Home » Governance » Zanu-PF 2014 Congress – Shape Up or Ship Out! [opinion]

THE elective congress beacons and its “curtain-raisers” have been nothing short of jaw dropping, intricate, a tad-bit exciting, perhaps comparable to the hit American series “House of Cards”. And yet I remain hopeful and even confident that the pre-congress theatrics will shape a more vibrant, progressive and politically ger Zanu-PF.

In concrete terms, the party should not just hope for it, but should collectively work for it instead. Many concerned party cadres and indeed onlookers would like to see a more forthright national leadership that is not just serving itself, but one that is representative of the aspirations of its people.

So let us have the positive congress resolutions by the truckloads, if we must provided we are fully aware that resolutions by themselves accomplish nothing.

This is the time for the party to think strategically at all levels and make politics real and convincing. It is not about the “endangered” politicians or their supporters, no! It is about knowing how to manage the political space and establish fairly predictable rules of engagement.

The elective congress is not just about personal fights of a few for political survival, but that of a party that must not allow itself to develop short memory over their contributions to the misfortunes of the party, or ignore the effect “dropping” those who are no longer suitable for national leadership will have on party loyalty and public perception of the party as maturing and progressing.

Such “going along to get along” mantra is not a “balanced” approach, nor a “sophisticated” one it is, quite simply, weak and wrong.

I write as a very young Zanu-PF enthusiast and I am entitled to for it is the people of my generation who will bear the brunt of the change from the trials of the past into calmer channels.

While I agree that what claims absolute fealty is not the leader, but the party.

And the party has an identity above and beyond the individuals who make it up — a momentum of its own, which can continue to reproduce itself, despite the divergent trajectories of a few individuals, I also contend that we cannot afford to abandon the traditional loyalty to the First Secretary and President of the party and indulge in political promiscuity, flirting with nefarious aspirants to the top post, when the incumbent still has a term to complete and with it the mandate to superintend party programmes as enunciated in the election manifesto.

It was not so long ago, that the party was hanging on the words of this one man and looking to him to lead.

In those dark days he made no rash promises, except of, sweat and toil. Yet no one doubted that he would lead us to victory. At that time the party was not divided in its determination to win the elections. Who is better able to lead than the man who kept the party firm in the dark days?

People vote for one of two reasons. First for the policy of the party and secondly for the merit of the candidate. They would ask: “Will he give good support for the policy of his party, and will he keep reminding the party of their policy. Will he be of help to his party and give them his aice, prodding them if they are not going fast enough and curbing them if they are overstepping the line.” Loyalty is supposed to be an unwavering commitment, rather than a pragmatic alliance.

The current situation calls for great and visionary leadership to help steer the party forward and to navigate the somewhat turbulent waters of internal politics. In President Mugabe, the First Secretary, the party has a leader who is sure of his and the party’s purpose who is prepared to take clear and difficult decisions in the interests of the people of this party and country who will take action without the weakening effects of continuous compromise a Commander-in-Chief who is going to dominate events and not be pushed around by them above all, a leader who will stand up for its interests abroad and at home.

The task given to the party just last year under his stewardship, after fiercely leading it to a resounding electoral victory is perhaps one of the most challenging any post-colonial party in government in this country has faced. What kind of a country did we want to be, not just tomorrow but a generation from now, two generations from now?

No question demands a clearer answer.

No question should command a higher priority from any government. We believe that the party under his guidance is finding that answer.

The people of this country have a right to expect their elected government to do so, but equally that government has the right to ask the people to help in putting that answer into practice. In him the party has a unique individual with the vision to look ahead, the intuition to point a path and the courage to lead the way.

But the people must care enough about their party and country to play their own part, to share in those tasks, to realise that a party — this party — stands for nothing unless every one of them individually stands for something in which they firmly believe – to work and to care, to prosper and to share, and to do it all as one party. That has always been the goal and it should always be the goal.

Away from the pageantry and pomp that usually accompanies a congress of such magnitude, such gravitas and much importance, the leaders of provinces, branches, districts and cells should embrace religiously their commitment to the party and its President. If a leader has identified Zanu-PF as their party then they have an obligation to set two feet in the party. That is the trademark of loyalty.

A political leader who has one foot in the party and another foot somewhere else, connotes uncertainty of personality. In their desire to win, they want to ride on two horses. They will end up dead. The two horses will split their body into two parts.

That political leader is not only a political butterfly but also venomous snake. The electorate should be on the watch for such political machinations. Politicians who do not have concern for their constituents will always resort to use their influential positions to solidify and perpetuate the power of their political machine through dubious means.

Machine politicians make free use of the spoils system and patronage politics. All have a responsibility to ensure that everyone in the boat is rowing and not drilling holes when the captain has his eyes elsewhere.

And so the coup that wasn’t had a deacutenouement as predictable as an MDC split. Less revolt than a shiver, it was always going to end in a rallying. As someone who is immersed in the politics and fortunes of the party, it’s not easy to respond to shivers of rebellion. I can’t pretend I think everything is rosy.

Yet nor do I think regicide equals recovery. The unity of the party over the last decades wasn’t accidental, it is a crucial part of the leaders appeal, of his political project, of what his offer to the party was and is — a love for what pan-Africanism represents, a passion for the “radical values”, an interest in the traditional mission of social democracy and in binding the party together, rather than tearing it apart. The party’s special strength is its stamina, in going on with what needs doing until it is done, in running a race as long as that race has to be run. It never knows when it is beaten and that way it is never beaten.

It knows no other way than to win. This new world needs wisdom, judgment and above all stamina. These qualities have always been the party’s they have been needed many times in the past.

I doubt if Zanu-PF has ever needed them more than it needs them today. They are qualities that can be given but cannot be bought and no party has more of them to give than this one.

Itai M.P. Choto is the ZANU-PF UK spokesperson.

Source : The Herald