THE Zanu PF Youth League conference today, followed by the women’s conference next weekend ahead of the main party congress in December, has highlighted the extent and depth of factionalism in the party which is now divided into two groups led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Justice minister Emmerson Mnangagwa locked in a protracted power struggle.
Candid Comment with Faith Zaba
It is now difficult to discuss and analyse Zanu PF politics without factoring in factionalism which is largely along regional and personality lines.
Zanu PF divisions and infighting are affecting the stability and institutionalisation of the party and its systems. It has also apparently impacted negatively on its efficiency and legitimacy internally and outside.
Much of the wrangling in Zanu PF, paralysing both government and the party, is fuelled by regionalism which has tribal undertones, personal ambitions and lack of transparency in internal processes, particularly party elections.
As a result, like in the ANC in South Africa, elections in Zanu PF are now decided on slates — lists of candidates drawn up by rival factions.
Even the First Lady, Grace Mugabe’s entrance into Zanu PF politics after the Women’s League proposed that she be appointed their boss by her husband in December, is seen as a factional calculation by those aligned to Mnangagwa.
It will also present problems because Grace is not eligible in terms of the new rules that one must have served the party in structures for 15 consecutive years. So this means she can only come in through patronage, which might imply a factional or self-serving slate, or violation of the new rules.
The number two elected positions in both the Youths and Women’s Leagues will be won on factional lines.
The winners of the positions of the deputy secretaries for youth affairs and women’s affairs will belong to either the Mujuru or Mnangagwa factions. Elections in the youth and women structures are for positions other than the heads who are appointed by Mugabe on a patronage ticket.
Current Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri is likely to be replaced by Grace Mugabe after she actively campaigned for the First Lady apparently in exchange for a higher post in the party.
Zanu PF, instead of trying to fulfil its election promises, which include resuscitating the economy and creating two million jobs over the next five years, is engaged in factionalism.
The problem, in fact, goes all the way to the top and is imbedded in organisational culture and history. Even its top leadership — the presidium — is not strictly speaking elected through a democratic franchise – one man one vote — but by arrangements via nominations which are then endorsed by acclamation.
The party needs to reform and to democratise its internal processes to curb factionalism and ongoing self-destruction.