Candid Comment: Mugabe determined to sink with Zanu PF

THE much-awaited appointment of a new Zanu PF politburo has come and gone  — full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

It was another squandered opportunity, following the recent uneventful congress, for renewal and change by a party struggling for survival in the increasingly shifting political sands.

The politburo appointments announced last week proved to be nothing more than old wine in new bottles.

Instead of taking the chance to inject new blood into his sclerotic party, President Robert Mugabe further sapped the floundering organisation via the controversial selections.

His hidebound appointments retained the old guard wholesale, while clinging like a leech to the past.

As a result the reform-minded and modernising wing of the party was left seething. Mugabe’s appointments confirmed Zanu PF’s status as a political museum frozen in times gone by.

It is difficult to see how eventually Zanu PF would avoid the fate of Unip in Zambia, MCP in Malawi and Kanu in Kenya.

The party has failed to learn anything from Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania. South Africa and Botswana also offer useful examples for Zanu PF albeit in a different way.

This view is now widely held in Zanu PF, mainly by the disgruntled Young Turks, including Jonathan Moyo who voiced his withering criticism on the issue earlier this week, and enlightened members of the party.

Party members and analysts also strongly share this view. They believe Mugabe will go down with Zanu PF.

At a time when Mugabe needed to pluck up enough courage to bite the bullet of change and bring in cutting edge and enterprising cadres to steer the sinking ship through the turbulent political waters, and reinvent the party in the process, the veteran leader stuck with his diehards who actually presided over the Zanu PF’s defeat by the MDC in 2008.

Assisted by his clueless subordinates in the presidium, Mugabe threw more aging and tired faces into the fray.

He made no attempt whatsoever to address the party’s simmering succession crisis and signal a new political direction to ensure renewal and survival. Mugabe made no effort even to protect what remains of his chequered legacy.

Although there is so much talk about possible elections, more realistically in 2013, Mugabe and his subordinates failed to assemble a new efficient electoral machinery to prepare the party for the polls without banking on violence and brutality.

Ultimately Mugabe only succeeded in fast-tracking Zanu PF towards disintegration and collapse, a fate that looks increasingly inevitable with each passing major event.

Instead of renewing the party to capture the imagination of the dynamic youths who are in the majority and their votes and also show the world he is changing his ways, Mugabe dug in and refused to adapt to the changed and changing times.

This gritty resistance to change was clearly reflected in the rationale and strategy behind the appointments.

Like most unpopular leaders who have overstayed their welcome in power and live in persistent fear of removal, Mugabe chose to surround himself with deadwood and set the party down a blind alley.

At the expense of youth and talent, old horses like Rugare Gumbo and Cain Mathema were retrieved from the woods and charged with the responsibility of revamping a dysfunctional department of information and publicity as secretary and deputy secretary respectively.

They would have to ensure the overhaul and modernisation of their party’s information infrastructure and system, as well as its communication approach, to keep in touch in this Age of the Internet.

They will also have to deal with complex cyberspace challenges facing the party.

Of course, this would be difficult for them. Not least because their critical skills for the job are history and factional loyalties.

A cursory check of the politburo line-up reveals compelling anecdotes.

 

The politburo members were mainly selected more for factional allegiances and blind loyalties to the Dear Leader than their abilities.

When former African liberation movements took power elsewhere, their governments were often driven by militaristic mindsets, categorising people as winners and losers and operating along the lines of command and obedience.

Such trends are evident in Zanu PF. Democratic discourse in search of the common good is frowned upon and detested.

The winners’ and losers’ paradigm in this case is particularly evident in the key appointments to the department of commissariat of Webster Shamu and Ephraim Masawi, who are members of the Mujuru faction.

While most members of the Mujuru faction were retained and promoted to the feeding trough, those in the Emmerson Mnangagwa camp were either frozen out or left parked in insignificant positions. Newly elected vice-president John Nkomo also got his own cronies into the politburo.

In the end, the politburo was largely stuffed with Mugabe, Mujuru, Mnangagwa and Nkomo adherents, among other hangers-on. Although elites and their cliques gained, the party was the main loser and could be the last casualty.

 

Dumisani Muleya

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