Which way forward Zanu-PF?

Lovemore Ranga Mataire
In Two Thousands Seasons Ayi Kwei Armah poignantly questions: “What are we if we see nothing different beyond the present, hear nothing from the ages of our flowing, and in all our existence can utter no necessary preparation of the future?”
As the revolutionary ruling Zanu-PF party prepares to hold its 15th Annual National People’s Conference in December, regional eyes are glued on how the party is to usher in a new trajectory in fulfilling on its pledges encapsulated in last year’s congress resolutions.

The conference comes at a time when the party has for the better part of this year been seized with factionalism which has seen the party undergoing serious structural metamorphosis owing to the purging of senior cadres accused of creating a parallel power structure in contravention of the party’s constitution.

Armah’s warning calls upon the party leadership to come up with enduring strategies in dealing with destructive contradictions that threatened the revolutionary party’s cohesion. They need to chart a way forward informed by its foundational principles that were the rallying mobilising agency for the masses to successfully wage a liberation struggle that delivered majority rule.

Besides reviewing the progress in terms of implementation of the resolutions of last year’s conference, it will be inescapable for the party not to deal with factionalism. While it is given that the life of any revolutionary movement is defined by its ability to continue attracting membership through an enduring ideological framework, Zanu-PF major nemesis was its lack of a rigorous orientation process in the aftermaths of the liberation struggle.

ZANU PF needs to come to grips with the fact that the factional fights that played in the party earlier this year are symptomatic of serious under-currents that have for long festered until First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe entered the political fray.

In locating the real morass behind the factional fights, one can easily decipher the fact that while some senior leaders were angling themselves in an unorthodox manner to succeed President Mugabe, one can also point to the absorption of new members into the Zanu-PF ranks in the post-liberation epoch as having also fuelled serious internal contradictions.

In the absence of a real strategy to critically orient new members to have a deeper emotional attachment of the party’s ideological principles, there was bound to be a clash between the new and the old guard.

The absence of a rigorous foundational induction or orientation process led to the failure of new members in entrenching themselves within the party’s belief system and, therefore, became easy instruments of manipulation.

It is thus not a surprise that the majority of such members still today exhibit hedonistic tendencies driven by lack of understanding and appreciation of the party’s ideology.

Zanu-PF also need to seriously introspect about its membership that have joined politics motivated by narrow selfish ends as reflected by their construction of a patronage system that in turn malign and marginalise those that resist those machinations. A patronage system creates the impression that you are either with or against us and has a serious destabilising effect. A patronage system creates fiefdoms that create fertile grounds for abuse of power and corruption.

It is regrettable that some very senior members of the party misconstrued President Mugabe’s magnanimous nature as a weakness to a point of becoming too cosy with delegated power. Indeed, such senior leaders lacked the basic understanding that real power resides in the one who appoints, who also has the power to dismiss an individual whose behaviour would have failed the test of competent and exemplary leadership.

It is the same senior party members who usurped democratic process in their quest for power and control, leading to the creation of parallel power structures. Creation of parallel structures of power was not just meant to protect ill-gotten riches but was also a clear attempt to prepare a palace coup.

It was in light of this rampant rot that had set in that Amai Mugabe felt duty bound to call a spade a spade to rid the party of rotten apples. Her meet the people rallies are crucial in stopping similar developments that threatened to blight the revolutionary party’s pro-poor and pro-majority grounding.

The party also needs to address the issue of how it can create tangible space for youths to have a voice in the trajectory of the party including considering having a quota similar to that of women. Different cluster groups must be able to bring to the plenary tangible solutions that match realities on the ground.

There is no doubt that Zanu-PF is the revolutionary ‘poster-boy’ of the region and as such all eyes will be on its deliberations and how they will ensure that the revolutionary party remains on course in delivering all its election promises. There is need to ensure that its current economic drive in re-engaging with multilateral organisations, including the quest for foreign direct investment, does not dilute its revolutionary ideals.

In dealing with the urgent need of service delivery as enshrined in the Zim-Asset economic blueprint, the party must realise that some of its traditional tenets of leadership selection may now need remodelling. There is a need for a new paradigm different from the simple “seniority” criterion that identifies cadres with the necessary expertise and sophistication for effective implementation of government policies.

In summation, Zanu-PF needs to address fundamental issues of governance and address the rot exposed by the present introspection.
It surely can’t be business as usual and the December conference must seriously give direction and add a new impetus in carrying forward the programme of economic delivery as enshrined in the Zimbabwe Agenda for Socio Economic Transformation.

December 2015
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