Tribalism is back

BY WILF MBANGA LONDON - As the consequences of Zanu (PF)'s misrule become increasingly apparent, even to those with their snouts still in the feeding trough, the party itself is beginning to fracture.

Poverty, hunger, unemployment and the collapse of health and education are taking the

ir toll at every level. Ruling party supporters were cushioned for a long time by the Mugabe regime’s highly effective patronage system. But, together with everyone else, they are now feeling the pinch.

Despite the almost total control of information and the constant spewing of pro-government propaganda, all Zimbabweans can see the writing on the wall. It has become painfully apparent that Zanu (PF) can no longer provide, even for the party faithful. Things are falling apart. Things will not get better.

As a result, people are resorting to desperate measures. They are swimming across the crocodile-infested Limpopo to South Africa, they are walking through the bush to Botswana and Mozambique. They are hunting for wild fruit and digging for roots.

A return to basic survival instincts is now apparent in politics too, as people seek security in tribal and family groupings. The unity accord of 1987 put a damper on tribal politics and Mugabe himself carefully allocated posts across the tribal divide to keep everybody happy. As he enters the sunset of his life, he doesn’t seem to care any more. Family feels safe and that’s all that really matters.

Zanu (PF) itself is splintering. In addition to Jonathan Moyo’s Tsholotsho-based United Peoples’ Movement, we now have the United Peoples’ Party (UPP) led by former Zanu (PF) Masvingo provincial chairman and war veteran, Daniel Shumba.

Shumba and his group are determined that the post-Mugabe era should not be a Zezuru dynasty. Their anxiety has stemmed from the carefully orchestrated Zezuru stronghold comprising the current triumvirate – Mugabe, vice presidents Joyce Mujuru and Joseph Msika, the heads of the army, police, air force and CIO and many permanent secretaries.

Implosion from within now seems a more likely fate for Zanu (PF) than electoral defeat by the now splintered MDC. Political confusion is the result. There are disturbing precedents in Africa, notably Kenya, where discontent with ruling autocracies has lead to a proliferation of opposition parties and consequent victory for the those very autocracies.

Africa’s curse, it would seem, is that there are always too many Chiefs and not enough Africans.

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