Zim-ASSET: Flashback to Mgagao Declaration

1
1995

By Mashingaidze Gomo

AT a time when the Western world is wishing Zimbabwe dead, Zim-ASSET, has been proposed, essentially to assign the responsibility of Zimbabwe’s economic revival to indigenous Zimbabweans and not foreign investors.
Skeptics are arguing that it is just another political gimmick; a document destined for the political dust-bin.
Zim-ASSET comes after black people who have, for centuries, been relentlessly abused by vindictive racist Western nations emphatically voted for a party (ZANU PF) which Western media vigorously campaigned against for over a decade.
More critically, Zim-ASSET comes after a Government of National Unity that conversely turned out to be, a government of national disunity.
One party (ZANU PF) took, by ginya or jambanja, the land without which the economy of Zimbabwe could be repossessed by black Zimbabweans.
The other party – MDC(s) – ironically assigned responsibility for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery to those who have (since 1890) fought tooth and nail to exclude black Zimbabweans from the same economy.
And, this was notwithstanding that there is no historical precedence of slave masters who ever armed themselves ‘against themselves’ to liberate the slaves upon whom their own livelihood had been founded.
This is also notwithstanding that history is replete with slaves who hoped in vain that their racist masters would one day develop enough conscience to see real human beings in black people.
The same party argued that if black people took back their land as a means to take over an economy from which they were racially excluded, the economy – that already did not belong to them – would collapse.
Among the skeptics of land reform and now, Zim-ASSET, there was and still is no recognition that the guerrilla liberation war was itself not waged to strengthen the economy that sustained the Rhodesian war effort.
It was to weaken it in order to destroy the enemy’s capacity to fight. And, it is a pity that there is still no recognition (among the skeptics) that compulsory acquisition of land from racist settlers for equitable re-distribution to black people was not embarked on to strengthen an economy that exclusively belonged to white people and consequently served Western interests.
The essence of land reform was to create a new indigenous economy that would not serve white interests.
In that set-up, Zim-ASSET comes as a perfect sequel to black empowerment through e quitable land re-distribution.
Even the West’s illegal-sanctions-reaction to land reform in Zimbabwe was obvious and the intended result was to weaken the black Government’s capacity to sustain the black empowerment initiative and nip the intended black owned economy in the bud.
The US Congress did not enact the MDC authored Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act to guarantee the success of black economic empowerment but rather, the recovery of an exclusive white-owned economy.
And, what this means is that Zim-ASSET stands on slippery ground, unless interrogated from the correct and self-evident historical perspective of the armed liberation struggle; unless there is introspective realisation that we are our own liberators; unless there is complete and honest realisation that beautiful documents are not mantras that create their own results.
Zim-ASSET simply means that Black Zimbabweans must take full responsibility to liberate themselves.
It means that Black Zimbabweans must learn to think of the liberation struggle as a paradigm that makes independence incomplete if it is only political and not social, economic, cultural or otherwise.
The October 1975 Mgagao Declaration comes to mind, and perhaps now, more than any other time, is the time to invoke it.
Chairman Chitepo had been assassinated in March of that year.
In April, Comrade Robert Mugabe had crossed into Mozambique to provide ‘involved leadership’ to the armed liberation struggle.
In Zambia, the host government had imprisoned the ZANU leadership of the armed struggle on allegations that Chitepo’s assassination had been an internal tribal power struggle.
In Tanzania, a consignment of arms donated by China for the liberation struggle was being held by the host government while 60 ZANLA military instructors lay idle, waiting for the situation to change.
In newly independent Mozambique, thousands of recruits were awaiting training.
And interestingly, it was the same time David Coltart volunteered his services to the racist Rhodesian terrorist forces to maintain a colonial law and order that held black people down for exploitation by his white kith and kin. 
This is the background to the Mgagao Declaration, and its relevance to Zim-ASSET is that the mere sitting down to craft it by ZANLA was a definition of a willingness to take responsibility for their own liberation.
The following quotations define this stance:
“After a careful, deep and analytical study of the current situation in the Zimbabwe Liberation Movement in particular and the Zimbabwe revolution in general, we, as the people who have vowed to sacrifice our very lives for the liberation of our fatherland, wish to make our feelings and standpoint unequivocally clear ….
“We, the freedom fighters will do the fighting, and, nobody under heaven has the power to deny us the right to die for our country.
“We vowed to fight for our fatherland and the bloodshed in the struggle to liberate our fatherland is ours and strongly not anybody else’s.
But the most critical relevance of Mgagao to Zim-ASSET is born by the statement: “An Executive Member who has been outstanding is Robert Mugabe.
“He has demonstrated this by defying the rigours of guerrilla life in the jungles of Mozambique.
“Since we respect him most, in all our dealings with the ANC leadership, he is the only person who can act as a middle man.
“We will not accept any direct discussions with any of the three leading members of the ANC we have described above (Abel Muzorewa, Ndabaningi Sithole and James Chikerema).
“We can only talk through Robert Mugabe to them.
“If the OAU, the Tanzania and Mozambique governments cannot do anything to support the armed struggle in Zimbabwe, we shall kindly request to be deported back to Zimbabwe where we shall start from throwing stones.
“The fighting skill is already here, the weapons we shall get from the enemy, and food we shall get from our masses of the people who have always supported our armed struggle.
“We just cannot afford to stand and stare at the Smith regime and allied forces of reaction whittle away every ounce of the rights of the people of Zimbabwe.
“If we cannot live as free men, we rather choose to die as free men.”
SIGNED BY ZANLA OFFICERS AT MGAGAO (October 1975).
After the Mgagao Declaration, the liberation struggle was prosecuted to the victorious end and today, the lesson of it is that it is not the document that will make Zim-ASSET a success.  
It is the spirit at Mgagao; the preparedness that nothing under heaven could stop the fighters from dying for the fatherland.
The preparedness of particular leadership to endure the rigours of guerrilla life … to be one with the supporting masses through thick and thin.
Is today’s leadership prepared to relinquish outrageous privileges and descend to ‘civil servants’ status in order to make Zim-ASSET work?
For the abridged version of the Mgagao Declaration, see page 27.

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