Home » Governance » Zanu-PF Needs Mediator!

THE unfolding events in the ZANU-PF succession race have compelled me to continue focusing on this fascinating development. The party’s secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, is quoted by the media as having indicated that some in the party had wished for his death when he was taken ill in the last couple of weeks. Mutasa, who had to seek medical attention in India revealed that there are some in the party who were eagerly anticipating his passing on.

Although his connotation did not directly imply some connection of those kind of wishes to the succession race, his follow-on outburst in defending Vice-President Joice Mujuru as the rightful successor to President Robert Mugabe creates the assumption. One is left wondering if the succession tussles in the party has now gotten to the debauchery act of wishing others dead then it has reached intolerable levels.

It has scaled atrocious levels where desperation is leading to both unacceptable and life-disregarding levels. Whereas at one point some felt that the public outbursts on the succession tussle were at some stage going to be contained by the party leadership, this does not seem so. The succession race has become a runaway issue that even President Mugabe will find difficult to contain and re-consummate the homogeneity and conformist approach that ZANU-PF has known to exhibit in the recent past: Since after independence ZANU-PF has always expressed a great appetite for collective responsibility in both the wrongful and acceptable acts.

The party has never had as much willingness as it has now to try and expose the bad apples from the good ones. In the past, the party has in a typical camaraderie fashion committed to either be a basket with all the bad apples or with all the good.

The current Cabinet, although made up entirely of ZANU-PF members, resembles another form of a Government of National Unity (GNU). The divisions in Cabinet and government resemble an ensemble of dichotomous political shades. Even from the outside one can tell apart the ZANU-PF ministers and easily encamp them into the factions, which they rightfully belong to.

Like I have mentioned before, even State institutions have also become centre stage to the ZANU-PF divisions. This has affected the coherence of policy as well as strategic direction for the country’s economic and political recovery. The divisions in Cabinet and government are actually much worse than we had during the time of the GNU, when the MDCs shared the governance podium with the revolutionary party.

My greatest fear is that the country is breeding a crisis that will be difficult to both avert and to eventually address. A good friend of mine said, “zvatiri kurera izvi zvichaita kuti pfuti dzirire zvakare” (the tension we are breeding in the succession race will eventually lead to gun shots being fired). I don’t claim to be an alarmist and don’t always want to assume the worst, but when my friend pointed towards this sort of possibility, I couldn’t help it but felt a chill down my spine. What makes this scary is the precedence of history.

In 1977 after the Mgagao Declaration had called for intensification of the liberation struggle through a suggestive move to replace Ndabaningi Sithole with Mugabe as leader of ZANU, a succession revolt emerged in the party. Factional lines emerged in response to the succession race that took shape. Leading members of the Zimbabwe People’s Army (ZIPA) opposed the emergence of Mugabe, leading to the near chaos of ZANU’s representation at the Geneva Conference.

ZIPA members’ opposition to Mugabe’s emergence led to them being accused of attempting to stage a coup d’etat and their eventual arrest and three-year custody by Mozambique’s FRELIMO. Their detention lasted until the time of the country’s independence in 1980. Before Mugabe’s emergence as leader of ZANU, Herbert Chitepo, who had led the party during the time of Ndabaningi Sithole’s detention, was assassinated. His assassination has been a subject of speculation, with others indicating it was an inside job while others blame the then Rhodesian regime.

Whichever way it’s taken, what is, however, clear is, ZANU leadership transitions have never been smooth and neither have they been by a unanimous and uncontested decision. It is difficult to imagine if the transition from President Mugabe leadership is going to be any different. Given what has been brewing and how we are witnessing the open fights, this Mugabe transition brings about a tinge of reflection on how other transitions have transpired in the party’s past fiercely contested and embroiled in potentially fatal outcomes.

Will ZANU-PF be able to reflect on this historical perspective and be able to act to avoid the regrettable? Is ZANU-PF considering the dire worst that can come from this succession race should the open battles continue to rage? Does Mutasa’s mention of a death-wish upon his life incense a sense of how the succession race has deteriorate to an extent of seeking or at least wishing for the demise of others’ lives? If so what are the restraints, if any? If none, then to what trail is the party breeding this fatal pathway?

ZANU-PF cannot on its own resolve what it has intentionally created within its ranks. It’s going to be difficult to find self-restraint in the party’s slide down in the succession race. If the party is at all interested in restoring some semblance of self-respect and restraint in how the succession race has eroded its fabric, then an outsider is needed to do that. Just like we had an outsider coming in to settle the blazing conflict that had emerged between ZANU-PF and the MDCs in the post 2008 elections, ZANU-PF needs a similar intervention.

Just like we had to have an external mediator for the restoration of political order after the 2008 elections, ZANU-PF needs a mediator to resolve the current succession tussle. If the party goes ahead to its elective congress with the kind of tension we are witnessing, then there is bound to be a disputed outcome of its own leadership election.

The ZANU-PF succession race is therefore a microcosm of the political conflicts we have seen in the country in the past. The party is operating a single party government on the same lines as we had the GNU. The party requires an external mediator to tone down the succession tension currently being witnessed. The party will likely have a disputed leadership election at its congress, come December 2014. Seriously, ZANU-PF needs a mediator.

Source : Financial Gazette