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#ThisFlag: Where to now after the charismatic pastor?

By Leroy Maisiri

The last four months in Zimbabwe can surely be characterised as an awakening of the Zimbabwean working class, as thousands took to the streets in response to Evan Mawarire’s call: “hatichatya” [we are not afraid] under the banner of #Thisflag movement.

Evan Mawarire
Evan Mawarire

This is certainly a historic time for Zimbabwe; a time of growing labour pains as the country enters a process of rebirth towards a better and new zimbabwe.

But before we can even begin to talk about a free Zimbabwe and how we would go about getting that, we need to first have a clear and coherent class analysis of the country’s social and political climate.

Zimbabwe needs to rid itself of President Robert Mugabe. But in the same breath, it must do away with oppressive state systems.

Thirty-six years into independence and the people of Zimbabwe have again started chanting freedom songs and calling for true and real emancipation. The working class of Zimbabwe is paying for an economic crisis that is none of their making, but rather a structural crisis of the global (largely state-based) capitalist system in an unholy marriage with the Mugabe dictatorship.

In the last four months, the country has seen protest after protest as ordinary citizens have taken to the streets in their thousands, despite being met by the repressive hand of the state (in the form of a militarised police).

At the heart of the protest movement is a massive economic crisis that dates back to 2008, the climax of a severe drought and crises in the supply of water, electricity and other basic necessities. This year, the country found itself paralysed in the face of a liquidity crisis, as severe shortages of US dollars spread across the country.

Mawarire is indeed the architect of the movement and has claimed throughout the process to remain, “apolitical”. Some have described him as Zimbabwe’s Martin Luther King Jr, who also eschewed party politics and focussed on grassroots activism.

He unwittingly began the movement in May 2016 by posting a video online in which he expressed his frustration with the socio-economic and political crisis in the country. The video expressed a strong poetic message that reflected the frustrations of the people.

After giving people so much hope he claimed his life was in danger, and that he was under continuous threats, with unidentified people showing up at his home and offices not long afterwards. he left for South Africa where he spoke at different universities while preparing to get political asylum for himself and his family in the United States.

Where to now?

Before we talk about a free Zimbabwe and how we should go about getting that, we need to first have a clear and coherent class analysis of the zimbabwe socio-political climate.

It is no secret that from the first day of Independence, the state has preoccupied itself with exploiting its working class citizens. Through exploitation, corruption that knows no limits, the people have been turned into unprotected prey for a power and wealth-hungry government.

The once-Marxist-turned-nationalist Zanu PF government implemented Zimbabwe’s 1991-1995 economic structural adjustment programme. Armed with neoliberalism, it fast-tracked the decay of the country, bringing it to its knees during the 2008 crisis.

Since then, people have been reduced to denizens — resident aliens in our own homes. And, as social norms and values have been eroded, as the lack of purpose has set in, the whole country now finds itself in a state of paralysis.

The ruling elite — an alliance of state managers and capitalists — has been sending the working class to the slaughterhouse in droves. The most recent blow to the working class was the Supreme Court ruling of July 16 2015 that gave employers the right to terminate workers’ contracts on three months’ notice. In less than three weeks after that hearing, about 20 000 workers were fired, and this number has grown since then.

It is then our most prudent task to arm ourselves with a holistic conceptualisation of the state and class. The anarchist approach explains how the state itself is a fertiliser of the class system, creating and giving space to a minority and denying the rest the same rights and privileges.

Our current system of capitalism allows for this unholy marriage of money and power, by allowing both to be concentrated in the hands of the few. As anarchism shows, the state is a highly centralised apparatus of power, monopolising the forces of coercion and administration.

Attempting to use this machine of power for our own ends, by handing it over to another small elite to operate, would ultimately mean re-creating another vicious, capitalist Zimbabwe. In other words, our problems go beyond Mugabe or Zanu PF. The problems are the inherently oppressive structures that exist, fuelled by the very nature of the state itself.

The emergence of #Thisflag movement was the beginning of a new chapter of hope in this struggle; an important and sacrosanct step as we slowly begin to carve ourselves a way forward.

The #Thisflag movement had become the uniting factor within the working class of Zimbabwe, combining the interests of the long-term unemployed, the unemployed graduates and the rest of the broader population. The movement did more than just inspire; it ignited a significant amount of hope as fuel for the struggle. This is the essential step towards reconfiguring Zimbabwe’s tomorrow.

A call

For me, the movement could certainly represent the untainted seeds of a new society; a society founded on solidarity, equality, grassroots democracy, free of all forms of oppression. The movement unconsciously represents the anarchist understanding that the only way to overthrow a blood-thirsty regime like the one that exists today is through struggle. I, therefore, argue for a more conscious critique, developing this already existing understanding of how to struggle which does not build the movement around one person.

#Thisflag movement must quickly outgrow its dependence on one man and collectively start to build a credible left, with a mass-based left politics, discourse, movement and alternative for the people.

Mawarire sees his role as simply creating the spark, while moving it forward would be up to the ordinary citizen to go beyond rhetoric and develop a deeper political awareness.

This kind of awareness should include an appreciation of the fact that Zimbabwe, like other states, has always usurped the legitimate means of coercion. Militarised police disrupt peaceful demonstrations.

In the face of repression, mass movements have a better chance of creating effective change.

This article was taken from Anarkismo.net

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