Fresh Zanu PF factional fights crippling economic recovery

Kudzai Kuwaza

THE factional fights which have erupted yet again in Zanu PF following the suspension of youth league leaders betrays the ruling party’s pre-occupation with power struggles at the expense of an imploding economy, marked by runaway inflation that has decimated incomes and pensions.

Zanu PF party’s top decision-making organ, politburo, last week demoted its youth secretary Pupurai Togarepi to the central committee, while his deputy Lewis Matutu and national commissar Godfrey Tsenengamu were suspended for convening a press conference where they accused businessmen Kudakwashe Tagwirei, Billy Rautenbach and Tafadzwa Musarara — all allies of President Emmerson Mnangagwa — of high-level corruption and running cartels which they said were destroying the economy.

This is happening at a time the economy continues to nosedive with a debilitating liquidity crunch, capacity utilisation that has tumbled from 57,2% in 2011 to less than 40%this year, prolonged power shortages lasting up to 18 hours, foreign currency and fuel shortages and runaway inflation which has now scaled above the 500% mark.

This makes utter nonsense of Mnangagwa’s declaration that his administration would focus more on the economy than politics. Mnangagwa made the bold declaration upon his initial inauguration, soon after taking over the reins from the late former president Robert Mugabe at the back of a military coup.

He also made the promise several times ahead of the 2018 general elections.“It (the economy) is going up and the projections are that it will continue to grow because of the policies and because of the focus we are having on the economy. It is not anymore politics and politics, we are saying politics and economics,” Mnangawa said while addressing a gathering following a tour of a farm owned by apostolic sect leader, Noah Taguta in the Marange area of Manicaland in April 2018.

However, that promise for a clean break has terribly been miscarried as Mnangagwa now finds himself having to fight tooth and nail — around the clock — to preserve his wobbly throne.

Mnangagwa’s loose-tongued former advisor and politburo member, Christopher Mutsvangwa, virtually laid everything bare when he revealed in an interview with our sister paper, The Standard, at the weekend that the latest episode of Zanu PF factional wars were a result of a vicious tussle for control of the country’s lucrative fuel industry.

He said the fight over the control of the fuel sector was behind the 2017 coup, exposing the country’s leadership in the process.

The internecine factional fights are coming at a time when the purchasing power for Zimbabweans has been drastically reduced due to runaway inflation which reached 521,1% in December last year. This has led to disruption of work with civil servants either going on strike or reducing the number of days they report for work during the week.

The rapid depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar against major currencies which has worsened since government banned the multi-currency regime through Statutory Instrument 142 in June last year, has accelerated inflation and by extension, suffering among the majority of Zimbabweans.

The fights also come at a time when companies are struggling to keep afloat due to power and forex shortages resulting in the scaling down of operations. The Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions revealed that at least 22 companies have failed to reopen after last year’s Christmas holidays, an indication of the crisis affecting companies and exporters.

The fights come at a time the country is facing starvation that could affect up to eight million Zimbabweans due to the current drought. The impact is already being felt with the acute shortage of mealie-meal in the country.

The factional fights in Zanu PF have ensured that there is no focus on stabilising the turbulent economy according to economist Godfrey Kanyenze.

“If you draw lessons from developmental states, what has made the difference is the ability to develop cohesion,” Kanyenze said.

“If you look at the factional fights in Zanu PF, which are persistent and never ending, you can imagine where the energy is going. It is said that if you are in a hole, stop digging, but we have a penchant to continue digging. It helps us to understand the nature of the state. It helps us to understand the nature of the ruling party. It is about the fight for power.

“It is about the fight of resources and not about the people. It is about individual interests. It is about individual egos. It is a cancer that will destroy the fabric of the nation.”

He said the factional fight over resources has drained the drive to address the numerous headwinds buffeting economy.Kanyenze warned that the fight over resources and power could result in the creation of warlords as was the case in countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia.

There is a sense of déjà vu about Zanu PF sacrificing the economy on the altar of political expediency for this was the hallmark of the late president Robert Mugabe’s 37-year reign.

Praise-singing and consolidating Mugabe’s longevity in power clouded bread and butter issues during his tenure. As the power struggles escalated the theme “one centre of power” was coined to ensure that Mugabe retains his grip on power.

This was happening at a time the economy was crippled by company closures with more than 4 600 companies closing shop between 2011 and 2014, resulting in the loss of 55 443 jobs with industry weakened by obsolete equipment and lack of affordable funding.

The focus on factional fights at the expense of economic development is not a new phenomenon according to economist and CEO Africa Roundtable chairperson Oswell Binha.

“Zanu PF as an institution has a tendency to identify a common enemy and they pull all their efforts to destroy that common enemy. Once they have done away with the enemy, they then turn their swords on each other,” Binha pointed out.

He said Zanu PF has failed to be part of the changing global development adding that it is intolerant of criticism no matter how constructive adding that the ruling party has a “clumsy” way of defining who the enemy is. Binha said Zanu PF focusses on individual interests at the expense of the ailing economy.

“Zanu PF is shooting itself in the very foot that is supposed to be leading the way forward,” Binha observed.

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