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Zimbabwe: More than just a million march
Posted: Friday, November 30, 2007

By Caesar Zvayi
November 30, 2007
The Herald

ON Sunday January 27 1980, Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe made a triumphant return to Zimbabwe, five years after he crossed into Mozambique on April 4 1975 having spent 11 years in the Rhodesian regime's prisons.

Cde Mugabe and other cadres were welcomed by a crowd estimated at 1,6 million by the Zanu-PF information and publicity department, 200 000 by the BBC, 150 000 by the Rhodesian police, and 1 million – with a safety margin of 25 percent – by people who said they arrived at the figure by enlarging aerial photographs and calculating crowd density.

Whatever the final figure, a crowd never before seen in the history of this country welcomed Cde Mugabe at Zimbabwe Grounds. It was by far the largest crowd to welcome any of the nationalist leaders who were to contest the general election set for March 1980. Even Abel Muzorewa's so-called Huruyadzo rally, where people were bribed with beer and food over three days to attend, paled in comparison to the multitudes that welcomed Gushungo on that day.

Zimbabwe Grounds was filled to capacity, and the man who had led the onslaught against the Smith regime, the man the people had come to see did not disappoint. His message was powerful; Zimbabwe had arrived and never again was it to go back into settler hands, directly or by proxy.

Cde Mugabe, whose address was predominantly in the vernacular, laid the framework for the policy of reconciliation he was to enunciate after the elections as he appealed to white Rhodesians, in their native English, to stay and help build a Zimbabwe grounded on national unity.

He spoke passionately about how hunger for land was the "deepest of all grievances among our people" saying the new Government would not seize land from anyone who had use for it but would certainly acquire land that was lying unused while indigenous black people remained landless.

"Farmers who are able to be productive and prove useful to society will find us co-operative," BBC quoted him as saying.

The central themes of his message on that day are the same motifs that have run through his speeches over the years. Themes we have heard time and again, themes immortalised in the historic policy of reconciliation, themes immortalised in his constant refrain, "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again", themes enshrined in his insistence that Zimbabweans have a right to all their resources down to the ants and reptiles, themes critical of western subversion.

On that day, Cde Mugabe blasted British duplicity as the government of Margaret Thatcher was amenable to the lackeys that had joined Smith in the Internal Settlement, and averse to the real nationalists who had slogged it out in bases in Mozambique and Zambia, and the Zimbabwean countryside to bring the Rhodesian regime to its false knees, ko vainyepaka kuti havana mabvi (they claimed they had no knees).

Cde Mugabe castigated Britain, accusing British governor Lord Soames of manipulating the political situation against Zanu-PF.

He warned: "Take note therefore that as we move into assembly points, we have not done so as cowards, it is not an act of surrender but mere compliance with an agreement. And equally take note that as we have moved into assembly points, we can move out of those assembly points."

The turnout at Zimbabwe Grounds, which even the British grudgingly acknowledged was the largest for any of the leaders who were to contest the election in March, gave the world a foretaste of what was to come at election time as Cde Mugabe and Zanu-PF swept to power on a landslide that left all other competitors deflated.

Despite the machinations of the British, people's power prevailed, and the people chose the leaders they wanted. The British proxy Muzorewa, despite the binges his handlers bankrolled at Zimbabwe Grounds, and the three helicopters they had availed for his campaign, managed a paltry three seats, one for each helicopter.

Today, 27 years after that historic gathering at Zimbabwe Grounds, the men and women Cde Mugabe led in and from Mozambique, the people who were at the frontline, have organised the mother of all marches; one million men and women are to convene at Zimbabwe Grounds today to express solidarity with their leader whom they anointed during the liberation struggle, and again before the whole world in March 1980, and every five years thereafter.

Even those who were not in the trenches but who supported the struggle in various ways will also be there along with those born-free because of the sacrifices of the living and fallen heroes of this great nation.

Patriotic Zimbabweans have flocked to Harare from all 10 provinces by bus, train, private transport and some on foot to be at Zimbabwe Grounds, the same way they gathered 27 years ago. Today's march is a culmination of the huge solidarity marches held in all 10 provinces.

Today's march and gathering is like a throwback to January 1980 because the setting and circumstances are the same. The British are at it again, funding a proxy opposition in an attempt to torpedo the people's revolution.

Zimbabwe is four months away from a historic harmonised election, again set for March, and the contestants are the same, the people versus the British proxies. And just like in 1980, the British are up to their usual games, trying to manipulate the political situation in Zimbabwe for self-aggrandisement.

Today's march is not just a procession; it is a powerful statement about the success of the peoples' revolution. Today is not just about expressing solidarity with President Mugabe; it is about reaffirming commitment to the ideals of the struggle, all of which he embodies in their entirety.

This march is not just about expressing confidence in President Mugabe's candidature for March 2008; it is about making a statement about those elections. Today is not about silencing errant voices within Zanu-PF, it is about defending the values of the revolution in which over 50 000 precious lives were lost at the hands of a racist settler regime, while tens of thousands of survivors were needlessly maimed by the uncouth Rhodesian army.

Today's march is not a partisan procession by the Zimbabwe National War Veterans' Association, it is a national statement, and is for everyone who believes in the Zimbabwean dream, that of a progressive, self-determining country.

Just like the historic welcome rally at Zimbabwe Grounds 27 years ago that provided a foretaste of what the country's first democratic election was to bring, today's gathering is an election before the election. It gives a foretaste of what is to come in March next year, when a united Zanu-PF takes on a splintered MDC torn by factions and fractions.

The timing of the march is providential, coming as it does just a week before the EU-Africa Summit convenes in Lisbon, Portugal; a gathering that British prime minister Gordon Brown will boycott claiming that President Mugabe and Zanu-PF are "repressing a popular opposition party", the MDC.

This march should send a clear message to all who have been swayed by British propaganda, it should send the message that the votes tallied during every election are not ghost votes but are cast by Zimbabweans determined to defend the gains of the revolution.

This is not to say the British and Americans do not know this, for they only make such claims to justify their subversive activities. Even established journalists like the Briton-turned-Zimbabwean, Peta Thorncroft now openly acknowledge that Zanu-PF has massive support.

In a recent interview with one Violet Gonda of the pirate radio station SW Radio Africa on November 13, Thorncroft had this to say about Zanu-PF in response to a question on whether the MDC was the party people thought it was:

"I wonder if we ever knew what it (the MDC) was. We just accepted it, didn't we? I wasn't there in 2000, I went to one of its rallies in 2000 and I came in July 2001 and I think I just accepted that the MDC had been cheated at the elections and that this was a party that had the majority support in the country and it was only long afterwards that I discovered that in fact of course Zanu-PF had enormous support in certain rural parts of the country.

"I first saw that demonstrated to me in the March elections of 2005, I was actually astonished by that and it is in my copy. I then saw it again demonstrated in the Budiriro by-election when 4 000 people continued to vote for Zanu-PF and it was quite a peaceful by election.

"They were just as short of fuel, water and electricity as all the other people in Budiriro. And I think that I realised that I hadn't taken into consideration that Zanu-PF was an old established party, which despite its appalling lack of democracy and its top-down style of doing business – because of the liberation struggle and the propaganda it's been able to feed everyone – it does genuinely have support.

"And that the MDC as the farm workers disappeared and as the farmers disappeared a great chunk of its support went with it. I think that was important and I think that we didn't see it and we didn't sort of realise it at the time, I didn't realise it at the time . . . "

Thorncroft then gave a precise analysis of why the MDC doesn't have the support Zanu-PF has, from its open linkage to the west, how its leaders campaign in western capitals and not among Zimbabweans, how its pro-west stance had alienated it from the ordinary Zimbabwean in particular, and African in general.

In short she accounted for why all the MDC's attempts at mass actions and mass stayaways have flopped over the years, and by extension why Zanu-PF has continued to rout the opposition at the polls.

Take this dear reader, coming straight from Thorncroft's British mouth: "When the MDC started in 2000, what a pity that they were addressing people in Sandton mostly white people in Sandton north of Johannesburg instead of being in Dar es Salaam or Ghana or Abuja. They failed to make contact with Africa for so long, they were in London, we've just seen it again, Morgan Tsvangirai's just been in America.

"Why isn't he in Cairo? Maybe he needs financial support and he can't get it outside of America or the UK and the same would go for Mutambara. They have not done enough in Africa . . . "

And this: "Where are they (MDC) in Mashonaland West, Central – the three Mashonaland provinces? And I go on and on about this and I was there just a few weeks ago, driving there with a very good cover and nobody knew I was a journalist and I was able to speak to people and they were very open and chatty with me. I mean the MDC just hasn't tried to go into most of those places. And will they ever or are they going to just remain an urban party you know an urban party in Harare, some in Manicaland . . . "

There you have it, dear reader, straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. The MDC has no connection with Zimbabwe in particular or Africa in general, but is highly connected to the white west. Any wonder their attempted mass actions have always been flops? Any wonder they always lose elections? As for Zanu-PF, the opposite is true, this is a Zimbabwean and African revolutionary party, which is why today's march should reiterate that message for the whole world to see and hear.

The revolution is alive, very much alive.

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