Zimbabwe: Still Living in Limbo

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Zimbabwe was gripped by depression immediately after the recent election results were announced.

For most people the thought of six more years under Mugabe is a death sentence. For the thousands of people still being beaten and killed by Mugabe's 'youth militias' or facing massive food shortages this is not an exaggeration. People walking the streets of the city are starving. Most are surviving on one meal a day, and the prices of basic commodities are set to rise when the government removes price controls.

Even to ask if the elections were 'free and fair' is a sign of madness, normally greeted with derision. How seriously would you take an election that was preceded by nearly two years of intimidation, violence and murder? And in the immediate run-up to the election the ruling party organised a series of carefully executed measures designed to stuff the election from the start.

However, there is another question that I have heard a hundred times in Zimbabwe in the last few weeks: 'Todii veduwe?' ('What should we do?') For many socialists in Zimbabwe the answers are not hard to find.

The opposition in Zimbabwe should organise mass protests and strikes to remove Mugabe. Students have already raised the possibility of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai declaring himself president at a mass demonstration in Harare.

But the opposition is paralysed. They spent the first week after the elections in 'consultation' while talking about High Court appeals and a constitutional challenge. The failure of the national strike called one week after the election was caused by the inability of the trade union federation, the ZCTU, to organise or plan for it. The state used this failure to arrest trade union leaders and student activists, while pressing Tsvangirai to accept 'national unity'. But this victory was temporary--as one Zimbabwean socialist said, 'Today everything in Zimbabwe is temporary. While Zimbabweans are hungry and restless the government will never have their victory.'