ZANU PF leaders have a strange sense of humour. As punishment for the heinous political crime of speaking out against corruption, youth league leaders have been banished to Siberia where they will undergo three months of revolutionary re-education.
There were intriguing exchanges in Wednesday’s Zanu PF politburo meeting. While some party leaders condemned the trio of Lewis Matutu, Godfrey Tsenengamu and Pupurai Togarepi for speaking out against corruption, others defended them. In the end, the three youth leaders were sacrificed on the altar of expediency as the post-coup fissures widened.
Mnangagwa made a telling statement during the meeting which betrayed his real attitude towards corruption. While supposedly exhorting the party leaders to fight corruption, he set preconditions: “In doing so, however, the party’s wings and members across the board must exercise discipline.” For emphasis—and no doubt to strike fear in the heart of anyone who would dare defy him—the party leader warned: “We must all guard against misguided and misdirected activism which threatens the party’s unity, cohesion and singleness of purpose. Such behaviour will never be condoned.”
The subtext of Mnangagwa’s politburo remarks was plain to see: Zanu PF’s façade of unity and therefore the party’s very survival are more important than any glorified fight on corruption.
It is remarkable that the politburo meeting, beyond expending energy on the crony-based ructions, had nothing useful to offer the nation at the level of policy prescriptions and interventions. A political formation that distinguished itself as a formidable force against racist oppression five decades ago has degenerated into a dysfunctional grouping presiding over a decaying polity.
President Mnangagwa, as has become predictable these days, took the opportunity to attribute Zimbabwe’s devastating hunger to “climate change and drought”. It is a self-serving narrative, of course.
He went on to assert: “Our immediate priority is to guarantee food security.” It is difficult to take the government seriously, when subsidised maize-meal is being diverted to the parallel market.
Of late, there has been lots of political chatter pointing to a securocratic hand in the prevailing turmoil.The military is by far the most influential actor in Zimbabwean politics. The men in uniform may not openly chant slogans and address colourful rallies, but their manoeuvres have played a central role in shaping the nation’s political calculus.
Riding on a highly politicised military, Zanu PF has rigged elections, violated human rights, entrenched a sense of impunity in public affairs, created untouchable doyens of corruption, and criminalised dissent.
The problem for Zanu PF is that such a dysfunctional approach to governance has serious repercussions. Corruption-induced poverty now threatens national survival.
The signs are ominous: state corruption; the capture of the public purse by political elites and their cronies; the decimation of formal businesses; worsening levels of extreme poverty; a rise in violent crime; and a heightened sense of national siege.
If anyone thinks there is strategic logic in vandalising a country through naked plunder and tragic governance, they better think again. There are no winners in this imbroglio.