Tichaona Zindoga Political Editor
Fireworks. That is what the private media in Zimbabwe always wants the world to see as the country’s ruling party, Zanu-PF, goes to its annual conferences or the quinquennial elective congresses.
Anything short of fireworks will not be good enough.
The fireworks are, in fact, a state of war and factionalism in the party whereby members fight among themselves for positions and influence over the control of the country’s revolutionary party.
In the build-up to this year’s conference to be held next week in Esigodini, Matabeleland South, there has typically been speculation that there would be such “fireworks” as different interests sought to set the agenda for the indaba.
Unfortunately, for those who want such drama — either because they want a bit of excitement to spice up their lazy days, or because they do not mean well for the ruling party — there is nothing to suggest that Zanu-PF is weak and imploding.
In fact, at an organisational level, Zanu-PF is probably stronger than it was a year ago. A number of factors are at play and outlined in this article.
State of the party, organisation and administration
Zanu-PF, the party of President Mnangagwa, won the July 2018 elections convincingly, amassing more than two thirds of the parliamentary representation. The party did this on the back of strong organisation and without the distraction of factionalism that would have otherwise attended the party had things not dramatically changed thanks to Operation Restore Legacy.
In the run-up to this conference the party, as comprising its constituent parts of conference, is not characterised by infighting and strife usually expressed in suspensions and counter-suspensions and a glut of disciplinary issues. Part of the reason is that this is not an elective congress.
On the other hand, party organs such as the Women and Youth leagues are united and strong, departing from infighting or being proxies to some leadership struggles. Another key constituency is the War Veterans wing. This is an organ that over the years had been a battleground for leadership squabbles and factionalism.
However, war veterans’ leader Cde Victor Matemadanda on Tuesday put the matter beyond question: war veterans are not going to be part of any factional and political wars, real or imagined, and are fully behind President Mnangagwa.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association has endorsed President Mnangagwa for the 2023 harmonised elections in a show of confidence in his leadership.
Cde Matemadanda said war veterans, being the bedrock and foundation of the State of Zimbabwe, could not be seen doing the inconceivable and pitting themselves against President Mnangagwa, their patron.
He made the remarks during a media briefing to outline the association’s resolutions to be presented at the national conference.
“ZNLWVA as patroned by His Excellency Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is guided by the vision and policies being expanded by the President as leader of the revolutionary party, Zanu-PF,” he said, as reported yesterday.
“ZNLWVA endorses and supports Government initiatives and policies on the financial stabilisation programme and on Command Agriculture as an effort towards restoring food security in the country and reclaim the breadbasket status to the country.”
The gesture is key. It is also noteworthy that a few weeks back, the association itself had appeared headed for a rumpus but it goes to conference united.
Without conflict at the main, youth, women and war veterans cohorts, there is no doubt that the ruling party goes to Esigodini on a strong footing.
Additionally, the party has a new culture whereby it is run by secretaries deployed to the Headquarters, ushering a new era of administration. The organisation has entered a more professional conduct. To its credit, the party appears well heeled as well, affording to pay its staff, including “chefs” deployed full-time to the headquarters and understood to be getting emoluments equivalent to Government pay.
No vacancy at the top
A key driver of the “fireworks” narrative by idle minds or Zanu-PF detractors is the perception that there is always a tussle for leadership at the top. There have been noticeable attempts to pit the ruling party’s leaders against each other.
However, this has not gained traction. President Mnangagwa may have banished the idea of “One Centre of Power” but he is the man in charge in 2018.
Vice President and Zanu-PF Second Secretary Dr Constantino Chiwenga drove this home a fortnight ago at a rally at Murombedzi, Mashonaland West.
He said: “In all the coming elections, no one is going to remove Shumba Murambwi (President Emmerson Mnangagwa). We are here until he feels it is the time to go and when we have fully restored our country to its former glory and when everything is in order. No one must dream of being the President. We want our country to prosper and it is time to move the country forward. It’s no longer time for bickering and politics. From here going forward, we are now talking of politics of development, of building the country and moving the country forward . . . Never ever dream that after so and so years it will be your time, there is no vacancy, there is nowhere to get in.”
That message has as much resonance within as well as outside the ruling party.
In 2018, Zanu-PF has a lot to show that it is a strong organisation with internal cohesion and administration that will fortify it in the coming year.