THE political arena has had rich pickings for pundits in the past few days. On the one hand, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) circus of recalls of its elected members continues.
It started in Bulawayo but has now hit the road, taking the show to virtually all provinces. The producers of that show are very prolific. We have also seen, with moderated scepticism, the circulation of a purported party constitution of the CCC. Ordinarily, I would have dismissed it as a crude joke, but many a time, the joke has been on me.
I have learned to moderate my scepticism because it may well be true. For the record, I hope it is not. The pickings were not isolated to CCC only.
The other side
On the other side of the political aisle, we witnessed the appointment of the Commander of the Defence Forces (CDF) into the Zanu PF Politburo.
It was a not-so-well-thought-out idea that desecrated our Constitution. As the provident gods of inevitability would have it, many contested it within and without that party. Of course, the usual varakashi, who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil, went into their Orwellian sheep frenzy bleating, ‘Napoleon is always right!’.
The decision was eventually reversed or rather stayed, that appointment until the expiry of the term of office for the top soldier.
What I took out from that appointment from the onset, a view now confirmed by the deferment, was that the CDF’s tenure will not be extended when it expires next month. What to read from this in the context of the inevitable successionist politics in that political swamp is fodder for another day.
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Let me pivot back to the current CCC problems, which is the focus of my article this week – for one last time. I promise.
One last time!
You may wonder, dear reader, why I find it necessary to state that this is the last time I write about the current internal problems in CCC. It is because I am not sure if it helps. Bakalanga say, “unkwinya wenhu unonyaya mavu edongo” (an equivalent of trying to create clay mortar out of loose sandy soil from the ruins). It is a vain exercise.
It is also not helpful to keep harping on about the same matter repeatedly at the risk of becoming a pest. It is easy to comment from the side-lines – an inconvenient truth that has been thrust into my face several times. I concede.
The party obviously grapples with these issues, and I know how annoying it is for one to keep on rehashing inconvenient conversations. So, after this instalment, I will pivot away from the recalls fiasco and attendant problems there-off.
This week's premise for my counsel is that the internal problems in the CCC are political and need internal political solutions. Secondly, while seemingly intractable, they are temporary and can be solved in the short to medium term.
I will take the purported constitution of CCC as the point of reference for my diagnosis. I must state, dear reader, that it is not yet clear if it is authentic or not.
But, judging by the silence of the CCC mandarins on the matter, my guess is that on a balance of probabilities, it is authentic.
It makes sense to create the semblance of having a constitution to bolster the court application for an interdict against further recalls by Sengezo Tshabangu.
Moreso, because Tshabangu himself has submitted his own version of the constitution to the courts. Otherwise, without submitting what they hold to be the authentic constitution, the dismissal of Tshabangu’s version will be immaterial.
So, at the moment, there seems to be a dispute of facts created by these two versions of what should be the same document. The courts must then deal with that.
While the need to quickly produce and deposit the constitution to bolster the CCC case is understandable, the motive is folly. A constitution is an important document that must not be a product of a reactionary knee-jerk motive in service to a temporary problem.
If the document is authentic, it clearly has many lacunas and contradictions. It is also very vague in many parts and has questionable legitimation processes.
That is not good for a constitution because it was created to deal with Tshabangu. Once the Tshabangu issue is addressed, the party will be stuck with that constitution, which is not suited for or designed to address the many other substantive and long-term political issues. In other words, it solves one problem and creates 10 others.
Solving the wrong problem
The key to finding a lasting solution within the party lies in diagnosing and solving the right problem. As Robin Sharma counsels,
“One of the fastest ways to find the solution to an issue or challenge you are facing is to ask the right questions”.
I have submitted in previous instalments that I see CCC having two mutually reinforcing problems at hand. One is political and substantive, about the internal elite discord, contradictions, and the absence of legitimation processes for the movement.
The other is procedural and transitory. It is about the amorphous character of the CCC, which does not have substantive structures and, until now, a constitution. The purported one has not yet been acknowledged by the organisation publicly, though.
The convergence of these two inadequacies has brought CCC to the precipice it finds itself now. Therefore, the response to these questions must be more long-term beyond just the immediate headache of stopping recalls.
It must be about regaining legal and political control of the party and galvanising elite consensus and legitimation. The party's survival in the long game means deftly addressing these two questions.
The sober view
Temporary problems require temporary solutions. The key lies in discerning a temporary problem from a permanent one. Inability to do so would result in the organisations being stuck with a solution that no longer serves a purpose, inhibits growth, and creates many other problems that did not exist before.
The hurried cobbling of a constitution to solve a temporary problem has devastating long-term consequences. It will not solve the substantive problems of the party. If anything, it will compound them.
The party is in a hole right now and needs to stop digging. It must introspect, be honest with its problems, and craft long-term solutions for long-term problems if it is to grow and keep the faith reposted by millions of Zimbabweans, who voted for it in the August 23 election.
Failure to do that may well spell the unfortunate situation where the party remains embroiled in these squabbles for the next five years. This will weaken its ability to deliver its mandate as the main opposition. It will definitely weaken its chances at the polls in 2028. My parting shot is that the CCC must stop being in denial about its real problems.
It must acknowledge them and actively implement appropriate measures to deal with them. It must be careful not to create permanent solutions to otherwise temporary problems.
This is my sober view; I take no prisoners.
- Dumani is an independent political analyst. He writes in his personal capacity. — X: @NtandoDumani.