Slouching towards nasty endgame

Is anyone surprised that President Robert Mugabe’s own relatives and farm workers in Norton are now shunning Zanu PF and voting for the opposition?

Candid Comment,Brezhnev Malaba
bmalaba@zimind.co.zw

In all seriousness, how does a political party anchor its by-election campaign strategy on the shoulders of officials who are accused of looting state land? By the way, whose hare-brained idea was it to send those chaps to parcel out housing stands on the eve of polling?

Zanu PF cannot win a free, fair and credible election. There are three main reasons: runaway corruption, economic illiteracy, and brutal impunity.

The party’s capacity for repression — the most critical factor in perpetuating the survival of the regime — although still significant, is severely degraded.

Zanu PF thrives best in poor rural communities, where it is relatively easy to intimidate, manipulate and hold voters to ransom. But some far-reaching demographic dynamics, as exemplified by an increasingly young population, coupled with a proliferation of communication technologies which enhance Zimbabweans’ ability to de-legitimise autocratic rule, are altering the political terrain in ways never witnessed before in this country.

As internal squabbling spirals out of control and the spoils of patronage continue dwindling, Zanu PF must brace for the indignities that come with organisational ageing and decay.

We must also look into the party’s ability to adapt to socio-economic changes. If we all agree that the main responsibility of a government is to determine viable economic policies, then we must understand the ramifications of Zanu PF’s abysmal failure to deliver economic improvement as a source of legitimacy.

There is a lot of masquerade among the political elite. So-called reformists are locked in a life-and-death war of attrition with hardliners on one hand and opportunistic vultures on the other. The grotesque irony is that those who now posture as proponents of reform within Zanu PF have been at the forefront of the worst excesses in the past.

The rot starts at the top. Owing to the vagaries of old age and his stubborn refusal to allow for leadership renewal, Mugabe’s iron-clad aura of invincibility has evaporated, greatly undermining both his capability to govern and ideological commitment to what is effectively a dead revolution.

To many of his underlings, Mugabe is of no political utility beyond guaranteeing them a meal ticket on the gravy train. As long as he remains in office, they can enjoy unbridled looting with no fear of prosecution.

But as the 2018 election beckons, what is now frightening the living daylights out of the patronage network is the real prospect of humiliation at the ballot box. Temba Mliswa’s audacious triumph in Norton — where the odds were heavily staked against him — has given impetus to the belief that nothing can stop a formidable coalition. After all, Zanu PF has been defeated before.