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7 Zimbabwe and the Crisis of Chimurenga Nationalism A country that has become a pariah state needs to be talked about so that its situation is understood objectively and dispassionately. Yash Tandon (2008: 47) It is hard to think of a figure more reviled in the West than Robert Mugabe. Liberal and conservative commentators portray him as a brutal dictator, and blame him for Zimbabwe’s descent into hyperinflation and poverty. The seizure of whiteowned farms by his black supporters has been depicted as a form of thuggery, and as a cause of the country’s declining production, as if these lands were doomed by black ownership. Sanctions have been imposed, and opposition funded with the explicit aim to unseating him. Mahmood Mamdani (2008: 17) Introduction The term Chimurenga occupies a central place in the nationalist-oriented constructions of the Zimbabwe nation-state that came into being in 1980. It began to be widely used in the 1970s by the nationalists mainly in the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and its fighting wing known as the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) as a vernacular name for the armed liberation struggle against the settler colonial state. It is also used today by ZANU as an ideological thread capturing the undying spirit of African resistance to colonialism, running from primary resistance of the 1890s to the present attempts by the Harare nationalists to take the liberation and decolonization Coloniality of Power in Postcolonial Africa: Myths of Decolonization 180 project to its logical conclusion of achieving economic empowerment of the black people through land redistribution and other initiatives aimed at indigenizing the economy. Of course, what has been hailed by ZANU-PF as the Third Chimurenga’ has raised many debates, with some seeing it as controversy-ridden and African elite-dominated primitive accumulation drive under the cover of black economic empowerment, and others celebrating it as a genuine economic redistributive process that has seen land ownership imbalances and unequal access originating from settler colonialism being resolved (David Moore 2004; Raftopoulos and Phimister 2004; Moyo and Yeros 2007a, 2007b). The current debates over the character of the Zimbabwe state, its ideological orientation and intentions makes the case study of Zimbabwe ideal to be interrogated in this book. Thus before one provides a detailed interrogation of the idea of Zimbabwe and the concomitant politics that has developed around it, including issues of identity, nation-building, violence and party politics, there is need to analyse the main contours of the intellectual debates that have been sparked off by the land reform programme and the crisis that has befallen the state since 2000. At one level, Zimbabwe provides a window into the operations of a schizophrenic neocolonial state whose politics exhibited a complex mixture of redemptive, grotesque and virulent nationalism mediated by a consistent anti-imperial and anti-colonialist rhetoric (Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Muzondidya 2011). At another level, it reveals the machinations of colonial matrix of power, the costs to be incurred by a small peripheral state if it tried to chart an autonomous path of development and defy commandments from the West, as well as the controversies that arise as an African state tries to resolve its intractable national question. Is Zimbabwe a victim of new imperialism? The case study of Zimbabwe manifests all the problems identified in the previous chapters related to the predicament of postcolonial states as they try to resolve the national question within a world governed by the invisible colonial matrix of power sustaining the racialized, hegemonic, patriarchal, capitalist and violent global order. While the Zimbabwean leadership has committed many blunders as it tried to survive in a world that does not accommodate African states that try to defy the neoliberal commandments, the experiences of Zimbabwe since 2000 indicates beyond doubt the ability of the Western nations’ commitment to discipline and work towards dethroning those leaders that are considered to be deviating from the post-Cold War global normative framework of maintaining the status quo of neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus. As noted by Sam Moyo and Yeros (2007, 2009) hell was let loose 181 on Zimbabwe the very time the government conceded to popular pressure from below and engaged in radical resolution of the national and agrarian questions that had been spoiled by settler colonialism. Two broad, dominant and discernible schools of thought on the Zimbabwe question a reveal two ponts of enunciation of the Zimbabwe problem. The first one is the liberal reformist perspective informed by ideas of democracy...


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