Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Class Struggle, Resistance and the Revolutionary Pressures of Crisis in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Class Struggle, Resistance and the Revolutionary Pressures of Crisis in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe

Article excerpt


Class struggle and social transformation of a social system is both a continuum and a dialectic social process. Thus, the current crisis which engulfed the landscape of Zimbabwe over the past few years or so was an inevitable one; thus a continuum of an age-long socio-political and economic revolution and counter-revolution (chimurenga) of a transitional society. Drawing from Amilcar Cabral (1979) analysis, the crisis is but the consequence of an "unfinished business", the business of a total and genuine national liberation of the Zimbabwe's people.

Amilcar Cabral (1979 and 1984) in his outstanding contributions to the theory of national liberation struggle explained that the struggle for national liberation consists of a national and a social phase, with the latter being more crucial, and a final harmer to its ultimate denouncement. Furthering his analysis, Cabral (1984) expatiated that the national phase is primarily concerned with the quest for national sovereignty or independence, and the social phase is one in which the very question of genuine liberation is honestly posed. That is, the social phase honestly poses the question: has the sovereignty really benefited the gross of the mass populace economically and socially? And is the new nation truly free to take its destiny into its own hand? According to Ntalaja (1986) referring to Cabral, the second phase of the national liberation (called social liberation) is, more decisive and complex because it usually involve the ultimate question of a radical transformation of the structure of the economy and the state.

Amilcar Cabral's (1979) argument is that during the national liberation phase, the most urgent concern is usually on how to torpedo the prevailing foreign rule. Once this is done, the moral unity of anti-colonial alliance or national front burst asunder, and gives way to apparent and intense class struggles. This development is, according to Amilcar Cabral (1979), when the popular masses begin to demand their fair shares of the gains of independence. And the petty bourgeoisie leaders at this point are confronted with a daunting choice: either betray the revolution by switching alliance with imperialist capital, or remain faithful to the anti-imperialist goals of the struggle (a kind of suicide mission) as a class in order to be reborn as revolutionary workers, completely identified with the deepest aspirations of the people to which they belong.

Within the context of Amilcar Cabral's seminal analysis, the open and bitter inter and intra-class struggles in post-independent Zimbabwe, and the surreptitious fuelling of the crisis by Western powers, offer the tools for underscoring and addressing the contradictions inherent in the march towards accomplishing the social phase of the national liberation in Zimbabwe. This social phase of revolution is a classical case of a class-based struggle against neocolonialism which grips post-colonial Zimbabwe. Makamure (1980: 75) rightly noted that it was only after independence in 1980 that revolutionary elements started coming into the fore in terms of the nature of society. This was the period when, for the first time, important questions for social transformation of the skewed economic structure in Zimbabwe were genuinely confronted.

Using Ake's (1978:9) analyses, however, it can be argued that the struggles which occasioned the crisis in Zimbabwe is all about the global class struggles between what he referred to as "proletarian" and "bourgeoisie" countries. The argument of Ake recast runs thus: by integrating Zimbabwe's economy into the global economy, the country became entrapped in an unhealthy competition with the established Western bourgeoisie countries. And Zimbabwe has also been at the receiving end of this competition, even as it remains an independent country. Ake's remark does not, however, undermine the fundamental nature of the current struggle in Zimbabwe: the fact that it is a struggle within the bourgeoisie class on the one hand, and between the Zimbabwe's bourgeoisie class and their mass of proletariats (working class and peasants) on the other hand. …

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