in November, thousands of Koreans were elected to local government bodies. Specifically, 2,520 Koreans were elected to provincial and local people’s assemblies this year. [66] That year, on page 19 of an October 1997 US Census report, which was strongly anti-DPRK, the information by the DRPK Central Bureau of Statistics, was released for U$ policymakers, not the general populace of the United States of course. This census, regardless of the claims by jingoistic neoconservative economists like Nicholas Eberstadt, showed that 20.5 million people were living the DPRK, with roughly 9.6 million who were male and approximately 10.8 million who were female. Additionally, a broad majority of the population was under age 59, with about 8.4 million under the age of 59. The below map, from page 38 of the US Census report previously cited shows population densities in the DPRK in 1993, proving that the pictures of the Korean Peninsula at night which are used to say that the country is “primitive” and “uncivilized” is clearly imperialist propaganda:

In July 1998, eight years and 3 months after the 1990 election, Koreans expressed themselves at the ballot box once again. With full participation in the elections for the 10th SPA, General Secretary Kim Jong Il elected as a deputy, even as the country was not as “socialist” as it portrayed itself in signs and propaganda. [67] Koreans voted for “…officials, servicemen, workers, farmers and working intellectuals,” with there also being “mobile ballot boxes available to those electors who were not able to go to the polls due to old ages and diseases,” with celebrations of the day of voting. [68] Even the hard-nosed bourgeois scholars in the West had to admit that in this election, Koreans elected “443 new members, including 107 active duty military members.” [69] In the election, the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland had a wonderful and sweeping victory once again, showing that they have support of the masses. [70] The below chart shows how this victory played out in the distribution of the 687 deputies, 138 of whom are women, 215 who are manual workers, and 64 who were farmers, not to mention those of other professions, raising question of how representative of the populace the SPA was:

During session, Kim Jong-il was re-elected as chairman of National Defense Commission and DPRK’s constitution, which became the Kim Il-Sung Constitution, was revised. [71] The new constitution gave more authority to the National Defense Commission, abolished the post of President, and asserted a continuing strong direction of the state. After this, Kim Jong-il removed 16 of the country’s “23 main economic bureaucrats,” approved plans for “economic reforms that were finally implemented in July 2002” and the SPA passed legislation on “special economic zones, copyrights, arbitration, foreign direct investment, and foreign trade.” Still, even with such further capitalist concessions to the foreign and domestic bourgeoisie while hurting th proleetariat, Freedom House scowled about the change in the constitution, renamed the “Kim Il-sung Constitution,” declaring with anger that “private property ownership is banned.” [73]

In March of the following year, there were elections on the local government level. The result of them was that the Korean people chosen, with their ballots, 29,442 workers, farmers, intellectuals, and military staff, who became deputies of local people’s assemblies, all of whom had four year terms. [74] The same year, not only did ROK ships sink a KPA (Korean People’s Army) torpedo beat, but the DPRK declared a new demilitarized zone and thousands of workers in Seoul protested “government plans to privatize state-run power, gas, financial firms” while the DPRK seemed to “open” its economy to foreign investment, a further capitalist concession, strengthening the domestic and foreign bourgeoisie. [75] In more positive news, records showed that about 765,000 Koreans were attending kindergarten, over 1.5 million were in primary school, and over 2.1 million in secondary school, along with 37,000 kindergarten teachers, 69,000 primary school teachers, and 113,000 secondary school teachers. [76] College is also open to all, but they are still fighting for increased gender equity in their high education system, which still had too many male professors.

Also, apart from the uptick in its economy, even acknowledged by the CIA, the DPRK was accused of sending Iran missile parts that year. The actual record, charted below, shows the following arms sent by the DPRK over the years [77], showing some level of solidarity but also at times also raises questions about their foreign policy:

Countries that the DPRK has given arms over the years. Also, they have given arms to Hamas and Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza as an act of solidarity with Palestinian armed struggle.
The 4000 9M14 Malyutka anti-tank missiles given to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War are not included on the chart, as it would unbalance it and make it harder to read.

Fast forward to 2003. In the elections that year, in August, there was full participation by the Korean populace in electing the 11th SPA, with 687 deputies elected, with the government seeing this as an expression of trust and support in them (it was that exactly) and “a manifestation of our army and people’s steadfast will to consolidate the people’s power as firm as a rock and accomplish the revolutionary cause of Juche under the guidance of the Workers’ Party of Korea.” [78] During the voting, not only where mobile ballot boxes again provided for “those who were not able to go to the polls due to illness or old age” but most polling booths had posters and national flags, the former saying, for example “Let’s participate in the voting for deputies to the People’s Assembly and give our support to them!” While Westerners still said the elections weren’t fair, there is no doubt that women made up 20% of the membership of the SPA, and laws were passed to protect people with disabilities, “ensuring equal access for persons with disabilities to public services” as the U$ State Department even had to admit. Later on in the 11th SPA, Kim Jong Il was re-elected as Chairman of the DPRK’s National Defense Commission. The same year, there were local elections with 26,650 “officials, workers, peasants and intellectuals” elected to municipal, city, and county people’s assemblies. Apart from the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, nearly half of the legislature’s members were replaced! [79] The following chart shows this to be the case:

Even with this reality in the SPA, one can say with confidence that revisionism was stronger than ever in the DPRK.

Apart from a predictable Pew Poll that year which said that “more than three-in-four (77%) Americans see the current government in North Korea as a great or moderate danger to Asia,” showing that Orientalist views are strong inside the murderous empire, the DPRK made a bold move. They withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, and later calls for denuclearization of Korean peninsula. [80] On January 10, the government of the DPRK released a statement explaining their withdrawal:

“A dangerous situation where our national sovereignty and our State’s security are being seriously violated is prevailing on the Korean peninsula due to the U.S. vicious hostile policy towards the DPRK. The United States instigated the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to adopt another resolution against the DPRK…Under its manipulation, the IAEA in those resolutions termed the DPRK ‘criminal’ and demanded it scrap what the U.S. called a ‘nuclear program’…the IAEA still remains a servant and a spokesman for the U.S. and the NPT is being used as a tool for implementing the U.S. hostile policy towards the DPRK aimed to disarm it and destroy its system by force…It is none other than the U.S. which wrecks peace and security on the Korean peninsula and drives the situation there to an extremely dangerous phase. After the appearance of the Bush administration, the United States listed the DPRK as part of an ‘axis of evil’, adopting it as a national policy to oppose its system, and singled out it as a target of pre-emptive nuclear attack, openly declaring a nuclear war…it [the US] also answered the DPRK’s sincere proposal for the conclusion of the DPRK-U.S. non-aggression treaty and its patient efforts for negotiation with such threats as ‘blockade’ and ‘military punishment…It was due to such nuclear war moves of the U.S. against the DPRK and the partiality of the IAEA that the DPRK was compelled to declare its withdrawal from the NPT in March 1993…[as of now] the DPRK government declares an automatic and immediate effectuation of its withdrawal from the NPT…it declares that the DPRK withdrawing from the NPT is totally free from the binding force of the Safeguards Accord with the IAEA….The withdrawal from the NPT is a legitimate self-defensive measure taken against the U.S. moves to stifle the DPRK…Though we pull out of the NPT, we have no intention to produce nuclear weapons and our nuclear activities at this stage will be confined only to peaceful purposes such as the production of electricity.”

Jump ahead to 2006. That year, the elite Council of Foreign Relations claimed that the DPRK’s government had begun to “introduce aspects of capitalism into the economy.” While they made this conclusion, they also admitted that these reforms were barely anything. Even so, they were another capitalist concession, which benefited the domestic bourgeoisie, the foreign bourgeoisie (mostly from China), and hurt the proletariat.

A picture of the ballot box in the DPRK in August 2007.

The following year, the Korean people again expressed their democratic desires at the ballot box. Specifically, 27,390 “officials, workers, farmers and intellectuals” were elected to provincial, city, and county people’s assemblies. [81]

Two years later, in March 2009, Koreans voted for candidates for the 12th SPA, with posters reminding the populace of the importance of voting, how it is a civic duty. While some in the bourgeois Western media, apart from mocking the election as “anti-democratic,” predicted it would be part of a “wider shake-up of the country’s leadership” and speculated why the election had been delayed from 2008 to this year, saying it could have been because of the ill-health of Kim Jong-il, few of them recognized that 324, of the 687 deputies in the legislature, were replaced. [82] In the election, which had, basically, full participation of the populace, deputies were elected for five-year terms, including Kim Jong-Il, but not his son Kim Jong-Un,  and the country rightly rejecting any push for “economic liberalisation” in the country, rolling back “moderate economic reforms instituted in 2002.” [83] This was a positive action, but the existing revisionism was still left in place, benefiting the existing bourgeoisie in the country.

Apart from this, and claims of disruptions in the elections, by anti-DPRK media, possibly indicating machinations of Western imperialists, numerous “technocrats and financial experts” were elected, 107 women were elected, Mr. Choe Thae Bok was elected as a speaker of the assembly, and Kim Jong-il as the Chairman of the National Defense Commission. [84] Again, this raised the question about socioeconomic classes within the country itself, with the possibility of a growing middle class at this point.

The distribution of the 12th SPA, of which 107 deputies were women, 116 deputies were soldiers, 75 deputies were workers, and 69 deputies were farmers, showing that the military was gaining even more strength in the country than before:

In the foregoing session of the SPA, apart from Kim Jong-Un given high state-level positions, even referred to within the country by mid-2009 as “Brilliant Comrade” reportedly, there were further revisions to the DPRK’s constitution. The word “communism” was removed from the constitution, replaced with “Songun” or “socialism,” while giving National Defense Commission (NDC) more power. [85] This was yet another capitalist concession and manifestation of revisionism itself in the DPRK! The new constitution, the Shogun Constitution, also asserts protections of human rights, says that the DPRK will wage “three revolutions — ideological, technological, and cultural — to achieve the fatherland’s reunification,” protect the “democratic national rights of Korean compatriots overseas,” enhance the “ideological consciousness and the technological and cultural standards of farmers, manage the economy “scientifically and rationally on the basis of the collective strength,” encourage “joint ventures and business collaboration between the organs, enterprises, and organizations…[and] the establishment and operation of various forms of enterprises in special economic zones,” among many other aspects. Again, such capitalist concessions are worrisome, showing the fact the country was beginning to manifest revisionism like never seen before! There was also a revision of the DPRK’s criminal law, that year, which establishes the necessary rules for maintaining the “state and the [so-called] socialist system” of the country with a stress on “social education” (Article 2), forgiving past criminal history if someone works to re-unify the Korean Peninsula (Article 4), medical help for those who commit offenses and are “mentally unbalanced” before they are charged (Article 13), offenses committed in self-defense to protect the DPRK and its “socialist” system will not be punished (Article 15), death penalty cannot be imposed on those under age 18 or on pregnant women” (Article 29), convicted criminals may have their “penalty cancelled under a special or general pardon” (Article 53), and much more.

The same year, it was evident that “export-oriented subsectors such as mining and metals” showed the greatest economic activity, as noted by a research institute which made bourgeois conclusions. There was also a meeting between DPRK and Chinese delegations later in 2009 to continue their strong bilateral relations, and more stable food prices as even bourgeois sources had to admit. The warm relations between the DPRK and Chinese social-imperialists was understandable but also led to further revisionist distortion in the country itself.

AP Photo. Original caption from an article in bourgeois media without political determinations: “Voters walk in and out at the entrance of a polling station in Pyongyang during local assembly elections in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, July 24, 2011.”

Two years later, in July 2011, there were local elections with fanfare. Songs reverberated across the country and flags fluttered over polling stations which were crowded with voters. [86] Some candidates, such as an engineer named Jim Song Un, pledged to “live up to the expectations of the people who voted for me and become a true servant of the people,” and said that he would help build “an economically powerful nation.” [87] Additionally, in these elections, Kim Jong Un was elected as one of the 28,116 deputies who took their seats in local assemblies, which meet various times a year to approve budgets, endorse leaders of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and a myriad of other duties. [88] Later that year, Kim Jong-un, was formally named as the supreme commander of DPRK’s military. [89]

The same year, two analyses of the DPRK’s economics were put forward. Once was by investopedia which noted that the country’s economy was hit hard with the demise of the Soviet Union, with a fall in total production, but that thee was a recovery after 1999, continuing to 2005, a downturn in 2006, then positive growth since 2011. [90] Of course, this is by their capitalistic economics, so their measurements could be skewed. Neoconservative, and jingoist, economist Nicholas Eberstadt, of the American Enterprise Institute complained most of all. [91] While agreeing with the “severe economic shock” the country faced after the demise of the Soviet Union, he claimed widely that the country had gone into a “catastrophic decline,” had a “mass famine,” complained that the country is in “principle a planned Soviet-type economy” (although it clearly was not) about the “military burden” put on the economy, the country’s “unrelenting war against its own consumers.” If that wasn’t enough, he claimed that the economy was “dysfunctional,” said that effort of the country to “open” and “Reform” have “ultimately ended in failure” and that the economy of the country will “remain the black hole in the Northeast Asian economy.” Clearly, Eberstadt is just another tool of Western imperialism, bashing those countries who have economic systems different from the West, saying that they are just not right in his eyes. Even so, there is no doubt that that revisionist distortions continued to grow as each year passed.

In 2012, there were a number of other developments. For one, Kim Jong-Il was named as “eternal chairman” of the National Defense Commission, along with being elected as the First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the Central Military Commission, there were a number of “approved amendments to the country’s constitution” as Xinhua noted. When he was elected, at the fourth conference of the party in its history, as First Secretary of the WPK, fellow party members vowed to follow the ideas of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un’s leadership to develop their country, while they demonstrated “the revolutionary will of the people to accomplish the songun (military-first) revolutionary cause under the leadership of Kim Jong Un.” Broadly, “section 2 of Chapter 6 and Articles 91, 95 and 100-105, 107, 109, 116, 147 and 156 of the Constitution in line with the institution of the new post of first chairman of the NDC” (National Defense Commission) were revised. [92] While some speculated on economic reforms, the constitution did not fulfill their wishes. [93] In the most recent iteration of the Constitution (revised again in 2013 and 2016), still called the “Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Constitution,” it mentions that Kim Il Sung helped make the country a “nuclear state” and “unchallengable military power” in the preamble, with no other mention of it in the rest of the constitution whatsoever.

On April 12, 2012, Kim Jong Un gave a rousing speech in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, which some thought was a call for the beginning of “China-style economic reform” in the DPRK, as part of “decisive transformation” he was calling for. [94] A rough transcription of the speech, noted that part of this was true, but there was also nationalism intertwined into his brand of Korean revisionism:

“…Today, we proceed with a grand military parade to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of great leader Comrade Kim Il Sung…[and] let the whole world know about the splendor of the [so-called] socialist powerful state…I express my respect to the anti-Japanese revolutionary patriotic martyrs and the people’s army patriotic martyrs, who sacrificed their invaluable lives for the fatherland’s independence and the people’s liberation…I express gratitude to foreign friends, who are extending their positive support to the just cause of our people…the very appearance of our nation a century ago was a small and weak, pitiful colonial nation that had to endure flunkeyism and national ruin as its fate…Great Comrade Kim Il Sung early on elucidated the philosophical principle that the gun barrel is the life of the nation and also victory of the revolution, and founded the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army…[our country has] the status of a world-class militarily powerful state through the ever-victorious military-first politics…Military technological supremacy is not a monopoly of imperialists any more…Comrades, today we are standing at the watershed of history, when a new chuch’e century begins….At the historic fourth Party Representatives Conference and the fifth session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly that took place a few days ago, great Comrade Kim Jong Il was held in high esteem…This is an indication of the steadfast will of our party, army, and people to inherit and complete to the end the chuch’e revolutionary cause…The farsighted strategy of our revolution and ultimate victory lie here in directly proceeding along the path of independence, the path of military-first, and the path of socialism unfolded by the great Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il…It is our party’s resolute determination to let our people who are the best in the world — our people who have overcome all obstacles and ordeals to uphold the party faithfully — not tighten their belts again and enjoy the wealth and prosperity of [so-called] socialism as much as they like…We will have to embark on the comprehensive construction of an economically powerful state by kindling more fiercely, the flames of the industrial revolution of the new century and the flames of South Hamgyong Province…Our cause is just and the might of Korea that is united with truth is infinite…I will be a comrade-in-arms who always shares life and death and destiny with comrades on the road of the sacred military-first revolution and will fulfill my responsibility for the fatherland and revolution by upholding Comrade Kim Jong Il’s behest…Move forward toward the final victory.”

Members of the 13th SPA assembly at their first session. The YouTube description says that “Deputy Kim Yong Nam made a speech on the election of the first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK. He courteously proposed to the SPA the proposal of the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea on electing Kim Jong Un as first chairman of the NDC of the DPRK…The proposal was fully supported and approved by all deputies and participants. The session solemnly declared that Kim Jong Un was elected first chairman of the NDC of the DPRK…The session elected the president of the Presidium of the SPA of the DPRK and its vice-presidents, honorary vice-presidents, secretary general and members.” And that’s even a broad summary.

In March 2014, the Korean people went to the polls, to elect those who were serve in the 13th SPA assembly, with the next elections in 2019. While the elections were declared a  “formality” by the Western media, they again distort the reality. [95] In fact, with full participation of the populace, of the 687 deputies elected, 112 of them were women, about 55 percent of serving parliamentarians “were reportedly renewed,” the ambassador to revisionist China, Ji Jae Ryong, and Kim Jong Un joined the SPA as deputies. [96] The below chart shows the distribution of deputies in the 13th SPA:

During the 13th SPA, Mr. Choe Thoe Bak was re-elected as speaker/chairman of the assembly, Mr. Pak Pong Ju was elected as the Premier of the Cabinet and Kim Jong Un was re-confirmed as First Chairman of the National Defence Commission, along with other appointments by Kim Jong Un. [97] In later sessions, there was also, continuing implementation of compulsory education in the DPRK by improving educational conditions in the  state as part of a plan proposed by Kim Jong Un to construct a “world power of [so-called] socialist education in the 21st century,” a report on the previous years budget which pushed forward “the economic construction [of the DPRK] and the building of nuclear force,” and reinforcing the role of the Workers’ Party of Korea. [98] Apart from Kim Jong Un’s speech before the SPA, he was absent because of ill health even as he continued to push forward what he believed was “socialism” but was actually concentrated revisionism. [99]

Voters dance near the voting station in Tonghungsan district, Hamhung, South Hamgyong province, on July 19, 2015.

The following year, local elections in July, had almost full participation, as everyone over age 17 is allowed to vote, with 28,452 deputies elected. [100] Most interesting is one video interviewing two female voters and one male voter, while showing the voting in action, something that is often not seen. Hilariously that year was not the trip of a parliamentarian to Russia, but the reaction to a map by the Washington Post. The map, by the Electoral Integrity Project described the DPRK and Cuba “as having moderate quality elections,” the same category that the U$ was in! In a moment of cognitive dissidence, the Post noted in an edit at the bottom of the article this needs to be “interpreted” and that it “does not mean that these countries are electoral or liberal democracies. The indicators measure expert perceptions of the quality of an election based on multiple criteria derived from international standards.” [101]

The next year, 2016, there are a number of developments worth noting. In the 7th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Kim Jong Un made a speech, apart from the formalities, said that the DPRK will continue down the line of “Byungjin,” the parallel  “development of nuclear weapons and national economy as long as the nuclear threat posed by imperialists continues,” and declared that the county is a nuclear weapons state, but will still “strive for world denuclearization and faithfully fulfill obligations of nuclear non-proliferation” as much as humanely possible. Later that year, apart from the appearance of Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yon Yong at a session of the 13th SPA, dressed “in a black suit, while holding up her ballot,” he gave a New Years Address. [102] The address in the nation was accompanied by a mass rally. As I noted in my post two months ago, in which I noted the orange menace’s administration’s offensive posture toward the county, I said that Kim Jong Un

“offered warm greetings to the Korean people and “progressive peoples across the world,” saying that in 2016 the DPRK consolidated its self-defense by achieving the status “of a nuclear power, a military giant, in the East which no enemy, however formidable, would dare to provoke…after reviewing the accomplishments of the previous year and challenging the country to more, [he] then said, referring to the DPRK and the Korean people, “we should turn out again in the new year’s march towards a greater victory…we should concentrate our efforts on implementing the five-year strategy for national economic development.” He later declared…that the country’s defense forces should “politically and militarily and maintain full combat readiness to firmly defend the [so-called] socialist system and the people’s lives and property” and said that the DPRK will “continue to build up our self-defence capability…and the capability for preemptive strike as long as the United States and its vassal forces [the South Koreans and Japanese] keep on nuclear threat and blackmail.” In sum, whatever the orange menace does to attack them, the DPRK will be ready in force”

And that’s where we stand now. I could go into more detail on the DPRK’s accurate depiction of racial terror in the United States, the many articles that look at the legal system of the nation, the specifics of the country’s first “five year plan” from 1957-1961, and a page on elections in the country. I could even look into if Bruce Cummings is really the “leftist” who defends the DPRK that right-wingers say he is. But, I really do think I have done enough. Some may complain that I’m using bourgeois sources or that I wasn’t “radical enough” in my analysis. That is utter hogwash and is sectarianism. I am aware that this article is thin in some areas but that is because I only beginning my understanding of the DRPK. I’m actually surprised by the amount of information out there, but someone needed to bring it all together and display it in a user-friendly manner.

I hope that I can make these types of articles on elections the beginning of a series. But considering the length and time it took me to write this article, I’m not sure if that will happen again. We’ll see. Regardless, it is my hope that everyone who read this learned something about the DPRK which counters the relentless propaganda about the country which makes it near impossible to know what is happening in the country other than what they claim is “terror” (which is often just made up) and makes turning to outlets like the Pyongyang Times, KCNA, Rodong Sinmun, and other official government sources essential to recognize the reality of a country which has accepted, I would argue, too much revisionism for my taste.


Notes

[1] Ting Shi, “China’s Spat With Kim Jong Un Shows Difficulties in Stopping Him,” Bloomberg Politics, Feb. 26, 2017; “Kim Jong Nam killing: DPRK blames S. Korea,” The Herald, Feb. 24, 2017; ‘North Korea harshly criticizes main ally China,’ PressTV, Feb. 24, 2017; Deirdre Griswold, “Behind the new lies about Korea,” Worker’s World, March 8, 2017; KCNA, “DPRK Foreign Ministry Labels Malaysian Ambassador as Persona Non Grata,” March 6, 2017. The latter article says the following: “The Foreign Ministry of the DPRK notifies that the Malaysian ambassador to the DPRK is labeled as a persona non grata under a relevant article [article 9] of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and demanded that the ambassador leave the DPRK within 48 hours from 10:00 on March 5 (Sunday), 2017.”

[2]”North Korea Overview,” page on Amnesty International site archived on Feb. 26, 2017; “North Korea,” page on Human Rights Watch site archived on Feb. 26, 2017.

[3] Report on “Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of” by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, archived on Feb. 26, 2017; Page on “Korea, North” on the CIA World Factbook, some time in 2016, has not changed from the current page.

[4] South Korean Revolutionary Party for Re-Unification, “On the Re-Unification of the Korean Fatherland,” The Black Panther, May 1, 1971, p. 14.

[5] p. 3 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Extract from the Minutes of the Pyongyang session in April-May 1991, Inter-Parliamentary Union.

[6] p. 3-4 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” By 1991, the DPRK’s representative said “since liberation up to now the election of deputies of the SPA has been held 9 times.” There are claims Stalin edited the first constitution of the DPRK but this cannot be independently confirmed.

[7] Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook: Vol. II: South East Asia, East Asia, and South Pacific, ed. Dieter Nohlen, Florian Grotz, and Christof Hartmann (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, first publishing), 395-396, 398, 403, 405, 407; Remembering and Forgetting: The Legacy of War and Peace in East Asia, ed. Gerrit W. Gong (Washington, D.C.: Center for Strategic & International Studies, 1996), 68, 77; Daniel Tudor, Korea: The Impossible Country Tuttle Publishing:2012), 70. Wikipedia lists the following other sources: Par Carter Malkasian (2001) The Korean War, 1950-1953 Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, p13 ISBN 1-57958-364-4; East Gate Book (2003) North Korea Handbook: Yonhap News Agency Seoul, p124 ISBN 0765610043. 1.51% of people voted against this coalition but this was not enough of a percentage to gain any seats in the SPA.

[8] Ibid. Elsewhere the document describes the SPA as “the highest national representative organ of the entire people that is composed of the representatives of workers, farmers, soldiers and intellectuals from all the political parties, social organizations and other sectors of society.”

[9] Ibid, 4-5.

[10] Ibid, 6. The DPRK representative also says that “an election of a new SPA is held by a decision of the Standing Committee of the SPA prior to expiry of the term of office of the current SPA.” While some may cry autocracy, I think what he is saying here is that the Standing Committee helps organize the next (or current) election of the SPA.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid, 8. It also says “thus in the DPRK all children of pre-school age are brought up at the expense of the State and the society and free compulsory education is in enforcement for rising generation until their working ages. University and college students receive scholarship from the State.”

[13] Ibid. It also says “a constitution should be approved by more than two thirds of all deputies, whereas other ordinances and decisions of the SPA should be approved by more than a half of all deputies present at the meeting.”

[14] Ibid, 9. These individuals are chosen on his recommendation: “Vice-Presidents and the First Vice-Chairman, the Vice-Chairmen and Members of the National Defence Commission are elected, the Secretary General and members of the Central People’s Committee, the Secretary General and members of the Standing Committee of the SPA and the President of the Central Court are elected or transferred, and the Public Prosecutor General is appointed or removed.”

[15] Ibid. They also elects its Chairman and Vice-Chairmen who preside over the sessions, and have the power to “appoint committees as its assistant bodies when it decide that they are necessary for the success of its activities.”

[16] Ibid, 9-12.

[17] Ibid, 13. This document also says that the “system of the State organs consists of power organs, administrative organs, and judiciary and procuratorial organs” which includes “central power organs such as the above-mentioned Supreme People’s Assembly, the President of the DPRK and the Central People’s Committee, and local power organs like the People’s Assemblies and People’s Committees of province, city and county. The administrative organs are composed of the Administration Council in the centre and Administration Committees or province, city and county. Judiciary and procuratorial organs are made up of the Central Court and the Central Public Prosecutors Office of the centre and the provincial courts and people’s courts, and public prosecutors offices of province, city and county…The President is the Head of State and represents the State power of the DPRK.The President is elected by and accountable for his work to the Supreme People’s Assembly…The President is accountable for his work to the SPA…The term of office of the President is four years, because he is elected in the SPA, which, in its turn, is elected anew in every four years. The President, as the head of the Central People’s Committee, which is the highest leadership organ of the State power.”

[18] David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter: America and the Korea War (New York: Hyperion, 2007) 54, 63, 67, 138, 144.

[19] North Korea Handbook, ed. Yonhap News Agency Seoul (London: M.E. Sharpe, 2003), 820, 941. The KFA site goes on to say that “the working class of Kangson and all other working people across the country responded to the leader’s call and bravely overcame trials and difficulties which stood in the way of their advance…Industrial production [by 1958] grew at the annual average rate of 36.6 per cent. All this fully showed the heroic stamina and creative talents of the Korean people galloping forward in the speed of Chollima.” I could get into more about the socialist economy of the DPRK (at the time) and how some weirdly see it as a model for democratic and participatory economic planning, but that’s for another day.

[20] North Korea Handbook, 124-126, 820, 941; (bourgeois academic) Andrei Lankov, Crisis in North Korea: The Failure of De-Stalinization, 1956 (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2005), 83-184, 240; Elections in Asia and the Pacific: A Data Handbook, 396, 398-399, 404. In previous elections in 1948, 1 delegate was elected per every 50,000 people, whereas in this session the Five-Year Plan was implemented.

[21] Elections in Asia and the Pacific, p. 157, 404.

[22] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Han Young Jing, “What are Local Elections Like in North Korea?,” Daily NK (anti-DPRK publication), May 31, 2006; Andrei Lankov (hates the DPRK), “N Korea elections: An empty show?,” Al Jazeera, March 7, 2014.

[23] American University, Area handbook for Korea, Page 278; Robert A. Scalapino and Chong-Sik Lee, Communism in Korea: The movement (Ilchokak, Jan 1, 1972), 572;   North Korea Handbook, p. 126, 185, 949; Barry Gills (bourgeois academic), Korea versus Korea: A Case of Contested Legitimacy (New York: Routledge, 2005), 214; The Statesman’s Year-Book 1987-88, ed. J. Paxton, xxxviii. Very few of the local elections have good data on Wikipedia.

[24] Compare this with the 1949 elections when 689 provincial people’s assembly deputies, 5,164 city and county people’s assembly deputies elected, 13,354 deputies for township people’s assemblies were elected, and 56,112 deputies for town, neighborhood, village and workers’ district people’s assembly, were elected (North Korea Handbook, p. 126). A few years later in Nov. 1956, 54,279 deputies for town, neighborhood, villages and workers’ district people’s assemblies were elected, along with 1,009 provincial people’s assembly deputies and 9,364 city and county people’s assembly deputies also elected later in the month (North Korea Handbook, p. 126). Then three years later, in 1959, 9,759 city, county and district people’s assembly deputies and 53,882 town, neighborhood, village and workers’ district people’s assembly deputies were elected (North Korea Handbook, p. 126).

[25] Area Handbook for North Korea, 1969, p. 232; North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[26] Robert A. Scalapino and Chong-Sik Lee (bourgeois academics), Communism in Korea: The society, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972, 726, 793-795.

[27] North Korea Handbook, p. 124.

[28] Pak Ung Gil, “We Scathingly Condemn U.S. Imperialism for Brutal Suppression of the U.S. Black Panther Party,” The Black Panther, Jan. 30, 1971, p. 13. Reprinted from The Pyongyang Times.

[29] Ibid, 12.

[30] “Declaration of the Executive Secretariat of OSPAAL (Organization of Solidarity of the Peoples of Africa, Asia, and Latin America) on the Occasion of the Detention of a Pilot of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by the South Korean Puppet Clique,” The Black Panther, Mar. 20, 1971, p. 14; On the same page is a Kim Il Sung poster declaring “If the U.S. imperialists provoke another aggressive war they will get nothing but corpses and death!”

[31] South Korean Revolutionary Party for Re-Unification, “On the Re-Unification of the Korean Fatherland,” The Black Panther, May 1, 1971, p. 15.

[32] Central Committee of the Black Panther Party, “April 15, Birthday Greetings to Comrade Kim Il Sung, Courageous and Beloved Leader of 40 Million Korean People,” The Black Panther, Apr. 17, 1971, p. 11.

[33] The Statesman’s Year-Book 1972-73, ed. J. Paxton, p. 1123; IBP, Inc., Korea North Country Study Guide Vol. 1, p. 47-48; “Polity IV Country Report 2010: North Korea,” Center for Systematic Peace, 2011; CountryWatch Elections: North Korea; North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[34] North Korea Handbook, p. 124.

[35] p. 6 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

[36] p. 7 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”

[37] Mitchell Lerner, “Making Sense of the ‘Hermit Kingdom’: North Korea in the Nuclear Age,” vol. 2, issue 3, Dec. 2008, Origins magazine, accessed Feb. 27, 2017.

[38] North Korea Handbook, p. 126; The Statesman’s Year-Book 1976-77, ed. J. Paxton, p. 1109.

[39] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[40] There is a delineation of parties shown on page 405 of Elections in Asia and the Pacific, but 401 deputies could not be identified by party affiliation, so it cannot be used. Still, of the data they have, it shows that the Workers’ Party of Korea with the most seats.

[41] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chapter 1: “Major International Developments in 1977,” Diplomatic Bluebook, 1977.

[42] This was also apparently the year that Marxism-Leninism was replaced in the Constitution by Juche, but this cannot be independently confirmed. If that is correct, it is yet another capitalist concession to the growing bourgeoisie in the country.

[43] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[44] Eric Talmadge, “Senior North Korean leader to attend Nicaragua inauguration,” Associated Press, January 6, 2017; BBC News, “South Korea – Timeline,” February 3, 2017; Junheng Li, “North Korea Offers an Opportunity for China and the U.S.,” Bloomberg View, February 21, 2017.

[45] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[46] The Statesman’s Year-Book 1986-87, ed. J. Paxton (New York: MacMillian Ltd, 1986), p. 770-771; Yves Beigbeder, International Monitoring of Plebiscites, Referenda and National Elections: Self-determination and Transition to Democracy (London: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1994), 49.

[47] North Korea Handbook, p. 124.

[48] All of these sources are bourgeois, but used anyhow. Kathryn Benken, Korea Lesson Plan “North Korea: The Dynasty of Communism,” NCTA Oxford 2009, Life Skills Centers of Hamilton County; Nicholas Eberstadt, Chapter 1: “North Korea’s Unification Policy-A Long, Failed Gamble,” The End of North Korea (American Enterprise Press, 1999), reprinted in the New York Times books section; Andrew C. Nahm, “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” The Far East and Australasia, 34th Edition (London: Europa Publications, 2002), p.654.

[49] “News Summary; MONDAY, MARCH 8, 1982,” New York Times, accessed March 2, 2017. This summary says that “Iran is receiving military equipment and arms worth millions of dollars from Israel, North Korea, Syria, Libya, the Soviet Union and Western Europe to wage war against Iraq, Western intelligence sources said…Syria accused the United States and Iraq of supplying Moslem fundamentalists with weapons with which to fight the Syrian Government. The Syrian President, Hafez al-Assad…said that Washington supported the Moslem Brotherhood organization in its ”subversive activity” in Syria.”

[50] North Korea Handbook, p. 126; Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Report Submitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Volume 1985 (Washington, D.C: Government Printing Office, 1986), 791, 796.

[51] The Far East and Australasia, p. 654.

[52] Ibid.

[53] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[54] Sergey Radchenko, “Sport and Politics on the Korean Peninsula – North Korea and the 1988 Seoul Olympics,” Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, December 12, 2011.

[55] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Elections in Asia and the Pacific, p. 398.

[56] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Cath Senker, North Korea and South Korea (New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2013), 44.

[57] North Korea Handbook, p. 126. The DPRK was accused yet again of terrorism, this time on a Korean Air Lines plane, which is passed around in the Western media, but this cannot, again, be independently confirmed.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Elections in Asia and the Pacific, p. 406.

[60] P. 5 of “The Parliamentary System of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea“; North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Associated Press, “N. Korea Assembly Election Set for April,” February 24, 1990.

[61] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; “Nationalism and Communism in Korea.”

[62] “Nationalism and Communism in Korea“; Victor Cha and Ji-Young Lee, “Politics of North Korea,” Oxford Biographies, August 26, 2013.

[63] “Kim Jong Il’s North Korea -An Arduous March,” Spot Survey, ed. Kazunobu Hayashi and Teruo Komaki, March 1997.

[64] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[65] Nick Knight and Michael Heazle, Understanding Australia’s Neighbours: An Introduction to East and Southeast Asia, Second Edition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 126; Gordon L. Rottman, Korean War Order of Battle: United States, United Nations, and Communist Group, Naval, and Air Forces, 1950-1953 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002), 149; David E. Sanger, “North Korea Reluctantly Seeks U.N. Seat,” New York Times, May 29, 1991; BBC News, “North Korea profile – Timeline,” February 24, 2017; North Korea Handbook, p. 321; PBS, “End of a Superpower,” North Korea- Suspicious Minds, Januarry 2003; Jae-Cheon Lim, Kim Jong-il’s Leadership of North Korea (New York: Routledge, 2009), 17-18, 24, 58, 94-96, 98-99. ROK was admitted as a UN member the same year as the DPRK. Chuch’e idea mentioned in some areas.

[66] North Korea Handbook, p. 126.

[67] KCNA, “Rodong Sinmun on successful election of deputies to SPA,” July 1998; CNN, “North Korean parliament seen set to name Kim president,” August 20, 1998; Times Wire Reports, “Kim Jong Il Election Likely Steppingstone,” Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1998.

[68] KCNA, “Korean voters participate in SPA election,” July 27, 1998; KCNA, “Kim Jong Il elected to SPA,” July 27, 1998; KCNA, “100 percent vote for candidates,” July 27, 1998.

[69] Bourgeois propaganda sources: Daniel Pinkston, “North Korea’s 11th Supreme People’s Assembly Elections,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, July 1, 2003; Freedom House, “Freedom in the World Report: North Korea,” 1998.

[70] Elections in Asia and the Pacific, p. 406.

[71] North Korea Handbook, p. 124; Times Wire Reports, “Kim Jong Il Election Likely Steppingstone,” Los Angeles Times, July 27, 1998.

[72] Daniel Pinkston, “North Korea’s 11th Supreme People’s Assembly Elections,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, July 1, 2003.

[73] Bourgeois propaganda source: Freedom House, “Freedom in the World Report: North Korea,” 1998.

[74] Graham Hassall, Cheryl Saunders, Asia-Pacific Constitutional Systems (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 117; North Korea Handbook, p. 126. It was NOT the first year local elections were held in the country as deluded Western media claim, but rather that the timeline between local elections changed from every 2 years to an interval of every 4 years. Some sources noted that the SPA Presidum let citizens know about elections on January 26 and they voted by March 5-6, a pretty quick turnaround (Alexandre Mansourov, “North Korea’s July 19 Local Elections Dispel ROK Allegations of Public Unrest,” 38 North, August 6, 2015).

[75] World Atlas, “South Korea History Timeline,” 2016; accessed March 2, 2017; Sheryl Wudunn, “South Korea Sinks Vessel From North In Disputed Waters,” New York Times, June 15, 1999; Associated Press, “North Korea Opening (Gasp!) a Casino, July 31, 1999; Autoweek, “Yes, even North Korea has its own luxury car brand,” July 13, 2015; Nicholas D. Kristof, “South Korean Vessel Hits Boat From North During Standoff,” New York Times, June 10, 1999; Andrei Lankov, “N Korea: Not so ‘Stalinist’ after all,” Al Jazeera, April 2014.

[76] Daniel Schwekendiek, A Socioeconomic History of North Korea (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2011), 70-74, 81, 83. By 2002, the DPRK would start mobile phone services in the country. I think this book may be slightly anti-DPRK but not as hardline as elsewhere.

[77] Specifically, the DRPK had given the following countries arms: the Democratic Republic of Congo (3 P-4-class torpedo boats/Project 123 (1974) and 10 M-46 towed guns (1975)), Madagascar (4 MiG-17 fight aircraft (flown by DPRK pilots) (1975) and 4 Nampo landing craft (1979)), Libya (10 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1980) and 5 Hwasong-6  tactical ballistic missiles (1999)), Guyana (12 D-30 howitzers (1980) and 6 Type 63 armored personnel carriers (1983), Tanzania (4 Nampo landing craft (1980)), Syria (50 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1981-1984), 10 Type 63 multiple rocket launchers (1982), 12 MAZ-543 artillery trucks (1991-1993), 170 Hwasong-6 tactical ballistic missiles (1991-2000), and 100 Rodong-1 (“Scud Mod-D” as called by NATO) medium-range ballistic missiles (2000-2009), Egypt (145 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1984-1987), Uganda (10 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1987), 14 BTR-152 armored personnel carriers (1987), and 100 Strela-2 surface-to-air missile systems (1987)), UAE (6 MAZ-543 artillery trucks (1989) and 25 R-17 Elbrus missiles (1989), Iran (100 BM-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers (1982-1987), 150 T-62 medium tanks (1982-1983), 200 Type 63 multiple rocket launchers (1982-1986), 6 MiG-19 jet fighter aircraft (1983), 480 Type 59-1 field guns (1983-1988), 4000 9M14 Malyutka anti-tank missiles (1986-1989), 3 Chaho patrol craft (1987), 20 HY-2 anti-ship missiles (1987-1988), 20 M-1978 artillery pieces (1987-1988), 100 R-17 Elbrus missiles (1987-1988), 100 M-1985 multiple rocket launchers (1988-1998), 170 Hwasong-6 (called by NATO with the name “Scud”) tactical ballistic missiles  (1991-1993), 10 MAZ-543 artillery trucks (1993-1995), 15 Peykaap-Class torpedo boats (2002-2003), 3 Gahjae Class Submersible Attack Craft (2002), 3 Kajami-class Submersible Attack Craft (2002-2003), and 10 Tir-Class Patrol Craft (2002-2004)), Pakistan (2 Rodong surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) (1996-1997)), Viet Nam (100 Igla-1 Portable SAMs (1996-1997) and 25 Hwasong-6 tactical ballistic missiles (1998)), Myanmar (16 Type 59-1 field guns (1999)), Ethiopia (10 Type 63 armoured personnel carriers (2000)), Yemen (100 Hwasong-6 tactical ballistic missiles  (2001-2002)). Also, the DPRK gave Hamas 25 9M111 Fagot missiles (2014) and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza: 25 9M111 Fagot missiles (2014).

[78] KCNA, “Kim Jong II Elected to SPA,” August 4, 2003; KCNA, “Foreigners Visit Polling Stations,” August 4, 2003; KCNA, “Results of SPA election Announced,” August 2003; Ian Jeffries, North Korea: A Guide to Economic and Political Developments, p. 392, 452; Daniel Pinkston, “North Korea’s 11th Supreme People’s Assembly Elections,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, July 1, 2003; Reuters, “North Korea Hails 100 Percent Poll Support for Leader Kim Jong Il,” July 4, 2003.

[79] KCNA, “Election Returns Announced,” August 2003; The People’s Korea, “DPRK Holds Election of Local and National Assemblies,” August 2003.

[80] Korea North Mining Laws and Regulations Handbook, Vol. 1 (USA: International Business Publications, 2011), 40; Double Trouble: Iran and North Korea as Challenges to International Security, ed. Patrick M. Cronin (Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008), p. 166.

[81] KCNA, “Results of Election of Deputies to Local Power Bodies Released,” July 2007.

[82] BBC News, “N Korea announces March election,” January 7, 2009; Kev Cho, Heejin Koo, “North Korea Holds Parliamentary Elections Amid Rising Tensions,” Bloomberg, March 7, 2009; Choe Sang-Hun, “Amid a Vote, North Korea Awaits Clues to Its Future,” New York Times, March 8, 2009; AFP, “N Korea’s Kim wins parliamentary seat: official media,” March 9, 2009.

[83] Reuters, “N.Korea vote may point to Kim successor,” March 8, 2009; Sohn Jie-Ae, “Kim secures seat after winning all the votes,” CNN, March 9, 2009; AFP, “North Korea ends registration for upcoming election,” March 5, 2009; ABC News (Australia), “Kim Jong-il’s son not among N Korea election winners,” March 10, 2009; BBC News, “N Korea announces March election,” January 7, 2009.

[84] Lee Sung Jin, “Increasing “Deaths” ahead of SPA Election,” Daily NK, March 9, 2009; Lee Sung Jin, “Defectors Detained in Chinese Prison Cast Proxy Votes,” Daily NK, March 16, 2009; Bona Kim, “Anti-election Graffiti around Pyongang Province,” Daily NK, April 14, 2009.

[85] Chosun Media, “N.Korean Parliament Boosts Kim Jong-il’s Powers,” September 25, 2009; B.R. Meyers, “The Constitution of Kim Jong Il,” Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2009; Na Jeong-ju, “NK Constitution States Kim Jong-il as Leader,” Korea Times, September 2009.

[86] BBC News, “North Korea elections: What is decided and how?,” July 19, 2015; AP, “North Korea begins local elections amid succession,” July 14, 2011 (early version of article on Asia Correspondent site); “DPRK unveils 2011-7-24 election posters,” North Korean Economic Watch (anti-DPRK site).

[87] Sam Kim, “North Korea holds local elections amid succession,” Associated Press, July 24, 2011.

[88] Agence France-Presse, “North Korean elections draw 99.97% turnout, says state media,” July 19, 2015. Reprinted in The Guardian.

[89] BBC News, “North Korea names Kim Jong-un army commander,” Dec. 31, 2011.

[90] Prableen Bajpai, “How the North Korea Economy Works,” Investopedia, January 30, 2015.

[91] Nicholas Eberstadt, “What is wrong with the North Korean economy,” American Enterprise Institute, July 1, 2011.

[92] Bourgeois source: Stephan Haggard, Luke Herman,  and Jaesung Ryu, “The Supreme People’s Assembly and “Cabinet Responsibility”: An Economic Reform Debate?,” Peterson Institute for International Economics, April 21, 2012; Yonhap News Agency, “(LEAD) N. Korea to convene unusual assembly session Sept. 25,” September 5, 2012.

[93] K.J. Kwon, “North Korea proclaims itself a nuclear state in new constitution,” CNN, May 31, 2012; NTI, “North Korea Updates Nuclear Status in Constitution,” May 30, 2012; Staff Reporter, “North Korea’s New Constitution Proclaims Itself a Nuclear Nation,” International Business Times, May 31, 2012; AFP, “New North Korea constitution proclaims nuclear status,” May 31, 2012.

[94] : Stephan Haggard, Luke Herman,  and Jaesung Ryu, “The Supreme People’s Assembly and “Cabinet Responsibility”: An Economic Reform Debate?,” Peterson Institute for International Economics, April 21, 2012; Bill Powell, “Is Kim Jong Un Preparing to Become North Korea’s Economic Reformer?,” Time, April 19, 2012; Yonhap News, “North Korea, Kim Jong Eun First Discourse ‘No Work’ Regulation,” April 20, 2012.

[95] Al Jazeera, “North Korea to hold parliamentary elections,” January 8, 2014; Alstair Gale, “North Korea’s Fake Election,” Wall Street Journal, Mar. 10, 2014; Rob Williams, “North Korea election: Kim Jong-un faces the vote – but of course there’s only one name on the ballot box,” The Independent, 2014; Choe, Sang-Hun, “North Korea Uses Election To Reshape Parliament,” The New York Times, March 10, 2014; BBC News, “North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in ‘unanimous poll win’,” March 10, 2014; BBC News, “North Koreans vote in rubber-stamp elections,” March 9, 2014; Harriet Alexander, “North Koreans ‘vote’ in elections – singing, dancing and reciting poetry,” The Telegraph, March 9, 2014; Peter Shadbolt, “North Korean election provides clues to reclusive Stalinist state,” CNN, March 7, 2014; Al Jazeera, “No votes cast against Kim Jong-un in poll,” March 10, 2014; Danielle Wiener-Bronner, “Yes, There Are Elections in North Korea and Here’s How They Work,” The Atlantic, March 6, 2014; Emily Rauhala, “North Korea Elections: A Sham Worth Studying,” Time, March 10, 2014; IFES election Guide: North Korea, 2014; Associated Press, “North Korea’s Kim Jong-un elected to assembly without single vote against,” The Guardian, March 10, 2014.

[96] KCNA, “Report of Credentials Committee of Deputies to 13th SPA,” April 9, 2014; Voice of Russia, “Kim Jong-un unanimously elected to North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly,” March 10, 2014.

[97] Michael Madden, “The NDC’s Fall Lineup: Results of the 13th SPA,” 38 North, October 6, 2014; Rodong Sinmun, “1st Session of 13th SPA of DPRK held,” April 10, 2014; KCNA, “Panel Committees of SPA of DPRK Elected,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Director of Supreme Public Prosecutors Office Appointed, President of Supreme Court Elected,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Members of DPRK Cabinet Appointed,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Presidium of Supreme People’s Assembly of DPRK Elected,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “DPRK National Defence Commission Elected at SPA Session,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Kim Jong Un Elected First Chairman of NDC of DPRK,” April 9, 2014.

[98] KCNA, “Report on Implementation of State Budget for 2013 and State Budget for 2014,” April 9, 2014; KCNA, “Meeting of Political Bureau of C.C., WPK Held under Guidance of Kim Jong Un,” April 8, 2014; bourgeois sources: Institute for Far Eastern Studies, “North Korea Prioritizes Budget Support for the Modernization of Education in the Age of Knowledge-Based Economy,” September 18, 2014; KCNA, “1st Session of 13th SPA of DPRK Held,” April 9, 2014; James Pearson, “North Korean leader Kim Jong Un absent from parliament meet,” Reuters, September 25, 2014.

[99] James Pearson, “North Korean TV acknowledges leader Kim Jong Un’s health problems,” Reuters, September 26, 2014.

[100] Most of these sources are anti-DPRK, but included as they  discuss the election. Yonhap News, “North Korea Reports 99.97% Turnout In Local Elections,” July 20, 2015; Elizabeth Shim, “North Korea steps up propaganda ahead of regional elections,”UPI, July 15, 2015; Alma Milisic, “Foregone result in North Korea’s local elections,” Al Jazeera, July 19, 2015; Alexander Sehmer, “North Korean voters face little choice in local elections,” The Independent, July 2015; Alexandre Mansourov, “North Korea’s July 19 Local Elections Dispel ROK Allegations of Public Unrest,” 38 North, August 6, 2015; “Report on Results of Local Elections in DPRK Released”. Korean Central News Agency, Pyongyang, in English. 21 July 2015; Tim Schwarz, “99.97% of North Koreans turn out for local elections,” CNN, July 21, 2015; The Daily Telegraph, “North Korea elections not too close to call,” July 20, 2015. There are also propaganda articles like “North Korean Elections: An Exercise in Futility” by Michelle Bovee, part of the staff of Young Professionals in Foreign Policy.

[101] Pippa Norris, “The best and worst elections of 2014,” Washington Post, February 16, 2015.

[102]  Elizabeth Shim, “Kim Jong Un’s sister appears at North Korea’s assembly,” UPI, June 30, 2016.

The immigrant proletariat, the Muslim ban, and the capitalist class

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Mar 3, 2017.

Editor’s note: This piece was originally written on February 1, 2017 so it is outdated in some respects, but broadly still valid. This is reposted from Dissident Voice, with the name of the current president changed to the orange menace.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. Some changes have been made.

The orange menace’s administration has dug in its heels, declaring that the 90-day (for now) Muslim ban on refugees, from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia), enshrined in a January 27th executive order, is just “extreme vetting” and that the media is engaging in “false reporting.” In contrast, hundreds of diplomats have criticized the travel ban, top Democrats have criticized the ban while Republicans like Paul Ryan have said it necessary to protect the “homeland.” Also Jewish groups, over six thousand academics, varying UN agencies, and pro-refugee groups have criticized orange menace’s action, along with protests in airports across the country, while immigrants have suffered with more crackdowns to come.

Numerous companies and CEOs have put out critical statements about orange menace’s order. This included the top executives of Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Airbnb, Box, GE, Lyft, Uber (later on), Koch Industries, TripAdvisor, SpaceX/Tesla Motors, JPMorganCase, and Goldman Sachs, most of whom pledged to help their own employees directly affected. [1] Others that spoke out on the ban included the head of the Internet Association, an industry trade group for the Internet industry, with some investors, like Chris Sacca, sending thousands of dollars to the ACLU, just like Lyft, Tim Cook of Apple declaring that “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do” and Twitter mirroring this by saying “Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always.” [2] Some exploited the misery of the order by trying to help their bottom line: Airbnb said that it would “provide free housing to detainees and travelers” affected and Starbucks is planning to hire 10,000 refugees “over five years in the 75 countries where it does business,” starting with those people who “have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.” [3] What seems clear is that the actions of the orange menace may have crossed a “red line” as Hunter Walk, a partner at the San Francisco-based venture capital firm Homebrew VC, told the Washington Post, indicating possible anti-orange menace action by Silicon Valley in the future, as more companies realize it is a “bigger risk to their investors and bottom line to stay quiet than it is to protest the orange menace’s ban on refugees and travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, betting vocal opposition to the executive order scores them a moral and fiscal victory.” [4]

Such statements mean that the one group that remains constant in opposition to the racist executive order is a sect of the capitalist class. While the recent lawsuits filed in Darweesh v. Trump, Aziz v. Trump, Doe v. Trump, Sarsour v. Trump, San Francisco v. Trump, Louhghalam et al v. Trump, have mainly made constitutional arguments against the racist immigration ban, one suit revealed more about the interests of the capitalist class, especially those in the tech industry. This lawsuit, filed by the Attorney General of the State of Washington, Bob Ferguson, and joined by Expedia and Amazon, among other companies, declared the following, showing how this industry depends on immigrants:

Immigration is an important economic driver in Washington. Many workers in Washington’s technology industry are immigrants, and many of those immigrant workers are from Muslim-majority countries. Immigrant and refugee-owned businesses employ 140,000 people in Washington. Many companies in Washington are dependent on foreign workers to operate and grow their businesses. The technology industry relies heavily on the H-1B visa program through which highly skilled workers like software engineers are permitted to work in the United States. Washington ranks ninth in the U.S. by number of applications for high-tech visas. Microsoft, a corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, is the State’s top employer of high-tech—or H-1B visa holders and employs nearly 5,000 people through the program. Other Washington-based companies, including Amazon, Expedia, and Starbucks, employ thousands of H-1B visa holders. The market for highly skilled workers and leaders in the technology industry is extremely competitive. Changes to U.S. immigration policy that restrict the flow of people may inhibit these companies’ ability to adequately staff their research and development efforts and recruit talent from overseas. If recruiting efforts are less successful, these companies’ abilities to develop and deliver successful products and services may be adversely affected Microsoft’s U.S. workforce is heavily dependent on immigrants and guest workers. At least 76 employees at Microsoft are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen and hold U.S. temporary work visas. There may be other employees with permanent-resident status or green cards. These employees may be banned from re-entering the U.S. if they travel overseas or to the company’s offices in Vancouver, British Columbia. Seattle-based company Amazon also employs workers from every corner of the world. Amazon’s employees, dependents of employees, and candidates for employment with Amazon have been impacted by the Executive Order that is the subject of this Complaint. Amazon has advised such employees currently in the United States to refrain from travel outside the United States. Bellevue-based company Expedia operates a domestic and foreign travel business. At the time of this filing, Expedia has approximately 1,000 customers with existing flight reservations in or out of the United. States who hold passports from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen. The Executive Order will restrict business, increase business costs, and impact current employees and customers.

Such a section comprises six paragraphs of Washington State’s argument against the immigration order, a section that the lawsuit depends on to be successful. Immigrants are clearly vital to the tech industry. Of the 250,000 Muslims living in the San Francisco Bay Area, who are mostly of Arab or South Asian descent, many of them work at “companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft.” [5] These immigrants are seen as “essential” to the growth of Silicon Valley, with 37 percent of workers in the area being foreign-born, with immigrants creating “some of America’s biggest tech companies,” like Yahoo, Apple, or Google, and allowing them to survive (and “boom”), since they rely on “talent from abroad to fill positions and to meet their global ambitions.” [6] After all, the “superstars of the high-tech industry are all immigrants” as one article points out.

Since immigrants account for a “significant part of the workforce in the tech industry,” the industry has advocated for looser laws to “increase the flow of skilled immigrants into the U.S.” and is heavily reliant on the H-1B visa program. The program, which started in 2000 with bipartisan support, “allows software engineers and other skilled workers to work in the U.S.,” resulting in their active role in the political arena to push for looser immigration restrictions. [7] Hence, Silicon Valley is afraid of the upcoming immigration restrictions during the orange menace’s administration. This is especially the case since the orange menace has reportedly drafted an executive order to overhaul the H-1B visa program, which companies depend on so they can “hire tens of thousands of employees each year,” the “talent” they need to thrive, with their support of the orange menace basically non-existent in the recent presidential campaign. [8]

By the mid-1990s, those who live in the Valley divided “along racial and economic lines” with older and wealthier whites “concentrated in the west Valley,” and Latinos (as they are often called) fanning across the floor of the valley, with many of the immigrants poor, bringing with them “crowding and new welfare burdens,” a division that angers many Latinos. [9] In recent years, the immigrant community which undergirds Silicon Valley has been in trouble. [10] With immigrant youth comprising a major portion of “both the population and the workforce in the Silicon Valley,” the Valley had “deep disparities when it comes to the lives of undocumented immigrants,” with such youth facing barriers in accessing education, concentrated in low-wage jobs, and serving as a diverse and “core part of the Silicon Valley community.” Immigrants from the Asian continent, whether Chinese, Filipino, or otherwise, form, as of April 2015, the “largest racial block in Santa Clara County, exceeding the proportion of non-Hispanic white residents for the first time.”

Despite such dependence on immigrants, the tech industry does not treat these employees fairly or justly. One academic report in 2012 says that the stated reasons of the tech industry (lack of study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), rapid technological change, and needing to hire best and brightest workers for “innovations” to occur) cannot be confirmed upon close inspection, leaving cheap labor as “the remaining explanatory factor.” The report goes on to say that legal loopholes allow for foreign workers to be unpaid drastically compared to Amerikan-born workers, with many of the workers coming from India, revisionist China, and the Philippines, along with other Asian immigrants, comprising from 50-80% of the workforce of top technology companies, with the tech industry claiming a “labor shortage” and lack of talent, although this cannot be supported by existing data. Interestingly, even the conservative media scoffs at the claims of the tech industry, with arch-conservative National Review declaring that work permits “are basically de facto green cards and give the foreign national complete flexibility in the job market” and that the visa program will hurt the middle class (not sure if that’s true) while the similarly aligned FrontPage Magazine questioned the shortage of “high-skilled American labor,” saying that the visa program provides “a supply of lower-wage guest workers.” [11] Of course, they oppose the claims for anti-immigrant reasons and don’t really care about the well-being of immigrant workers in the U$, without a doubt.

Mistreatment of immigrants in Silicon Valley is nothing new. There is no doubt that high-skilled immigrant workers “are being exploited by employers,” with the H1-B visa program benefiting the corporate bottom line, especially providing protection against unions and labor strikes, but hurting the workers. The program itself gives employers great power over workers, allowing them to “hire and fire workers…grant legal immigration status…[or] deport the worker” if they don’t do what they like. In 2014 Wired magazine reported on a study showing that major tech companies (ex: Cisco, Apple, Verizon, Microsoft, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and Google) have pocketed wages and benefits from workers, especially among new Indian immigrants to the Valley, leading to an “ecosystem of fear” in the area among the workforce. The tech companies collectively withheld at least $29.7 million from such workers, forcing them to pay fees they shouldn’t have to pay, creating a form of indentured servitude, as some called it, where there exists an “underground system of financial bondage by stealing wages and benefits, even suing workers who quit,” making “business and profit by having cheap labor” as one worker put it. [12] This shows that the tech companies are, in their own way, engaging in a form of organized crime against the immigrant proletariat. Such crimes are only part of their business model which includes top Silicon Valley CEOs conspiring in wage-fixing to drive down the wages of 100,000 engineers, ultimately involving one million employees in all.

With the exploitation of the immigrant proletariat, mainly those that are “high-skilled,” by the tech industry, this explains the harsh opposition from Silicon Valley to the orange menace’s executive order. Without the visa program, the industry would likely collapse or at least be weakened. As for other industries, immigrants are employed in jobs across the U$ economy, even as they face similar constraints to the native-born poor along with restrictions related to their citizenship status, especially in cities like New York. As a result, it can be said that immigrants ultimately benefit the U$ economy, even those that are undocumented, and are not a drag on the “native-born” section of the working class, making the country a better place for all, as even free-marketeers and libertarians would admit. [13] This is important to point out with nativists getting a new lease on life under the orange menace’s administration.

As we stand now, the horribleness of the Obama administration has increased under the orange menace’s nightmarish state in regards to immigrants, Muslims killed by drone bombing, and violence supported by the murderous empire across the world, among much more. While we should undoubtedly be critical of bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives who claim to have the “answers” and solution to fighting the orange menace, rejecting their pleas to move the capitalist Democratic Party “more left” to fight the “bad Republicans,” there is no reason to sit idly by. We must get involved in pushing for revolutionary politics by at minimum engaging in actions that show solidarity with the immigrant proletariat, whether documented or undocumented, in the United States. In the end, perhaps we should heed what Homer Simpson declared about immigrants all those years ago:

Most of here were born in America. We take this country for granted. Not immigrants like Apu [who immigrated from India and on a green card], while the rest of are drinking ourselves stupid, they’re driving the cabs that get us home safely. They’re writing the operas that entertain us everyday. They’re training out tigers and kicking our extra points. These people are the glue that holds together the gears of our society. [14]


Notes

[1] Nathan Bomey, “Elon Musk to seek CEO consensus on changes to Trump immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 29, 2017; Fredreka Schouten, “Koch network slams Trump immigrant ban,” USA Today, Jan. 29, 2017; Jill Disis, “Starbucks pledges to hire 10,000 refugees,” CNNMoney, Jan. 29, 2017; David Pierson, “Facing Trump’s immigration ban, corporations can’t risk keeping silent,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2017. As Elon Musk (of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) tried to “seek a consensus” among fellow business CEOs who were affected with the order and trying to work with Trump, Uber changed course from crossing a picket line and profiting from the misery, to condemning Trump’s action as impacting “many innocent people” and the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, declaring “I’ve…never shied away…from fighting for what’s right,” even as they continue their horrid practices with exploitation of their workforce.

[2] Jessica Guynn and Laura Mandaro, “Microsoft, Uber, Apple, Google: How the tech world responded to Trump’s immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017.

[3] Jill Disis, “Starbucks pledges to hire 10,000 refugees,” CNNMoney, Jan. 29, 2017

[4] Brian Fung and Tracy Jan, “Tech firms recall employees to U.S., denounce Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017; David Pierson, “Facing Trump’s immigration ban, corporations can’t risk keeping silent,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2017; John Ribeiro, “US tech industry says immigration order affects their operations,” CIO, Jan. 29, 2017; Anthony Cuthbertson, “How Silicon Valley Is Fighting Back Against Trump’s Immigration Ban,” Newsweek, Jan. 30, 2017; Eric Newcomer, “Silicon Valley Finds Its Voice as Immigration Ban Fuels Outrage,” Bloomberg Technology, Jan. 30, 2017; PCMag staff, “Here’s What Silicon Valley Is Saying About Trump’s Immigration Ban,” PC magazine, Jan. 29, 2017; Matt Richtel, “Tech Recruiting Clashes With Immigration Rules,” New York Times, Apr. 11, 2009. On the subject of US-Mexico migration some companies have tried to get on the game as well: a Zionist company said they will help build the “great wall” on the US-Mexico border.

[5] Brian Fung and Tracy Jan, “Tech firms recall employees to U.S., denounce Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017.

[6] John Blackstone, “Tech industry, fueled by immigrants, protesting Trump’s travel ban,” CBS News, Jan. 31, 2017; Kerry Flynn, “Immigrants have built America’s tech industry,” Mashable, Jan. 31, 2017; Carmel Lobello, “The tech industry’s case for immigration reform,” The Week, June 2, 2013; Sarah McBride, “One quarter of U.S. tech start-ups founded by an immigrant: study,” Reuters, Oct. 2, 2012. Even a Forbes contributor, David Shaywitz,” said that immigrants are an “inextricable part of the valley’s cultural fabric and a vital element of its innovative potential.”

[7] Jessica Guynn and Laura Mandaro, “Microsoft, Uber, Apple, Google: How the tech world responded to Trump’s immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017; Katie Benner, “Obama, Immigration and Silicon Valley,” BloombergView, Jan. 22, 2015; Gregory Ferenstein, “No Exceptions For Tech Industry: High Skilled Visas Now Tied To Comprehensive Reform,” TechCrunch, Dec. 1, 2012; Stephen Moore, “Immigration Reform Means More High-Tech Jobs,” CATO Institute, Sept. 24, 1998; Jessica Leber, “Silicon Valley Fights for Immigrant Talent,” MIT Technology Review, July 26, 2013; Amit Paka, “How Legal Immigration Failed Silicon Valley,” TechCrunch, Sept. 7, 2015.

[8] Peter Elstrom and Saritha Rai, “Trump’s Next Immigration Move to Hit Closer to Home for Tech,” Bloomberg News, Jan. 30, 2017; Gretel Kauffman, “How Trump’s immigration stances could affect the tech industry,” Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 20, 2016; David Z. Morris, “Tech Industry Could be “First to Suffer” From Trump’s Immigration Stances,” Fortune, Nov 19, 2016; Salvador Rodriguez, “Why Tech Companies Need Immigrants to Function,” Inc, Jan. 30, 2017; Paresh Dave and Tracey Lien, “Trump’s shocking victory could squeeze Silicon Valley on immigration and trade,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9, 2016; David Jones, “Silicon Valley Up in Arms Over Proposed H-1B Overhaul,” E-Commerce Times, Jan. 31, 2017; Marisa Kendall, “Trump poised to overhaul H-1B visas relied on by Silicon Valley tech,” Mercury News, Jan. 31, 2017; Hansi Lo Wang, “In Silicon Valley, Immigrants Toast Their Way To The Top,” NPR News, Apr. 19, 2014; Marie-Astrid Langer, “Silicon Valley Wants High-Skilled Immigration on Campaign Agenda,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18, 2015.

[9] Andrew Murr, “Immigrants In The Valley,” Newsweek, Dec. 25, 1994.

[10] Some immigrants are doing well however. Even by 1998, one study found that “Chinese and Indian immigrants were running a quarter of the high-tech businesses in Silicon Valley, collectively accounting for more than $16.8 billion in sales and over 58,000 jobs.”

[11] Ian Smith, “Obama Games the Visa System to Lower Wages and Please the Tech Industry,” National Review, September 30, 2015; Arnold Ahlert, “The Tech Industry’s Immigration Lies,” FrontPage Magazine, April 2, 2014.

[12] The report shows that most of those who are the “well educated, highly skilled and specialized foreign workers” accepted under the H1-B Visa program are from China, India, the Philippines, and South Korea, with thousands of other petitions accepted from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, France, Pakistan, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Nepal, Venezuela, Colombia, Italy, Russia, and Spain, among other countries.

[13] H.A. Goodman, “Illegal immigrants benefit the U.S. economy,” The Hill, Apr. 23, 2014; Rowena Lindsay, “How immigration helps the US economy: Report,” Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 24, 2016; Ted Hesson, “Why American Cities Are Fighting to Attract Immigrants,” The Atlantic, Jul. 21, 2015; Daniel Griswold, “Immigrants Have Enriched American Culture and Enhanced Our Influence in the World,” Insight (CATO Institute publication), Feb. 18, 2002; Rohit Arora, “Three Reasons Why Immigrants Help the U.S. Economy,” Inc, Feb. 24, 2015; Timothy Kaine, “The Economic Effect Of Immigration,” Hoover Institution, Feb. 17, 2015; Sean Hackbarth, “Immigrants are Good for the Economy,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Dec. 5, 2014; A. Barton Hinkle, “Immigration Is Good for the U.S. Economy,” Reason, Jul. 21, 2014; Minyoung Park, “The vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the US are here working: BAML,” Yahoo! News, Jul. 21, 2016.

[14] This speech is made by Homer near the end of the Simpsons episode, Much Apu About Nothing (Season 7, episode 23, May 1996) when Homer has the realization that the measure that would deport immigrants from Springfield, proposition 24, proposed by the loyal mayor, Joe Quimby, to distract from the “bear tax” to pay for the worthless “Bear Patrol” is wrong. Regardless, the measure passes anyway, with 95% approval, and Homer declares that democracy “doesn’t work” while all of the immigrants have gained citizenship (after passing the citizenship test), except for Groundskeeper Willie, who goes on a ship back to Scotland.

The orange menace’s administration has dug in its heels, declaring that the 90-day (for now) Muslim ban on refugees, from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia), enshrined in a January 27th executive order, is just “extreme vetting” and that the media is engaging in “false reporting.” In contrast, hundreds of diplomats have criticized the travel ban, top Democrats have criticized the ban while Republicans like Paul Ryan have said it necessary to protect the “homeland.” Also Jewish groups, over six thousand academics, varying UN agencies, and pro-refugee groups have criticized orange menace’s action, along with protests in airports across the country, while immigrants have suffered with more crackdowns to come.

Numerous companies and CEOs have put out critical statements about orange menace’s order. This included the top executives of Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Airbnb, Box, GE, Lyft, Uber (later on), Koch Industries, TripAdvisor, SpaceX/Tesla Motors, JPMorganCase, and Goldman Sachs, most of whom pledged to help their own employees directly affected. [1] Others that spoke out on the ban included the head of the Internet Association, an industry trade group for the Internet industry, with some investors, like Chris Sacca, sending thousands of dollars to the ACLU, just like Lyft, Tim Cook of Apple declaring that “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do” and Twitter mirroring this by saying “Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always.” [2] Some exploited the misery of the order by trying to help their bottom line: Airbnb said that it would “provide free housing to detainees and travelers” affected and Starbucks is planning to hire 10,000 refugees “over five years in the 75 countries where it does business,” starting with those people who “have served with U.S. troops as interpreters and support personnel.” [3] What seems clear is that the actions of the orange menacemay have crossed a “red line” as Hunter Walk, a partner at the San Francisco-based venture capital firm Homebrew VC, told the Washington Post, indicating possible anti-orange menace action by Silicon Valley in the future, as more companies realize it is a “bigger risk to their investors and bottom line to stay quiet than it is to protest the orange menace’s ban on refugees and travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, betting vocal opposition to the executive order scores them a moral and fiscal victory.” [4]

Such statements mean that the one group that remains constant in opposition to the racist executive order is a sect of the capitalist class. While the recent lawsuits filed in Darweesh v. Trump, Aziz v. Trump, Doe v. Trump, Sarsour v. Trump, San Francisco v. Trump, Louhghalam et al v. Trump, have mainly made constitutional arguments against the racist immigration ban, one suit revealed more about the interests of the capitalist class, especially those in the tech industry. This lawsuit, filed by the Attorney General of the State of Washington, Bob Ferguson, and joined by Expedia and Amazon, among other companies, declared the following, showing how this industry depends on immigrants:

Immigration is an important economic driver in Washington. Many workers in Washington’s technology industry are immigrants, and many of those immigrant workers are from Muslim-majority countries. Immigrant and refugee-owned businesses employ 140,000 people in Washington. Many companies in Washington are dependent on foreign workers to operate and grow their businesses. The technology industry relies heavily on the H-1B visa program through which highly skilled workers like software engineers are permitted to work in the United States. Washington ranks ninth in the U.S. by number of applications for high-tech visas. Microsoft, a corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, is the State’s top employer of high-tech—or H-1B visa holders and employs nearly 5,000 people through the program. Other Washington-based companies, including Amazon, Expedia, and Starbucks, employ thousands of H-1B visa holders. The market for highly skilled workers and leaders in the technology industry is extremely competitive. Changes to U.S. immigration policy that restrict the flow of people may inhibit these companies’ ability to adequately staff their research and development efforts and recruit talent from overseas. If recruiting efforts are less successful, these companies’ abilities to develop and deliver successful products and services may be adversely affected Microsoft’s U.S. workforce is heavily dependent on immigrants and guest workers. At least 76 employees at Microsoft are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen and hold U.S. temporary work visas. There may be other employees with permanent-resident status or green cards. These employees may be banned from re-entering the U.S. if they travel overseas or to the company’s offices in Vancouver, British Columbia. Seattle-based company Amazon also employs workers from every corner of the world. Amazon’s employees, dependents of employees, and candidates for employment with Amazon have been impacted by the Executive Order that is the subject of this Complaint. Amazon has advised such employees currently in the United States to refrain from travel outside the United States. Bellevue-based company Expedia operates a domestic and foreign travel business. At the time of this filing, Expedia has approximately 1,000 customers with existing flight reservations in or out of the United. States who hold passports from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, or Yemen. The Executive Order will restrict business, increase business costs, and impact current employees and customers.

Such a section comprises six paragraphs of Washington State’s argument against the immigration order, a section that the lawsuit depends on to be successful. Immigrants are clearly vital to the tech industry. Of the 250,000 Muslims living in the San Francisco Bay Area, who are mostly of Arab or South Asian descent, many of them work at “companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft.” [5] These immigrants are seen as “essential” to the growth of Silicon Valley, with 37 percent of workers in the area being foreign-born, with immigrants creating “some of America’s biggest tech companies,” like Yahoo, Apple, or Google, and allowing them to survive (and “boom”), since they rely on “talent from abroad to fill positions and to meet their global ambitions.” [6] After all, the “superstars of the high-tech industry are all immigrants” as one article points out.

Since immigrants account for a “significant part of the workforce in the tech industry,” the industry has advocated for looser laws to “increase the flow of skilled immigrants into the U.S.” and is heavily reliant on the H-1B visa program. The program, which started in 2000 with bipartisan support, “allows software engineers and other skilled workers to work in the U.S.,” resulting in their active role in the political arena to push for looser immigration restrictions. [7] Hence, Silicon Valley is afraid of the upcoming immigration restrictions during the orange menace’s administration. This is especially the case since the orange menace has reportedly drafted an executive order to overhaul the H-1B visa program, which companies depend on so they can “hire tens of thousands of employees each year,” the “talent” they need to thrive, with their support of the orange menace basically non-existent in the recent presidential campaign. [8]

By the mid-1990s, those who live in the Valley divided “along racial and economic lines” with older and wealthier whites “concentrated in the west Valley,” Latinos have fanned across the floor of the valley, with many of the immigrants poor, bringing with them “crowding and new welfare burdens,” a division that angers many Latinos. [9] In recent years, the immigrant community which undergirds Silicon Valley has been in trouble. [10] With immigrant youth comprising a major portion of “both the population and the workforce in the Silicon Valley,” the Valley had “deep disparities when it comes to the lives of undocumented immigrants,” with such youth facing barriers in accessing education, concentrated in low-wage jobs, and serving as a diverse and “core part of the Silicon Valley community.” Immigrants from the Asian continent, whether Chinese, Filipino, or otherwise, form, as of April 2015, the “largest racial block in Santa Clara County, exceeding the proportion of non-Hispanic white residents for the first time.”

Despite such dependence on immigrants, the tech industry does not treat these employees fairly or justly. One academic report in 2012 says that the stated reasons of the tech industry (lack of study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), rapid technological change, and needing to hire best and brightest workers for “innovations” to occur) cannot be confirmed upon close inspection, leaving cheap labor as “the remaining explanatory factor.” The report goes on to say that legal loopholes allow for foreign workers to be unpaid drastically compared to American-born workers, with many of the workers coming from India, revisionist China, and the Philippines, along with other Asian immigrants, comprising from 50-80% of the workforce of top technology companies, with the tech industry claiming a “labor shortage” and lack of talent, although this cannot be supported by existing data. Interestingly, even the conservative media scoffs at the claims of the tech industry, with arch-conservative National Review declaring that work permits “are basically de facto green cards and give the foreign national complete flexibility in the job market” and that the visa program will hurt the middle class (not sure if that’s true) while the similarly aligned FrontPage Magazine questioned the shortage of “high-skilled American labor,” saying that the visa program provides “a supply of lower-wage guest workers.” [11] Of course, they oppose the claims for anti-immigrant reasons and don’t really care about the well-being of immigrant workers in the United States.

Mistreatment of immigrants in Silicon Valley is nothing new. There is no doubt that high-skilled immigrant workers “are being exploited by employers,” with the H1-B visa program benefiting the corporate bottom line, especially providing protection against unions and labor strikes, but hurting the workers. The program itself gives employers great power over workers, allowing them to “hire and fire workers…grant legal immigration status…[or] deport the worker” if they don’t do what they like. In 2014 Wired magazine reported on a study showing that major tech companies (ex: Cisco, Apple, Verizon, Microsoft, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and Google) have pocketed wages and benefits from workers, especially among new Indian immigrants to the Valley, leading to an “ecosystem of fear” in the area among the workforce. The tech companies collectively withheld at least $29.7 million from such workers, forcing them to pay fees they shouldn’t have to pay, creating a form of indentured servitude, as some called it, where there exists an “underground system of financial bondage by stealing wages and benefits, even suing workers who quit,” making “business and profit by having cheap labor” as one worker put it. [12] This shows that the tech companies are, in their own way, engaging in a form of organized crime against the immigrant proletariat. Such crimes are only part of their business model which includes top Silicon Valley CEOs conspiring in wage-fixing to drive down the wages of 100,000 engineers, ultimately involving one million employees in all.

With the exploitation of the immigrant proletariat, mainly those that are “high-skilled,” by the tech industry, this explains the harsh opposition from Silicon Valley to the orange menace’s executive order. Without the visa program, the industry would likely collapse or at least be weakened. As for other industries, immigrants are employed in jobs across the US economy, even as they face similar constraints to the native-born poor along with restrictions related to their citizenship status, especially in cities like New York. As a result, it can be said that immigrants ultimately benefit the US economy, even those that are undocumented, and are not a drag on the “native-born” section of the working class, making the country a better place for all, as even free-marketeers and libertarians would admit. [13] This is important to point out with nativists getting a new lease on life under the orange menace’s administration.

As we stand now, the authoritarianism of the Obama administration has increased under the orange menace’s nightmarish state in regards to immigrants, Muslims killed by drone bombing, and violence supported by the murderous empire across the world, among much more. While we should undoubtedly be critical of bourgeois liberals and bourgeois progressives who claim to have the “answers” and solution to fighting the orange menace, rejecting their pleas to move the capitalist Democratic Party “more left” to fight the “bad Republicans,” there is no reason to sit idly by. We must get involved in pushing for revolutionary politics by at minimum engaging in actions that show solidarity with the immigrant proletariat, whether documented or undocumented, in the United States. In the end, perhaps we should heed what Homer Simpson declared about immigrants all those years ago:

Most of here were born in America. We take this country for granted. Not immigrants like Apu [who immigrated from India and on a green card], while the rest of are drinking ourselves stupid, they’re driving the cabs that get us home safely. They’re writing the operas that entertain us everyday. They’re training out tigers and kicking our extra points. These people are the glue that holds together the gears of our society. [14]


Notes

[1] Nathan Bomey, “Elon Musk to seek CEO consensus on changes to Trump immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 29, 2017; Fredreka Schouten, “Koch network slams Trump immigrant ban,” USA Today, Jan. 29, 2017; Jill Disis, “Starbucks pledges to hire 10,000 refugees,” CNNMoney, Jan. 29, 2017; David Pierson, “Facing Trump’s immigration ban, corporations can’t risk keeping silent,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2017. As Elon Musk (of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) tried to “seek a consensus” among fellow business CEOs who were affected with the order and trying to work with Trump, Uber changed course from crossing a picket line and profiting from the misery, to condemning Trump’s action as impacting “many innocent people” and the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, declaring “I’ve…never shied away…from fighting for what’s right,” even as they continue their horrid practices with exploitation of their workforce.

[2] Jessica Guynn and Laura Mandaro, “Microsoft, Uber, Apple, Google: How the tech world responded to Trump’s immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017.

[3] Jill Disis, “Starbucks pledges to hire 10,000 refugees,” CNNMoney, Jan. 29, 2017

[4] Brian Fung and Tracy Jan, “Tech firms recall employees to U.S., denounce Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017; David Pierson, “Facing Trump’s immigration ban, corporations can’t risk keeping silent,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 31, 2017; John Ribeiro, “US tech industry says immigration order affects their operations,” CIO, Jan. 29, 2017; Anthony Cuthbertson, “How Silicon Valley Is Fighting Back Against Trump’s Immigration Ban,” Newsweek, Jan. 30, 2017; Eric Newcomer, “Silicon Valley Finds Its Voice as Immigration Ban Fuels Outrage,” Bloomberg Technology, Jan. 30, 2017; PCMag staff, “Here’s What Silicon Valley Is Saying About Trump’s Immigration Ban,” PC magazine, Jan. 29, 2017; Matt Richtel, “Tech Recruiting Clashes With Immigration Rules,” New York Times, Apr. 11, 2009. On the subject of US-Mexico migration some companies have tried to get on the game as well: an Israeli company said they will help build the “great wall” on the US-Mexico border.

[5] Brian Fung and Tracy Jan, “Tech firms recall employees to U.S., denounce Trump’s ban on refugees from Muslim countries,” Washington Post, Jan. 28, 2017.

[6] John Blackstone, “Tech industry, fueled by immigrants, protesting Trump’s travel ban,” CBS News, Jan. 31, 2017; Kerry Flynn, “Immigrants have built America’s tech industry,” Mashable, Jan. 31, 2017; Carmel Lobello, “The tech industry’s case for immigration reform,” The Week, June 2, 2013; Sarah McBride, “One quarter of U.S. tech start-ups founded by an immigrant: study,” Reuters, Oct. 2, 2012. Even a Forbes contributor, David Shaywitz,” said that immigrants are an “inextricable part of the valley’s cultural fabric and a vital element of its innovative potential.”

[7] Jessica Guynn and Laura Mandaro, “Microsoft, Uber, Apple, Google: How the tech world responded to Trump’s immigration ban,” USA Today, Jan. 28, 2017; Katie Benner, “Obama, Immigration and Silicon Valley,” BloombergView, Jan. 22, 2015; Gregory Ferenstein, “No Exceptions For Tech Industry: High Skilled Visas Now Tied To Comprehensive Reform,” TechCrunch, Dec. 1, 2012; Stephen Moore, “Immigration Reform Means More High-Tech Jobs,” CATO Institute, Sept. 24, 1998; Jessica Leber, “Silicon Valley Fights for Immigrant Talent,” MIT Technology Review, July 26, 2013; Amit Paka, “How Legal Immigration Failed Silicon Valley,” TechCrunch, Sept. 7, 2015.

[8] Peter Elstrom and Saritha Rai, “Trump’s Next Immigration Move to Hit Closer to Home for Tech,” Bloomberg News, Jan. 30, 2017; Gretel Kauffman, “How Trump’s immigration stances could affect the tech industry,” Christian Science Monitor, Nov. 20, 2016; David Z. Morris, “Tech Industry Could be “First to Suffer” From Trump’s Immigration Stances,” Fortune, Nov 19, 2016; Salvador Rodriguez, “Why Tech Companies Need Immigrants to Function,” Inc, Jan. 30, 2017; Paresh Dave and Tracey Lien, “Trump’s shocking victory could squeeze Silicon Valley on immigration and trade,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 9, 2016; David Jones, “Silicon Valley Up in Arms Over Proposed H-1B Overhaul,” E-Commerce Times, Jan. 31, 2017; Marisa Kendall, “Trump poised to overhaul H-1B visas relied on by Silicon Valley tech,” Mercury News, Jan. 31, 2017; Hansi Lo Wang, “In Silicon Valley, Immigrants Toast Their Way To The Top,” NPR News, Apr. 19, 2014; Marie-Astrid Langer, “Silicon Valley Wants High-Skilled Immigration on Campaign Agenda,” Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18, 2015.

[9] Andrew Murr, “Immigrants In The Valley,” Newsweek, Dec. 25, 1994.

[10] Some immigrants are doing well however. Even by 1998, one study found that “Chinese and Indian immigrants were running a quarter of the high-tech businesses in Silicon Valley, collectively accounting for more than $16.8 billion in sales and over 58,000 jobs.”

[11] Ian Smith, “Obama Games the Visa System to Lower Wages and Please the Tech Industry,” National Review, September 30, 2015; Arnold Ahlert, “The Tech Industry’s Immigration Lies,” FrontPage Magazine, April 2, 2014.

[12] The report shows that most of those who are the “well educated, highly skilled and specialized foreign workers” accepted under the H1-B Visa program are from China, India, the Philippines, and South Korea, with thousands of other petitions accepted from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, France, Pakistan, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Nepal, Venezuela, Colombia, Italy, Russia, and Spain, among other countries.

[13] H.A. Goodman, “Illegal immigrants benefit the U.S. economy,” The Hill, Apr. 23, 2014; Rowena Lindsay, “How immigration helps the US economy: Report,” Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 24, 2016; Ted Hesson, “Why American Cities Are Fighting to Attract Immigrants,” The Atlantic, Jul. 21, 2015; Daniel Griswold, “Immigrants Have Enriched American Culture and Enhanced Our Influence in the World,” Insight (CATO Institute publication), Feb. 18, 2002; Rohit Arora, “Three Reasons Why Immigrants Help the U.S. Economy,” Inc, Feb. 24, 2015; Timothy Kaine, “The Economic Effect Of Immigration,” Hoover Institution, Feb. 17, 2015; Sean Hackbarth, “Immigrants are Good for the Economy,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Dec. 5, 2014; A. Barton Hinkle, “Immigration Is Good for the U.S. Economy,” Reason, Jul. 21, 2014; Minyoung Park, “The vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the US are here working: BAML,” Yahoo! News, Jul. 21, 2016.

[14] This speech is made by Homer near the end of the Simpsons episode, Much Apu About Nothing (Season 7, episode 23, May 1996) when Homer has the realization that the measure that would deport immigrants from Springfield, proposition 24, proposed by the loyal mayor, Joe Quimby, to distract from the “bear tax” to pay for the worthless “Bear Patrol” is wrong. Regardless, the measure passes anyway, with 95% approval, and Homer declares that democracy “doesn’t work” while all of the immigrants have gained citizenship (after passing the citizenship test), except for Groundskeeper Willie, who goes on a ship back to Scotland.

 

“It is homeland or death”: The Zanu-PF on the rise once again!

Photograph by Wilson Kakurira showing First Lady and Zanu-PF Women’s League secretary Dr. Grace Mugabe, flanked by Zanu-PF Provincial chairman Samuel Undenge and Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Mandi Chimene, saluting the revolutionary party’s supporters at a rally near St John’s Primary School in Buhera on February 18 (Courtesy of The Herald)

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Mar 1, 2017.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. Some changes have been made.

In the year of 2013, there were a round of elections and votes, which would again would show that the chains of neo-colonialism were broken. Once again, Black nationalism was victorious, with the Zanu-PF garnering over 61% of the popular vote, and the MDC-T garnering about 35% of the popular vote in the presidential election, in which there were five contenders and about 3.5 million voted. At the same time, in the House of Assembly, the Zanu-PF gained over 62% of the popular vote and the MDC-T received about 30% of the vote, along with many other smaller parties, with the Zanu-PF having a very clear majority of 196 seats compared to the MDC-T’s 70 seats and MDC-N’s 2 seats. As for Senate, the Zanu-PF also retained a majority, with 37 seats compared to the MDC-T’s 21 seats, and the MDC-N’s 2 seats. While the United States, UK, Botswana, Australia, and EU said the election wasn’t fair, Russia, Zambia, Namibia, Mauritus, South Africa, SADC, and the African Union said it was, and the latter groups and states should be trusted more than the former. [1] That same year, a constitutional referendum, limiting the future presidents to two five-year terms, preventing the President from vetoing laws passed by the legislature, abolished the post of Prime Minister, established numerous other authorities, allowed for dual citizenship and prevented legal challenges to the land redistribution program, was proposed. On March 16 and 17, 2013, these proposals were approved by over 94% of the voters, fulfilling what Mugabe had hoped for years earlier, as even the Western media, generally hostile to Zimbabwe’s government, had to admit even as they scowled.

The new Constitution of Zimbabwe showed that the country was still on the side of Black nationalism. It is progressive, while calling for good governance, national unity, fostering (and respecting) fundamental rights, fair and “Pan-African” foreign policy. Additionally, it calls for rapid and equitable development, empowerment, food security, “gender balance,” and fair regional representation. It also declares the country will help children, youth, elderly, and people with disabilities, favoring vets of the liberation struggle, and have reasonable work and labor policies. The Constitution also says there will be promotion of free and gender equal education, provision of social welfare, legal aid, and so on. It also outlines varying ways of gaining Zimbabwean citizenship, says that every person has a right to life, meaning that there are limits on the death penalty, and right of personal liberty. The document also outlines rights of arrested persons, the right to dignity, the right to personal security, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of association, and freedom of conscience, basic bourgeois rights. Additionally, it talks about the expanse of labor rights, certain property rights (making the native Black Zimbabwean bourgeoisie smile), environmental rights, right to pension benefits, and a right to education. Importantly, to protect it from imperialist subversion, it says that there will limits on rights, especially during a public emergency.

The same year as the overwhelming victory in the constitutional referendum, the Zanu-PF released a manifesto, which could also be described a party platform, to describe how they would move forward. This document began with a section by Mugabe, who described how Zanu-PF’s essence is to “economically empower the indigenous people of Zimbabwe,” saying that “our achievements have been blighted since 1999 by the twin evils of regime change and illegal economic sanctions,” while noting the Zanu-PF’s policy of indigenisation and empowerment of 51 percent of all foreign-owned businesses to be indigenous-owned (to help the native bourgeoisie), and noting the goal for Zimbabwe to have total ownership of natural resources as a form of national sovereignty. In describing the party’s policies, the manifesto said that “pro-people” policies include the land reform programme and other empowerment policies not stopped by foreign imperialists, while saying that the party promises to deepen unity, security, independence, and respect for liberation, while promoting patriotism, gender equality, peace, non-violence, stability, housing for all, employment, respect for those with disabilities, and much more. The document goes on to say that the Zanu-PF’s indigenisation and empowerment initiatives will expand the economy and numerous committees benefiting from policy interventionsm and that the party’s slogans are “Indigenize yourself”; “taking back the economy”; and “Indigenise, empower, develop & create employment.”

Anyway, the party says that Zimbabwe’s independence and sovereignty has allowed it to use the state as a “revolutionary instrument” to reclaim land from White settlers and redistribute it to the Black populace, with their main aim to “indigenise the ownership of Zimbabwe’s natural and economic resources that fell into foreign hands as a consequence of colonialism or racist Rhodesian rule” by implementing the Economic Empowerment Act. [2] The party also gives its support to employee empowerment schemes, community empowerment schemes, and a sovereign wealth fund, all of which would benefit the native bourgeoisie. Still, they clearly recognize there is work to be done. They acknowledge that threats to winning a better Zimbabwe are poverty, unemployment, homelessness, HIV and AIDs, lack of safe water and sanitation, corruption, treachery, sanctions, $10 billion colonial debt burden, and Western-funded NGOs. The manifesto also outlines the goals of the party in the next five years: to push forward with indigenisation and empowerment, expanded agriculture, and skills development, with immediate attention on employment creation and developing Zimbabwe to ensure economic prosperity for all along with empowering individuals and communities.

Of course, there is also one plank in the document which takes a position “against homosexuality.” This includes the note that same-sex marriage in the new constitution is banned, which they argue is a goal of the people, and that “Zimbabwe will never be a colony again but [this party will]…also protect the values and dignity of people against such evils as homosexuality.” Clearly, those who wish to stand with the non-binary community, across the world, may be shocked by this development, even saying that Mugabe is “homophobic.” However, it is worth noting that this aspect is only a small part of their overall platform and that such attitudes are widespread across the African Continent. This does not excuse such attitudes but rather it is acknowledges that many African leaders are sticking with conservative traditional values over ideas such as homosexuality, as they are stuck between the pull of these values (Western and non-Western), their views are reinforced by efforts of the Christian Right from the United States, and efforts by the U$ government to promote gay rights. So, with leaders stuck in this position, they take the position of defending their country’s values from efforts by the West to project their values on other parts of Africa. One can decry the treatment of gays across Africa, but this must be recognized and acknowledged, or else one will just be promoting Western imperialism like the rest of the deluded bourgeois progressives who don’t know better or don’t care. As Kwame Ture said once, “homosexuality is not un-African; our intolerance of it is un-African.”

In 2013, there were a number of other developments. While the Zanu-PF, representing the interests of the country’s homegrown bourgeoisie, including Black farmers and wealthy Black investors, continued to look to social-imperialist China, the MDC-T looked to “North American and Western European investor interests,” and foreign capital in general, showing they did not want a stable Zimbabwe, with elections in the country pitting, arguably, “a Black bourgeois elite and its rural petite bourgeois allies,” in control of the state, “against North American and Western European investors.” [3] More specifically, Mugabe said that he wanted to expand his “indigenization” policy, while social-imperialist China remained a major supporter of the country, supporting Mugabe’s “Look East” policy which “offered priority to Chinese investment and capital from other Asian states.” After the death of Nelson Mandela, in December 2013, a comparison between Zimbabwe and South Africa became warranted. While Mandela was loved in the West for protecting South Africa’s economy “as a sphere for exploitation by the White property-owning minority and Western corporate and financial elite from the rank-and-file demands for economic justice of the movement he led,” meaning that the land is still owned by the White minority, and the economy Western-dominated, Mugabe led an effort to redistribute “land and mineral wealth away from the descendants of White colonial settlers and foreign owners to Black Africans.” There was even a specific effort to warn South Africa to not emulate Zimbabwe’s form of land reform.

The following year, Zimbabwe maintained its independence from the West. Liberation war vets were honored at a Zanu-PF Congress that year and Mugabe visited social-imperialist China to reinforce the alliance between the two countries. [4] In the celebration of his 90th birthday, Mugabe thanked his wife, Grace, saying that he is not alone, describing her as “the caretaker, the provider, the sustainer, the amal,” or mother of the nation, while saying that Zimbabweans don’t hate the British, “we only love our country. We love our country better.” The same year, the Western media concocted a story that Grace Mugabe received a her PhD “wrongly,” even though all signs say she achieved it through hard work, but that it took over a year for it to be published, with the final thesis, published in February 2015, titled “The Changing Global Structure of Family: The Case of Children’s Homes in Zimbabwe.” This whole story they concocted ties into the fact that the West “evidently and openly supports ‘the opposition’, against the government that is loved and supported by the great majority of citizens,” and that there are various “propaganda points directed against Harare.” We should be reassured however, that Grace has a prominent place in the Zanu-PF, which is good to fight off such pathetic assertions by the Western media and shows that she is not sitting on the sidelines.

2015 was an eventful year. In April, Mugabe laughed at those who called him a dictator with Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and he told Putin, in a meeting the following month, he said “You have sanctions, we have sanctions. [laughs] The American imperialists at the top of it all.” No detailed analysis is needed here to know that Mugabe has a point. For years, especially since the crisis in Ukraine began in 2013, the US imperialists have put Russia under siege, which has made Putin, who is still serving the Russian oligarchs, an anti-imperialist leader of sorts (but not completely of course). Later that year, the Zanu-PF delegation went off to revisionist China to re-solidify ties, while Western media guessed that Grace Mugabe could be the next president of Zimbabwe after President Mugabe dies. In September, Mugabe gave his annual address before the UN General Assembly. While Westerners were shocked that he would declare “we are not gays” before the assembly, his speech covered many more topics. He rejected efforts to change Zimbabwe’s values from the outside (which is why he said “we are not gays”), declared, rightly, that Zimbabwe wants to live in peace with all nations, said that his country supports the struggle in Palestine, and wants independence for the Western Sahara.

The following year, 2016, was another one for the history books. The Black bourgeois magazine, The Root, Socialist Alternative, and socialist poser magazine Jacobin, showed their true colors when they declared that Mugabe was a “brutal dictator.” [5] Some of these publications even endorsed Ewan Mawaire’s “ThisFlag” movement, which is clearly Western-backed and another form of imperial destablization. Other speculations that year included poorly sourced claims that Mugabe is optimistic about the orange menace from QZ, and that Mugabe was hinting at retirement from Newsweek and NPR. On the bright side, the Zanu-PF government reinforced its alliance with social-imperialis China. While there was reportedly some tension between Zimbabwe and revisionist China over their indigenisation law, the two countries still have very friendly relations. In August, one month after Cecil the Lion was killed, Mugabe, in a speech on Heroes Day, told the populace that “all the natural resources are yours. Even Cecil the lion is yours. He is dead but yours to protect, and you failed to protect him.” He further added that “there are vandals who come from all over…to irregularly and illegally acquire those resources. All this wildlife is yours, we should protect them.” Such thinking is justified as Westerners are exploiting the resources of Africa every day as their colonialist mindsets make them think they still have formal empires to tend on the continent, even though there are only neo-colonial spheres of influence, a subset of Western imperialism in the world today.

In September, Mugabe gave an address to the UN General Assembly where he asserted that his country was under attack by Western imperialist forces and declared his support for the Saharawi people in Western Sahara:

“My country, Zimbabwe, is the innocent victim of spiteful sanctions imposed by the United States and other powers and these countries have for some reason maintained these sanctions for some 16 years now. As a country, we are being collectively punished for exercising the one primordial principle enshrined in the United Nations Charter, that of sovereign independence. We are being punished for doing what all other nations have done, that is, possessing and owning their natural resources, and listening to and responding to the basic needs of our people. Those who have imposed these sanctions would rather have us pander to their interests at the expense of the basic needs of the majority of our people. As long as these economic and financial sanctions remain in place, Zimbabwe capacity to fully and effectively implement Agenda 2030 is deeply curtailed. I repeat my call to Britain and the United States and their allies to remove the illegal and unjustified sanctions against my country and its people…Our common commitment to leaving no one behind demands that we address the plight of peoples still living under colonialism and occupation. The people of Palestine have lived under occupation and persecution for over 49 years. It is high time that the United Nations, in particular the Security Council, fulfills its Charter duties and obligations…We urge the holding of the independence referendum for the Saharawis without much further delay.”

Later in the year, Mugabe said at an international conference about climate change that climate change is “a reality taking a toll on our people. The water situation in my country is dire.” Once again, this casts doubt if he would “be glad” that the orange menace was elected. Regardless, by the end of the year, in a state of the nation address, Mugabe talked about victim friendly systems to fight “gender-based violence,” regional industrialization strategy, and thousands of houses created in Zimbabwe, thanks to the Zanu-PF government. The year ended with the reassertion once again that Mugabe was standing as the Zanu-PF’s candidate for president in the 2018 elections. [6]

This year, 2017, has already been eventful for Zimbabwe. For one, the IMF declared that more reforms were needed and Tsvangirai, of the Western-backed opposition, was claimed to look “beyond Mugabe,” whatever that means. [7] As for the Zanu-PF government itself, it was helping put in place concrete roads, rejecting biometric and electronic voting in upcoming elections with only biometric voter registration allowed. Additionally, there was a push for a more united Zanu-PF, with party officials saying the opposition will have to face the “Zanu-PF juggernaut” in 2018, that the Zanu-PF shouldn’t have petty fights, and that the Zanu-PF has strong support in rural areas, while the party is a “people’s party” in touch with the masses. Yet again, the Zimbabwean government thanked social-imperialist China for support.

Last month, the government made a number of important statements. For one, unification of the Zanu-PF against White imperialists was urged, especially because of the “Western-sponsored regime change agenda,” the control by Black bourgeoisie of sectors of the economy like the diamond sector will not be reversed, and the government gave 250,000 civil servants land that they deserved. [8] In addition, state media in the country noted that due to Western sanctions, water conservation, and precautions over water, needs to continue, and that gender equality still has hurdles, despite previous progress. Other than the government helping flood victims, they advocated to the EU to remove sanctions on the country, and mulled the increase in certain tariffs. Just this year, Black nationalism has taken many other steps forward in the country, apart from a book on Mugabe speeches being published, a case against Mugabe has dismissed, and the introduction of new bond notes as a cash crunch persists due to imperialist destabilization. If that isn’t enough, the U$ Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Henry Thomas Jr., re-asserted imperialistic “human rights” claims, warning against “political violence,” showing that in a number of respects, the fundamentals of U$ imperial policy have not changed from Obama to the orange menace.

As it stands now, the Zanu-PF is focusing on the 2018 elections. The “quest to brainwash” the electorate of Zimbabwe to oppose the current government is not succeeding. The U$-backed preacher, Evan Mawarire, has been basically discredited, sitting in custody, as it seems his influence is waning, as he seems like a total joke now. The Zim-PF (Zimbabwe People First), an opposition party, is collapsing (which even opposition rags accept) before our eyes, after firing numerous party members. With such opposition clearly in disarray, there is no doubt that Mugabe has general following in Zimbabwe, possibly even winning broadly in the 2018 elections, as opposition papers in the country claim, and that instead of a “large, White capitalist sector” dominating land use, Zimbabwe’s land has been redistributed to the general populace, especially women, and places the country arguably at the forefront of emergent nationalism in the Global South, even as it as a developed black bourgeoisie and is no way radical. [9] Additionally, it should concern people little if Mugabe has a person to continue strong black nationalism and anti-imperialism after he passes from this world, or not.

As those who oppose Western imperialism across the world, one must discard any Western biases about supposed “rogue nations,” which are actually those on the frontline opposing the advance of such imperialism. To do otherwise is to stay within the existing status quo, which perpetrates imperial propaganda. A good number of those on the “Western Left” do not realize this or delude themselves into thinking they are righteous, which corrupts them and the “Left” itself. Those who care about liberation, fighting imperialism, and opposing neo-colonialism should stand with Zimbabwe.


Notes

[1] BBC News, “Zimbabwe election: William Hague voices ‘grave concerns’,” August 3, 2013; BBC News, “Zimbabwe President Mugabe re-elected amid fraud claims,” August 3, 2013; John Nyashanu, “More Sadc states endorse Mugabe,” NewsDay, August 8, 2013; Heather Saul, “South African President Jacob Zuma congratulates Robert Mugabe on his landslide victory in Zimbabwe elections,” The Independent, 2013; BBC, “Zimbabwe poll ‘free and peaceful’ say Obasanjo and SADC,” August 2, 2013; BBC News, “Zimbabwe approves new constitution,” March 19, 2013; Chris Chinaka, “Mugabe appoints ZANU-PF lawyer as Zimbabwe finance minister,” Reuters, September 10, 2013.

[2] The party also argues that it has liberated Zimbabwe, indigenised land, defended Zimbabwean sovereignty, signing the GPA in 2008, introducing a multicurrency system in 2009, maintained the country’s education system, building a resilient healthcare infrastructure, defending the people’s goals in the new constitution, and engages in cordial international and diplomatic relations.

[3] MacDonald Dzirutwe, “Zanu PF looks to China,” Reuters, September 12, 2013; reprinted in Southern Eye; Moyo, Sam and Chambati, Walter. “Introduction: Roots of the Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe.” Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: Beyond White-Settler Capitalism (ed. Sam Moyo and Walter Chambati). CODESRIA: African Books Collective, 2013. 3; Chari, Tendai. Media Framing of Land Reform in Zimbabwe. Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: Beyond White-Settler Capitalism (ed. Sam Moyo and Walter Chambati). CODESRIA: African Books Collective, 2013. 320; Moyo, Sam and Yeros, Paris. The Zimbabwe Model: Radicalisation, Reform, and Resistance. Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: Beyond White-Settler Capitalism (ed. Sam Moyo and Walter Chambati). CODESRIA: African Books Collective, 2013. 333.

[4] David Smith, “Robert Mugabe visits China as critics condemn ‘desperate’ bid for investment,” The Guardian, August 26, 2014; BBC News, “Call for Zimbabwe’s Grace Mugabe to return PhD,” October 1, 2014; Nunurai Jena, “Grace Mugabe defends her PhD,” NewsDay, October 3, 2014; The Standard, “Grace Mugabe’s PhD: Academics speak,” September 14, 2014; Ludovica Iaccino, “Zimbabwe: Grace Mugabe Awarded PhD in Two Months from University where President Mugabe is Chancellor,” International Business Times, September 12, 2014; David Smith, “Grace Mugabe’s super-speedy PhD raises eyebrows around the world,” The Guardian, September 15, 2014; Heather Saul, “Grace Mugabe gains Phd in orphanages,” The Independent, February 17, 2015; Ed Cropley, Cris Chinaka, Stella Mapenzauswa, and Stephen Powell, “Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF confirms Mugabe’s wife as women’s head,” Reuters, December 6, 2014. The fact that this “scandal” earned a place on StormFront’s forums, shows that the story itself is not only anti-Black racism, but a form of imperialistic lies.

[5] Todd Steven Burroughs, “Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, Defiant as Ever, Refuses to Exit the Stage,” The Root, September 22, 2016; Statement by the Executive Committee of the Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa), “Zimbabwe: Mugabe Must Fall!,” Socialist Alternative, August 27, 2016; Percy Zvomuya, “The Resilent Robert Mugabe,” Jacobin magazine, August 26, 2016; Farai Mutsaka,” Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Blames Foreign ‘vandals’ amid Lion’s Death,” Reuters, August 10, 2015; Obi Egbuna, Jr. Simunye, “Zimbabwe: Country’s Resources Sacred,” The Herald, September 4, 2015.

[6] Associated Press, “Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, 92, to stand in next election,” December 17, 2016; reprinted in The Guardian; News24, “Mugabe ‘odds-on favourite’ for 2018 polls – State media,” December 13, 2016.

[7] Nqobani Ndlovu, “Tsvangirai looks beyond Mugabe,” NewsDay, January 28, 2017.

[8] State media also argued, rightly, that “Zimbabwe does not need America for it to understand what human rights are” and quoted Temba Milswa who said that “…you cannot win election in this country without a component of Zanu-PF…even if the opposition gets together [it will not have a majority]” The state media in Zimbabwe also wrote about how Mugabe is an “intellectual giant,” criticized factory farming, explained $11 million debt to China (another form of exploitation by social-imperialist China), talked about how Zimbabwe wants to keep its mines open, in terms of still controlling it, to the Black populace, and the recent SNL sketch that mentioned Mugabe, saying that Kennan Thompson failed in his impression of Mugabe, not understanding what Obama has done the past few years, saying it is ultimately a “stupid parody.”

[9] Cliffe, Lionel; Alexander, Jocelyn; Cousins, Ben and Gaidzanwa, Rudio. An overview of Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe: editorial introduction. Outcomes of Post-2000 Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe (ed. Lionel Cliffe, Jocelyn Alexander, Ben Cousins, and Rudio Gaidzanwa). York: Routledge, 2013. 16-8; Moyo, Sam and Chambati, Walter. Introduction: Roots of the Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe. Land and Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: Beyond White-Settler Capitalism (ed. Sam Moyo and Walter Chambati). CODESRIA: African Books Collective, 2013, p 2.

“It is homeland or death”: Breaking the neo-colonial chains in Zimbabwe

Flag of the independent Republic of Zimbabwe currently.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Feb 27, 2017.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. Some changes have been made.

In 1996, the neo-colonial chains, of the post-independence period, began to be broken. In the presidential election that year, Mugabe was elected with over 92% of the vote, while Abel Muzorewa of the United Parties, the moderate opposition party, gained 4.8% of the vote. It was this year, the same year that Mugabe became the chair of the defense arm of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), that the Zanu-PF government began to back away from ESAP, as they realized its disastrous results, luckily for the Zimbabwean proletariat even though a Black Zimbabwean bourgeoisie had developed.

The following year, in 1997, the chains holding Zimbabwe to Britain were completely snapped. The government began to seize land owned by a “handful of white farmers” which some called a “steadily increasing autocracy,” not realizing the deep-rooted reasons for regaining such land. [1] After failing to undertake the IMF’s “reforms” as quickly as they wanted, the assurances the British government made in 1979 to “fund the purchase of land from white settlers,” were rejected by the New Labour government controlled by Tony Blair. This government was hostile to the land program and Zimbabwe, as the government went into “open revolt,” rejecting the IMF programs which they now saw as “injurious to Zimbabweans.” Around the same time, Morgan Tsvangirai came onto the scene as a Western toady with his anti-government activism continuing under the umbrella of the ZCTU (Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions), and the “IMF riots” in Harare, like many other “Third World” countries came to an end.

In 1998, Zimbabwe snubbed the Western capitalists yet again. With his land program, resistance to IMF programs by adopting Black nationalist economic measures hostile to the West, and support for the new government of Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Gowans says that Kabila was following “economically nationalist policies reminiscent of those of Patrice Lumumba,” leading the CIA to overthrow many years earlier, but considering he is a revisionist this is probably not the full reality. In reality, one could say that Kabila’s government may have been progressive but it had a bourgeoisie, which got worse after his son, Joseph Kabila, took over in 2001 after Laurent’s assassination, whom was favored more by the West.

The economic measures adopted by Zimbabwe at the time included imposition of tariffs to protect new industries and providing Black investors (part of the Zimbabwean bourgeoisie) incentives, and an affirmative action program, so that that could be “African ownership of the economy.” These measures clearly opposed the “Washington Consensus.” As for helping the Kabila government, a third of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), 11,000 souls, were sent into the DRC, in the Great African War (also called the Second Congo War) in order to stave off an “invasion by Rwandan and Ugandan forces,” which was backed by Britain and the U$, showing that Mugabe was not an “errand boy for Western capital” any longer. By 1999, opposition formed from angry White farmers whose land was expropriated and redistributed justly to Black families. This included the formation of the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC, which was originally funded by the British-backed Westminster Foundation for Democracy and other governments in Europe, along with many western NGOs and “civil society” groups receiving funding from Western governments or foundations to this day. This new land reform was coupled with the completion of the break with the IMF, which refused to extend loans to the country, while the MDC pushed forward the Washington Consensus, setting in motion the continuing conflict since that time, a conflict between the Zanu-PF’s Black nationalism and the MDC’s neo-colonialism. Another factor for the end of IMF loans was the loss of military equipment in the DRC to back Kabila’s government, with the Zimbabwean government wanting to recoup the losses but Western donors shook their fingers is dismay, saying that aid programs to Zimbabwe were “under review, citing military spending in Congo among the reasons.”

On July 1, 1999, Joshua Nkomo, the former leader of Zapu and foe of Mugabe died of prostate cancer. Not surprisingly, the Western media mourned in pain. The Guardian declared that Nkomo was the “unchallenged leader of the long struggle to achieve majority rule” and the “unofficial…king of Zimbabwe’s Ndebele people,” saying that he was a dedicated African nationalist who “became convinced that white Rhodesians would not voluntarily accept black majority rule” (a lie without a doubt) but had a less successful struggle, with his political role after independence supposedly “that of merely a figurehead” in their view. [2] BBC said something similar, calling him the “first modern nationalist leader in white-ruled Rhodesia,” saying that he dominated “the Zimbabwean stage,” while sparing with Mugabe, and lost his “ambition of becoming Zimbabwe’s first black president” with his career following a “steady decline” as some saw him as “selling out” with conservative attitudes toward women. Both pieces, not surprisingly, mentioned the Gukurahundi campaign and disturbances (January 3, 1983 to December 22, 1987), in which the Zimbabwean government engaged in senseless violence against thousands of Ndebele people, who did not support the government, for which Mugabe has expressed regret. Recently, the Zimbabwean government has begun reburying victims of the war of liberation and post-independence disturbances, as part of a “national healing and reconciliation process” after these events, showing that everyone makes mistakes. At the same time, it is worth recognizing that these pieces predictably praised Nkomo who was the chosen leader for the White settlers and capitalists in the post-independence period, for which he did not get as Mugabe won the 1980 elections instead, for which all of those in the world should be grateful.

The boldness of the Zimbabwean government led to anger from Western capitalist governments and the capitalist class for years to come. This included claims that Mugabe is a “dictator” or a “one-party state” which is denied by sheer logic, along with support for the MDC, which has a “commitment to private property and capitalist freedoms,” and condemning measures the state takes “to prevent the eruption of violence” branding them as “authoritarian, dictatorial, and anti-democratic.” Anger from the West also is rooted in “expropriating farms owned by settlers of European origins” with compensation, helping Black Zimbabweans, foreign investment controls, and trying to “free Zimbabwe from neo-colonialism.” There have been a number of continuities through the 1990s worth mentioning. For one, Zimbabwe went from a one-party state to a multiparty state, HIV among unmarried people across the country begun to be more prevalent, and Tekere, a veteran of the Zimbabwean liberation war, led an opposition movement. [3] It is also worth noting that Mugabe has been critical of homosexuality since the mid-1990s, at least, seeing it as a western import. For those concerned about this, rightly so, they should push for Western NGOs pushing this issue to leave the country in order to not reinforce this perception even more. The only other aspects worth mentioning are the military equipment that entered the country in the 1990s, from a number of Western countries (Spain, UK, US, Italy, and France), along with other countries (Czechoslovakia, Russia, and PRC). This included, but is not limited to 1 transport aircraft, 52 self-propelled multiple-rocket launchers (MRL), 2 fighter aircraft, 5 trainer/combat aircraft, 2 light aircraft (for anti-poaching operations), 6 trainer aircraft, 23 armored personnel carriers (APCs), and 6 combat helicopters, as noted by the SIPRI trade register.

The imperialist assault on Mugabe, the Zanu-PF, and the Republic of Zimbabwe grew in the 21st century. For one, the state received weaponry to defend itself from the imperialistic vipers, including six multiple rocket launchers from the Czech Republic, 60 mortars from Bulgaria, two rocket launchers from Slovakia, three fighter aircraft from Libya, and 12 trainer aircraft from revisionist China, accompanied by 12 turbofan engines from Ukraine, during the years of 2000 to 2006. Zimbabwe also received one transport aircraft from Ukraine in 2001, and gave the Czech Republic 10 self-propelled guns the same year.

While Mugabe is clearly an African nationalist leading  a country with a developed black bourgeoisie and the policies of Zanu-PF are progressive at best, the Western capitalists would not relent in their assault. Freedom House, one of the many organizations which pushes “human rights” imperialism across the world, echoed by President Obama himself, claimed that the country had a “regime,” an “authoritarian system” that gives “unfettered power” to Mugabe, who they dubbed a “dictator,” and even more harshly, said that Mugabe had abandoned his “promise of liberation.” [4] Others, such as Jimmy Carter, another “human rights” NGO like Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, called Human Rights First, went on to claim that there has been the “subversion of democracy” under the current government. Some in alternative media, such as Louis Proyect, Mahir Ali, Koni Benson, Mahmood Mamdani, Michelle Pinto, Allan Nairn, Rohini Hensman, and Peter Tatchell, fell in line by declaring that “Mugabe’s authoritarianism” is undeniable, that there is a “Mugabe cliché,” or that Mugabe is part of a “murderous” regime, among many other unfounded claims.

As it should be obvious, all of these claims deny the reality. These critics were denying that the handmaiden of imperialism, the National Endowment of Democracy, issued 21 grants in 2015, costing over $1.6 million, toward Zimbabwean “civil society,” words which translate to the anti-Zanu-PF “opposition,” while the government was taking an obvious anti-imperialist stand. Even by 2000, Zimbabwe’s fast-track land redistribution was beginning to become an act of racial justice, as it was not only independent from AFRICOM in later years, but was standing on the side of African liberation against the imperialist tyranny favored by the opposition, making the country “Africa’s Cuba” in the minds of some. Even the State Department had to admit that Zimbabwe is “constitutionally a republic” even while they condemned the country for what they claimed were “human rights violations” which is just another manifestation of their imperial propaganda.

2000 was an eventful year for Zimbabwe. Apart from Sithole, a veteran of the Zimbabwean liberation war, dying in Philadelphia that year, the land reforms, mentioned in the previous paragraph, began in earnest. In February 2000, the Zanu-PF government held a constitutional referendum, on February 11 and 12, giving power to the government to seize White farms without compensation and proposed a bill of rights within the proposed constitution. Sadly, it was rejected by the populace, with roughly 55% of the population voting against it, and about 45% for it. It is worth noting that the Centre for Democracy and Development Observer Mission said that the referendum was “conducted in an atmosphere that was generally free, fair and peaceful.” While speculating on the reason for this defeat might be a fool’s errand, there is no doubt that the opposition party, the MDC, took this as a victory and the Zanu-PF did not say this result was invalid, showing once again, that there is no “dictatorship.” Luckily for the Zimbabwean people, the land reforms went on, in a different way of course.

The redistribution of White farms to the Zimbabwean populace, even as every White farmer was allowed to control individual, single farms, not more than one per farmer, was begun in a way that shocked Western capitalists. After the relatively close parliamentary elections, in June 2000, in which the Zanu-PF won seven additional seats but only gained 48.6% of the popular vote, while the MDC gained 47% of the popular vote, the government used its available powers to seize such farms, under their fast-track land program, at an opportune time, a time when there as an “acute financial crisis” in the country because of Western destabilization measures. While some claimed that the land reform, coupled with takeover of mines, and “other productive enterprises,” with the help of veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war, was “deeply destabilizing,” nothing could be further from the truth. [5] In fact, the Zimbabwean government was finishing off in its quest to cast off the hideous shadow of neo-colonialism with its land reform program, which tried to “redistribute land owned by 4,000 farmers of European descent to 300,000 landless families,” and indigenization laws allowing indigenous Zimbabweans or the government to “take controlling stakes in all foreign-owned banks and companies” (benefiting the Zimbabwean black bourgeoisie most of all), leading to economic backlash from the West. This manifested itself in sanctions from the US, Britain, and the European Union, along with blocking the country’s access to “international lines of credit,” and building up opposition within the country, coalesced around the MDC, in an effort to destabilize the country. These measures also made it near impossible for the Zimbabwean military to “secure foreign currency to buy spares for its fleet of immobilised Cascavel and Urutu armoured cars” which were still fighting in the DRC at the time.

In the following years, the Zanu-PF government continued to assert its independence, resisting the attempts by British and US imperialists to gain control in Southern Africa. The White farmers who used their money and wealth to try to stop the Zanu-PF in the ownership of natural resources by the Zimbabwean populace, and reclaiming White land for indigenous Black farmers, were not alone. In 2001, the US government, as the “prime guarantor of the imperialist system,” introduced the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act, or ZDERA, and passed by a vote of 396-11 in the House, and passed in the Senate by unanimous consent. The law declared that U$ representations to international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank must “oppose and vote against any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe” or any attempt to reduce that government’s debt, a measure which not only deprived the country of “foreign currency required to import necessities from abroad,” such as chemicals to fluoridate water, but aid from the World Bank was cut off, plunging the country into an “economic abyss.” These sanctions were coupled with the hostility of Botswana, which said that nearby countries should impose an oil blockade to bring down the government, all because Zimbabwe stood against the Western capitalist order. This law was also, as Cynthia McKinney pointed out, not only was the Zimbabwean government trying to right a historical wrong, but the law was “nothing more than a formal declaration of United States complicity in a program to maintain white-skin privilege.” Simbi Veke Mubako, then Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the United States, called the law an “attempt to show some support for white farmers” which is “unfair, unjust, and racially motivated.” Both of these statements were more accurate than claims it was about “human rights, good governance, and economic development in Africa,” as George W. Bush claimed at the time, but really about helping the Zimbabwean people pursue “peaceful democratic change” through U@ backing of the opposition.

In 2002 and 2003, Zimbabwe trudged forward. In March 2002, Jonathan Moyo, then the Information Minister, said that the demise of the Soviet Union caused the “current image crisis” of the country since, in his view, global scrutiny of Zimbabwe began with the “end of the bipolar world order” and beginning of a unipolar world order by extension. [6] The same year, there was a presidential election, which was later declared “free and fair” by a team from the Organization of African Unity, along with observers from Nigeria, South Africa, and Namibia, even as groups from the British Commonwealth and Norway scowled at the result. The result of the election makes these responses even more understandable: in which Zanu-PF gained over 56% of the vote, the MDC garnered 42% of the vote, along with a slew of other independent parties. Apart from this vote showing that the Zanu-PF had gained strength and support among the Zimbabwean populace, it also led to an adverse reaction. Zimbabwe was expelled from the British Commonwealth, Switzerland sanctioned the country, and Denmark closed its embassy in Harare, after an “unfair” election in which the Zanu-PF, a Black nationalist party, gained more of the vote. Of course, apart from the British Commonwealth defending their imperialist decision, the MDC was elated, saying it “vindicates what we’ve been saying all along” while Morgan Tsvangirai of the same party demanded new elections, without wanting to engage in negotiations, and trade unions seemed to also been the pocket of the West by calling for a “three-day general strike.” All in all, the reactions by the West were not surprising, but more significant was the fact that this suspension meant that foreign aid to Zimbabwe was further restricted. The following year, after this whole ordeal, Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth entirely, with Mugabe declaring, rightly, that with the suspension still in place, it was unfair, meaning that “Zimbabwe is still the subject of the Commonwealth,” which he said was unacceptable.

Fast forward to 2005, when the country was still under siege. The Western-backed MDC, which had continued its destabilization, split into two different sections after 2005. [7] Not only was this positive news, but the government launched Operation Restore Order, unofficially known as Operation Murambatsvina or Move the Rubbish. This was a massive campaign to eliminate the slum conditions across the country, which Westerners, even the respected medical journal, The Lancet, claimed was actually aimed at the “opposition” and had many “victims.” In actuality, it was a drive for urban renewal, specifically aimed at illegal houses, which displaced some, and reducing the spread of infectious disease, at a time when the country was in an economic crisis due to imperialist destabilization. It is worth quoting what the Robert Mugabe said to the UN in its defense of the this urban renewal effort:

“…in the aftermath of our urban clean-up operation, popularly known as Operation Murambatsvina or Restore Order, the familiar noises re-echoed from the same malicious prophets of doom, claiming that there was a humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. Those unfounded alarms are aimed at deliberately tarnishing the image of Zimbabwe and projecting it as a failed state. We find it strange and obviously anomalous that the Government of Zimbabwe should be maligned and condemned for restoring order and the rule of law in its municipal areas. Our detractors fail to acknowledge that Operation Restore Order soon gave way to a well-planned vast reconstruction programme through which properly planned accommodation, factory shells and vending stalls are being constructed in many areas of the country for our people. We have rejected the scandalous demand…that we lower our urban housing standards to allow for mud huts, bush latrines and put toilets as suitable for the urban people of Zimbabwe and for Africans generally. Nothing can be more insulting and degrading of a people than that! Surely, we do not need development in reverse…We…went through long and bitter times to gain our freedom and Independence and to be where we are today. We cherish that hard-won freedom and Independence, and no amount of coercion, political, economic, or otherwise, will make use a colony again.”

The same year, the Zimbabwean parliament passed a law to move the fast-track land redistribution effort forward. The law, which nationalized land that had been redistributed, was later ruled against by the SADC in 2009, but they allowed for the decision to not be enforced, which was a victory for Black nationalism. Another victory for such nationalism and defeats for neo-colonialism was the Senate elections where the Zanu-PF garnered about 74% of the popular vote compared to the MDC’s measly 20% approximately, among a slew of many political parties, which translated to 43 more seats for the Zanu-PF and only 7 for the MDC. The same happened in the parliamentary elections, for the lower House of Assembly, where the Zanu-PF gained 16 seats, with about 60% of the popular vote, while the MDC lost the same amount, only garnering about 40% of the popular vote. Internationally, the Communist Party of Great Britain-Marxist Leninist or CPGB-ML praised the efforts of the Zanu-PF, writing in their Proletarian newsletter that “the pressing question of land ownership is the reason that the Zimbabwean war of independence was fought in the first place” without recognizing that Zimbabwe has a developed Black bourgeoisie and the history of the country itself, showing their utter revisionist errors, as one would expect.

In 2007, the imperial assault still continued. After acting to maintain order and counter the MDC, with the help of the Zambian government the previous year, the Zanu-PF government was in for another hard year. This year, individuals such as Arthur Mutambara, tied to a British consulting firm, U$ ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, and Freedom House, along with others, worked together to replace Mugabe with “neo-liberal standard bearers of the MDC,” with some of the people the same as those who overthrew Slobodan Milosevic, trying to undermine the Zimbabwean government! This regime change agenda was part of a way to destabilize the country yet again. By September, the country was in an economic crisis, with shortages in food and electricity not because of the government or Mugabe the supposed “strongman,” but because Zimbabwe is “singled out in the Western media for special attention” and due to efforts of Western domination. Some went even further. They argued that Africa was better under White rule, since they were angry about socially democratic policies in Zimbabwe which included a program distributing land from White farmers to the Black populace and indigenisation measures, with these “sins against private property” seen as a reason to undermine the country itself. The former chief of staff for Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, grumbled later that year that “Mugabe can use anything we say or do to stir the dying embers of anti-colonialism.” The New York Times even said that Ian Smith, the leader of White apartheid government, which the Zimbabwean freedom fighters fought against, was better than Mugabe! Others grumbled that Mugabe’s “Look East” policy, launched in 2003 to offset a loss of Western investment by trying to get investment from Asian countries such as the PRC, has not paid off, with “few Chinese deals” to due because “Asian countries have become as wary of the Zimbabwean situation,” and warned that investors need to “approach with extreme caution” Zimbabwe. There is no doubt that giving advantages to the Chinese social imperialists has led to problems, but it is positive that the Western capitalists aren’t in the mix.

All of this criticism is unfounded since not only does “every country in north Africa,” ban Islamist opposition parties but there are only two state-owned newspapers in Zimbabwe, with “most newspapers taking a pro-opposition viewpoint and are “sold freely on the street,” showing once again that there is no dictatorship afoot. Additionally, the MDC has been on the wrong side for this whole time. When the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act was passed by the Zimbabwean parliament in 2007, and put into force in 2008, it was harshly opposed by the MDC, showing that they only really care about neo-colonialism.

In 2008, Zimbabwe suffered a political crisis. Mugabe handily won the Presidency, in the second round of voting, after the first round when no candidate gained more than 50% of the total, with over 85% of the popular vote, and Tsvangirai gaining about 9% of the popular vote. However, the Zanu-PF lost its parliamentary majority, in an election where the MDC, still having a “fondness for neo-liberalism,” including privatization of government resources, engaged in voter fraud, celebrated by the United States. [8] In sum, the Zanu-PF gained 19 seats but the two MDC factions gained 69 seats, meaning that no party had an absolute majority. This situation, caused in part by the merging of the two MDC factions into a bloc in late April 2008, led to negotiating for power-sharing between the MDC and Zanu-PF starting in July. Tsvangirai’s sect of the MDC, MDC-T, refused to take part in talks to create a national unity government, but the other sect, the MDC-N, did participate, with three rounds of negotiations. As the MDC gaining a speaker in Parliament, the Zanu-PF stayed strong, finally reaching an agreement in September of that year. While negotiations continued into October to put on the finalizing touches, the ouster of Mbeki in South Africa led to more disputes, but Mugabe and the Zanu-PF moved to creating a cabinet, as Mugabe still refused Western demands he “step aside,” knowing that it would let neo-colonialism back into the country. By February 2009, the agreement was finally put in place, and a MDC-Zanu-PF unity government was formed, which would be in place until 2013 when the opposition grew angry at Mugabe, giving Black nationalism an upper hand once again, to the benefit of the proletariat.

Apart from the political crisis, divided society of Zimbabwe faced many other pressures. There was no doubt that the opposition had the ruling class of the United States on their side and followed Washington’s plan. More importantly, this opposition was directly backed by the United States, with the former engaging in allegations of vote rigging and genocide while people like Jestina Mukoko, of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, worked to undermine the government at any cost. In this effort, the forces aligned against the Zanu-PF had an unlikely ally: the Western left. Such commentators, which followed almost lock-step, the agendas of capitalist elite who hate Mugabe, included Stephen Zunes who declared his allegiance to ““independent” grassroots nonviolent activists” who happen to be the same forces the murderous empire uses to destabilize nations, attacking those who disagree with him, endorsing the US imperial narrative on Zimbabwe and lying about Zimbabwe numerous times over. Another such commentator, among those who don’t support the Zanu-PF government, is Patrick Bond, with his magical Center for Civil Society, branding Mugabe as a “dictator” and supporting the Zimbabwean opposition. If this isn’t enough, now-defunct MR Zine, Socialist Project and ISO, are trotting out a Western imperialist argument which could as easily be found in The Independent or the New York Times.

Other than these criticisms, Zimbabwe still stood strong. It was rocked by additional US sanctions, additional EU sanctions, and anti-Mugabe NGOs, with the sanctions sabotaging the country’s economy, leading to “widespread misery and need for food aid.” While the MDC was an “instrument of US foreign policy,” with its policy platform friendly to Western investors and elections denounced as “unfair” by the West, the Zanu-PF government retained “considerable popular support” even with the Western-caused economic devastation. [9] At the end of the year, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela declaring its “solidarity with the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe” while the late Hugo Chavez expressed “his support for the independent government of Zimbabwe in its efforts for stability and peace in this brother country of Africa.” Clearly, the pro-business, African nationalist Zanu-PF had (and has) allies across the world, allowing it to pursue its Black nationalist interests, even as it clashes “with the interests of Western banks and corporations…[and] minority population of settlers of European origin.”

The following year, Zimbabwe continued to be under attack. Along with continuing Western sanctions on the country, showing their obvious hypocrisy, Washington also had a plan for post-Mugabe Zimbabwe including a reform agenda to pacify nationalist and populist sentiments, part of the overall US imperial destabilization in Zimbabwe. Beyond this, Western left intellectuals such as Stephen Zunes, Bill Fletcher, and a group called Concerned Africa Scholars, denounced Mugabe, engaging in “reflexive anti-Zanu-PF bashing.” The opposition in Zimbabwe partially grew with traitorous action of ZAPU breaking with ZANU-PF, ending the unity agreement, and Tekere, a veteran of the Zimbabwean liberation war and leader of anti-Zanu-PF opposition in the 1990s, became a guest of honor of the MDC the same year. [10] The Zimbabwean state paper, The Herald, also showed its dedication to “national independence” by expressing affinity with other countries fighting for their own independence such as Syria and the DPRK.

In 2010, Zimbabwe took steps forward to advance its national independence. While there was US-backed opposition in the form of the MDC, along with people such as Jestina Mukoko and efforts by some to return to conditions that favor Western investors, the Zimbabwean government declared that it would sell diamonds from its mineral fields. Sadly, while this would bring billions of dollars in sales for the country, this was stopped by Australia, the U$, and Canada, at the time, as they refused to certify the purchase under the Kimberly Process, since the Marange fields “could be secured by the Zimbabwean army” which they accused of numerous falsities. Six years later, Zimbabwe got past this hurdle and the government nationalized the mines, with Mugabe saying “the state will now own all the diamonds in the country. [These] companies…have been mining diamonds have robbed us of our wealth. That is why we have now said the state must have a monopoly,” which a Chinese company challenged, wanting to extract as much profit as possible, showing that the country is not a “colony” of China. [11]

In 2011 and 2012, Zimbabwe asserted itself on the world stage. For one, in his address to the UN general assembly, Mugabe declared that the war in Libya was about “oil resources,” that NATO is lying about Gaddafi, that Africans are concerned about the anti-African orientation of the ICC, and that Palestine should be granted statehood. From this alone, there is no doubt that if the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai, a Western favorite, became president, there would be a very different address at future meetings of the General Assembly. The same year, polls showed that Zimbabweans believed in respect for authority, the government compelling people to pay taxes, that economic growth and creating jobs are more important, even if it leads to the environment suffering. [12] Additionally, Zimbabweans said that a stable economy is more important than a “humane society,” that order being maintained is more important than free speech, and that it is not justified for one to skip paying fares on public transportation, cheat on taxes, steal property, or engage in violence against other people. These findings, in and of themselves are no surprising, as the country is under imperialist assault. But, they also show that not everyone in the world buys into Western-style democracy.

The following year, social-imperialist China seemed to be “playing both sides” to the Western media. What this means is that Chinese officials met with the Zimbabwean opposition, including Morgan Tsvangirai himself, who is “anti-China.”  However, this may have been a way for China to work with both parts of Zimbabwe’s then-coalition government and feel out the opposition, a worrying thought to say the least considering the fact that the Chinese social imperialists could cause more damage!


Notes

[1] Ronald Oliver and Anthony Atmore, Africa Since 1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004, Fifth Edition), 366-7; Patrick Bond and Richard Saunders, “Labor, the State, and the Struggle for a Democratic Zimbabwe,” Monthly Review, Vol. 57, issue 7, 2005; BBC, “Zimbabwe losses add up in Congo,” Nov. 25, 1999. The First Congo War was between 1996 and 1997, when the forces led by Laurent-Désiré Kabila overthrew US-backed autocrat Mobutu Sésé Seko, creating the present-day DRC. There was has been low-level conflict in the Ituri and Kivu region of the DRC from 2003/2004 to the present-day.

[2] Andrew Meldrum, “Joshua Nkomo,” The Guardian, July 1, 1999; BBC, “Obituary: Joshua Nkomo,” July 1, 1999.

[3] John Iliffe, The African AIDs Epidemic: A History (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006), 38, 42, 135. Apparently Rwandans also found “Zimbabwe’s demobilization model” more relevant than that used in Nicaragua.

[4] Dennis C. Blair and Daniel Calingaert, “The Scourge of Savvy Dictators,” Politico, September 22, 2013; Alissa Greenberg, “More Than 40 Lions Get Hunted in Zimbabwe Every Year,”Time, July 30, 2015; Peta Thornycroft and Colin Freeman, “Zimbabwe Election: Ageing Mugabe Still Hungry for Power,” The Telegraph, July 28, 2013.

[5] John Iliffe, The African AIDs Epidemic: A History (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006), 122, 153; Lionel Cliffe, Jocelyn Alexander, Ben Cousins, and Rudio Gaidzanwa, “An overview of Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe: editorial introduction,” Outcomes of Post-2000 Fast Track Land Reform in Zimbabwe (ed. Lionel Cliffe, Jocelyn Alexander, Ben Cousins, and Rudio Gaidzanwa, York: Routledge, 2013), 1; Patrick Bond and Richard Saunders, “Labor, the State, and the Struggle for a Democratic Zimbabwe,” Monthly Review, Vol. 57, issue 7, 2005; Vincent Kahiya, “Zimbabwe: Controversy Over $600m Spare Parts for ZNA,” Zimbabwe Independent, May 19, 2000.

[6] Dumisani Muleya, “Zimbabwe: Minister Mourns Fall of Soviet Union,” Zimbabwe Independent, March 8, 2002; BBC News, “Was Zimbabwe’s election fair?,” November 3, 2003; Simon Allison, “Analysis: The Khampepe Report, a crushing blow to SA’s diplomatic credibility,” Daily Maverick, November 17, 2014; BBC News, “Commonwealth suspends Zimbabwe,” March 19, 2002; BBC News, “Zimbabwe quits Commonwealth,” December 8, 2003; AFP, “Zimbabwe leaves the Commonwealth,” December 8, 2003.

[7] Ronald Oliver and Anthony Atmore, Africa Since 1800 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004, Fifth Edition), 282; “Homes ‘smashed’ by Zimbabwe paramilitary police,” The Sydney Morning Herald, July 5, 2005; BBC News, “Zimbabwe cleric urges ‘uprising’,” March 27, 2005; Abraham McLaughlin, “Zimbabwe’s opposition hopeful,” Christian Science Monitor, March 31, 2005; BBC News, “Africa rejects action on Zimbabwe,” June 24, 2005; BBC News, “Zimbabwe slum evictions ‘a crime’,” May 23, 2007; Clare Kapp, “Operation “Restore Order” wreaks havoc in Zimbabwe,” The Lancet, October 1, 2005; NewsDay, “Informal traders fear repeat of Murambatsvina,” May 28, 2015; Nelson Chenga, “Zimbabwe: Zim’s Housing Crisis Far From Over,” Financial Gazette, August 27, 2015; The Guardian, “UN condemns Zimbabwe demolitions,” July 22, 2005. In later years, an operation with the same name would be implemented by Zimbabwean police to crackdown on black market trading, especially in mobile phones, among other technologies.

[8] BBC News, “Mugabe’s Zanu-PF loses majority,” April 3, 2008; BBC News, “Zimbabwe announces first results,” March 31, 2008; The Herald, “Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF, MDC-T in Photo Finish,” April 3, 2008; The Herald, “Zimbabwe: ZEC Releases Seven More Poll Recount Results,” April 26, 2008; The Herald, “Zimbabwe: MDC-T House of Assembly Elect Arrested,” April 17, 2008; The Herald, “Zimbabwe: Another ZEC Official Appears in Court,” April 18, 2008; BBC News, “First results in Zimbabwe recount,” April 23, 2008; BBC News, “Opposition reunites in Zimbabwe,” April 28, 2008; Al Jazeera, “Mugabe meets opposition faction,” July 5, 2008; BBC News, “SA leader denies Zimbabwean deal,” August 12, 2008; BBC News, “MDC wins Zimbabwe parliament vote,” August 25, 2008; BBC News, “Mugabe says talks moving forward,” September 9, 2008; BBC News, “Positive signs at Zimbabwe talks,” September 10, 2008; BBC News, “Zimbabwe rivals agree unity deal,” September 11, 2008; Chris McGreal, “Zimbabwe deal gives power to Tsvangirai,” The Guardian, September 11, 2008; Celia W. Dugger, “Zimbabwe Rivals Strike a Bargain to Share Power,” September 11, 2008; CNN, “Rivals sign Zimbabwe power-share deal,” September 16, 2008; Itai Mushekwe and Sebastien Berger, “Robert Mugabe wants Morgan Tsvangerai’s party to win back foreign aid,” The Telegraph, October 4, 2008; BBC News, “Zimbabwe rivals agree bill on PM,” November 28, 2008; BBC News, “Mugabe insists ‘Zimbabwe is mine’,” December 19, 2008; BBC News, “Mugabe ‘to hold talks with rival’,” January 15, 2009; BBC News, “Mugabe calls for government deal,” January 18, 2009; BBC News, “Zimbabwe rival to enter coalition,” January 30, 2009; BBC News, “Zimbabwe passes unity deal bill,” February 5, 2009; BBC News, “Rows mar Zimbabwe oath ceremony,” February 13, 2009; BBC News, “Zimbabwe President Mugabe re-elected amid fraud claims,” August 3, 2013.

[9] CNN, “Russia, China veto U.N. sanctions on Zimbabwe,” July 12, 2008; Patrick Worship, “Russia and China veto U.N. Zimbabwe sanctions,” Reuters, July 11, 2008; Daniel Nasaw, “China and Russia veto Zimbabwe sanctions,”The Guardian, July 11, 2008. Of course, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Sir John Sawers, UK foreign secretary David Miliband, and US state department spokesman, Robert McInturff, were angry about the result. In contrast, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, responding that this veto was justified, and the UN ambassador to China, Wang Guangya, declared that “the development of the situation in Zimbabwe until now has not exceeded the context of domestic affairs. It will unavoidably interfere with the negotiation process.” This article noted that the “US, France, Britain, Belgium, Burkino Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, Italy and Panama voted in favour,” Libya and Vietnam voted against it, and Indonesia abstained.

[10] Kholwani Nyathi, “Zimbabwe: Revived PF Zapu Officials Allege Abductions of Members,” The Standard, January 10, 2009.

[11] Reuters, “Zimbabwe’s Mugabe says government will take over all diamond operations,” March 4, 2016; Reuters, “Robert Mugabe to nationalise Zimbabwe’s diamond industry,” March 3, 2016; Dmitry Rashnitsov, “Zimbabwe’s president kicks out private diamond miners, nationalizes industry,” UPI, February 22, 2016; Corey Fedde, “Mugabe nationalizes mines: Unlocking an industry or spurning trade partners?,” Christian Science Monitor, March 4, 2016; Fanuel Jongwe, “Zimbabwe to nationalise diamond mines: Mugabe,” AFP, March 4, 2016; BBC News, “Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe: Foreign companies ‘stole diamonds’,” March 4, 2016; NewZimbabwe.com, “Zimbabwe: Chinese Ambassador Urges Zimbabwe to Respect Investment Protection Pact,” April 2, 2016. While some thought there would be nationalization in 2015, this was clearly incorrect.

[12] Pipa Norris, World Values Survey (2010-2014) – Zimbabwe 2011. Tech. Vol. 2016.01.01. Johannesburg: Topline Research Solutions (TRS), 2012. Print. Wave 6. Done on behalf of TNS RMS Nigeria, comes from this website, clicking on “Zimbabwe 2011” and then clicked the link under the heading “Codebook”; Stephen Ndoma and Richman Kokera, “AD55: Zimbabweans Support Taxation but Perceive Tax Officials as Corrupt, Demand Accountability,” AfroBarometer, January 1, 2015; Erin Conway-Smith, “China’s new Zimbabwe strategy: woo the opposition,” PRI, May 31, 2012; Haru Mutasa, “To China with love from Zimbabwe,” Al Jazeera, June 14, 2012. There is no doubt that AfroBarometer serves the interests of capitalistic elites, since they are funded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, UK Department for International Development, USAID, World Bank, South African Institute for Security Studies, United States Institute of Peace, Transparency International, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Duke University China Research Center. However, it is worth using them because it shows that even the Western-funded polls go against their own propaganda, in a way.

“It is homeland or death”: Final days of Zimbabwe’s liberation war and post-independence

A photograph on page 6 of this Zanu pamphlet, accompanying a speech by Mugabe in a recent collection of his speeches I compiled.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Feb 25, 2017.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. Some changes have been made.

While the liberation war was just beginning in the 1960s, it became more intense in the 1970s. The revolutionaries were fighting against, as Zapu, backed by the Soviet social imperialists, put it, the “brutal and neo-fascist nature of the gangster British settler minority regime,” specifically against “minority oppressive rule and terror-racism in Zimbabwe.” [1] By 1972, the British colony of Zimbabwe, lying on the great Limpopo and Zambrezi rivers, was bordered by the apartheid South African government “hostile to genuine African independence” along with the “understanding” state of Botswana, the Portuguese colony of Mozambique, and “brotherly republic” of Zambia. In the latter country, Zapu had their provisional headquarters. Within the area of Zimbabwe itself, there were 4.8 million Black Africans, 228,000 White European settlers, 7,700 Asian traders, and 11,000 people of mixed race, with the Africans divided into ethnic groups such as the Tonga, Nanzwa, Shangani, Venda, Ndebele, Shona, Suthu, and Kalanga, which the White settlers tried to divide and rule, but this backfired with intermarriages across ethnic lines, leading to “the formation of a Zimbabwe Nation.”

However, not everything was “peaceful” in Zimbabwe. As the White settler government worked hard to maintain a favorable image, cooperating with numerous Western media outlets (print and radio) to manage where they went and control the press, the British press had a “consistently hostile” image of Mugabe (as they do today), many of the columns in their papers respecting the views of White settlers rather than militants. [2] Internationally, the Sino-Soviet split continued to manifest itself. As Zapu and the ANC were close to the Soviet social-imperialists, while Zanu was rightly supported by the Chinese Maoists, allowing the revolutionary group to prosecute a war of liberation, with Chinese aid as a contributing factor to victory.  Still, the relationship between Zanu and the Chinese was sometimes fraught, at times. Even so, the involvement of  China had a positive effect on Zanu, with this involvement during the liberation struggle and after independence, used by the Chinese revisionists as another justification to be active in Zimbabwe to this day. The Chinese tactics also rubbed off on other liberation groups. FRELIMO adopted the Maoist ideas of self-criticism and guerrilla warfare used by the Chinese, allowing these revolutionaries to “pursue an effective hit-and-run campaign against the Portuguese military, well-suited to Mozambican conditions” for which Samora Michel, the leader of FRELIMO, later thanked the Chinese for. As for Zapu, which described itself inaccurately as the “authentic representative and spokesperson of the Zimbabwe people engaged in a liberation war,” since it was backed by Soviet social imperialists, they had roles in many international organizations. These organizations included the AASPO, World Council for Peace, Pan-African Youth Movement, and World Federation of Democratic Youth, along with saying they had a relationship with the OAU (Organization of African Unity, the precursor to the African Union) and attended the UN Committee of 24, also called the Special Committee on Decolonization. Zapu also claimed to have liaisons in Egypt, Tanzania, Zambia, Cuba, Europe, and North America.

As the years past, the liberation struggle advanced. Zapu, with an executive committee comprised of 14 individuals, appealed to “freedom-loving and peace-loving peoples” of the world, asking for assistance to Zapu and the Zimbabwean people, despite the fact they were still backed by the Soviet social imperialists, especially for release of prisoners and if not release, demanding that they treated according to the Geneva Conventions. [3] This statement showed their desperation and pathetic nature. As for Zanu, it dictated something more powerful: a statement on culture. It declared, in 1972, that a new culture should be formed in an independent Zimbabwe:

“..eighty years of decolonization have warped the minds of our people…our rich national heritage has been lost…in a free, independent and socialist Zimbabwe the people will be encouraged and assisted in building a new Zimbabwe culture, derived from the best in what our heritage and history has given, and developed to meet the needs of the new socialist society of the twentieth century…out culture must stem from our own creativeness and so remain African and indigenous.” [4]

Once again, the freedom fighters were up against a powerful enemy. Adding to the existing military equipment, the White settler-apartheid state received, from 1971-1979, 47 armored cars, ten armored personnel carriers, 46 light helicopters, 52 light aircraft (18 of which were illegally transferred there), 11 helicopters, and 17 trainer aircraft, mostly from South Africa and France, along with other material from Israel, West Germany, and Belgium. [5] Still, they kept fighting on.

As the 1970s trudged on, there were a number of changes, especially in Zanu. In 1974, Sithole was pushed out of the leadership, with Mugabe put in his place, and fully taking control of Zanu after the death of Herbert Chitepo in 1975. While Mozambique may have seemed as a “safe haven” for revolutionaries, Michel of Mozambique put him under house arrest for several months, and later released him, showing the weird politics of the Mozambician government, allowing him to wage a propaganda war against the regime as Josiah Tongogara, who died in 1979, to lead the forces, as Mugabe presented himself as a Marxist-Leninist. This meant that Mugabe, unlike Nkomo, was a radical nationalist and he opposed settlement with the White settler government and that he remained suspicious of numerous commanders of the armed military wing, ZANLA, having them removed from time to time. In 1975, the internationalist support of the Zimbabwean liberation movement was still clear. The White settler-apartheid government described how Zapu guerrillas had been trained in Moscow (and across the Soviet Union), Pyongyang, Peking, Nanking, and Ghana, and said that Zapu courses, sometimes also given in the DPRK, Bulgaria, and Egypt, showing the faulty policy of the two “socialist” countries first named, were focused on “para-military training, military engineering, radio…and intelligence,” while Zanu courses focuses on “influencing the minds and attitudes of the terrorists through political indoctrination and the ‘ideology’ of guerrilla warfare.” Their report went on to say that that “weapons, ammunition, explosives, uniforms, finance and food” is either given to the OAU’s Liberation Committee based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which distributes it to Zanu and Zapu, or directly to the groups themselves, sometimes through other countries such as “East Germany” (which printed a Zapu newsletter called The Zimbabwe Review), the DPRK, Bulgaria, Poland, and Hungary. It also mentioned that the Chinese had supplied radio stations in Tanzania and Zambia the ability to broadcast what the White apartheid government considered “terrorist propaganda against the White-governed countries of Southern Africa” which was actually propaganda for liberation. Still, they make a point to say that there is “no lack of evidence of communist support of Zanu and Zapu” but couch it in their colonialist, anti-communist mindset.

On September 9, 1976, the equation changed in the fight for Zimbabwean liberation. On that day, Mao Zedong died. At that point, the nationalist movement was divided, but the military and political rebirth of Zanu/ZANILA brought in more nationalist military strength to the table. Mugabe tried to approach the Soviets and their allies to ask for aid, since the aid went to a trickle after Deng Xiaoping took power in 1978,beginning the march of Chinese social imperialism, leaving the “Third World” in the dust. [7] Again and again, he was rebuffed, with “East Germany” calling them a “splinter group,” showing they did not understand the liberation movement, leading to an anti-Soviet attitude among Zanu, with open clashes with Zapu cadres, and Mugabe accusing the Soviets of giving aid as to make others their puppets. Not only was Mugabe was not wrong in this belief but the fact that the East Germans and Soviets rebuffed him showed their moral corruption. One could say that the situation in Angola was different than Zimbabwe. However, the Soviets, in their social imperialist manner, said that they would support him if he separated from China and stopped calling himself a Maoist, an absurdist claim. At the same time, the Soviet social imperialists continued to support Nkomo who was a leader that the Western business community and White Zimbabweans wanted to win the liberation struggle because he was more moderate! In 1976, the Patriotic Front formed as a political alliance of Zapu and Zanu, due to end of Chinese aid to Zanu, unfortunately. As a result, the following year they were able to form a 10-member coordinating committee agreeing on a joint program but military unity did not happen as Nkomo and Mugabe were “strange bedfellows” as Zanu and Zapu still clashed on occasion.

By the later 1970s, Zapu continued to receive Soviet support. [8] Even as the Soviet social imperialists began to “warm up” to Mugabe, who visited the Soviet Union in 1978, they remained loyal to Nkomo. They sent Zapu heavy weapons, fearing that helping Mugabe would ultimately assist “Chinese interests” (even though the Chinese had entered their revisionist stage) as they worked to undermine Western and Chinese influence in the region by supporting the bourgeois nationalist Nkomo instead of Mugabe, who was more radical. On the international stage, Zapu had more ability to spread their propaganda, thanks to the Soviet social imperialists giving them support. They had observer status as the UN as a recognized liberation movement where they lobbied UN member states to not recognize the UDI government, and also depended on the international community for successes. Zanu was more wary of such involvement. Seeing the CIA involvement in play in places like Zimbabwe and acutely aware of the decline in Chinese support, they published lectures in 1978 on political education for Zanu cadres in Zimbabwe News declaring that the capitalist state needs to be smashed and that Zanu was trying to build a “Marxist-Leninist vanguard party,” a position which Zapu did not hold. They further called for socialist revolution in Zimbabwe which rubbed off on some Zapu members, but they did not call for socialist revolution. Still, in Southern Africa, the Soviets had gained an advantage with a favorable government in Angola controlled by the MPLA, while the main Chinese involvement was in Zimbabwe had basically stopped for the time being.

In 1979, the liberation war, militarily at least, seemed to be coming to an end. Zapu, led by Nkomo, and Zanu, led by Mugabe, continued to have a tenuous alliance called the Patriotic Front but Zanu had double the amount of troops in Zimbabwe (8,000) than Zapu, by the later 1970s, meaning they were clearly placed to be the victors. [9] Josiah Tongogora, a Chinese trained guerrilla, led Zanu’s military wing, only one of the 40-50,000 able-bodied personnel, and 15,000 people with guns which were part of Zanu, a formidable force to say the least. Zanu, led by “very educated,” by Zimbabwean standards, educated by Christian missionaries, members, tried to teach villagers socialist cooperation within the agricultural settings, a justified strategy. Actions like this were why people said that the guerrillas didn’t live up to their “terroristic image” which White settlers tried to conjure by posing as guerrillas and killing people.

Mugabe was very open to the changes to come in the future. While he defiantly said he didn’t care what the Western media said about it, with his wife, Sally Heyfron (later known as “amal” or mother of the nation) who he met in Ghana in 1961, saying that those who knew Mugabe would not call him evil, he also said that he was “not a trained soldier, I’m a revolutionary nonetheless.” He also said that Black Africans who had suffered from over ninety years of colonialism (1889-1979 at minimum) should have an “honorable peace” which allows Black Africans to have sovereignty over the country. He further said that he was “prepared to be whatever the people want me to be…in a democratic system you have to accept the verdict of the people…British government is bias toward the settler regime” even as he argued that

“…we [Zimbabwean freedom fighters] are fighting a war which is a difficult one…we take care to not make people unnecessarily suffer…we are waging a struggle to overthrow the settler system…we are fighting a just war, that we overthrow the settler government which is currently oppressing out people…no one is fighting an individual war, all our fighters are fighting collectively under a command that derives its authority from the central committee of the party.”

In 1979, when military victory seemed in view, two new African leaders betrayed the Zimbabwean liberation struggle, showing their opportunism and the fact they were no friends of African liberation. Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Samora Machel of Mozambique, the latter of whom would be killed in a 1986 plane crash “accidentally,” demanded that Mugabe’s Zanu’s guerrillas forces, fighting for “one-man-one-vote and return of land confiscated by British settlers” could not use their countries as bases to launch attacks on the UDI government. [10] This forced Mugabe to the negotiating table. If these liberation forces had been allowed to win militarily, there is no doubt that Zimbabwe would have been a different country. In the negotiating process to give the country (and the black masses) independence, Mugabe took positions that made him an opponent of the White settler-apartheid government, but the British tried to accelerate the conference and rejected more nationalist demands. In April 1979, as the scorned government tried to “help” make the process “peaceful,” Ian Smith abdicated his position to a moderate Black leader named Abel Muzorewa, who offered amnesty to Zanu and Zapu forces. But, this was rejected, leading to an intensified war, with Nkomo having thousands of men armed with armored vehicles and MiG fighters in Zambia, disregarding the advice of his Soviet, Cuban, and East German advisers by continuing the war. Ultimately, he, like Mugabe, was forced to accept negotiated terms of the Lancaster Agreement.

The Lancaster House Agreement, signed on December 17, 1979, was a moderate agreement which officially ended British colonialism only in name. Not only did it include phased British withdrawal, but the nation was reverted to colonial status before it was declared independent in April 1980. There was a draft constitution, power-sharing, 20 seats in Parliament were reserved for White settlers, a ten-year moratorium was put on constitutional amendments, and the White minority retained many of its political and economic privileges. As Mugabe was rightly angry and disappointed, Ian Smith, British tycoon “Tiny” Rowland of Nigeria still preferred Nkomo over Mugabe as leader of an “independent Zimbabwe” since Mugabe was clearly more radical with his Marxist and Black nationalist pronouncements over the years. [11]

In April 1980, in elections allowed under the Lancaster Agreement, Mugabe became the Prime Minister of the free nation, the Republic of Zimbabwe, named after the ancient ruined city of Great Zimbabwe, edging out Nkomo of Zapu-PF (Zimbabwe African People’s Union – Patriotic Front). [12] With the war at an end, the refugees caused by the violence could return since there was no White settler army to attack their refugee camps, an army which engaged in “genocide and massacres” against the people of Zambia, Mozambique, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Additionally, there could be no more deaths of freedom fighters who had fought for liberation, with the settler-apartheid government claiming it had killed 10,000, and education, which was limited to a small minority might have an opportunity to change. Reportedly, over 1,300 Rhodesian security forces were killed, over 7,700 Black Zimbabweans were killed, and only about 468 were killed during the liberation war. With the thirteen year war of liberation, roughly from July 1965 to December 1979 at an end, also called the Rhodesian Bush War, the influence of Portugal, South Africa, and the Zionists who supported the settler-apartheid government, could be limited, while those were on the side of the guerrillas (Angola, Zambia, Mozambique, and Tanzania), Zanu (China, Tanzania, and Libya) and Zapu (Cuba, Zambia, East Germany, and the USSR) would be praised. To those who think that this could have been all solved with nonviolent respectfulness, you are sorely wrong, as Mugabe said himself in 1979:

“No, no no…there was a whole history of having tried nonviolent methods, they had failed completely and neither the settler regime or Britain heeded our cries, they just wouldn’t move… [we realized that] armed struggle would be the right thing.” [13]

As the Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front) first competed in 1980 elections and was socialist in ideology, this would quickly change. Surviving two assassination attempts by White Zimbabweans during the campaign, since he seemed “terrifying” due to his comments during the war and Marxist outlook, he took more a conciliatory approach once in office. This was arguably a betrayal of the liberation struggle itself. In the election for the lower assembly, the House of Assembly the Zanu-PF gained 57 seats with 63% of the national vote, Zapu-PF gained 20 seats with 24.1% of the national vote, and the racist Republican Front (previously called the Rhodesian Front) party retained 20 seats, with 83% of the White vote nationwide, Mugabe attempted to calm panic and White flight. After being advised by Machel of Mozambique (the same person who pushed him to the negotiating table) to not alienate the White minority since it could lead to “White capital flight,” resulting in him avoiding revolutionary and Marxist rhetoric in the campaign, and declaring that private property (code for White property) would be respected, while the country would remain stable. This was a disgusting statement to say the least. Additionally, 20 percent of the seats, like in the House of Assembly, in the Senate, specifically eight of the 40 seats, were reserved for Whites.

Such maneuvers were the beginning of the neo-colonial era in post-independence Zimbabwe, lasting arguably from 1980 until 1996. Generally, neo-colonialism manifests itself when essentials of Western economic domination are maintained indirectly with imperialists partially satisfying the aspirations of a national liberation movement while they still protect imperialist economic interests, co-opt power of such a movement, in an attempt to move the populace away from socialism. [14] This exploitative arrangement, with political, ideological, military, and ideological elements, is reinforced by sections of the local and petty bourgeoisie, appearing in the new independent African nation, which allies with external imperialism while there are conditions of “acute competition and rivalry” among imperialist powers. Add to this that countries that agree to these conditions allow themselves to transform from formerly colonized territories into economically dependent countries where colonial marketing channels are maintained, along with other Western interests, while native African bourgeoisie just go along.

In Zimbabwe, such neocolonialism was put in place in a manner which hurt the well-being of the populace. During Mugabe’s time as prime minister of Zimbabwe, he lived in highly fortified residences, Zimbabwe received Western aid in hopes of pacifying the government, and the UK funded a land redistribution program. Even as Mugabe spoke of socialism, it was just talk: the government maintained a conservative framework, operating within a capitalist framework, and he tried to build state institutions, working to limit corruption among a new leadership elite formed, leading to resentment as many remained in poverty, even as the Zanu-PF took more control of government assets post-independence. Basically, they were becoming a new neo-colonial bourgeoisie, thanks to the West and their renunciation of radicalism! Most importantly, the land reform of willing seller, willing buyer lasted from 1980 to 1990, with the British government allowing land to be sold if it was bought and sold on a willing basis. This meant that a tiny group of White settlers still continued to own, as revisionist Stephen Gowans admits, much of the country’s mineral wealth and “productive farmland” while access to development aid and credit from international donors dependent on “economic policies that favored the economic elite of donor countries. This led to the indigenous population continuing life as landless peasants or employees of foreign companies, which was sadly, the same condition many of these people lived under, during colonial rule. Mugabe, in 2009, inadvertently described what Zimbabwe’s government did in the 1980s and 1990s:

“I think over the recent few years gone by there has been a development…determined by the economic situations of our countries and a situation that greater reliance on Western funding would assist our economies in transforming, and because of that naturally if you are a beggar, you cannot at the same time prescribe, you see, the rules of how you should be given whether it’s food or any items at all. So we were subjected to certain conditionalities as a basis on which whatever was paid, be it food, be it humanitarian aid in other directions, was sent to us…once you are inadequate in terms of funding yourselves monetarily and you have got to look outside for someone to assist you, and that someone outside naturally dictates conditions on you, and the moment that happens you have lost a bit of your own sovereign right to determine how you run your affairs. Those who give you money will naturally determine how you should run your country, and through that we tended to subject ourselves to the will of outsiders, to the will, even, of our erstwhile colonisers. It was neo-colonialism back again, what Nkrumah called neo-colonialism. There it was, it was crammed into our system, they were deciding how we should run our elections; who should be in government, who should not, regime changes, that nonsense. So our Pan-Africanism was lost because Pan-Africanism was based on the right of Africa determining its own future, the right of Africa standing on its own, and being the master of its own destiny, master of its own resources that had been lost…the Chinese fund does not come in that way. It has been targeted rightly, it’s a fund coming to Government not NGOs, to Government, an inclusive Government, towards development and will assist us in turning around the economy, and that is the kind of help we would want to get, and not the Western dictates.”

One can say that Mugabe and the Zanu-PF did not do this willingly. After all, 100,000 White settlers remained in the country, they commanded the “commerce, finance, industry, mining, and large-scale agriculture” industries, and Mugabe tried to create a socially democratic state, helping the Chinese gain markets for their companies, making the Chinese social imperialists smile with glee. [15] This policy resulted in the USSR established an embassy in Zimbabwe in 1981. Such policies to accommodate Whites were encouraged by the Chinese revisionists, who told Mugabe to not follow Mao’s model of Chinese socialism, and instead engage in more market measures again, with the Chinese becoming more and more of an economic benefactor. This did not mean that the country was a Chinese colony, but rather that it within the sphere of influence of the Chinese social imperialists. Even with these market measures by Zimbabwe, it is worth acknowledging that Zimbabwe was, at the time of independence, a “poor, underdeveloped third world country” and that there was a “real threat of a right-wing military coup by the White minority still in Zimbabwe, backed by South Africa,” even as the fight against western imperialism, and its allies, seemed to fade away.

This cozying up to the West, forced on them by the Lancaster Agreement and British imperial dominance, led to military material from Europeans going to the new “independent” government, as noted by the SIPRI trade register. From 1980 to 1987, the country received two bomber aircraft, eight trainer/combat aircraft, and nine fighter aircraft from the UK, six light helicopters and two ground surveillance radar from France, six trainer aircraft and six transport aircraft from Spain, and 12 helicopters from Italy. China continued to give the most military equipment of any country, transferring to Zimbabwe 30 armored personnel carriers, four towed guns, 22 tanks, 12 fighter aircraft, and two trainer aircraft. Also, Zimbabwe received five fighter aircraft from Kenya in 1981 and 90 armored cars from Brazil form 1984 to 1987.

As the years past, the political situation changed in Zimbabwe. In 1981, Edgar Tekere, part of Zanu-PF, was dismissed from the government in 1981, with Tekere supported by Whites in Zimbabwe and later becoming a rival to Mugabe. The same year, traditional doctors were given legal recognition by Zimbabwe, and other nationalist governments, in 1981, and throughout the 1980s. [16] In order to avoid a “repeat of Angola” in Zimbabwe, Mugabe kept a tactical alliance with Nkomo, who he allowed to stay in the government first as Minister of Home Affairs (1980-1982), and then as Vice-President for twelve years (December 1987 to July 1999), even as he viewed Nkomo as an adversary. In the years that followed, some Westerners were wary of national liberation movements such as MPLA and FRELIMO which had seized power, along with Zanu and Zapu in Zimbabwe. This partially manifested itself in the bloody Gukurahundi campaign, from 1983-1987, in which the CIA almost seemed afraid of Nkomo-friendly forces being suppressed. While the facts are mired in political accusations aimed at Mugabe and so on, Mugabe did call what happened “madness” at the 2000 funeral service for Nkomo, saying that thousands were killed, after an uprising by those favoring Nkomo, and that he was not proud of what happened.

As the years passed on, some moderate opposition grew. In 1985, in the elections for the lower assembly, the seats for the Zanu-PF grew, with a loss of seats for the Zapu and newly-christened Conservative Alliance of Zimbabwe (CAZ), a racist White party. The same year, people said that Zanu-PF was a “bogus liberation front,” thrown off the stage of African liberation in the place of Zapu-PF and the ANC, even though both organizations were backed by Soviet social imperialists, along with attacking organizations such as the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC). Keeping this in mind, it worth pointing out that while Mugabe did not nationalize White land, as he should have done, he did become the leader of the Non-Aligned Movement in 1986, a position he retained until 1989. Additionally, Black nationalists were supported rhetorically and there were strained relations between Whites and Blacks from 1980-1989 as “White flight” continued despite his pandering. Domestically, in 1987, Mugabe became president, replacing Canaan Banana, the country’s first President, under which it was a ceremonial positional, constitutional amendments were passed, a unity agreement between Zanu-PF and Zapu-PF meant that Zapu-PF was merged into the Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front). The opposition to this government manifested itself in a Zimbabwean Unity Movement (ZUM) led by Tekere, and the CAZ, which enjoyed representation on the municipal level, after 1987. The latter party, still lead by Ian Smith, chaired a meeting of opposition groups, including the Zanu–Ndonga party, UANC (United African National Council), and ZUM (Zimbabwe Unity Movement), in 1992, with these parties basically splintering and disappearing in later years. Internationally, Mugabe stood by the revisionist Chinese government during the Tiananmen Square protests, lasting from April until June 1989, and peaceful economic relations continued between the two countries. [17] Some consider these protests to be counter-revolutionary, while others claim they had “merit.” Even Margaret Thatcher told Mikhail Gorbachev, the person who was a biggest cause of the Soviet Union’s dissolution due to his policies, making the Western capitalist class smile with glee, that there needed to be a settlement in South Africa, saying that events happening there were the same as those that occurred “during the initial period of implementation of the agreement granting independence to Zimbabwe.”

By the 1990s, the situation in Zimbabwe was changing. In the first general elections under the amended constitution in 1987, which abolished the Senate, was conducted on a single roll, with no separate voting for Whites and Blacks, a step forward in the country’s post-independence period. In the elections, the Zanu-PF gained over 83% of the vote and the ZUM gained roughly 17% of the vote, which apportioned seats in the lower assembly. The dissolution of the USSR in December 1991 had a profound effect on Africa, which even the US White propaganda outlet, VOA, admits, as deeply affecting “Marxist-inspired governments and movements” such as those in Benin, Ethiopia, and Angola, while those “anti-communist authoritarian governments” backed by the U$ and Europe also “turned to multi-party elections” in due time. For Zimbabwe, mentions to Marxist-Leninism and scientific socialism were removed from the Constitution, with market measures seeming the way to go. As a government that was short on cash, the Zanu-PF government began an IMF Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP), with similar programs pushed by the U$ across the world, leading to a program of austerity which hurt the populace for years to come, while also weakening the government.

With the U$ as the sole superpower, a unitary world order began to form, with the U$ using the IMF, World Bank, and GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), along with the WTO (World Trade Organization) to impose a “global neoliberal iron heel.” In an effort to lessen their “significant international debts,” their debt service involved yielding to the “global neoliberal dictatorship” which resulted in the large state sector and local industries, which were protected, were declared as “inefficient.” [18] Furthermore, such measures were adopted by Mugabe and the Zimbabwean government enthusiastically even though the results were disastrous. This IMF prescribed program, lasting from 1991 to 1995, resulted in scarce foreign exchange, destruction of domestic industry, many consumer goods became unobtainable, and thousands of civil servants fired, but Mugabe was arguably forced into this position, with the country opened to foreign investment.

The ESAP program was clearly a form of neo-colonialism forced upon Zimbabwe. Kwame Nkumrah explained this in his book on the subject, saying that this form of domination operates in the economic, religious, political, ideological, and cultural spheres, writing that:

“…it [the former colonial power] is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development…it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism…another neo-colonialist trap on the economic front has come to be known as ‘multilateral aid’ through international organisations: the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-national Bank for Reconstruction and Development (known as the World Bank), the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association are examples, all, significantly, having U.S. capital as their major backing…neo-colonialism is not a sign of imperialism’s strength but rather of its last hideous gasp. It testifies to its inability to rule any longer by old methods. Independence is a luxury it can no longer afford to permit its subject peoples.”

Nkumrah goes on to say that other forms of neo-colonialism are: (1) the “economic penetration” due to the fact that much of the world’s ocean shipping is “controlled by me imperialist countries,” (2) evangelism, (3) international capital’s control of the “world market, as well as of the prices of commodities bought and sold there,” and (4) the “use of high rates of interest.” He also writes that neo-colonialism, with its divide and rule tactics, can be defeated, with unity and ideological clarity, providing that neo-colonialism is simply “the symptom of imperialism’s weakness and that it is defeatable,” with the fighter for independence “invariably decides for freedom.”

In 1992, there was another sea change in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s wife, Sally Heyfron, died of kidney illness, and before her death he reportedly saw a mistress named Grace Marufu. With Sally dead, this may have given Mugabe more of the initiative to engage in nationalist policies (though this is doubtful). [19]In 1996, he married Grace, a South African-born woman, who currently has an active role in the Zimbabwean government, which has led to Western sanctions, and anger from some because of her alleged (and overblown claims of) “extravagance.”

As the years went by, the ESAP was still implemented, making the West happy that Mugabe seemed to be “on their side.” This is reflected in the fact, for example, that in 1994, the Queen of England made Mugabe an honorary knight, making them think Mugabe had been made and that everything was going according to plan. The following year, in parliamentary elections this year, the Zanu-PF won more than 81% of the vote while the opposition Zanu-Ndonga only gained about 7% of the vote. Also the same year, Sithole, a veteran of the Zimbabwean liberation war, returned in 1995 and was elected to parliament, later becoming part of the small opposition to the government.


Notes

[1] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle (ed. Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu), Cairo: Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization, 1972, second edition), 7, 13-14.

[2] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary; Gerald Horne, From the Barrel of a Gun: The United States and the War Against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 351; Ian Taylor, China and Africa: Engagement and Compromise (New York: Routledge, 2006), 94, 106, 114; Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 57-60,  68-70. Other organizations included the International Union of Students, World Trade Union Federation (Zacu a member), All African Trade Union Federation, All Africa Women’s Conference, Women’s International Democratic Federation, Pan-African Journalist Union, and Tri-Continental Organization (implying that Cuba, Vietnam, and U.A.R. are their allies). They also said that Zapu firmly believes in “armed struggle” but for it not to be “random,” with no considerations of race, class, tribe, or other delineations within the struggle,showing that this position is  BS. The reporter in this documentary implies that stereotypes persisted because guerrilla forces don’t want interviews from reporters stereotypes persisted, but these viewpoints may have been ingrained because of a colonized mindset so such interviews could have still led to negative reporting, which the guerrillas may have realized.

[3] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 8-9, 71. Those on the Zapu executive committee are as follows: Life President Joshua Nkomo, Deputy Secretary to the President William J. Mukarati, Deputy National Secretary Edward S. Ndlovu, National Chairman Samuel Munedawafa, National Treasurer Jason Ziyapapa Moyo, Financial Secretary Rubatso George Marange, Secretary for External Affairs Joseph Musika, Secretary for Youth and Cultural Affairs Clement Muchachi, Deputy Secretary for Youth and Cultural Affairs Boniface Nhariwa Gumbo, Secretary for Information and Publicity T. George Silundika, Deputy Secretary for Information and Publicity Alois Z. Wingwiri, Secretary for Women Jane Ngwenya, Secretary for Public Relations Dzawanda Willie Musarurwa, Secretary for Organization Lazarus Nkala, and Secretary for Education Josiah Chinamano.

[4] Thomas Turino, “Race, Class, and Musical Nationalism in Zimbabwe,” Music and the Racial Imagination (ed. Ronald M. Radano and Philip V. Bohlman, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 572.

[5] This information comes from the SIPRI trade register. The government also received five Reconnaissance AVs in 1977, five APCs in 1977, and ten Portable SAMs from an “unknown country” from 1977-1978, along with reportedly 5 light transport aircraft from Mozambique, though this is mostly definitely an error since Sonora Machel of the Mozambican government would never have made such a transfer. Additionally, the government received 14 trainer aircraft from an unknown country in 1977.

[7] Ian Taylor, China and Africa, 108-109, 113; Gerald Horne, From the Barrel of a Gun: The United States and the War Against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 255; M. Tamarkin, The Making of Zimbabwe: Decolonization in Regional and International Politics (New York: Frank Cass, 1990, 2006 reprint), 174.

[8] M. Tamarkin, The Making of Zimbabwe: Decolonization in Regional and International Politics (New York: Frank Cass, 1990, 2006 reprint), 219; Gerald Horne, From the Barrel of a Gun, 351; Ian Taylor, China and Africa, 48.

[9] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. All the information until the next footnote comes from this documentary.

[10] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. Also, Machel of Mozambique insisted that Mugabe attend the talks, saying that he would withhold support for ZANU if he did not attend.

[11] M. Tamarkin, The Making of Zimbabwe, 201.

[12] Alex Thomson, Introduction to African Politics, 2000, p. 31; “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. Also Sithole lost 1980 election to Mugabe, going to London, then Silver Spring, Maryland later in his life, which is exactly what a bourgeois nationalist like him deserved.

[13] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. Films about the Zimbabwean liberation struggle were also put out over the years, including but limited to Albino (1976 German Thriller), Game for Vultures (1979 British Thriller seeming to show Black nationalists fairly), Blind Justice (1988 British film which shows Black nationalists unfairly), Flame (1996 American film which portrays Zimbabwe as authoritarian after independence and ZANU as betraying their revolutionary ideals), Concerning Violence (documentary on protests and resistance against White rule in Zimbabwe in the 1960s and 1970s, based on a passage of Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth).

[14] Jack Woddis, Introduction to Neo-Colonialism: The New Imperialism in Asia, Africa, and Latin America (New York: International Publishers, 1969, second printing), 28, 32, 43-44, 46, 52, 56, 70, 68-69, 87; Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1963), 27-28, 55, 59-60, 101, 120, 124. Fanon cites the ruling of Monsieur M’ba in Ghana as an example of neocolonialism.

[15] Ian Taylor, China and Africa, 114-115, 117, 119-121, 123, 126; Patrick Bond and Richard Saunders, “Labor, the State, and the Struggle for a Democratic Zimbabwe,” Monthly Review, Vol. 57, issue 7, 2005; Reuters, “Soviet Union Is Establishing An Embassy in Zimbabwe,” June 3, 1981; three paragraph article reprinted in the New York Times. In this article Bond (and Richard Saunders) wrote he cites ZCTU, Anti-Privatization Forum (APF), and MDC as “resistance” and angry at anything pro-ZANU-PF. Saunders is a smiling bourgeois academic who has written a good amount on Zimbabwe clearly of a critical nature. The Trotskyists consistently hate Mugabe time and time again, making it hard to find anything on the Marxist Internet Archive on Mugabe that is more fair than Trotskyist smears.

[16] John Iliffe, The African AIDs Epidemic: A History (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006), 93; Thomas G., “How the U.N. Aids Marxist Guerrilla Groups,” Heritage Foundation, April 8, 1992.

[17] Ian Taylor, China and Africa, 114-115, 117, 119-121, 123, 126. She also told him that in South Africa, the “situation in dangerous” and that we need to “doe everything possible in order to control the situation, not to let the settlement be destroyed,” a typical fear of a Western capitalist ruler.

[18] Patrick Bond and Richard Saunders, “Labor, the State, and the Struggle for a Democratic Zimbabwe,” Monthly Review, Vol. 57, issue 7, 2005.

[19] Ibid; Alex Thomson, An Introduction to African Politics, 2000, p. 177; Staff Reporter, “Mugabe reminisces about late wife, Sally,” NewZimbabwe.com, November 9, 2014; LA Times, “Sally Mugabe; Wife of Zimbabwe President,” January 28, 1992; Robert Verkaik, “Exclusive: The love that made Robert Mugabe a monster,” The Independent, April 6, 2008. Sally spent 10 years in exile, from 1967-1977 in London, and was a loyal comrade to Mugabe. Some say that the battle to save his wife from deportation from 1970 made Mugabe angry at the British government as he never forgot the British attempts to deport her, with both of them as comrades in love in the liberation struggle.

“It is homeland or death”: From British colonialism to the Zimbabwean liberation war

Picture of the Great Enclosure, part of the Great Zimbabwe ruins (courtesy of Wikimedia).

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism. Some changes have been made.

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on Feb 23, 2017.

Every day the Western bourgeois media concocts another story about Zimbabwean President Robert Gabriel Mugabe’s faults. [1] The “human rights” organizations like Amnesty and “Human Rights” Watch join in on the charade, siding with the opposition in the country, which is predictably backed by the U$ and the West. As a result, the state of Zimbabwe is rocked by political turmoil because the opposition leads to polarization, not due to the policies of Mugabe and the ruling Zanu-PF party. The masses of Zimbabwe are “one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death” as Reason Wafawarova, an Australian political writer for the government-owned newspaper, The Herald, writes at the bottom of many of his editorials. In order to recognize this perspective, this article will examine Zimbabwe’s history from before European contact into the last days of the 1960s, with other articles focusing on other periods.

The history of Zimbabwe dates back to years before the first White imperialist would be  out of their womb. The earliest kingdom in the region may date back to 500 C.E.. with the area known as Great Zimbabwe settled in the 11th century, and more substantially by the thirteenth century, with many states around the region “built around stone forts.” [2] The term “Zimbabwe” can be used to designate, at a minimum, the Zambesi-Limpopo cultures. These cultures, with peoples who were state-builders and iron users, flourished in the region of present-day state of Zimbabwe, in the centuries before European arrival.During the pre-European period, the area was part of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, an African civilization lasting from the eleventh century (roughly 1220) to the fifteenth century (roughly 1450) which was called “Monomotapa” by the Europeans, with building of large stone palaces, which were known as “Zimbabwe.” This empire had access to mineral resources and coastal trade, mainly with traders from the Asian continent, especially China.

The famous stone ruins at Great Zimbabwe are worth describing. Near the capital of “Southern Rhodesia” in the 1960s, Salisbury (present-day Harare), there were “two outstanding buildings” which were named by Europeans the “Acropolis” and the “temple”/”elliptical building,” with the plain beneath the “Acropolis,” stands a “solid fortress, with strong battlements” which is made from local granite, constructed by Zimbabweans. The complex building is “300 feet long, 220 feet broad” with walls that “were 20 feet thick and 30 feet tall” along with stepped “recesses and covered passages, the gateways and the platforms” which were hewn out elaborately with “soapstone bird-gods” inside and outside the structure. [3] Walter Rodney added that there were “encircling brick walls” at this site, and in other parts of the African continent where Bantu-speaking people were inhabitants, which was “characteristically African” and that undoubtedly a large amount of labor was needed to construct buildings. He added that such workers likely came from particular ethnic groups with possible subjugation and subsequent social class delineations, but that there wasn’t simply “sheer manual labor” because the structures themselves had a level of advanced “skill, creativity, and artistry” which went into construction of the walls, doors, inner recesses, and decorations of the buildings. There were also great brick constructions, which dated back to the 14th century, which were commonly referred to as “temples” which served religious purposes since the religious aspect of development in that society was greatly important, just as it was across the African continent.

The various societies that constituted a developed (and advanced) Zimbabwean culture lasted a total of a thousand years. People constructed dams for irrigation, raised cattle, sowed grain, and traded across the Indian Ocean, with chiefs enjoying “fine pottery or china” while sitting at-top of warring cultures. [4] These cultures, with no system of writing, were “highly stratified,” with chiefs and priests, miners, and specialized craftsmen, the latter who created ornaments with exact skill and lightness of touch. There was also mixed farming, with cattle valued as important work animals, and major terracing and irrigation which is comparable to that of ancient Rome, or civilizations in Asia, making Zimbabweans, what we now would call “hydrologists.” In the society itself, there were several ethnic groups which mixed: Khosian type hunters or “Bushmen” who were long-time residents, and newcoming Bantu-speakers from the north, all of which had varying pottery styles and burials, with certain ethnic groups, likely, relegated to inferior status so that “labor for agriculture, building, and mining” as necessary for societal needs.

While the kingdoms long fought off “barbarian invaders,” they couldn’t stand against the Portuguese. After the collapse of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, there was the Kingdom of Mutapa, which the Portuguese confronted in the 1500s. This empire, first ruled by Mwene Mutapa, from 1415 to 1450, who appointed governors to rule over numerous localities outside the capital, spreading from Zimbabwe to Mozambique’s hinterland, with the center of the Mutapa empire at Great Zimbabwe at first, and later moving northward. [5] While those living in the region at the time were predominantly Sotho-speakers, many of those in the ruling class were pastoralists who had religious rituals with objects symbolizing cattle, possibly meaning that cattle owners were honored in society, and paid homage to their ancestors. As Immanuel Wallerstein argues, the Portuguese went on the full offensive, sacking coastal cities, reducing Indian Ocean trade, which was a “severe blow to Zimbabwe peoples” as the Portuguese (the first imperialists to visit), with firearms, went into the interior, taking sides, and undermining “the whole structure” of the kingdom. Still, they were too weak to establish a colonial administration, only having enough power to destroy and cause destruction.

This could have been helped by the fact that in Zimbabwe and Congo, social organization was low until the 15th century. This was even the case despite significant political structures in the area as tentacles of the transatlantic slave trade encroached on Africa. [6] In later years, as the Mutapa empire waned and dissipated in 1760, there was the Rozvi empire, lasting from 1684 to 1834. The lords of the both empires encouraged production for “export trade, notably in gold, ivory, and copper” with Arab merchants living in the kingdom. The Zimbabwean region, at the time, was still connected to the “network of Indian Ocean commerce.” A “single system of production and trade,” was organized by collecting tribute from other states. In later years, the Mthwakazi, a Ndebele kingdom, existed until the late 19th century, when the British colonists come into the picture. Despite the fact that indigenous kingdoms in present-day Zimbabwe ultimately faltered, there is no doubt that such development showed that there were advanced societies on the continent before the Europeans arrived. The idea that there was some “dark continent” with people running around like “savages” as European imperialists imagined in their racist, colonialist minds is utterly false.

In 1889, the British South African Company came to Zimbabwe, later naming it “Rhodesia” after British imperialist Cecil Rhodes. Not only did this name override the indigenous name of Zimbabwe, which came from the Shona language and meaning venerated or stone houses, but it showed that the age of imperialist exploitation was at hand. In 1895, African history was whitewashed when a prospector was sent by the South African company to exploit the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, making it harder to know what the gold smelters of Zimbabwe produced years earlier. [7] History was lost to greedy White settler capitalism. Luckily, while most of the “copper and gold objects were largely destroyed and melted down” by 1902, similar objects at the Mapungubwe have been found, objects which were “unravaged by Europeans with a civilizing mission.” As a result, historians can recognize the reality of African and Zimbabwean history, not the whitewashed one “handed down.” Even with this, there is no doubt that Cecil Rhodes, his imperial agents, and “settler pests,” came in to Zimbabwe to “rob and steal,” coming north from present-day Botswana to raise a flag at (Mount) Harare, later renamed Salisbury by the White settlers. While these new invaders marveled at “surviving ruins of Zimbabwe culture,” they assumed, from their Eurocentric perspective, that it had been built by White people.

This exploitation went beyond the erasure of culture. In the economy of Southern Africa and Rhodesia under British colonialism, Africans were treated as cheap labor who were prohibited from growing cash crops so their labor could be exploited by White “owners.” [8] These “owners” included those such as Standard Bank, a financial organization which was founded on loot of Rhodes and De Beers, headquartered in London, which expanded from the Cape Colony to Mozambique, Rhodesia, and Bechuanaland (present-day Botswana) in 1895. Still, this was not accepted without resistance. There were numerous bloody battles between the indigenous African population and invading settlers. During this time, when power began to be exclusively held by Whites, native Africans engaged in rebellions against White settlers, but these rebellions were crushed. This didn’t stop Robert Mugabe, once a Zimbabwean revolutionary (not anymore), who was pivotal in the anti-colonial struggle, to see those who rebelled as first African revolutionaries in Zimbabwe. He remembered how folklore about past struggle was told to them by their parents so they could explain “how White men came to the country, how he grabbed the land.”Mugabe also added that

“In a society where you have a class whose main purpose and accepted privilege is to exploit others, naturally it rebuffs. If the majority of people are being oppressed, being exploited, you can’t avoid, if you have any moral principles at all, the call to do something about it.”

In the years that followed, the British South African Company continued to control the British colony of Rhodesia. In 1923 this changed. As a result of plans made by White British colonists, settler migrants came to the colony after WWI with the London government granting the settlers a “Letters Patent Constitution” which made it a “self-governing colony.” [9] This designation meant that settlers had the right to secede or not, but the British retained “control over defence and foreign policy, certain reserve powers” which included issuing discriminatory legislation to control the African population. Hence, the British colony of Southern Rhodesia was born, the following year, comprising the area of the republic of Zimbabwe, founded in April 1980, splitting from the Northern section, called “Northern Rhodesia,” covering the area of the independent republic of Zambia, formed in October 1964. As the years went on, the oppression mounted. While the idea of “reserve powers” was supposedly to protect African interests, it became ineffective with the Land Apportionment Act of 1930 revised in 1941, and in a number of other times, a law that formed the basis of the “social and racial structure” in Rhodesia.

Even with the settlers with official power, the British monarch in the colony itself is represented by the governor and there were “British errand boys” who lived as White settlers. The greedy mentality of the colonists led to more divisions. Such colonists divided the country into two portions: the “native” area for Black Africans and Crown or European land for White settlers. [10] Predictably, the “rich and fertile land” was occupied by White settlers and the “sandy, semi-dry land” given to Black Africans, land from which they can be expelled from if minerals are found or settlers want to buy a farm in the area. Adding to this insult were laws on the books, enacted in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, which evicted Africans from “European land,” gave the government control of all the aspects of African life, and gave each family eight acres for “living in farming.” The latter measure was one of social control, in an attempt to keep Africans poor and give White settlers “cheap and exploitable labor for the mines, farms, light and heavy industries.” This is why the fight over land is so important in present-day Zimbabwe.

In the 1950s there were other sea changes in Southern Rhodesia. While the White settlers celebrated “sixty years of progress” in 1950, oppressed Africans did not see it the same way. African civilization had become the largely the domain of Christian missionaries, with different forms of education (“European,” “African,” “Asian,” and “Coloured”)  “separated budgeted for.” [11] To enforce the inequality, more was spent on European education than on African education. In 1953, officially, the structure of the colony changed, with the creation of the Central African Federation (CAF), comprising the areas of present-day Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Malawi (Nyasaland), in an effort led by Southern Rhodesian settlers under the direction of Godfrey Huggins. To reinforce this, the British colony received, between 1950 and 1958, 10 armored cars, 22 Spitfires, 32 fighter aircraft, 16 trainer aircraft, 8 transport aircraft, 2 light transport aircraft from UK, and 18 bomber aircraft, all from London, while NATO accompanied this by providing bombers and armaments. The latter information comes from the SIPRI trade register.

Of course, this action was done without the approval of Africans. As the settler oppression became even more ruthless, “African resistance rekindled” against racist laws, enacted to maintain settler dominance, and against the idea that racial discrimination was the “order of the day” in Zimbabwe. [12] In 1957, a chapter of African National Congress (ANC) organized in the country, led by Joshua Nkomo, with the chapter joining the ANC in South Africa which had been created in 1912. The following year, as the record shows, Nkomo began his contact with the Soviets, which would prove as a major force in the liberation struggle to come despite the fact they were  revisionist and social imperialist. During this time period, the political aspirations of the Black masses seemed modest, as nationalists only wanted simple political rights which they demanded in clearly nonviolent demonstrations. This perception was also because the struggle was reformist since the major groups were not forceful or anti-capitalist. However, after demonstrations were banned by the colonialist government, there was more frustration, with moderation turning to militancy and passive resistance turning into civil disobedience. The stage was set for set for full-scale civil war.

In the 1960s, the anti-colonial struggle in Zimbabwe heated up. In December 1961, after frustrations with previous nationalist groupings such as the National Democratic Party (NDP), established in January 1960, which pushed for a constitutional conference, with party members demonstrated, rioted and committed acts of arson in hopes of changing the conditions in Zimbabwe, Nkomo formed the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union, or Zapu, just after the NDP was banned. [13] As for the actions of the NDP, as Mugabe put it many years later, some of those in the organization were some of the first to use petrol bombs in 1960 as a “means of pressure, not really to destroy life” and that there were strikes and demonstrations in 1961.

Zapu named Nkomo as President, Tichafa Samuel Parirenyatwa as vice-president, Ndabaningi Sithole as chairman, Jason Moyo as information secretary, and Mugabe as publicity secretary. The organization embarked on pushing the failed policies of the NDP, with Nkomo banned from coming into Zimbabwe under legalistic jargon from the colonialist state. [14] Furthermore, Nkomo wanted to encourage the British government to agree to nationalist demands, and the organization boycotted the settler elections in Dec. 1962, with Nkomo declaring that Zapu must “continue in any form desired by the people at a given time, and under different circumstances. But I must repeat, that we shall never, I repeat never, form any new Party.” In order to back up these claims, Zapu and related freedom fighters engaged in civil disobedience, arson, sabotage, and demonstrations against the White minority government, which they refused to talk with, rightly so. Nkomo was imprisoned and official Black opposition banned in 1962 by the white colonialist government. The Soviets played a part in this liberation struggle by giving massive support for Zapu, which made its first contact with them through the ANC in South Africa, with the Soviets continuing their opposition to the settler government in Zimbabwe at major international forums time and time again, with Nkomo and other top leaders went on troops worldwide in an effort to garner international support. Even so, thy corrupted the struggle as social imperialists, since they did not try to make sure it remained united, backing more moderate forces.

In 1963, the equation changed. The “more radical elements” of the anti-colonial Zimbabwe opposition, who were mostly in prison, broke away from Zapu to form Zanu, the Zimbabwe African National Union. [15] This new grouping, which had come about due to justifed anger against Nkomo by those who accused him of allowing the White settlers to unite and different strategy, was led by Sithole. It believed in immediate armed confrontation with the White settlers and self-reliance while Zapu wanted intervention from the international arena. Broadly speaking, Zapu was aligned with the Ndebele and Zanu was aligned with the Shona. Additionally, those in Zanu, including Mugabe of course, were progressive nationalists who wanted immediate action, while Zapu represented the more conservative nationalists, seeming to only engage in slow maneuvers. Predictably, the Zapu denounced Zanu as dividing the movement, even though the tactics of Zapu, assisted by the revisionist Soviets, led to this result! At a “people’s conference,” supposedly to solve problems within the Zimbabwe liberation movement, attendees resolved that Nkomo was the only leader of the anti-colonial liberation movement in Zimbabwe, that bans on African nationalist organizations. throughout Africa must be denounced, that “divisive tendencies” must combated, and vigilance against the settler regime continued. Additionally, the conference declared that “active resistance” against the settler regime would continue, rejected cooperation with the British, and expelled the “four conspirators” which formed Zapu (Sithole, Mugabe, Washington Malianga, and Leopard Takawira). The attendees declared that these individuals were “dividing” the Zimbabwean people through forming their own party, seeing it as an imperialist divide-and-control policy.

Due to these differences, the conflict between Zapu and Zanu erupted. At times it became violent. While some may be included to do so, it is wrong to discount the Zanu group wholesale. For one, Mugabe, a top leader in the group, spent 11 months in detention which hurt his son psychologically, who later died from malaria. [16] Years later, he summarized, in part, the beliefs of Zanu, by saying that “you cannot fight for grievances by pleading…you can only do so by getting to the root cause of the problem and that’s the problem of power.” As for Zapu, it suffered from the justified defection of members to Zanu. A number of the key figures of Zanu’s armed wing had played a role in leading Zapu’s armed wing, taking with them “operational information and many individual cadré.” This altered the “balance of power in the liberation movement,” leaving Zapu with the short end of the stick, something from which it would not recover from in the years to come, which was good for the people of Zimbabwe. While the idea of reconciliation between the two “wings” of the liberation movement was proposed, it was quickly abandoned within the country as untenable.The same year, the Central African Federation dissolved and military power was handed over to Winston Field, leading to continued oppression.

As the liberation movement in Zimbabwe split, so did the funding. Zapu representatives went to a number of so-called “socialist” countries, including the social imperialist Soviets, and based in Zambia with the military wing of ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army). [17] As for Zanu and their military wing, the Zimbabwean African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), they received much of their support from Maoist China, which  benefited the Zimbabwean people. The latter socialist state promoted the idea of guerrilla warfare as a way to win the liberation war. Simply put, Zanu, later led by Mugabe, had a pro-China leaning while Zapu, led by Nkomo, had a pro-Soviet leaning, leading to distortion and division. Black leaders in nations such as Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, and Angola, supported the guerillas with training areas and pitched camps, while the White settler government in Zimbabwe formed “a well trained, moderately equipped, and integrated armed force.” Arguably, Zapu, also supported by Cuba, the short-lived United Arab Republic (U.A.R.), and the German Democratic Republic (GDR or “East Germany”), followed Soviet-influnced teachings while Zanu, with their varying external networks, followed the teachings of Mao Zedong. This meant that Zanu worked to mobilize the rural peasantry, Zapu worked to mobilize those in urban areas.

This manifestation of the Sino-Soviet split, begun in part by Nikita Khrushchev’s traitorous “Secret Speech” denouncing the supposed “wrongs” of Joseph Stalin, meant that China determined more of the direction of the Zimbabwe liberation struggle than the Soviets. Beijing’s association with Zimbabwe goes back to the liberation struggle, a time when Zanu cadres went to China to get guerrilla training and attended classes in Ghana taught by Chinese instructors. [18] As a result of Chinese support, Zanu was transformed from a splinter organization into a full-fledged participant of the liberation struggle, and it became more bold, criticizing the alliance of the Soviet-aligned ANC and Zapu, saying this allowed racists to consolidate their forces. In later years, Zanu revamped its strategy to be more Maoist, with armed struggle based in “support of the people,” by the early 1970s, as Mugabe said years later. As a result of the guerrilla warfare tactics by Zanu and traditional military tactics by Zapu, along with Zanu freedom fighters trained by the Vietcong and Chinese in guerrilla tactics, with the fighters returning from the latter country coming back radicalized, the White settler government adjusted their system of racist terror. China, for their part, was active in aiding liberation in the country, seeing as a way to counter “Soviet hegemonism” and “Sovietism” with their support as part of their anti-superpower and anti-Soviet agenda. Such a viewpoint was undoubtedly right, as the Soviets were utter social imperialists who needed to be countered. Hilariously, this was misread by the White apartheid government as a way to get Western capitalists and China to work together and fight the Soviets, as they clearly did not understand what was happening, but the Chinese would have no part in such an “agreement.”

The Zimbabwean liberation movement was up against a formidable adversary. Between 1960 and 1963, the White settler government had received four transport aircraft, 12 fighter aircraft, and 30 armored fighting vehicles, called Ferret armoured cars, from London, along with three light helicopters from France, as noted by the SIPRI trade register. The colonial organization in 1965, in Zimbabwe, was changed. In 1964, a White minority government, called UDI (Universal Declaration of Independence), was illegally created by Ian Smith, imposing apartheid rule and invalidating the phony 1961 constitution. [19] But the British “lacked the [political] will to put down this constitutional treason,” even as they had the will to disarm those that opposed the new government, so the UN instituted sanctions and gave sympathy to the liberation movement, setting the stage for guerrilla warfare in years following. During the period, Smith’s government received 10 light aircraft and 20 towed guns from Italy, along with one transport aircraft from the United States and 12 armored cars from apartheid South Africa.

Still, the Zimbabwean revolutionaries did not give up. As resistance against the settler government continued to grow, and the Rhodesian Front whipped up White nationalist sentiment, Zimbabweans argued that “freedom can only be achieved by confrontation and determination.” [20] The Soviets, in their social imperialist stance, still backed the moderate Nkomo over Mugabe, who was more radical and Marxist, showing that Maoist China had the right approach. This was also partially due to Mugabe’s call to run his own organization while Nkomo was willing to rely on aid from the Cubans (tainted by Soviet social imperialism) and Soviets. The Soviets also felt this aid was important since they saw China’s aid in this struggle as “hostile” even if that meant supporting someone less radical. It is also worth pointing out that despite Cuba’s misguided support for Zapu broadly, they did, to their credit, help the military wing of Zanu, which also received military training in Mozambique. This shows yet again that Cuba is not some “Soviet satellite,” as ignorant bourgeois commentators will bark.

While one could argue that Zapu was more internationalist since they sought assistance from Ghana, Egypt, the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO), GDR (“East Germany”), and Eastern European nations within the Warsaw Pact, which interestingly gave Fidel Castro more of a role as a “benefactor of third world liberation,” allowing them to be better trained and equipped than the Zanu’s military wing, Zanu connected with exiled Black nationalist Robert F. Williams. [21] They asked Williams to send copies of his publication, The Crusader, in exchange for copies of their paper, the Zimbabwe News. It is worth pointing out that despite charges that Zanu was some U$-backed organ because of their reported skepticism of “accepted” liberation organizations in Southern Africa, the publication criticized Moscow, said that the Soviets were collaborating with U$ imperialism, criticized ANC for being pacifist, took a Black Power stand, promoted those such as H. Rap Brown, and frequently cited Mao Zedong, along with pronouncements of African socialism. This position shows they were  the real revolutionaries in this  fight, not Zapu. Hence, the Zapu claim that Zanu was U$-sponsored falls flat and is almost a joke. Such a claim is also further invalidated by the fact that Zapu’s strategy to discredit Zanu leaders was “based on personal accounts and accusations” in papers such as the Daily News, which effectively served as a pro-Zapu and anti-Zanu outlet.

Despite their differences, there is no doubt that Zapu and Zanu had a tough fight. For Zanu, they engaged in armed struggle, first tested in April 1966 in Sinoia, in an engagement that proved “tactically manageable” but shook the “Rhodesian White community,” as it should! [22] Such events, followed by freedom fighters of Zanu and Zapu going off to socialist countries to train, coming back “to intensify the armed struggle,” were downplayed by the information department of the UDI, who claims that all was well in the country, with news of battles suppressed in their totality. The same was the case for those guerrillas in the Zapu-ANC alliance, which engaged in a rough, bloody battle in August 1967, which resulted in heavily censored news inside of the country. Zanu, pointed this out the same year, arguing that the illegal White government in Zimbabwe was trying to stoke ethnic discord by stressing “ancient wars among Africans” in radio and news commentaries, along with in schools, saying that the government was circulating letters that purport to be from the GDR (“East Germany”) as a way of stirring up mischief. As for the tactics used by Zapu, some argued they had no significant impact, an assessment which resulted in a new strategy formulated, with a plan to send a joint military force across the Zambezi River into northwest Zimbabwe. This was done with the realization of the nature of their enemy as “British imperialism assisted by NATO” while understanding “the savagery role of the Washington government,” vowing the fight until the end.

Internationally, Zapu and Zanu played differently. Zanu members were critical of Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) leading SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), arguing that Carmichael was partnering with Zapu and ANC, which was only partially true since in his autobiography, he says that he supported the Pan-African Congress more than other organizations, seeing it as mature, principled, and young, a bit like SNCC. [23] Still, it worth noting that this “alliance of convenience” between the ANC and Zapu may have seemed sound by many but also could be arguably “narrow and selfish” with a wider alliance of nationalist parties in the region perhaps a better strategy. In Algiers, the location of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Eldridge of the Black Panthers met with Charles Chikarema of Zapu who introduced him to an Elaine Klein, an American woman who worked with the Ministry of Information in Algeria, who let Eldridge be officially invited to the country along with a Black Panther Party delegation, removing his dependency on Cuba as a place of exile. Due to this development, and the fact that Sithole of Zanu appeared in court, at one point, saying that he publicly wanted to disassociate himself from “any subversive activities” and from any “form of violence,” it is possible that the Black Panther coalition and support group in Zimbabwe was pro-Zapu. But it could have also been pro-Zanu because Zanu was much more Black nationalist and radical. The latter was clear when the Zimbabwe News declared that “Christianity has been used as a subtle instrument to destroy Zimbabwe culture” which some was a statement that went “too far.”

By 1969, the situation in Zimbabwe was worsening. With financial interests in White-ruled Africa, Africans continued to be oppressed by about two hundred British firms in companies led by a small “White group of capitalists,” while 86% of Zimbabweans worked (and lived) in rural areas on European farms or subsisting as cash-crop farmers. [24] Additionally, education was not free (or compulsory), Whites earned much more than Black Africans by far, and no African nationalist organization could hold weight, with the masses angry about the system of the whole, not just the UDI government. It was clear that the British government would not “stand idle while a truly people’s socialist revolution is on the verge of reality in Zimbabwe” with British intervention in the country either to save their “kin” or to put in place a “neo-colonialist puppet regime” (which ended up happening ultimately) While this did not happen by 1970, the UDI elites consolidated their control. At that time, they had a strong military force, consisting of 3,400 regular troops, 6,400 police troopers, 28,500 reserve police, two infantry battalions, 1,200 Air Force personnel, 4,000 Air Force personnel in reserve, and one field artillery piece. They also had advanced airplanes, helicopters, and other machinery, many from Western capitalist states, along with an alliance with South Africa. This included, in part, South African troops in Zimbabwe, aided by the British and U$ military, along with fascist organizations across the Western capitalist world supporting the White settler government.

There were a number of continuities throughout the 1960s in the Zimbabwean liberation struggle. For one, Zimbabwean women subverted traditional gender roles by fighting as freedom fighters, sometimes in fatigues, along with providing troops with food and clothing, and they later earned praise for their valuable “contributions to the revolution.” [25] This was likely the case in Zanu and Zapu. There is no doubt that the violence of the apartheid government in Zimbabwe led to armed resistance among the liberation movement, along with Nkomo to be imprisoned in a concentration camp, one of the ways the government tried to keep the populace under control, from 1964 to 1970, along with killing of many comrades in the process. It is worth noting that Mugabe was also imprisoned from December 1963 until November 1974, but was still part of the liberation struggle. The bloody battle for liberation in Zimbabwe, between the White settler-rulers and “black guerrilla movements” through the 1960s and until the late 1970s, as even the U$ State Department acknowledged, was part of something bigger. There were liberation groups and revolutionaries across East Africa ranging from The Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO), the Southwest African People’s Organization (SWAPO), ANC, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Zanu, and Zapu, all of which “utilized Tanzanian training camps” so they could “prepare and plan anticolonial wars” against White settler governments in the region. Such developments interested Black nationalist Robert F. Williams greatly. As John Nkomo of the Zapu grouping, said years later, they worked closely with Nordic countries, such as Sweden, the latter which cooperated with Zanu and Zapu, allowing them to bring equipment back to Zimbabwe, with some equipment later donated to Zambia since they had “sacrificed so much.”


Notes

[1] Such stories have been published in the Zimbabwe Independent, News24, International Business Times UK, New Zimbabwe, The Zimbabwe Mail, NewsDay, ZimEye, and The Zimbabwe Daily, among many others.

[2] Immanuel Wallerstein, Africa: The Politics of Independence: An Interpretation of Modern African History (New York: Vintage Books, 1961), 22;Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1982), 65.

[3] Wallerstein, 22; Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, 64, 65.

[4] Wallerstein, 23; Rodney, 48, 66-67.

[5] Rodney, 64, 67; Wallerstein, 23.

[6] Rodney, 67-68, 134.

[7] Wallerstein, 23; Rodney, 65.

[8] Rodney, 163, 165, 233;  Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle (ed. Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu), Cairo: Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization, 1972, second edition), 14; “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. Sadly, the original name of this documentary or its British announcer, clearly a journalist at the time, is not known. On the webpage for the film, a horrid anti-Mugabe book is linked, a book by a French academic who wants to think “beyond” the Zanu-PF.

[9] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 14-15.

[10] Ibid, 15-17.

[11] Ibid, 17-21.

[12] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 19-21; Chenhamo Chimutengwende, “Zimbabwe and White-Ruled Africa,” The New Revolutionaries: A Handbook of the International Radical Left (ed. Tariq Ali, New York: William Morrow & Company, 1969), 241-242; Ian Taylor, China and Africa: Engagement and Compromise (New York: Routledge, 2006), 107-108; “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary.

[13] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 22-23; “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. Mugabe also said that his wife at the time, Sally Mugabe, participated in a women’s demonstration in 1961.

[14] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 24-29; “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary; Gerald Horne, From the Barrel of a Gun: The United States and the War Against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 351; Alex Thomson, An Introduction to African Politics, p. 144. There is also an academic article by Dumiso Dabengwa titled “Relations between ZAPU and the USSR, 1960s–1970s: A Personal View” which may shed light on this subject.

[15] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary; Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 24-25, 31-32, 33-37; Chimutengwende, 242. Mugabe himself had declared in December 1962 that it was time to move to armed struggle. Part of this armed confrontation included the conviction that “physical attacks on Whites and their property were necessary.”

[16] “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary; Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 38. After this idea of reconciliation was abandoned from within the liberation movement, it became an “external, non-Zimbabwe wish, not worth pursuing” (by those like the Soviets) as Zapu argued in this publication.

[17] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 21-22, 40; Timothy Scarnecchia, The Urban Roots of Democracy and Political Violence in Zimbabwe: Harare and Highfield, 1940-1964 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2008), 141, 146, 161. Despite the futility of the Zanu-Zapu power struggle, reportedly the split between Zanu and Zapu was a “class divide” with Zanu supporters including college students (and peasants) and Zapu supporters being the “old guard.” Also, reportedly, Zapu was better in urban settings than Zanu. It is also worth pointing out that China funded the Pan-African Congress while the Soviets supported the African National Congress in South Africa.

[18] Taylor, China and Africa, 106-110, 113. In earlier years, the Chinese trained and sent arms to Zapu, but this changed after the Sino-Soviet split came into full force in the later 1960s. All in all, supporting Zanu rather than Zapu was the right move.

[19]  Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 47-49; “The Lion of Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe,” Internet Archive, 1979 British documentary. Also, top British colonial personnel continued talks with the regime, allowing it to stand under legal fictions, and putting in the farce of sanctions, reinforcing their “colonial responsibility” in Rhodesia.

[20] Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 40-41; Timothy Scarnecchia, The Urban Roots of Democracy and Political Violence in Zimbabwe, 148. Comes from a letter in 1964 from Zimbabwean mothers.

[21] Timothy Scarnecchia, The Urban Roots of Democracy and Political Violence in Zimbabwe, 141; Gerald Horne, From the Barrel of a Gun, 247, 258; Robeson Taj Frazier, “A Revolution is Not a Dinner Party: Black Internationalism, Chinese Communism and the Post World War II Black Freedom Struggle, 1949-1976,” Spring 2009, Dissertation for University of California, Berkeley, p. 179. Zapu guerrillas also reportedly received training in Algeria, Bulgaria, North Korea, and the Congo region. Also, one Zapu guerrilla told a Zimbabwean court in 1968 that in the Soviet Union, guerrillas had classes lasting four months on a wide range of topics including “political science, aspects of intelligence work…use of codes and ciphers.” and given a rundown on work of “the CIA, MI6 and MI5, and the French and Federal German intelligence organisations” along with being taught how to use “explosives, hand-grenades, and how to use and assemble guns, rifles and pistols.” Horne, who obviously thinks more highly of Zapu than Zanu, claims that the US was more skeptical of Zapu than Zanu because Zapu was friendlier to Eastern European socialist nations, claims that Zanu boosted “marginal forces with suspicious origins” like COREMO (Mozambique Revolutionary Committee), and that Nkomo dealt with African-Amerikans more diplomatically than Zanu. These claims should be treated very skeptically

[22] Chimutengwende, 245-246; Gerald Horne, From the Barrel of a Gun, 255; Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 60-65.

[23] Thomas Turino, “Race, Class, and Musical Nationalism in Zimbabwe,” Music and the Racial Imagination (ed. Ronald M. Radano, Philip V. Bohlman, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 572; Maxwell C. Standford, Jr., “We Will Return in the Whirlwind: Black Radical Organizations 1960-1975,” January 3, 2003, Union Institute and University, Cincinnati, Ohio, p. 277-278; Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 39-40; Gaidi Faraj, “Unearthing the Underground: A study of radical activism in the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army,” Fall 2007, Dissertation for the University of California, Berkeley, p. 197; Robeson Taj Frazier, “A Revolution is Not a Dinner Party,” p. 153, 182; Chimutengwende, 244. It is worth noting that both the ANC and Zapu groups had a “fairly formal structure with a commander and a political commissar,” with both “dressed in semi-military uniforms” from 1966 to 1968, at least.

[24] Chimutengwende, 238-240, 248, 250; Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 50-51. Examples cited include those of Sekou Toure or Albert Karume.

[25] Robeson Taj Frazier, “A Revolution is Not a Dinner Party,” p. 156; Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 52-55; Linda Lumsden, “Good Mothers with Guns: Framing Black Womanhood in the Black Panther, 1968-1980,” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Vol. 86, No. 4, Winter 2009, p. 908, 919; Taylor, China and Africa, 107-108; Timothy Scarnecchia, The Urban Roots of Democracy and Political Violence in Zimbabwe, 146; Zimbabwe: A History of Struggle, 42, 44-46, 66. In a 1976 article, The Panther extolled the “egalitarian, gun-toting example of women revolutionaries who fought alongside men” in Palestine and Zimbabwe.