Guest column: Putting new wine in old wineskins

Posterity is destined to condemn the Zanu PF politburo for amending the party constitution to pour new wine into an old wineskin.

By Cyprian Ndawana

Long before economists enlightened humanity with verities of the law of diminishing returns, Jesus had warned against the folly of putting new wine into old wineskins.

Yet, by giving party leader President Robert Mugabe the free hand to select politburo members, the supreme decision-making board recklessly put new wine in an old wineskin.

Bestowing new powers on him to determine membership of the politburo renders it all but a rubberstamping organ.

As the Zanu PF tsunami continues to swirl, leaving multitudes shattered in its wake, it is about time the party introspected. At least someone within the hierarchy, especially Mugabe, has to come to their senses as the foolhardy of the so-called vote of no confidence is poised to be the demise of the party.

If anything, the aftermath of First Lady Grace Mugabe’s “Meet the People” tours exposed the dearth of unity of purpose. With the arbitrary votes of no confidence, which claimed many heavyweights and almost all provincial chairpersons, the party is fraught with dissension.

Despite being led by a ripe old aged incumbent, who is expected to know better, the party strangely regards the freewill to choose candidates as treason. It is a thorough disgrace for a party which claims to stand on democratic ideals to subscribe to such an obsolete school of thought.

Contrary to accolades showered on Mugabe by his praise-singers in song and speech, reality is that he is the architect of the demise of his party and government. Instead of being a stream of living waters, which flows to all and sundry, he is a reservoir which keeps water selfishly only to him.

Unlike the scriptural Jacob’s well which bountifully nourished not only Israelites, but foreigners passing by and livestock as well; Mugabe prides himself in being a sparse source.

He sparingly dispenses power and authority only to those who grovel to him.

With the population concerned about the free-falling standard of living, he is singularly focused on self-aggrandisement, wallowing even on the backdrop of teething hardships at his titles — President, First Secretary of Zanu PF and Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

Yet, even with the inclusion of that of Chancellor of State Universities and others, the long chain of self-importance titles is no remedy for the meltdown. With his party on slippery slope, no one is holding anchor as he is manifestly concerned with fortifying his position, overtly at the expense of the party.

His leadership style is self-serving as evidenced by his consolidation of power such that allegiance is primarily to him and secondarily to the constitution.

Yet, in normal democracy, power resides in the office an incumbent holds not in the incumbent who holds the office as the case with Mugabe.

He gloats at the mad dash of cadres stampeding to show him perfect loyalty. As subordinates scary to curry favor, with the likes of Transport minister Obert Mpofu stooping sheepishly calling themselves, “Your obedient son”, ingratiation as opposed to competence, is the key attribute Mugabe rewards.

With his wife now in politics, she has to strive to be seasoned enough to restrain her incontinent tongue. Her obtrusive tendency and condensation toward foes in particular, and citizenry in general, are unseemly not only for the office she is destined for, but for the mother of the nation as well.

Yet, Mugabe majors in minors. At the root of the rot of his party lies his tendency of meandering like a footpath evading challenges that cry out for redress.

He compares well to a cobbler who criticises fabrics and designs of the trousers for the plainly dreary shoes he manufactures.

In spite of being futile, allegations of assassination he is thumping up are a distraction he uses with the frequency of a favourite cliché. His Highfield home was sprayed with bullets in what he claimed to be an attempt on his life, yet investigations fizzled with the contempt the allegations duly deserved.

Founding Zanu father Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole was also accused of plotting to slay him. Yet, amid his finger pointing, the allegations had no leg to stand on as their frail merits could not by any stretch of the imagination, constitute a crime.

His nemesis MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrayed before the law courts to answer treason charges. Despite cumbersome efforts to incriminate him, it was a disgrace that the charges, like dew amid the rising sun, disappeared with no resistance to cross-examination.

As purging charges surface yet again, now against with those he dips bread in the same cup, ordinarily, threats on the life of a human being, let alone that of a sitting President, cannot be taken lightly. Yet, given the vainness of the figment of his imagination, repeated fallacy never becomes the truth.

Dark clouds hovering over the country will not dispel until Mugabe does the honourable thing — retire. The silver lining will not emerge as long as he stays put. There is no dignity for him to stand on given the dire straits wrought by his leadership. He risks news of his death to be greeted with cheers than tears.

With Mugabe at the dusk of his life, he can no longer afford to be dilatory about his retirement. He has to resign; cohorts, who readily ululate, shout, clap hands and stamp feet at the sight of his shadow are not a remedy for the meltdown.

Mugabe long exceeded his sell-by date, becoming the lowest common denominator as the country languishes in throes of diminishing livelihood. It must dawn on him that not all diseases of the mouth fall within the domain of the dentist.

Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana, email is a public speaking coach,
motivational speaker and speechwriter.


  1. For me the comic highlights of 2014 are the Meet The Idiots Mazowe Crush rallies by Grace Mugabe. I never thought I would hear such crude bar talk from the wife of any president. At her last gathering with the ‘students’ she went from the sewer into the septic tank. Wonderful year for humour.

  2. My nine year old son watched Grace spewing her diatribe at Mai Mujuru and her only comment was: ‘Nhai mhamha, indhaa chimukadzi icho chiri pa news chirikutuka vice president?

  3. The Mazowe Crush rallies proved one thing: a typist with a Grade 7 education can lead Zimbabwe. Frightening, isn’t it?

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