ZANU PF’s extraordinary congress, which endorsed President Robert Mugabe as the ruling party’s presidential candidate in next year’s e
lections, was a predetermined event held to simply rubberstamp his political ambitions.
From the outset, party chairman John Nkomo who presided over the proceedings declared that he would not entertain any other issues outside the agenda, confirming fears that the whole event was stage-managed to go Mugabe’s way. The declaration whipped any elements that could have wanted to spring surprises into line, making them follow the proceedings without question.
To confirm that the event had a foregone conclusion, all provincial representatives brought and read prepared speeches which had basically the same wording and content.
The women’s league gave the game away when the lady chosen to read the national women’s assembly resolution failed to follow the lines. The woman stammered and repeated the same lines showing that she had no input in the crafting of the statement.
By merely walking into the City Sports Centre, one could easily tell that the delegates had been coached into praising Mugabe with song and poetry. Songs with themes such as “Mugabe is a gift from God, let him rule” and “We will all vote for him and make him win forever” engulfed the arena. All placards had Orwellian inscriptions praising Mugabe such as “Mugabe is right. Long live Cde RG Mugabe, VaMugabe chete chete, Umugabe kuphela,” clearly showing that the congress was geared at forwarding a Mugabe agenda.
Mugabe’s arrival at the congress venue summed it all up as he was greeted with wild ululation and praise as he walked around greeting the delegates from the 10 provinces. Party national commissar Elliot Manyika led the delegates in praising Mugabe, calling him by his totem, Gushungo.
Youths and women toyi-toyed to show their allegiance.
The proceedings of the congress were punctuated by songs and slogans from senior party officials who took to the podium to praise the visibly tired Mugabe. But on a lighter note Vice-President Joseph Msika had to ask the delegates to stop chatting among themselves because it was distracting him from his speech. He wasn’t used to it, he said.
During Emmerson Mnangagwa’s report, Elliot Manyika had to intervene to ask delegates to stop making a racket. It was a very important matter, he declared, as Mnangagwa was explaining details of the 18th constitutional amendment. He singled out Mashonaland Central for misbehaviour.