By Denford Magora
NOTHING gets the attention of Zanu PF faster than a threat to its grip on power. Look at the way the party has got its knickers into a twist over the Third Force issue.
Because the MDC is now regarded like a soiled nappy even by its own supporters, the ruling party is mortified of a new viable alternative to its grip on Zimbabwe. President Mugabe and his people believe that they should be credited with the disembowelling of the MDC, therefore, they feel that, if they can identify the Third Force and its principals, then they will be able to use their old and tested tactics of nipping it in the bud.
Pointers to the panic that has gripped the party have been around for at least a month now. This paper published an article by former Information minister Jonathan Moyo and chose to use its publisher’s photo to illustrate the piece.
Nathaniel Manheru immediately saw this as a pointer to the fact that Zimbabwe Independent publisher Trevor Ncube and Moyo are in bed together and plotting the emergence of a Third Force.
Rightly, and to several people’s delight, this paper decided not to respond to this accusation. By neither confirming nor denying, the Independent sent the establishment into an even bigger frenzy.
Within days, the state broadcaster dug up the corpse of a party called Ziya (Zimbabwe Youth Alliance) and got its principals to say on national TV that “there are people” who are using money to buy their youths in order to take over the leadership of Ziya.
As we have come to expect from the alarming communication ineptitude within government these days, the story was dressed up as a “response” to reports circulating in the country. No such reports have ever circulated. This was an invention that the broadcaster had to come up with in order to justify doing the story.
All this was a crude attempt to get the real Third Force to emerge by responding to these “rumours” that are being dressed up as investigative reportage.
Zanu PF knows there is a new “enemy” in Zimbabwe, but the enemy is hidden and is proving unwilling to reveal itself so that it can be targeted.
The question that must be asked and answered is why Zanu PF is now spending so much time chasing this Third Force? Why, indeed, do they appear so desperate to know just what is afoot within the Third Force if they are so sure that the whole country is behind them and supports their policies?
The answer is simple enough.
Despite the bluster and celebratory parties all over the country, Zanu PF knows that its continued existence is purely by default. They know that they are not getting elected because people are happy with the direction the country is going. They know that everybody in Zimbabwe knows that sticking with a visionless and clueless Zanu PF will lead the country to doom.
It appears that the Zanu PF strategy is now to make sure that the people have no viable alternative on the political scene.
Having written off the MDC, the ruling party wants to ensure that there is no other credible alternative that can present itself to the people. If people are only allowed to choose between Zanu PF, Ziya, Zanu Ndonga and other also-rans, then, the ruling party believes, they will always be seen as the lesser of two evils.
More importantly, though, this panic reveals a tragic lack of imagination within Zanu PF.
History has proved that Zanu PF is incapable of fighting on two fronts. This was revealed the last time the party was faced with two fronts in the diplomatic war against Zimbabwe.
The first front was the purely diplomatic one, where the British and their allies worked to alienate President Mugabe and his government from the rest of the progressive forces in the world. Pressure was applied to virtually all countries in the world to cut ties with Mugabe and leave him to swing in the wind.
The second front was the assault on the economy of Zimbabwe itself. Of course, government ineptitude compounded the effects of the de-campaigning of Zimbabwe.
There were stories that said Zimbabwe was unsafe for tourists and they scared away potential foreign currency.
There were stories that President Mugabe wanted to spread the nationalisation of land to companies, so no companies were willing to either invest or to expand their existing investments in Zimbabwe. And then, of course, there was the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act in the USA. That was the battle on the economic front.
Faced with these two, it appears that Zanu PF was at first paralysed. Then, because of their inherent inability to fight on two fronts, they decided that they would fight the diplomatic battle first and leave the economy to swing in the wind.
Evidence of this strategy was provided by President Mugabe himself. During and immediately after the March election, the president told all and sundry that he had “defeated” Blair and Bush on the international stage.
“Those we have defeated,” he said after casting his ballot in Highfield.
He then announced that his government was now ready to turn to the economic battle with the appointment of a “development cabinet”. This was an admission that during his diplomatic war, when he was presenting speeches that were being cheered in South Africa and elsewhere, his government had put the addressing of economic decline to one side.
Now that he felt the diplomatic war was won, he wants to convince the nation that his party was now ready to tackle the economic battle.
This explains the utter uselessness of the ministers the president had before the elections, who shockingly folded their hands while the country was burning. People could not understand why Joseph Made, Ignatious Chombo, David Parirenyatwa and the fellow at Trade and Industry as well as the Ministry of Finance appeared paralysed as the economy spiralled out of control.
Now we know that they were waiting for the president to tell them when to act, yet it was part of their jobs. But, don’t be fooled Zimbabwe. Because Zanu PF cannot fight on two fronts, our problems are about to come back with a vengeance.
The UN report on Operation Murambatsvina is out. Blair has given notice that he intends to present it to the Security Council. This means that the diplomatic battle will be opened again.
What will probably happen is that ministers will again leave Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono alone to watch over the burning edifice of our economy while they trade insults and memos with the world.
We ain’t seen nothing yet. Oh, Third Force, wherefore art thou?
l Denford Magora is a Harare-based writer.