By Rashweat Mukundu
IN the last two weeks of December, readers of the Zimbabwe Independent were subjected to two lead stories by the weekly, focused on the political vicissitudes and likely fate of Vice President Joice Mujuru.
In the mind of an average reader of the newspaper like myself, the two stories by Dumisani Muleya somewhat said the Mujuru “falling political star” is or was the main story to emerge from the sleepy Zanu PF conference held in Mutare.
Muleya’s sources say Mujuru has dented her political career by plotting a revolt against President Robert Mugabe and clandestinely working with Mugabe’s political rivals, the MDC, in the person of Finance minister Tendai Biti.
This, we are told, resulted in a massive backlash from Mugabe and Mujuru’s opponents in the party, who see her seeming ambition to succeed Mugabe as getting out of hand. On the other hand listening to Mugabe’s speech at the conference and his subsequent interview with ZBC’s Reuben Barwe, one gets a feeling that the real story of Zanu PF is not Mujuru, but Mugabe himself and his loss of a moral mandate to lead his party, his loss of capacity to bring unity and his determination to destroy Zanu PF and the country by calling for another self-serving election.
In the same scheme of things one wonders who is leading the Mujuru onslaught and how are these people, these sources Muleya talks of, linked to Mugabe’s determination to hold onto power and how are the same elements linked to schemes to hold this country in bondage and possibly disrupt a soft political landing for the Zimbabwe crisis in the post- Mugabe era.
I argue that Mugabe was the big story to emerge from the conference in his failure to articulate anything new, his obvious tiredness and refusal to move away from the past and chart a new course for Zimbabwe.
Mugabe demonstrated his failure to garner a moral mandate to lead the party by threatening those within Zanu PF who oppose him on elections to stay at home. Zanu PF’s spokesperson Rugare Gumbo had told the Independent last month that no one is prepared to challenge Mugabe. In this, one can also interpret that he is also not prepared to challenge Mugabe. These revelations exposed the internal workings and the pathetic state of Zanu PF’s democracy, if any, and the transition into a “monarchy”.
President Mugabe confirmed Gumbo’s words by telling-off those opposed to elections in his party to go to hell. In this instance Mugabe demonstrated that he is leading a party that is no longer comfortable, but in fear of him. And that he no longer has a persuasive vision to bring the party together. This to me is the biggest story from the Zanu PF conference and the Mujuru falling star story is an attempt at political diversion by the isolated clique surrounding Mugabe, who want to see him go on for personal benefit.
This same grouping that probably includes elements in the security forces and the likes of the fired and returned politburo member Jonathan Moyo, are not prepared for rapprochement amongst progressives in both Zanu PF and the MDC parties, who might in fact have a vision far beyond Mugabe, and also who do not see violence as the ultimate political arbiter — who in fact want to see Zimbabwe emerge from a post-Mugabe era united and able to address its key challenges in the political and economic arena.
The strategy of this grouping is not only to support Mugabe as part of a succession scheme but also maintain the Zimbabwe populace in fear and awe of political violence that can be unleashed by the security agents, many of them Zanu PF commissars in uniform and some from the Tshololotsho grouping.
While the progressives in Zanu PF see a political resolution to the Zimbabwe crisis away from the barracks, Red Bricks (CIO HQ) and Police General Headquarters (PGHQ), those opposed to them in the party have no other strategy than to abuse security forces to their own ends. Could it be these elements that are pushing for action on Mujuru as part of their strategy to muddy the political scene and achieve their ends?
It is inconceivable that Mujuru would be so tactless as to bring placards denouncing Mugabe to the Mutare conference with the intention of hijacking the conference and chase Mugabe off. It is equally inconceivable that Mujuru would be so tactless as to conspire with the MDCs so openly without noting the consequences of such actions in a Zimbabwe teeming with CIOs, some who even pretend to be street kids, kombi drivers and vendors.
In any case what Zimbabwe needs now are political leaders who are principled enough to reach out to their political rivals in the process of mending our decade-long crisis. We cannot continue with the scorched earth and zero sum games of the likes of Mugabe and the few and isolated surrounding him. The attacks of Mujuru should therefore be seen in the light of Zanu PF’s succession politics, the question being who, by name, is behind the attacks.
As Muleya wrote in a Candid Comment in the Independent last month, Zanu PF’s failure to address Mugabe’s succession is a major risk not only to the party but to the country as well. The risk in this is not Mugabe in person, but the plans by the elements surrounding him. And the same elements attacking Mujuru.
Progressives in Zanu PF and Zimbabweans at large must not allow them to prevail. They bear a deeply foreboding message for all us in their lack of respect for life, democracy, decency and the desire of all to see Zimbabwe rise again. They only think of themselves.
lRashweat Mukundu is a Zimbabwe journalist and human rights activist.