[DEBATE] : Nanny Habib
dominic.tweedie at gmail.com
Tue Dec 23 04:27:41 GMT 2008
Thanks for the support. I don't want to reject any of it but I do want to
clarify a little, if I possibly can.
Individuality and personality are indispensable in all human affairs, and
especially in politics, but I am sure that politics can never be reduced
entirely to personalities. Therefore to reduce the MDC, a national, popular
and diverse movement, to "Tsvangirai", for example, is a serious conceptual
mistake. Similarly, to reduce the Zanu-PF, and more especially the class of
bureaucratic and primitive-accumulation bourgeois behind Zanu-PF, to
"Mugabe", is an equal or a worse mistake.
One of the overt techniques of the Imperialists, who do really exist and are
not figments of Robert Gabriel Mugabe's imagination, is to try to say who
may or may not be a leader; and then, if they cannot always quite manage to
gatekeep the leading roles, to constraint the leadership from acting. I
think one has a duty to resist this Imperialist tactic of leaning on
leadership, just as we have done in the case of Jacob Zuma.
It would not be a surprise if he one day gets strung up Mussolini-style by a
mob, but I don't actually think that "Mugabe" is the stumbling block. On the
contrary, I think that one of the stumbling blocks is the extreme difficulty
of seeing the class that Mugabe represents, and the emphasis on Mugabe
himself hinders that vision even further.
Consequently, I am not exactly saying "Mugabe must go before anything can be
done". which is what the US Jendayi Frazer and the British Mark
Malloch-Brown are saying. It is not helpful at this moment to do that.
Removing Mugabe will not of itself assist us to see and to negotiate in
public with the ruling class of Zimbabwe (which undoubtedly has its
back-channels to the very same Jendayi and Mark).
I was criticising Adam Habib, but I don't think it is him alone. There has
been some enormous lobbying done in the last month or two against the MDC,
so that respectable pundits like Habib, and for another example, Moshoeshoe
Monare, can feel comfortable disregarding the March 2008 democratic
breakthrough in Zimbabwe. Likewise with some trade unionists, I'm afraid.
Monare wrote that the MDC (in his imperious boulevard-journalist's
judgement) is not "ready to govern". How arrogant can you get? It's the same
as Habib's demand that Tsvangirai be made to "play ball". The boldness of
this nonsense is indicative of a huge private lobbying campaign, and I say
private because there is no trace of a public dialogue that would justify
such a consensus. The Mugabe-Mbeki lobbyists worked behind the scenes, and
now that the Habibs and Monares come out in the open with the establishment
view, they produce it as a fait accompli.
I am saying that regard must be paid to popular power. There must as far as
possible be a negotiation between the popular masses and the ruling class of
Zimbabwe (the only alternative to a negotiation is outright unilateral
expropriation of the expropriators). In the process both of these entitities
must be rendered visible, meaning that more individuals and personalities,
and not less, must come forward.
It means that what determines the viability of external intervention is
whether it will assist the popular masses, or act to suppress the popular
masses. This, in turn, is a function of the political character and the
political skill of the intervening force. For example, it was the political
and military skill of the Cubans that caused their interventions to be so
much more efficient than those of the Soviet Union, in spite of the vastly
superior resources of the Soviets, as Jihan el-Tahri's film ("Cuba, an
African Odyssey") argues.
South Africa could, all other things being equal, intervene for the masses
in Zimbabwe and in my opinion, there would be no moral impediment to that.
On the contrary! But the question is, would South Africa be intervening for
the masses, or intervening to rescue the ruling class? The answer to this
question will determine everything. It will in particular determine the
So, for example, the success of food aid and of medical assistance against
cholera will depend on the political guidance informing such initiatives.
Such initiatives must strengthen the agency of the masses and not reduce
them to beggarly dependence. In this way, the politics always come first.
There are no "medecins sans politique".
So it is not an absolute question of "military intervention is impossible to
contemplate". It is the politics of military intervention that is hard to
contemplate, if you are a Habib or a Monare, because the politics of
intervention can only be justified of they are revolutionary.
We South Africans can be liberators, in all the same ways that the Cubans
have been liberators for the last 50 years (the anniversary is on January
Viva the glorious revolutionary tradition of Africa, Viva!
P.S., Hi Devan!
2008/12/22 Berend Schuitema <okhela at iafrica.com>
> Russell: > Nanny? What do you mean? Do you favour military intervention? If
> so, by whom?
> > Habib's arguments seem perfectly good to me.
> I don't think Dominic is suggesting a military option. Rather he seems to
> be saying that Mugabe is not amenable to any political/diplomatic political
> solution. Mugabe is a proven master of duplicity and constantly shifting
> goal posts. The man cannot be trusted.
> The SADC and AU should recognize his intransigence and push him out by any
> means short of a military intervention, and leave him out of any political
> deal. Including Mugabe in an eventual deal is what Adam seems to be
> suggesting. And it is this that Dominic probably does not agree with. In
> which case I agree with him. Berend.
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