ANIMAL Farm, by George Orwell, is a powerful 20th century political fable which highlights the tragedy of a revolution gone wrong, but its plot is constructed in an intrinsically witty manner. The animal utopia around which the story has been invented, is preceded by a violent revolution carried out by animals on a farm.
At the time of publication in 1945, the novel was an analogy of the Russian revolution, but in recent times, it has been compared to governments that have taken over from colonial powers only for the ruling elite to become even worse than their erstwhile colonial oppressors.
The book outlines a shift to totalitarianism in which the ruler has absolute power, and the effect this has on a population. It leads to a state where people start thinking as a group which subordinates individual judgment.
The book is a satire on equality, where all farm animals dream of living free from their human master’s tyranny.
Inspired to rebel by Major, an old boar, animals on Mr Jones’ Manor Farm embrace animalism and stage a revolution to achieve an idealistic state of justice and progress.
However, a power-hungry pig becomes a dictator who leads the farm into “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” oppression.
Orwell’s story is reminiscent of events that continue to unfold with increasing regularity in the ruling party, Zanu PF, where laws are changed or altered to suit the needs of the rulers and fear is instilled in the subjects. Those ruled become too afraid to speak out for what they believe in.
The intriguing drama surrounding the run-up to the crucial Zanu PF elective congress in December presents an opportunity to find out if the party has the capacity to pass the test of its constitution as it faces the daunting challenge of accommodating several of its high-profile members into the top leadership when it is patently clear they do not meet party requirements.
Zanu PF is in a quandary as it seeks to accommodate President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and other senior party officials such as Information minister Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Chinamasa (Finance) and Jacob Mudenda (Speaker of the National Assembly).
There is also the different issue of former Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono which has legal and constitutional implications. What is clear is that Zanu PF has to flagrantly bend its own rules as well as the national constitution in order to accommodate its bigwigs.
In July, in a marathon politburo meeting, Zanu PF set its contentious rules and regulations for election into the Zanu PF central committee. The rules state candidates aspiring to stand for election to the central committee must have served in the party structures for a period of not less than 15 consecutive years, among many other requirements.
However, from the outset, Zanu PF has failed to stick to its rules as it sought to accommodate powerful, well-connected figures into the party structures even if they do not meet its regulations. This is a clear case of, as is the case in Animal Farm, of some animals being more equal than others.
Recently, there has been a stampede to endorse Grace to take over the Women’s League top post which will give her automatic entry into the politburo, although she does not meet the 15-year requirement to contest for any position.
Political commentator Alexander Rusero said Zanu PF is a party obsessed with power and will do anything to protect that, including manipulating the party constitution to suit its agendas.
“There is nothing unusual in Zanu PF bending the constitution. It is a Marxist party and from a Marxist point of view, laws and rules are made to protect interests of the ruling class,” Rusero said.
“A good example is how the previous (national) constitution was butchered a record 19 times in 34 years in order to protect the interests of those in power.”
Last week, a combative Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, set tongues wagging after he claimed his party will bend the constitution in order to accommodate Gono as a senator in Manicaland.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had disqualified him from filling a vacant Manicaland senate seat on the basis that he was not a registered voter in that province even though he says he did. The seat fell vacant following the death of national hero Kumbirai Kangai.
However, Mutasa was having none of it.
“No one will reverse a decision of the politburo,” he said adding, “we will ensure that the law fits with the requirements of the party.”
The Zanu PF politburo last year resolved that Gono should replace Kangai.
At its 2001 conference in Victoria Falls, Zanu PF made a resolution to have a woman vice-president and this was bulldozed in 2004 without amending the constitution in order to accommodate Vice-President Joice Mujuru at the expense of the then party secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Mnangagwa, who at the time had the support of more than six out of 10 provinces for the vice-presidency, had to write himself out of power when he had to craft some circular at a politburo meeting to facilitate an unconstitutional political demand.
Another political analyst Pedzisai Ruhanya said Zanu PF has always been violating its own laws and those of the state to serve its political interests.
“The constitution has always been tampered with by Zanu PF and Mugabe in order to meet their political needs,” he said. “The use of presidential powers in the run-up to the elections is one example of blatant manipulation of the constitution to suit one’s needs.”
Last year Mugabe became Zimbabwe’s sole law-making authority until the July 31 elections following the automatic dissolution of parliament on June 30 after he had unilaterally proclaimed election dates without consulting his partners in the Government of National Unity as required by the agreement which was the basis of the unity government.
Ruhanya also said in Zanu PF some people are “more equal than others” and this gives them the opportunity to twist and manipulate the laws and constitution to meet their desires.
His views were in sync with those of constitutional lawyer Justice Alfred Mavedzenge.
“What Mutasa said is testimony to how Zanu PF is determined to subvert the constitution to advance the party’s interests,” Mavedzenge said. “The situation has been worsened by the factional fights in the party and Zimbabweans are likely to see a lot of proposed changes so that laws and the constitution is tailored to fit the Zanu PF costume.”
As has happened before, the Zanu PF congress is likely to confirm once again that party rules and regulations do not count for much where party heavyweights — notoriously more equal than the povo — are concerned.
One of the biggest issues that will put Zanu PF to test is the proposed use of a secret ballot at its December congress when its not in the constitution. The party is now in a quandary because Mnangagwa recently said members of the presidium will be elected through a secret ballot system.
However, the party needs to amend its own constitution in order to employ a secret ballot system because it contradicts its own constitution.
Section 32(1) of the Zanu PF constitution says members of the presidium “shall be elected by congress directly upon nomination by at least six provincial co-ordinating committees of the party, meeting separately in special session called for that purpose.”
The section further says: “Provided that if in respect of any position being contested no candidate succeeds in securing the nomination by at least six (6) provincial co-ordinating committees, the candidates having the highest nomination votes, shall be referred to the provincial co-ordinating committees for fresh nominations.
“This process shall be repeated until it yields a candidate who commands the nomination by at least six (6) provincial co-ordinating committees. The candidate, who through this process attains the nomination by at least six (6) provincial co-ordinating committees, shall stand nominated for election directly by congress.”