The Herald – Lovemore Ranga Mataire
As the Zanu-PF conference has just ended in Bulawayo, it is critical that we examine the factors that have led the former liberation movement to continue dominating the political arena and how it has remained relevant. Founded on socialist ideological principles, which among other things emphasised the need for equality among all races, tribes or classes in a typical egalitarian set up, the party has managed to remain relevant in that it has adapted to the dynamics within the social, political and economic frontiers through the enunciation of policies that favour the previously marginalised black majority.
At the formation of both Zapu and later Zanu, nationalist aspirations were dominant while ideology was less defined as the enemy was clearly identifiable as the white minority regime and their black puppets.
The intensification of the armed struggle and the polarisation of forces coupled with a desire to look beyond the horizon, it became necessary to define the parameters within which the struggle was to be prosecuted and prepare the cadres for a post-independence role. Upon the attainment of independence and the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987 between Zanu and Zapu, the two parties affirmed the united party’s guiding ideology as socialism.
However, this affirmed brand of socialism does not put emphasis on class struggle as it gives socialism a democratic dimension, which was absent from the bureaucratic despotism, which led to the collapse of a number of Governments and parties in Eastern Europe.
This brand of socialism is also accommodative of both the private and public sector working in sympathy with each other and not in contradiction. The two are partners in development and should not be regarded as antagonistic forces.
The socialism espoused by Zanu-PF is a socio-economic philosophy which guarantees freedom of the Press, expression, association, assembly, independence of the judiciary and the existence and adherence of the rule of law.
The protection, security, development, happiness and the satisfaction of the basic needs of the individual are central to its beliefs. As true adherents of this socio-economic philosophy, Zanu-PF is totally opposed to tribalism, regionalism, ethnic chauvinism, factionalism, racism, nepotism and corruption.
It is this brand of socialism that has continued to be the guiding principle of Zanu-PF and to a greater extent has received tremendous support from the majority of Zimbabweans especially those in rural areas who easily identify with the party as not just home-grown but also has their interests at heart.
But the fact that Zanu-PF embraces a socialistic identity does not answer fully why it has continued to enjoy tremendous support among the majority of Zimbabweans 31 years after independence.
Why have Zimbabweans continued to invest their confidence in this party long denounced by Britain and its allies as undemocratic and a violator of human rights? The gullible lot in MDC would believe that Zanu-PF has continued being popular through unorthodox coercive means. Nothing can be further from the truth. Zanu-PF has continued to dominate the political arena despite demonisation of President Mugabe and his party because its policies have remained focused on mass empowerment as opposed to merely being just “bass boys”.
Another undisputable factor that has made Zanu-PF remain popular and more visible is that it is structurally strong given its grassroots support, which manifests itself through cells, branches, districts up to provincial levels. Zanu-PF through its charismatic and revolutionary leader President Mugabe has over the years convinced the electorate that it is the only party capable of fulfilling the aspirations of the liberation struggle. It scored major successes in education, indigenising the judiciary, local governance system and other various other facets of the nation-state.
It has been clear from the electorate’s point of view that voting for Zanu-PF will ensure that the country, its wealth, its resources, its land and its sovereignty do not revert back to colonial Britain, white Rhodesians or its black sell-outs in the opposition.
It is also important to highlight that Zanu-PF has remained popular because at independence the party showed the way in espousing national reconciliation, a policy which called for forgiveness among all Zimbabweans. The then Prime Minister Mugabe called for guns to be turned into ploughshares, a policy that ensures that the country remained peaceful and stable.
There are very few African leaders with such kind of visionary leadership like that of President Mugabe.
As a democratic revolutionary party, Zanu-PF is not averse to multi-party politics as exemplified by the emergence and participation of a number of parties including the MDC-T in the governance of the country.
However, the participation of these parties especially the MDC-T does not diminish the fact that they are the brainchild of Western governments with a clear agenda of installing a malleable regime in Zimbabwe.
MDC suffers from ideological bankruptcy as their leader is more focused on job creation instead of mass empowerment. MDC lacks an ideological foundational basis as it is made up of a hotchpotch of individuals with varying interests.
There is also an evident crisis of leadership within MDC-T as its leader Morgan Tsvangirai lacks the aptitude and astuteness to manage not just the affairs of the country but his own personal affairs as shown by the way he has handled his relationship with Locadia Karimatsenga.
MDC has survived to this day through the benevolence of Zanu-PF, which gave it a lifeline through the inclusive government after its leader had boycotted the second round of Presidential elections in 2008.
It is with such a rich history of serving the people that Zanu-PF must emerge from the conference much more invigorated, inspired, solid and raring to govern.