The fight against kleptocracy is a fight against the privileged
Zimbabwe is a kleptocratic society. A kleptocratic regime is simply a thieving regime. Those in power or close to power use that power to embezzle the resources of the state. In a kleptocratic system such as the one in Zimbabwe, there is a direct link between societal status and closeness to the centre of power. Zimbabwe makes it hard to separate the privileged from the kleptocratic. The fight should not be against specific individuals per se, it should be a fight against the system in its entirety.
Kleptocracy was established in the sunset days of the colonial regime. It persisted through the ’90s and 2000s straight into the 2010s and now moves ahead with speed in the 2020s. The fight for a better system is a fight against the kleptocratic system. This fight manifests as a political fight because the centre of power is political.
There are numerous glaring examples where members of the kleptocratic circles are easy to identify. Persons like Phillip Chiyangwa, Wicknell Chivayo, Pokello, Mnangagwa’s sons, and Kudakwashe Tagwirei are easily fingered-pointed as those belonging to the kleptocratic circles. Then there are some members of the shitty system that are difficult to link back to the centre of power. Characters such as the late Genius Kadungure (Ginimbi) and Passion Java make it very difficult for the average person to establish the link.
What is even more difficult is the link between those members that benefit from the kleptocracy indirectly. Some are not even aware of the fact that the wealth they have generated is not due to their hard work but due to lines indirectly connecting them to a kleptocratic system that works for them but is dysfunctional for the rest of society. Think of a daughter/son of a Zanu PF long-time politburo member. This daughter/son might not be involved in politics at all. She or he might be well-educated and prosperous in running his or her own business in Zimbabwe. The effort in education is his or her own and the business is prospering due to his or her effort, so it appears. To what extent can we link the prosperity and social status of this person back to the kleptocratic system? Is he or she connected to the kleptocracy? Do we then claim that the system that set this person up for success will perpetually be influential because it was initially influential?
These questions don't really need to be answered. What needs to be realized is that the privilege that these persons enjoyed or still enjoy acts as a barrier for them to realize their own privilege.
Any successful revolutionary overthrow of the system relies on the political position that the middle class takes. A country with a rising and wealthy middle class enjoys political stability because there is upward mobility. A country with a stagnant, tiny, or non-existent middle class is a hotspot for trouble. What do we have in Zimbabwe? We have a tiny, almost non-existent middle class. In this class, you find a whole bunch of beneficiaries of the kleptocratic system. You find successful people who would not have been successful if a democratic and capitalistic free-market environment that offers opportunities to the majority existed in Zimbabwe.
Also in this tiny middle class, you find a bunch of people who have made it on their own. These people have fought against a very tough system to get to where they are. The odds stacked against them; they still make it. These are the true diamonds, they are only a few of them. The easiest way to separate the diamonds from the dirt is to pick them up. These people might not truly understand the struggle in its current form, but they have an awareness of some sort.
Now, the political struggle needs to be led by people who are:
- Not Privileged
- Understand the struggle
Persons who are privileged do not truly understand what needs to be done. They do not understand the struggle because they are privileged. Their privilege is the barrier that prevents them from seeing what needs to be seen. The Petite (Petty) bourgeoisie’s such as Fadzai Mahere can be energetic and all, but they do not truly understand the struggle. They enjoy being activists, but their understanding of the struggle is warped.
The struggle needs all hands on deck. The struggle needs everyone who can lend-a-hand to do so. But the struggle should not and must not be primarily led by the petty bourgeoisies.
Beyond the privilege, you have those that came through the wire and won. These fellas, even though they struggled to become part of the middle class, the mere presence of them being part of the middle class now prevents them from comprehending what needs to be done now, and prevents them from going all-in. They have something to lose if they go all-in. What they lose is that something that they struggled hard for.
The leadership of the MDC is full of this second type of person. Lawyers dominate the leadership of the struggle. Most of these lawyers came through the wire. The lawyers can at times be very delusional about what needs to be done because of their natural inclination to law and order. The first port of call of these fellas is always to cite the law, and go to court, even when the entire judicial system has been reduced to a hocus pocus clown show in kangaroo courts. They are different from the black African lawyers in the 50s and 60s who possessed a revolutionary mindset. Maybe things have changed, and lawyers ought not to be the leaders of the struggle anymore.
The fight against kleptocracy is a fight against privilege. Kleptocracy is based on establishing privilege for a tiny political elite. The fight is a fight against the following:
- The centre of power that creates and sustains the kleptocratic system
- The branches and lines that connect the centre to the outer circles
- The privileged ones in the periphery
- The privileged ones who are not part of the kleptocratic system
- The petty bourgeoisie
It is obvious that we have to fight against the first three. It's not obvious why we have to fight against the last two. The fight for a better Zimbabwe should be a fight against the elites. It is not so simple to point out who the elites are, but it is what it is.
The privileged ones fuck up the struggle. They do not believe in a revolutionary change. They do not want to hear about the word ‘revolution’. When they say they demand change, what they desire are piecemeal changes, not systemic changes. The petty bourgeoisie in the MDC needs to be rooted out. Every last one of them needs to be driven out of the political space. If this cleansing of the opposition politics cannot be done, then the MDC itself needs to be rooted out and eliminated from the political space. The struggle can then become a pure struggle led by the people for the people who want a better system.
The people, the majority, the generality of the populace, cannot successfully fight the struggle if the struggle is being led by petty bourgeoisies, the lawyer club, successful journalists, dealers, and schemers. The phenomenon that the struggle is led by these lot can be described as a leadership crisis. Zimbabwe is suffering from an acute leadership crisis. The people cannot generate from amongst themselves leaders whose interests are not inherently aligned to preserving elements of the current system in place.
It is actually very hard for commoners to organize themselves. They lack the basic education and resources to be organized. It is very hard for a grassroots movement to emerge from Zimbabwe. The social democratic party called the MDC is often misidentified as a grassroots movement because in 1999 it emerged from a convergence of trade unionists and students (two of the only organized bodies of people in that era). Students are no longer as organized as they were in the 90s and trade unions are no longer functional after a period of rapid de-industrialization. The commoner, the average person is now the farmer and the unemployed ghetto youth. These grassroots bodies are very difficult to organize. It is out of these broad constituencies that a struggle against the current system must emerge, not from the fancy lawyers and journalists who find it very difficult to totally reject the system that they say they are fundamentally opposed to.
Meaningful success for the struggle will come about when the people have realized that the interests of the majority of current leaders of the struggle are not wholly aligned to their own interests. The people must realize that the struggle is dominated by petty bourgeoisies, the privileged, and successful people, whose success has driven them far from reality.
The fight for a better Zimbabwe is first and foremost a fight against the privileged. That is the true nature and character of the fight.
The onion must be peeled to see all the layers for what they are.