“My generation has played its part, at times not as well as we should have. It is now time for a new generation to take over”. This is paraphrased from the late Masipula Sithole’s Struggles within the Struggle (rest in eternal peace talented, but humble professor), a very incisive account of contradictions that characterised our struggle for independence.
To imagine that it was way back in 1977 when Ndabaningi Sithole realised that time for a new generation had come, sounds weird in 2016, nearly 40 years later, given that a key player from that “expired” generation is still in charge of our affairs today: President Robert Mugabe.
What prompts me to reflect on Struggles within the Struggle are the incessant squabbles in Zanu PF as it becomes increasingly evident that the sunset is nigh.
However, the opposition must not be gullible to the extent of being excited by these spats, some of which are quite deceptive and well-choreographed. Zanu PF has always existed in turbulent environments, but never collapsed. However, this is not to say it cannot collapse.
Kenneth Kaunda, in 1975, was so frustrated with fierce friction and power struggles in Zanu, that culminated in Herbert Chitepo’s assassination, to the extent that he ultimately lost his patience and sent the wolves packing. Fortunately for those implicated in the assassination, Samora Machel was there to accommodate them and give them a second chance.
However, while in Mozambique, Struggles within the Struggle continued unabated especially around 1977 when a junior cadre was propelled to the highest level of the movement. The ultimate prize of this infighting was Josiah Tongogara’s life (rest in eternal peace, our gallant and luminary hero). Interestingly, but rather ominously, there was public admission or at least speculation by one of the two Vice-Presidents recently that General Tongogara did not die in a car accident as widely reported. This, coming from a protagonist whose close relationship with the late general is a matter of public record, cannot be simply wished away or ignored.
The intention of this reflection is never to open old wounds. Rather, it is to give some context and historical perspective to Zanu PF’s current infighting. From inception in 1963 to the present day, one person has consistently benefited from these internal fissures. When analysts, including Ibbo Mandaza, argue that Mugabe actually enjoys the current melee in his party, I think we should take them seriously.
In the lead-up to the politburo meeting of February 10, 2016, which was described as crunch by several analysts and media houses, one would have thought that finally, gloves were going to come off. Alas, it all turned out to be a dummy, nothing but a well-planned Women’s League rally which ended up with a light closed-door discussion on social media, Mugabe’s African Union guff as well as his upcoming birthday in what was expected to be an explosive politburo meeting.
If somebody was too scared to mention the economic crisis, they should have, at least, reminded King Herod and his aides about something called ZimAsset.
Zimbabweans do not eat slogans or insults. A bold statement on how to fix the economic crisis and some feedback or progress report on the so-called mega deals with the Chinese would have been appropriate.
Instead, the whole fiasco simply degenerated into a praise-singing platform with Sarah Mahoka snatching the Oscar award for being the most entertaining moron of the day. Who needs Cde Joseph Chinotimba when Madam Sarah is around? True to form, for now, Oppah Muchinguri has been ditched and it’s Sarah in the ring. When it suits them, Oppah, Shuvai Mahofa or somebody else will be recycled. In the meantime, the emperor will still be in power. Didymus Mutasa once said that Bob had an exceptional talent in winning checkers (tsoro) while in prison. He is still doing the same today, in real life.
The supersonic swing of allegiance by Presidential spokesperson George Charamba from G40 to Team Lacoste is not an accidental development. Mugabe is keeping a cunning balance between opposing forces in Zanu PF so that he remains a key central player until he drops dead on the job, exactly his grand plan. He is least worried about the morning after.
It was interesting to hear the Nutty Professor proclaiming allegiance “to the appointing authority” having “learnt my lesson in 2004”. One thing for certain is that Jonathan Moyo is not foolish, not at all. I personally told some of my colleagues that the politburo meeting was going to be business as usual after following a few of Jonso’s defiant tweets. Indeed, Mugabe at his very best! Hapana bofu rinoti ita uone risina charakatsika kana kufumbata. Moyo’s current mantra “Handei tione!” shows that he is stepping or leaning on something. Chris Mutsvangwa has his assurances too.
Therefore, the opposition movement must not at all fall for this deception and start celebrating the crumbling of Zanu PF or its implosion prematurely. Instead, we must strategise, strategise and strategise in order to be fully prepared for 2018. A key component or consideration for such strategy must be speedy construction of an effective coalition or at least convergence cognisant of the fact that time is running out. Those who think they can do it alone aren’t aware of the height of the mountain to be climbed!
As we speak, Zanu PF is already in election mode, part of which is putting in place rigging mechanisms. Let’s not read too much into their sideshows and start focusing on what really matters most. Come 2018, all feuding parties in Zanu PF will suddenly start pulling in the same direction with the view to win or snatch another term of office. An interesting but rather controversial Herald columnist who has suddenly changed his “Bondi or revolutionary tone”, captured this very well when he recently said that if not threatened by anybody, Zanu PF is always fighting itself but will instinctively regroup for survival. This is true, and very true.
Like siblings or baboons, when they are on their own, they always fight amongst themselves. Let there be an intruder, invader or outsider, they quickly team up and fight collectively to survive. This, Zanu PF has done in the past and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. The opposition must know this by now. Mugabe is a fox, a typical fox.
lMoses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and interim secretary-general for Zimbabweans United for Democracy (Zunde). He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com