ZANU-PF embraces new party regalia
By Lovemore Ranga Mataire
Long used to long time ruler Robert Mugabe donning all party regalia and all paraphernalia, ZANU-PF is for the first time set to have a new image of the new President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Special Congress scheduled for 14-17 December.
It must be a surreal feeling for most party supporters who for the past 37 years have been used to former President Mugabe’s smiling spectacled face with an inimitable Adolf Hitler beard strip on all party regalia ranging from dresses, shirts, caps and hats.
While the actual garment has evolved from typical green and black to red and yellow and later predominantly red and lime green, it will be interesting what colour the new regalia bearing President Mnangagwa would have.
Prior to President Mnangagwa assuming the leadership of ZANU-PF, some contractors had already gone into full gear of producing the regalia bearing Mugabe with some running into losses following the November dramatic events spearheaded by the military.
The party had reportedly ordered a minimum of 12 000 paraphernalia for the 12 000 delegates that were expected to attend the ZANU-PF Extra-ordinary Congress in December, which has since been reduced to only 6 000 delegates.
It is interesting to note that while initially the production of party regalia ahead of party events or elections was contracted to different companies, the situation changed when the then first lady Grace became the leader of the Women’s League.
The former first lady announced the changes at the last party’s conference held in Masvingo in 2016 saying the production of party regalia particularly dresses, shirts and jackets was now a preserve of herself as the designer and marker much to the chagrin of some traditional contractors.
The former first lady had said the rationale behind the changes was for it to be more representative of the nation than the one previously used.
Among the features she highlighted was the map of Zimbabwe, shaped like a teacup, and a maize cob representing the country’s staple food.
In her defence of the new regalia, Grace said: “We had been wearing the same regalia for many years and resolved to come up with new regalia which shows that we are Zimbabweans and we live in Zimbabwe.’’
Grace said all five clusters of Zim-Asset- the ZANU-PF government economic transformation blueprint- were also incorporated in the regalia.
It remains to be seen whether the new regalia bearing President Mnangagwa will adopt some of the features consummated by the former first lady.
But one thing is certain.
The coming of the new dispensation must have brought some relief to some contractors who felt that the former first lady was monopolising initiatives meant to empower other party members.
It is not clear yet whether the new regalia will adopt the colour blocking outfits that were becoming fashionable at the twilight of Mugabe’s leadership or will revert to the conservative colours that the party was known for in the early 1980s and 1990s.
Party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the party had donated regalia and other paraphernalia which bear the images of the former president and his wife Grace. The regalia will be donated to orphanages.
Since the ouster of Mugabe, ZANU-PF supporters have been shunning regalia bearing the former president.
As elections draw closer next year, political parties are to go on an overdrive in their campaigns painting cities into different shades of regalia.
ZANU-PF commands its majority support in rural areas and supporters and delegates from such places are likely to find it hard to do away with their old regalia bearing the former president.
Political regalia is one way political supporters show their allegiance to a party of their choice.
All over the world, party candidates always put a sizeable budget towards production of regalia and other paraphernalia.
This is meant to increase visibility of the candidates or the party and also build team spirit.
In the case of the new ZANU-PF, there is need for massive dismantling of a lot of most documents that bear the former president and after 37 years of using the same template it will surely take a while before members adjust to the new dispensation.
The ZANU-PF Special Congress will run from 14- 16 December under the theme “Consolidating the gains of Zim-Asset through unity, peace and development.”
Besides endorsing the candidature of President Mnangagwa for next year’s harmonised elections, there is also expectation that the new party leader will appoint his two deputies and a new Politburo.