ZNet commentator Patrick Bond and his colleague Simba Manyanya — a Zimbabwean currently employed in Johannesburg by a UN agency — provide information about the new, second edition of *Zimbabwe’s Plunge: Exhausted Nationalism, Neoliberalism and the Search for Social Justice*.
(1) Can you tell ZNet, please, about your new book,
We have been worried for quite some time about the way
To the extent that
What, in contrast, are we trying to communicate about
Second, we take this opportunity to warn Zimbabweans that the danger for restructuring the economy according to the published plans of the opposition Movement for Democractic Change is immense, in part given how much damage was done by the IMF and World Bank when they called the economic-policy shots during the early 1990s. Third, we suggest that the local progressive movements — trade unions, radical students, some of the NGOs and urban community groups — have already been putting together their thoughts: in the 1999 National Working People’s Convention, for example. Combined with anti-neoliberal campaigns emerging from various movements for global justice around the world, we do have hopes that comrades involved in local struggles for democracy and justice can weave their way through the minefield of contemporary
(2) Can you tell ZNet something about writing the book? Where does the content come from? What went into making the book what it is?
The most important point about this book is that it emerged from not only our two personal histories but also from a collective workshopping process.
Personally, one of us (Patrick) did a PhD on Zimbabwe under the supervision of the marxist geographer David Harvey (published in 1998 as *Uneven Zimbabwe: A Study of Finance, Development and Underdevelopment*, from Africa World Press); the other (Simba) was a former chief economist in the Zimbabwe Ministry of Finance during the 1990s and then moved to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to serve Morgan Tsvangirai as his deputy economist, prior to coming to Johannesburg to teach at Wits University. In fact we have run a masters/PhD course together — Public and Development Finance — where we looked at the
Then in 2000-02, we spent many sessions both here in
(3) What are your hopes for
Context is everything. For progressive ideas to stand a chance in Zimbabwe — after a period in which the Mugabe regime has really ruined the very word socialism, by equating it in people’s minds with crony capitalism, repression, corruption, ethnicism and incompetence — the movements of poor and working-class people have to be more self-confident about their own material interests. These interests cannot advance without a change in government, it seems to us.
The second, updated edition of our book was published this year because since the stolen election of March 2002 — which Patrick has reported on for ZNet — the progressive opposition has gone into quite a slump. The classic Zimbabwean emotion is called ‘despondency’. This terrain made it easy for Mugabe to clamp down further on protest, and also for South African president Mbeki to ignore the desires of the masses and instead promote various insider deals associated with the kind of smoke-filled-room politics which gave us such an unsatisfying transition to democracy here in
However, in recent weeks, it has seemed that things might turn around for the progressive forces, and the kind of critical analysis we’ve been promoting in the book is coming back in style. A successful two-day national stayaway of nearly all workers in March restored some confidence and the will to fight, notwithstanding Mugabe’s subsequent mass arrests and torture of several hundred democracy/justice activists. A book is a trivial luxury under these kind of circumstances, where our comrades’ very survival is at stake.
Nevertheless thanks to the Ford Foundation, believe it or not, the book is subsidised for sale in