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Mr President, death knell for citizenry to enjoy civility was sounded

Opinion & Analysis
President Emmerson Mnangagwa

DEAR President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Your Excellency, as I see it, the absence of a strategic succession plan on the agenda of the just-ended Zanu PF congress was ominous.  It was inauspicious for the ruling party to be dead silent on leadership renewal.

Yet, dire consequences are known to afflict organisations that forgo planned and systematic injection of fresh mindsets at the helm. It is well-documented in human development studies that loyalty to a leadership that has gone full circle has grave ramifications.

A case in point is the ordeal your party went through following decades of venerating the deposed late former President Robert Mugabe. He was hallowed as the centre of power, even as effects of advanced ageing were roundly impairing his faculties.

It was incongruous for a leader who has roads in all towns and cities, as well as the country’s prime international airport named after him, to ultimately encounter a military-led deposal. It was apparent that his resistance of succession were bound to cost him dignity. And it did.

Your Excellency, methinks participants to the recent Zanu PF congress were primarily complacent. They were as biddable as they were docile. As I see it, they basically did not evidence the enthusiasm that is typical of elective congresses.

Despite coming from even the furthermost provinces from Harare, methinks the supposed elective congress participants deliberated as if the party was a cult. At most, they flocked in to satisfy the quorum; at worst, they exposed the culture of subservience.

Your Excellency, consequently, the participants were not deliberative. They were without zeal to be heard or to advocate for the election of the young blood into the high echelons of the party. They were intentionally geared to be content with maintaining the status quo.

With your uncontested retention as the party first secretary, it was by head instinct that the precedence for the other three who sit with you at the party totem post was set. It was no wonder that they too, similarly received renewals of their appointments without further ado.

Your Excellency, essentially, their reappointments were granted,  as if by inherent right of  entitlement. Furthermore, many other old guards who had long been gathering dust and rust were retrieved from the political dustbin. They are back in the inner circle of power.

It was a forgone conclusion that influential politburo and central committee posts were to be largely awarded to the political geriatrics. Lamentably, like the scriptural Lazarus, the youth and the middle-aged had to content with the paltry leftover fringe positions.

As I see it, the first congress without the domineering Mugabe was a classic much-ado-about nothing gathering. It employed Mugabe’s modus operandi of patronage appointments. He handed down to you the practice of dictatorship than debate in its entirety.

Everything about it was without the essence which characterises elective congresses. It turned out that the deliberations were routinely tamed and cautious. There was no scope whatsoever for creativity or spontaneity, neither was there room for critical thinking.

It was apparent that cadres were restricted to a strict script. Contrary to the expectations of open democratic vibrant organisations, Zanu PF cadres were confined to toe a straight and narrow code of conduct. None deliberated with their conscience and conviction. 

Given that your party is the governing party, ordinarily, my expectations for the congress to be a robust exchange of ideas was markedly unmet. Instead, deliberations were preoccupied with ululations and bursts of approvals, true to that of a carefully patterned choreography.

Your Excellency, with the party presidium remaining as it was, granted, it was a death knell for the citizenry to enjoy civility. Whatever fleeting hopes there might have been for a turnaround of socio-economic fortunes were rendered a deadly blow.

An eerie and portentous stillness enveloped me as the congress ended. I resigned to the fateful eventuality that indeed, the party had unanimously endorsed a would be 81-year-old cadre as its 2023 presidential candidate. It had forsaken succession as it did with Mugabe.

With all due respect, my expectations were that you would be among the pioneering council of elders members. Given the all encompassing challenges bedevilling Zimbabwe, truly, it is weird for Zanu PF to settle for an aging candidate as its best foot forward.

Meanwhile, with the Commonwealth assessment mission currently in the country, it was a fateful coincidence that former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo recently spoke critically of Zimbabwe. He blamed the country for setting a wrong precedent of coups on the continent.

Your Excellency, he was referring to the millitary-orchestrated removal from office of Mugabe in 2017. He berated that the deposal was a coup which was sanitised and packaged as a bona fide means of replacing a rogue administration outside the ballot.

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