Theme: Uncharted Territory
Current political dynamics have ushered the country in general and Zanu-PF in particular into uncharted territory with unprecedented developments occurring. The humiliating water cannon attack on war veterans who for long have been a strong vanguard for the ruling ZanuPF had no precedence. As things fall apart in the party at the altar of unending factionalism, traditional strongholds of the party are being undermined by various levels of schisms in the party, as such this has plunged the revolutionary party and by extension the country at large into uncharted territory.
Movement for Democratic Change is also experiencing uncharted territory with the emergence of Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) party on the political landscape. It used to be the dominant opposition party, but ZimPF seems poised to take that polar opposition position.
AS the factional winds continue to rage in the ruling Zanu-PF party, it is becoming apparent that the centre can no longer hold, a development which has seen the party stumbling into uncharted territory.
The humiliating water cannon attacks by police on war veterans in February who, since Independence, had always been a revered and somewhat untouchable population for ZanuPF, signals a significant and unprecedented departure from ‘politics as usual’ for the ruling party. Politics as usual for Zanu-PF - particularly since the turn of the millennium when the revolutionary party found itself on the defensive facing stiff competition from the opposition following the formation in 1999 of the then formidable Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) – meant relying heavily on vanguards of the revolution and gains of the protracted Chimurenga liberation struggle. These vanguards in the form of war veterans, the youths and chiefs, and oftentimes alongside state agents, have election after election fought fearlessly, ruthlessly and unfairly any opposition elements to the indomitable elevation of Zanu-PF.
In essence these vanguards have been the “legs” that the ruling party has stood on, and to what it owes much of its intimidation, manipulation, suppression and altogether management of dissenting voices to ensure controversial landslide victories at election times. Now with the war veteran wing weakened by doubt, mistrust and betrayal following their attacks by police on some of their numbers; coupled with some random verbal dress downs by the President Robert Mugabe and his wife, First Lady Grace Mugabe; and buttressed by internal bickering of their own amongst the war veterans themselves, against a background of factional fights, this leg has been stumped. And should it walk on from here, would do so limpingly never as sturdily as before. Never before had the nation seen the revered war veteran mobilise angrily to appear before the President, but this is exactly what our February report shows as they boarded buses in their numbers headed for the capital city, the supreme seat of political power.
As if that is not enough, more uncharted territory is the tearing of the party in three distinct groupings – the ‘gamatox’ who sympathised with and followed former vice president Joice Mujuru into her own party, the Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF); Generation 40 (‘G40’) who are believed to be backing the First Lady as a possible successor to her husband at the exclusion of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who himself is backed by ‘Team Lacoste', the third faction. While ‘gamatox’ completely broke away from ZanuPF to form their own political outfit; G40 and Team Lacoste are fiercely battling out within the belly of the party, thereby significantly upsetting the very anatomy of the revolutionary party. Incidences reported for February depict the various, multi-layered and multi-factioned conflict which found expression in intra- and inter-party conflict.
The coming onto the scene of Mujuru’s ZimPF has shown Zanu-PF wasting no time in making the new party a target alongside its usual “enemies”- the MDCs in all their splinters.
MDC is also experiencing uncharted territory with the emergence of ZimPF party on the political landscape. It used to be that the MDC was the dominant opposition party, but ZimPF seems poised to take the polar opposition position.
For its part, the MDC, though to a much smaller extent than its ruling counterpart, continues to have pockets of intra-party conflict which on occasion resulted in scuffles. A long brewing intra-party conflict in Bulawayo saw the democratic movement recalling Senator Matson Hlalo from Parliament. In St. Marys a long drawn out factional situation gives rise to repeated, though minor, scuffles. This report carries one such scuffle incident.
This report also shows partisan distribution of food aid continuing. Though the instances of this are less than in previous months, even one instance of this would be worrying as the government is mandated by the Constitution to provide for and protect all its citizens.
While a majority of the irregularities in food distribution are meant to disadvantage opposition members, other instances show a selfish and greed motive where some food stuffs are diverted for personal and/or financial gain by those intended to distribute the items. This report carries incidences to that effect.
The report also carries a special feature on the effects of mining on communities with a particular focus on Hwange. Various rights of members of the mining are violated (refer to the feature on page 29.)
Celebrations of the President’s 92nd birthday saw teachers and civil servants in some areas being forced to contribute hard earned monies towards the melee. For fear of reprisals the forced individuals comply.
Multi-dimensional conflict continues to colour the country’s political landscape. Even so, the struggle remains for the will of the people to be heard and not be overcast by individuals or groups hell bent on taking the nation on a tangent which brings neither political stability nor economic prosperity