International Socialist Organisation (Zimbabwe)
|International Socialist Organisation (Zimbabwe)|
|Headquarters||Zimrights 90 4th Street, Harare|
|International affiliation||International Socialist Tendency|
The International Socialist Organisation (ISO) is a Trotskyist organisation in Zimbabwe. It is part of the International Socialist Tendency (IST) led by the British Socialist Workers Party. It produces a newspaper called Socialist Worker.
On the whole it is not safe for us to do street sales with our paper any more, though we can still hold public meetings if we are careful about security. The new press laws pushed through by Mugabe are going to make a lot of what we say very difficult to publish, because of course it is critical of the government.
However in 2011, members of the ISO, including its general coordinator, along with several other activists were arrested and tortured by the Zimbabwean police for hosting a meeting discussing the Arab Spring.
Relationship with the MDC
The ISO joined the MDC from its inception in 1999. This move was based upon the tactic of entryism. The ISO viewed the MDC as a united front, with the aim "Firstly to facilitate maximum unity between revolutionaries and reformists" and "Secondly ... as a platform to increase the influence of revolutionary politics and to build a revolutionary organisation". The union was described as "Kuchaya mapoto, husahwira hwe mubhawa", that is like the temporary marriages of migrant workers enter into in rural areas in the absences of their wives. Munyaradzi Gwisai, the general coordinator of the ISO, became an MDC member of parliament for Highfield constituency (where many politicians live). The relationship between the ISO and the MDC leadership was acrimonious, for example MDC leaders made a series of personal attacks on Gwisai following a publication of an ISO paper blaming the party's declining fortunes on "the highjacking of the party by the bourgeoisie" and failure to deal with the question of land reform.
The ISO was finally expelled from the MDC in April 2002. They stood for re-election in the Highfield constituency against the MDC but failed to get re-elected. The ISO blames the failure of the MDC to over throw President Robert Mugabe's regime on their lack of radicalism and their shift rightwards and the fact that this has allowed ZANU-PF to gain by left posturing.
Split in the ISO
At the end of 2009, the ISO split into two wings following the defeat of the Gwisai leadership by a section of the membership who rejected the relationship of the ISO with the MDC in earlier years. This defeat happened at a conference attended by members of the IST affiliates in South Africa and Botswana.
Following the conference a dispute broke out between Gwisai and the newly elected leadership that led to four members of the ISO being jailed. As a result of this the ISO split into two separate organizations. Despite appealing to the members and groups of the IST, the incoming leadership found itself isolated and left the IST. Although it has not appeared in public for several years and has not produced its paper for a similar period, the Gwisai-led section of the ISO remains affiliated to the IST.
Arrest and torture of members
On February 19, 2011, the Zimbabwean police raided a meeting of the ISO, who were discussing the revolts in the Middle East. They arrested 52 people, of which were students, union members and workers, all still currently detained. Gwisai is among those detained. The Central Intelligence Organisation is believed to have infiltrated the meeting. Police reportedly broke into the meeting, seized laptop computers, DVDs and a video projector, before arresting the attendees. The DVDs allegedly included video clips from BBC World News and Al Jazeera. Those arrested face charges of treason and "subverting a constitutionally elected government" and face a possible death sentence if found guilty. On February 23, Gwisai recounted in a court appearance, the torture he and other detainees underwent, which was administered by police. Detainees were lashed as authorities sought confessions. Gwisai said the torture was "indescribable, sadistic and a tragedy for Zimbabwe." As of March 1, none of the detainees had received any medical care, including detainees who are HIV-positive and one detainee who, shortly before, underwent brain surgery. The state prosecutor claims the meeting was an attempt to foment an uprising against Mugabe.
- Revolutionaries Resistance and Crisis in Zimbabwe, pamphlet by Munyaradzi Gwisai 2002, available from the IST
- International Socialist Tendency Discussion Bulletin No. 2, January 2003
- International Socialist Tendency Discussion Bulletin, No. 3, June 2003
- International Socialist Tendency Discussion Bulletin, No. 4, January 2004
- ISO - Zimbabwe website. (accessed 2008-06-26)
- Zimbabwe socialists tortured Socialist Worker (US). (accessed 2011-03-03)
- Urgent appeal for support after Zimbabwean socialists arrested Socialist Worker (UK). (accessed 2011-03-03)