The circus comes to Bulawayo

Zanu (PF)’s annual circus arrives in Bulawayo this week, thanks to the continued decline of the former liberation party’s political support in the southern region.

For some reason best known to them, the Zanu (PF) leaders rightly or wrongly assume that holding the annual consultative conference in the City of Kings will help shore up political support for the decaying, reeling party. This is considered critical in the light of possible elections come 2012.

The significance of the Bulawayo meeting is demonstrated by, inter alia, the fact that President Mugabe has dubbed it “a mini congress,” obviously implying that there will have to be some decisions made regarding the leadership of the party.

This will be inevitable since several members of both the Politburo and the Central Committee have passed on since the last congress of the unpopular party. There will be need to replace such late members as Masawi, Karimanzira, Patel and the late retired General Mujuru.

President Mugabe always cherishes the moments when he makes these appointments as they are crucial for positions in whatever government he may have to form after elections. This time around, though, the old man is unlikely to be able to dish out these favours after the next elections where his political party is expected to be hammered by the MDC-T, by far the most popular political party in the country.

With the late General Mujuru’s death still shrouded in mystery, the Bulawayo meeting is likely to see considerable bootlicking of Mugabe by his underlings, desperate to demonstrate their loyalty to the big man, lest they be assumed to be hostile. It must be a dog’s life, really.

Visibly ailing

The Bulawayo circus will be taking place at the time when Mugabe is visibly ailing, fragile and exhausted. This year alone, the geriatric has made a record eight trips to the Far East, presumably for medical treatment of undisclosed ailments. This may well be the poor man’s last annual road-show.

There is, however, no likelihood of this conference tackling the perennial taboo called the succession issue. Frankly, none of Mugabe’s underlings have the guts to raise that issue in Bulawayo or anywhere else for that matter. There are numerous ways of inviting death to oneself in Zanu (PF), and this is only one of them. Some friends were jokingly saying that if Mugabe laid down his rod (tsvimbo) at the Bulawayo meeting, no one in his party would dare pick it up. They are all very likely to plead with him to retrieve his rod and keep it for as long as he likes. They will be petrified of even secretly thinking of taking over from Africa’s oldest national executive.

Weary of the GPA

Further, the Bulawayo circus is taking place at the time when both Zanu (PF) and the MDC have grown weary of the gridlocked inclusive government, a result of the SADC brokered Global Political Agreement.

Both political parties have publicly expressed the need for the holding of elections as soon as possible. The MDC-T has, however, stated that elections can only be held after the implementation of all the agreed provisions of the election road-map. This is unlikely to be realised in time for the holding of elections in 2012 since Mugabe and his Zanu (PF) have vowed not to accord the MDC formations any more concessions. This is likely to frustrate both Mugabe and the Joint Operations Command as the latter is anxious that elections be held while the former is still able to engage in an electoral campaign, albeit with great difficulty.

A time to feast

The Zanu (PF) December conference will also be a time of feasting for the estimated 6000 delegates that are expected to grace the occasion. Mugabe praise singers will be working overtime and bootlickers will actively seek to outdo each other at every turn. For the nation as a whole, there is nothing significant that can be expected from the money-spending event. The nation has long since grown tired of Mugabe and Zanu (PF).

It is expected that Mugabe will use the occasion to lambast Western countries, colonialism and imagined imperialism. The call for the lifting of sanctions will be the battle cry. Some of the recent economic policies of that party will be highlighted, chief among them the damaging economic empowerment and indigenisation policy.

The WikiLeaks disclosures pertaining to some of the utterances of Mugabe’s trusted friends are unlikely to be on the agenda of the Bulawayo meeting. Weak as that party has come to be, a discussion of the disclosures is likely to fatally wound the sickly party to the extent that Mugabe may be left standing alone.

This may even culminate in a split of the party, given the tendency of Zimbabwean political parties. Rather, the old man is going to keep those who have bad-mouthed him to American diplomats guessing as to what he may be planning to do to them and when.

That way none of them is likely to give him any trouble for as long as he is in office. Whatever happens or does not happen at the Bulawayo meeting of Zanu (PF) will, most likely be of little, if any, consequence to political developments in Zimbabwe. That is how irrelevant both Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have become to this nation.

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