WHILE it should not be our business to talk about the way other parties operate internally, it would be remiss to ignore certain events, especially those within main political parties in the inclusive government given that their actions affect people’s welfare and future of the nation.
This is particularly important with regards to Zanu PF as it has been in government for decades and still retains control of the levers of power through state security organs and other key institutions.
It is public knowledge that important national processes like the constitution-making exercise have suffered serious setbacks due to the internal power dynamics within Zanu PF as each of the rival factions battling to produce a successor to President Robert Mugabe continue to scramble to consolidate their positions. This inevitably has led to a situation where the Zanu PF factions have used national institutions and processes to fight each other. Using national institutions and processes for intra-party power struggles and internal conflicts is a danger not only to the party but also the nation.
In the process of succession tussles, which have spilled into the national and public domain, there has been a blatant disregard for national interests and the future of the country.
Government business has also been seriously affected by the infighting within Zanu PF to an extent where government programmes have been sabotaged or derailed by competing forces.
It is in the context of this background that the dissolution of the Zanu PF District Coordinating Committees (DCCs) becomes an important subject for public discourse. This debate on the disbanding of these structures is important in three different ways. First, it confirms the obvious: that Zanu PF is an undemocratic political party which will not accept the outcomes of any electoral process, including their own internal ones.
Indications from media reports and other sources show how the faction led by the party’s legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also Defence minister, had outmanoeuvred the group reportedly led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Second, it shows how fractured and fragmented Zanu PF now is and that it is unable to resolve internal contradictions and clashes using credible conflict-resolution mechanisms which produce satisfactory outcomes acceptable to the wrangling parties.
Last, the disbanding of the DCCs after internal elections apparently won by Mnangagwa paints a dismal picture about Zanu PF’s willingness to embrace democracy internally and nationally. Further, it rasies questions about the party’s ability to run its own elections, let alone national ones. Mnangagwa has over the years projected himself as a strong man with political muscle and sheer force of personality to do the impossible, but events in the past few years have eroded that myth, leaving him exposed and appearing weak and indecisive.
This is now breeding contempt for him in his camp as he is slowly being seen as a general betraying his troops or worse still, a bulldog without teeth. Simply put, Mnangagwa is proving he does not have strong leadership qualities, tenacity and character to be a national leader, besides a brutal disposition and reputation which is working against him.
The litany of his failed bids for ascendancy is now stuff of legend. Some are now writing him off, although he must be given the benefit of doubt.
However, the disbanding of the DCC polls, which insiders say his group had won, offers a stern test of his leadership qualities and resolve. Remember the incident when he was “awarded” an Honorary Doctorate by the Midlands State University (MSU) and was literally removed from the list the night before the graduation ceremony. So bad was the situation that the employees of the university spent the whole night “tippexing” his name from the booklet of graduands. In some instances the “tippexing” was so badly done that one could see his name below the white tippex ink.
Then there is the 2004 “Tsholotsho fiasco” when his foot soldiers staged a major upset by delivering about seven out of 10 party provinces in the battle for the vice-presidency and again he failed to grab power despite the overwhelming support. After that most of his lieutenants were heavily victimised and he did nothing to protect them.
Then now his people had done so much groundwork to ensure they control the lower structures that produce congress delegates and then the central committee and the politburo, but again his rivals outmanoeuvred him; dealing him a heavy blow by dissolving structures which he had seemingly taken control of.
If things continue moving this way and he does not show a new impetus, he might eventually lose his base and support, surrendering his bid for the presidency. His supporters are obviously frustrated with what has happened and also angry at him for showing lack of leadership.
However, the most important point here is not Mnangagwa’s dismal performance per se but that Mugabe’s succession battle, which is destabilising the party with far-reaching consequences, has become a national issue rather than internal. It is precisely for this reason that scrutiny of the events within Zanu PF, which is a coalition government partner, becomes a useful or necessary part of national debate.
There is overwhelming evidence that important national processes like the constitution-making exercise are now intertwined with Zanu PF’s internal power struggles, which means the issue now deserves public attention. Zanu PF’s insistence and bulldozing of the issue of two vice-presidents is both an internal matter and a national issue as it has implications on the structure of government and allocation of resources. But this also has something to do with succession as it locks the country into a self-centred structure which produces and protects a president from one region and deputies from elsewhere.
What has come out of the Zanu PF DCC fiasco is that the party is in turmoil and the debris of its explosion is scattered across the coalition government and the nation. It is thus important and urgent to ensure that government institutions insulate themselves against this. This is now critically urgent given that the party’s warring factions might sooner rather than later, engage in a suicidal scramble for power as Mugabe grows older and increasingly frail.
Mugabe’s fast-approaching end is likely to wreak havoc in Zanu PF and consume the whole country. So this volatile political situation needs to be watched closely, checked and carefully managed to prevent a chaotic transition.
l Moyo is the director of policy and research co-ordination in the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
— (See also Page 16)