ZANU PF sideshows – a mere distraction

Despite intense infighting that characterises the party, the fact remains that ZANU PF is determined to win the next election at any cost. For them, there is just too much at stake and they cannot afford to take any chances. 2018 is a matter of life or death not just another election.

Simba Makoni

Yes, they have now come to a point where they can no longer hide the ever-widening fissures which have been lately exacerbated by the increasing frailty of President Mugabe’s old age and uncertainly around succession. However, as we have seen in the past, their survival instinct will never desert them. They will certainly regroup to protect their self-interests, most importantly, their ill-gotten or unexplained wealth which is the sole reason for most of them being in politics or public service.

Tobaiwa Mudede’s surprise pronouncement recently about national identity cards and voter registration must be understood in this context. It is folly for anybody to imagine that ZANU PF would easily or voluntarily give up its rigging machinery, of which the Registrar-General’s office is a critical cog. We are in that season again when all systems will be re-activated to perpetuate ZANU PF’s iniquitous hegemony.

At times, one cannot help but empathise given that some of the former heavyweights such as Didymus Mutasa and the late Samuel Mumbengegwi fell on hard times soon after they were thrown off the gravy train. Most of them do not have anything of their own, they literally survive on patronage. Hence, they can attend anything in solidarity even when the guest speaker has no clue about the event. Well done Gonyeti! …but I digress.

Very soon, warring parties will close the gap as they share platforms at campaign rallies. Collaboratively, they are going to employ violence, abuse state resources and institutions including state media, force traditional leaders to frogmarch villagers to rallies and polling stations. They have the instinct of baboons — endlessly squabbling among themselves but uniting to fight fiercely when a predator appears.  Do not be fooled – ZANU PF has had internal struggles since inception.

When Mugabe and ZANU PF dismiss the opposition coalition with disdain, they conveniently forget that they are also a coalition of war veterans (including some fake ones) who have totally lost their way, political generals, abused youth, architects of corruption, violence and lawlessness, thieves and thugs plus a few good people who are too scared to speak out. The difference is that theirs is a coalition of evil!

Let us ignore these sideshows that are mostly banal re-plays, and focus earnestly on building the coalition of hope. Zimbabweans yearn for democracy, peace and prosperity and this is what the coalition must deliver. The effective, genuine and inclusive alliance must build unstoppable momentum towards voter education and registration as we prepare for 2018.

It is encouraging to see some traction in this respect but we need more progress. The MDC Alliance reassures the nation that the MDC is finally coming back together. This may re-ignite the candle of hope. Of course, some will be uncomfortable with this development for different reasons but we must not forget that, in politics, permanency applies only to interests not friends or enemies.

The MDC Alliance or reunion is only the beginning. There is need to reach out to other players beyond immediate borders or comfort zones. What we really need is a genuinely united broad alliance that will exorcise our nation of the ZANU PF demon once and for all.

Simba Makoni was adamant in 2008 that he had the numbers to win alone. Nearly a decade later, he has probably learnt his lesson. Of the most senior and genuine liberators to oppose Mugabe, Dumiso Dabengwa is one of the few surviving ones. While he might appear to have deficiency of numbers, the fact is that he has status and prestige that nobody can take away from him. Joice Mujuru is the only woman in Zimbabwe who currently leads a significant political party if not the second biggest opposition group. For all her past failures (perceived or real), excluding her from the coalition could be disastrous. If anything, she is likely to hold the balance of power should the election be tightly contested. Let us work with them.

Nkosana Moyo, assuming he finally has his Damascene moment and realises the true nature of Zimbabwean politics, must be given a chance too. He and Simba Makoni are decent and respectable technocrats. Neither of them would disappoint in the ministry of Foreign Affairs. Fadzayi Mahere, Evan Mawarire and many others must be seen as allies and not competitors.

Benjamin Paradza, exiled Judge of the High Court of Zimbabwe, has spent the last ten years reflecting seriously on what has gone wrong in his native country and could write the definitive text on how not to run a country. He is passionate about sound policy, good governance and constitutionalism. He is a wonderful asset.

There is a lot more talent around the world including our most successful but humble businessman, Strive Masiyiwa. In Zimbabwe, democratic fighters have defiantly remained in the trenches despite the dangerous risks they encounter daily. The two forces must pull in the same direction for Zimbabwe to move forward. Let us all understand and accept that there is always a place for everyone in the democratic struggle. It is time to focus on our nation, not on self-aggrandisement.

While the issue of names is perhaps trivial, if I was forced to suggest an inclusive brand for the coalition, I would probably call it Zimbabwe Opposition Alliance or Movement, Zimbabwe Democratic Alliance or something similar. However, the last thing we must do is to waste our time and energy fighting over a name.

As ZANU PF appears to be busy squabbling, they have agencies on the ground that are busy stealing the next election. I would not be surprised if militias are already being deployed across the country and some teams are working on how they can manipulate, scuttle or at least frustrate the BVR project. All eyes must be on the ball. It is time to focus on what is most important as we prepare for 2018. Ongoing sideshows in ZANU PF are a mere distraction that we must not be excited about.

Moses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and interim secretary general of Zimbabweans United for Democracy (ZUNDE). He can be contacted at chambokom@gmail.com; www.zunde.org; contact@zunde.org; @zundezim.

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  • David Barber

    An excellent article, Moses, warning people not to be fooled by ZANU PF’s internal warring. Learn from the recent general election in the UK where the main opposition party was so badly split prior to the election that everyone forecast it would be decimated. Instead, all factions came together for the election so strongly that they almost defeated the ruling party.

    ZANU PF understands power very well, and knows divided parties do not win elections.

    Unlike some opposition political leaders who are behaving in a childish, irresponsible way, putting their personal ambitions
    above the good of Zimbabwe. If Mugabe and ZANU PF retain power, opposition leaders who did not join the coalition will be to blame.