Rosa Zulu, from the International Socialist Organisation in Zimbabwe on the crisis there in the run-up to the presidential elections on 9-10 March.
I think the presidential election will take place. All the authorities have done is to question Morgan Tsvangirai about his supposed plot to assassinate Robert Mugabe. If they decide to press charges, it will be after the election. I don't think they will want to risk a backlash from the MDC [Movement for Democatic Change] at this time. While there is disillusionment, the MDC has a lot of young members it can call on to take to the streets.
The activists of the MDC are still mainly working-class based, and it is also recruiting a lot of young unemployed people. The MDC has never really had any middle-class activists in it.
The economic situation has worsened steadily with the neo-liberal policies of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, since 1990.
Zimbabwe's acute economic crisis started around 1995. There was de-industrialisation. Capital moved its investments out of the manufacturing sector and into the financial sector where it could get quicker returns. Manufacturing's share of the economy fell from 32% to well below 20%.
What led to a rapid worsening of the crisis was when the government announced its plans to compensate war veterans, in 1997. Not long after that, the Zimbabwe dollar suffered the first of a series of crashes against foreign currencies. Inflation is now at 120%.
The MDC recommends a Marshall Plan type of recovery. But look at Argentina! Argentina has collapsed, and neither the World Bank nor the IMF has poured in money to help it recover. To expect that sort of assistance for a country the size of Zimbabwe is day-dreaming.
What Zimbabwe is going through is a manifestation of an entire global economy in recession. There is no way out of this crisis using capitalist means. The state can revive the economy a bit by pumping out money, but then inflation will rise even further. There is only one way out of this crisis, not only in Zimbabwe but world-wide, and that is dismantling the whole system of capitalism.
Despite all the hatred there is for him, Mugabe has built up a base of support in the rural areas through the land redistribution programme. In the process he has rejuvenated ZANU-PF. If you walk around the rural areas without a ZANU-PF party card which is at least nine months old, you risk getting beaten up.
The government has been threatening to take over companies which have been artificially creating food shortages, and turn them over to be run by the workers. But nothing like that has happened. Inscor, a major company, has been exposed for hoarding, but nothing has happened.
Mugabe got his first layer of support through the war veterans, by giving them monthly payments. He then moved to the peasantry. The peasantry in Zimbabwe constitutes at least 60% of the population, and most of them have received land through the land redistribution programme. That is another layer of support for Mugabe. He has also has support in the army. The level of support for him in the police does not seem to be so strong.