ZANU PF is a party that is seeking to reinvent itself. Witness the copious notes they are producing by way of analysis and revisionist history of both the liberation struggle and post-Independence politics in the state-controlled media.
What is of particular importance is that since they suffered a heavy political defeat by way of the March 2008 harmonised election, they are beginning to believe their own lie that they are once again in political ascendancy. The truth of the matter is that they are a rather unpopular party that relied primarily on the unprecedented use of partisan state security agents to retain a semblance of power. That they are not nearly as legitimate as a democratically elected party should be therefore beyond doubt. What they have been attempting to bank on is an assumed monopoly of being the only revolutionary party in our country’s history, a claim which is contemptuous of the struggle for liberation.
In their attempts at reinvention, they are faced with a myriad of problems which include the issue of succession within their party, international pariah status and a still unpredictable Sadc mediator in the processes that concern the inclusive government.
Zanu PF seems to have developed a five-pronged strategy in its attempt at political survival. The first is to literally attempt to hold out as far as is possible in the inclusive government in order to prevent any national election being held before they can measure their popularity. Of course they claim that they are not afraid of elections as any political party would, but that is not necessarily a demonstration of honesty on their part. They remain in a politically precarious position to the extent that they know it is well nigh impossible for them to win any national electoral contest outright. Their patent fear is that they will never be able to muster a complete majority in any election in the short-term to avoid having to contend with another Global Political Agreement.
The second strategy that they have is to test the holding capacity of the two MDCs in the inclusive government. This strategy is aimed at using the state media and state security agents to accentuate any potential divisions in the two MDCs, ostensibly to weaken them internally and in the eyes of the electorate. This would explain why Zanu PF’s narrative is almost of unbridled joy when they hear of an incident at Harvest House or in MDC-M. This also includes their goading of the newly launched Zapu not necessarily to outmanoeuvre it, but to keep it in the political domain in order to divide the Matebeleland vote for the MDCs. It will also milk any mistakes by the MDCs either in the inclusive government or in the eyes of their political constituencies for what they are worth in order to position itself as an experienced party.
The third strategy aimed at retaining political survival by Zanu PF is the reforming and expansion of its patronage networks. Access to the state and to state resources will be key in this process. This includes the indigenisation processes which remain controversial in their implementation. It also includes continually ratcheting up the land question and attempting local government reform with traditional chiefs being given greater access and control over either agricultural inputs or the land itself. They have also been recruiting employment-starved young Zimbabweans into either the Zimbabwe Republic Police or other such state security agencies.
The fourth strategy they are employing is that of attempting to cast the MDCs as puppets of the West. Indeed this strategy has been consistently utilised in the vain belief that at some point it will gain popularity and diminish the support base of the MDC. They have taken this campaign to Sadc and the AU in a manner that is as dishonest as it is opportunistic. In the process they have tended to conveniently ignore the fact they in the past years that they were in complete power they were literally functioning in compliance with the dictates of Western powers. This is true of their adoption of economic structural adjustment programmes, their willing buyer willing seller land policy until desperate times in 2000 and also their continued membership of the Commonwealth which they left in a haste and not necessarily because they had no intention of not staying.
The fifth and final strategy is to continue with the narrative of threatening political violence on those that voluntarily voted for the MDC in 2008. This has been done through a divided Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association as well as through the discredited Constitutional Parliamentary Committee outreach programme. Rumours abound as to the role of the military and intelligence arms of state security in attempting to measure the effectiveness of their political campaign.
It is in these five strategies that Zanu PF is functioning on a wing and a prayer. Whether their political opponents in the MDCs realise this may be a matter for debate elsewhere. Suffice it to say, that for all their posturing, Zanu PF and its leaders are not, and at this rate, may never be in a comfortable position after March 2008. And not even with Sadc.
Zhangazha can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org
By Takura Zhangazha