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ED coronation day

Opinion & Analysis

NONE gave the Chevrons a chance against Pakistan in a Super 12 stage at the T20 Cricket World Cup currently underway in Australia. It is a biblical David v Goliath story and the Chevrons passed the test with flying colours sending many cricket fans happy, but one can understand India celebrated more than Zimbabwe.

Chevrons, the Zimbabwe national cricket team, won the toss and elected to bat first against Pakistan. They posted a modest 130/8 in 20 overs, setting Pakistan a small total of 131 to win the match. None gave Zimbabwe a chance against the big hitters, but providence and great skill — patience under pressure — Zimbabwe won by one run after they restricted Pakistan to 129/7.

The win, the maiden win for Chevrons in a Super 12 stage, knocked off the bad publicity for Zimbabwe just for a few hours in international news. It also united Zimbabweans across the colour boundaries, it was a moment to behold. I watched the five-minute highlights video of the match and I could feel the change in tone of the commentators, particularly in the last over when Pakistan needed four runs from four balls to win.

The win and euphoria has stolen the thunder from the ongoing Zanu PF congress, a first after the party’s top brass staged a palace putsch against former leader Robert Gabriel Mugabe using the military.

The Zanu PF congress, in the capital at the Robert Mugabe Square to party supporters and Freedom Square to opposition activists, is the venue where President Emmerson Mnangagwa was installed as the heir to Mugabe in a 2014 congress that saw Joice Mujuru being barred and jettisoned from Zanu PF for being ambitious.

Ambition is a swear word in Zanu PF politics, especially ambition to be the party leader when there is an incumbent on the chair. The party actually in 2014 amended its constitution that for the top leadership there is now only one elected position — president and first party secretary in a development they deemed “one centre of power”.

All the other senior members of the party like chairperson, secretary of administration and vice-presidents are appointed by the president just as he appoints the politburo members. The party president is an imperial king and infallible.

Mnangagwa, who many Zimbabweans don’t consider to be the brightest light on the Zanu PF chandelier, learnt Machiavellian politics well from Mugabe. He comes to the congress without someone contesting him despite many media reports over the years that his deputy Constantino Chiwenga was in the mix.

Without any other nomination for the presidency, the congress, therefore, becomes a Mnangagwa coronation day. That he coveted power is not a secret, but the man has failed to lead or inspire confidence forcing many to reconsider Mugabe’s bitter words after his ouster that Mnangagwa can only be trusted as “an errand boy”.

In his short five years in power, Mnangagwa is renowned for the only two ideas — Zimbabwe is open for business and a country is built by its citizens. It is oxymoronic. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines oxymoron as “a combination of contradictory or incongruous words like cruel kindness”.

It is oxymoronic in the sense that while saying we have to do it ourselves, in the same breath he is calling on outsiders to come and invest. In any event, his privatisation agenda in a developing state is astonishing if not a betrayal of the country's left-leaning policies that led to our independence in 1980.

Conceded, he has built some new infrastructure or completed some projects long started by Mugabe. But beyond that, Mnangagwa has shown his weaknesses of failing to lead from the front or being decisive except when it comes to securing and concentrating power in himself.

Mnangagwa squandered a two-thirds majority in 2018 to actively pass legislation that facilitates upliftment of the poor or increasing access to health and education. What we witnessed is a number of Zanu PF apparatchiks becoming rich from milking State resources in dubious joint ventures or privatisation of State entities.

Zanu PF has failed not for lack of trying, but poor leadership and lack of big ideas. This congress has only been about Mnangagwa’s coronation. There has been no reportage of any policy proposals.

The following issues have been kept off the discussion table; comprehensive financing of agriculture or security of tenure for resettled farmers, review of the re-energised privatisation agenda of State enterprises that to date have produced zilch, but made some individuals instant millionaires, progressive taxation and or the nuts and bolts of the proposed devolution of power to provincial governments and local authorities.

There we are, the congress will go through the motions. The party honchos will arrive in the big luxury SUVs, a few songs will be sung and the women will gyrate. Financial statements will be read but not debated and the old central committee will be dissolved and a new one installed. Oh, I was about to forget solidarity speeches from friendly foreign organisations.

The big one is the moment Mnangagwa, uncontested, will be crowned and then reads his prepared acceptance speech to great applause from the delegates.

Zimbabwe has the luxury that we can learn from either the East or West on how to develop our nation. We can adopt the East’s guided democracy or the West’s liberal democracy, but what remains important is that we should be clear on policies that we want to pursue. The art of muddling through is not helpful. We need policies and projects that outlive governments — what will Zimbabwe be in 20 years or 30 years?

For now, we celebrate the Chevrons' historic win as we wait for the congress dust to settle and know where Mnangagwa wants to take us after that. Adios. 

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