One of the biggest highlights and most curiously followed developments after the formation of the inclusive government in 2009 was the Zanu (PF) national congress in December. Robert Mugabes party is the oldest and, until the last decade, the most dominant political institution in the land. As feared but expected, the congress unanimously re-elected him as party leader and presidential candidate for the next election, whenever that will be. This is despite the fact that Mugabe is turning 85 next month. The outcome removes any doubt that Mugabe is the elected king of Zanu (PF), and intends to die on the throne – making a sham of any parliamentary democracy and free and fair elections. He has created a police state where the ruling aristocrats decide who lives and who dies, who gets a farm and who doesnt, who is a patriot and who is a sellout, who is a hero and who is a villain.
Despite all this, there had been some hope that at some point Zanu (PF) would be forced to reinvent itself and get rid of Mugabe. Electoral manipulation is what has sustained both the party and Mugabes power. Those who have chosen to give the electorate an alternative have been insulted and vilified together with their supporters. Hate language has been systematically used since liberation war times to reduce political competitors to some form of sub-human who does not deserve any human dignity, even the right to life, thereby legitimizing their persecution, even unto death!
Behind the aggressive, dismissive rhetoric of Zanu (PF) and Mugabe lie suspicious minds that conjure their own demons, the dissidents, imperialists and a host of imaginary enemies. Of course all this is a mirage, just like the sanctions veil constructed to cause alarm and despondency, to perpetuate the war agenda and thus sustain the relevance of Zanu (PF). It may sound insulting to say violence is the only political game Zanu (PF) takes into the year 2010, but in fact in 1976, while prosecuting the liberation war, Mugabe is recorded as having remarked that; Our votes must go with our guns. After all, any vote we shall have shall have been the product of the gun. The gun, which produces the vote, should remain its security officer, its guarantor. The peoples votes and the peoples guns are always inseparable twins.
These words have not been mere threats. Mugabe has turned Zanu (PF) into a miniature of the Nazi party. To illustrate this, in the building of a brutal terrorist state, in 1933, fire broke out in the Reichstag (German Parliament) and Hitler declared that it was a terrorist attack by the communists. This gave him enough grounds to arrest political opponents, kill them, and deny them the right to free speech, assembly and due process of the law. In 1983, 50 years later, arms caches were discovered in Matabeleland, but not before Mugabes private army, the fifth brigade, had been well trained to deal with perceived ZAPU supporters in Matabeleland and Midlands. This gave Mugabe the opportunity to be a crisis leader, with a God-given right to impose a state of emergency, the power to use the fifth brigade to massacre, abduct and cause terror in defence of the state against dissidents and forces of destabilization.
If Hitlers eight million Jewish victims were considered a global tragedy, then 10 000 to 20 000 mostly Ndebele victims 50 years later should be considered at least a national tragedy, something worth a moment of silence and a moment of truth. Countless citizens who have defied the authority of the Mugabe by supporting opposition parties have since suffered the same fate. The violence visited on the opponents of the state was and continues to be done to tell citizens that there are no multiple narratives to our political future – only one dominant nationalist narrative or ideology (gwara) as defined by Zanu (PF) and well articulated by Mugabe.
The 2009 congress confirmed the party as an institution that continues to perfect the art of manufactured consent and is not about to change. Not even when the times demand such. Zimbabweans may not want to remember the previous congress where the so-called million man march silenced calls for leadership change within Zanu (PF) and gave Mugabe yet another re-election as party president.
Remember the desperate June 27 presidential run-off – a typical mockery of the will of the people – a manufactured electoral victory! Behind the celebrated faade of the populist agenda and the sanctions veil are a party and leader trapped in survival mode. They find themselves inextricably bound by the mutual threat to political survival; they tremble in front of the ideals of human rights, democracy, and good governance – ideals whose time has come.
The slide to self-destruction is inevitable surely they know it. But Mugabes only defence now is to be misleadingly delusional – so he clings to the throne for dear life. Nyoni is a Hubert Humphrey Fellow, Public Policy Analysis, University of Minnesota, USA
Zanu (PF) has created a police state where the ruling aristocrats decide who lives and who dies, who gets a farm and who doesnt, who is a patriot and who is a sellout, who is a hero and who is a villain.