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What the Zanu PF congress means for us all

THE article by Trevor Ncube titled “Opportunities out of Zim crisis” published in your newspaper (Zimbabwe Independent (October 5-11) makes interesting reading. I sincerely hope that articles like that will help to stimulate debate on Zanu PF’s su

ccession issue because whatever happens at their congress in December could ultimately have a positive or negative effect on the future of our country.

Negative effect in the sense that if the congress elects the wrong person as the party’s flag bearer in next year’s harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local government elections, the status quo in terms of the country’s dire economic situation and relations with the outside world is likely to remain the same.

A positive effect is only possible if the party elects someone who can help to restore Zimbabwe’s battered image and bring back investor confidence. Ideally, this person should be untainted and without blemish. That person should also have a cross-cutting appeal in and outside the party and most importantly should be able to command the respect of the armed forces.

Admittedly, the inter-party rivalry within the ruling party which pits the Mnangagwa and Mujuru factions against each other presents a real threat to the stability of the party. With such a scenario beckoning, the emergence of a compromise candidate becomes a real possibility.

The question is who will that person be? Names like Simba Makoni, and rightly so, have been suggested as dark horses in the succession race. The fact that he has a cross- cutting appeal puts him in good stead to be considered for the top post.

My own view, which is contestable, is that Sydney Sekeramayi is the real dark horse and could emerge as the compromise candidate.

What sets him apart from the rest of the crowd is the fact that he has remained one of President Mugabe’s trusted lieutenants since Independence.

He is one of the few remaining ministers that has served the government continuously in various capacities since 1980. Among the ministries he has headed are Health, State Security and Defence and one can safely assume that he commands the respect of the armed forces and that the generals would have no problem in saluting him.

His only blemish is that Zimbabwe got involved in the DRC when he was the Minister of Defence. He also does not come across as being controversial and maybe to his credit he has not been linked,at least publicly, with any of the competing factions in the ruling party.

Ncube’s article also addresses the issue of the ineptitude of the MDC as an opposition outfit and how it cannot be trusted to form a government because of its alleged links with Western imperialist forces.

In any event, when an opposition party fails to dislodge the ruling party at the first attempt the chances of ever doing so tend to diminish with each passing year.

In this regard, the MDC should try to reinvent itself, perhaps, by assuming a new identity which will create excitement amongst the people. The idea is to have a party that does not have the stigma of always being associated with Western governments.

Which brings me to the point that an effective opposition party will, in more cases than not, always emerge from the ranks of the ruling party.

In Zambia, for instance, the MMD emerged from the labour union which had close links with the UNIP government. Taking advantage of the euphoria they had created, the MMD contested in Zambia’s first multi-party elections and defeated UNIP at the first attempt.

In Malawi, the UDF was formed by individuals who were at one time or the other members of the MCP. The UDF contested in Malawi’s first multi-party elections and managed to defeat the MCP at the first attempt.

Coming back home, nothing much can be said about the current crop of leaders in Zanu PF. They cannot stand up and challenge President Mugabe on any issue.

Their very existence depends on the president’s kindness, this is why he continues to rest in the comfort that he is not dealing with amadoda sibili (real men). This gives him the carte blanche to do as he pleases.

N Mawema,

Mandara, Harare.

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