ZANU-PF started as an offshoot of ZAPU when it was formed as ZANU in 1963.
In my opinion the party was formed as a by product of tribal politics. The narrative we regard as the official historical line was that there were sharp strategic differences between the nationalists in terms of how the struggle for independence was supposed to be carried out at the time.
This is a topic for another day, but I will acknowledge that both ZANU and ZAPU went their seperate ways as multi-tribal entities wth cross-tribal membership pitting our country’s two main tribes. It was actually not a coincidence that ZANU was founded in Enos Nkala’s Harare home.
ZANU as led by Ndabaningi Sithole then was supposed to embark on the trajectory of armed resistance to Ian Smith’s stubborn grip on colonial power.
Like Joshua Nkomo suffered in the ZAPU/ZANU split in 1963, Sithole was also ousted for betraying the cause of the armed struggle in 1975. This was despite the fact that Sithole, just like Mugabe and Edgar Tekere, spent ten years in prison for being part of the banned militant ZANU.
ZANU’s king pin personalities at formation were Ndabaningi Sithole, Edgar Tekere, Hebert Chitepo, Robert Mugabe and Enos Nkala. There are distinct tribal and Shona dialectical identities in these names that would later shape the politics of the party.
Today we have Emmerson Mnangagwa, Constantino Chiwenga, and the likes of Kembo Mohadi, Obert Mpofu, Patrick Chinamasa, Opapa Muchinguri as the king pin names to a rather mediocre ZANU-PF that emerged after the fall of Mugabe’s 40 year leadership of the party – stretching from 1977 to November 2017.
What does ZANU-PF stand for?
ZANU-PF is a party founded and anchored on majority support of Zimbabweans from the day of inception. It might have been by tribal advantage coupled with the charisma and depth of personalities like Chairman Chitepo and Robert Mugabe, and the popular radicalism of hot heads like Edgar Tekere; that led to the popularity of ZANU-PF, but what is distinct is ZANU-PF has always relied on its majority membership to become the leading party in Zimbabwe, especially after its historic reconciliation and amalgamation with PF-ZAPU in 1987.
Essentially, the ZAPU of 1963, ZANU and the Patriotic Front of the 70s that went to Lancaster House found sense in becoming one formidable post independence liberation movement that sought to unite the people of Zimbabwe.
ZANU PF abandoned its Cockerel symbol and ZAPU its Bull symbol and we adopted the Great Zimbabwe monuments symbol underpinned by the threesome Vision and Motto of Unity, Peace and Development.
Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo had what it took to unite the nation in terms of respect from the people, and they were ably supported by luminaries like Joseph Msika and Simon Mzenda, and political shining stars like Edison Zvobgo, Sydney Malunga, Herbert Ushewokunze etc.
We know that after the death of Nkomo, Mzenda, and Msika, Robert Mugabe’s tactical political support within ZANUPF deteriorated because the replacement options comprised mediocre characters so mild that even Joice Mujuru could fit in the shoes of the second most powerful politician in Zimbabwe.
While John Landa Nkomo was a fairly respected figure in ZANU-PF, he could not provide Robert Mugabe with the clout support he had enjoyed with luminary lieutenants like Joshua Nkomo, Msika, Mzenda, Edison Zvobgo, Herbert Ushewokunze, Sydney Malunga, and such other colourful political characters.
With the emergence of the protest movement in the MDC led by Tsvangirai and his team of intellectuals, student leaders and civic activists, Robert Mugabe had to rely on the military and a propaganda machinery spearheaded by vibrant intellectuals like Jonathan Moyo, George Charamba, and a whole host of ideologically gifted newspaper columnist that helped him set the national agenda and narrative in a way that always caught the global eye.
In 2000 the agenda was set around the land reform program. In 2005 it was round the principle of sovereignty and our foreign policy was as pronounced as was that of the United States at a global level. We stood firm and resolute against the US/Britain led Western alliance and the world was put on notice that there was a no pushover little country led by Robert Mugabe somewhere in Southern Africa.
Africa offered us strong and pronounced ideological and moral support, much as we suffered under the backlash of biting economic sanctions from our Western foes.
As Mugabe focused on building his name on the international scene, little attention was given to the development side of what ZANU-PF stands for.
This is how patronage creeped in, and in the processes it bred mediocrity. But more dangerously it bred corruption. The army was invited to the table and allowed to form dodgy looting companies so as to buy military loyalty.
Corruption became entrenched into the land reform program, mining sector, and also in the government tender system.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was always the right hand man of Robert Mugabe since 1977, and after independence he cast a shadowy figure of a secretive ruthless man at the centre of underworld political strategies.
His ambitions came to light in 2004 when ZANU-PF needed a replacement for Simon Mzenda.
He almost made it ahead of Joice Mujuru, but Nicholas Goche soiled it all when he went and instilled hell fear in Robert Mugabe after he told him that Mnangagwa had a “Mwanawasa plan” under his sleeve.
Mwanawasa was handpicked by Fredrick Chiluba in Zambia as his deputy and successor, only to turn on his boss and get him prosecuted for office crimes.
When ED saw his world crumbling on him after the botched Tsholotsho Declaration, he immediately sacrificed the top seven of his allies and strategists, who included Phillip Chiyangwa, July Moyo, Jacob Mdenda, Mike Madiro and Jonathan Moyo.
He turned around and supported their suspension from the party, and the ultimate expulsion of Jonathan Moyo – the key strategist of Mnangagwa’s almost successful ascendancy in 2004.
Robert Mugabe elevated the unassuming Joice Mujuru to deal Mnangwagwa a blow. When the unassuming Mai Mujuru was fooled by tasteless tribalists that she had what it takes to lead Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe knew she could not be the rightful leader after him.
So he resuscitated Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2014, not to take over after him, but to help eliminate Joice Mujuru and her emerging outfit. She had done an impressive job in fitting in her allies across party and government structures.
Emmerson Mnangagwa opportunistically rose from the 2004 ashes of his demise, and he mistook the strength and shrewdness of Robert Mugabe for his own.
He contrived victory and pretended the last minute named “Weevils” which he fronted by default had won against Joice Mujuru’s fallen Gamatox faction. The truth is he was a mere passive beneficiary of Robert Mugabe’s political balancing games, just like Mujuru herself had been in 2004, when she became a mere beneficiary of Mnangagwa’s woes.
It was a matter of weeks after ascendancy to the vice presidency of the country that Mnangagwa realised his joy was short lived.
Robert Mugabe unleashed the totally brainless Phelekezela Mphoko and his sharp tongued rubble rousing wife Grace on Mnangagwa.
The public shaming and humiliation overshadowed what Joice Mujuru had just gone through a year before.
Robert Mugabe had played his divide and rule survival games one too many times this time around. He was now a full time factional administrator in the chaotic ZANU-PF and the country was running unattended. Robert Mugabe was now a national liability and a danger to his own legacy.
So Mnangagwa once again became an opportunistic beneficiary of military disgruntlement – itself emanating from threatened interests among its top officials.
While the military had to choose a political face to camouflage its involvement in the succession politics in ZANU-PF, not even one person in the top military rankings had a high opinion of Mnangagwa – not one, and it has even become worse today.
From a mere proximity perpective, even strategic propagandists of ZANU-PF had a very low opinion of Mnangagwa. He knows it well, and that is why he has sidelined most of the prominent opinion makers aligned to ZANU-PF, replacing them with breathtaking mediocrity. What he is looking for from these untalented people is not merit and performance, but the loyalty of the fool. He has plenty of that at the moment, and that is not doing him any great good.
However Mnangagwa became a victim to sympathise with, starting with when it was alleged he had been poisoned at a rally in Gwanda, leading to his dramatic airlifting to South Africa.
He became the face and target of Robert Mugabe’s end time political brutality – a victim that many sympathised with not because he stood for anything they shared with him, but was a mere publicised victim of ruthless selfish political shenanigans of Robert Mugabe as fronted by his totally mad wife.
The tribal politicking also helped him a lot, especially when Mugabe was forced to suggest that his long time anointed successor was Sydney Sekeramayi, a spent force from the liberation struggle.
Long story short, Mnangagwa was finally expelled from ZANU-PF and he escaped to South Africa. The military had to act because there was no other way they could let this happen without allowing Mugabe to anoint his mentally unstable wife Grace as his successor. Added to this, the Mugabe purge was now heading to ZDF, and the old man had to be disarmed politically.
So Robert Mugabe had to be neutralised, the very way Mnangagwa is facing neutralisation today, albeit for totally different reasons.
Mugabe was neutralised power wise by the military, politically by ZANU-PF, morally by marching masses, and legally by an impeaching Parliament. He was cornered into the tragic end to his illustrious and worldwide renowned political career.
The anti-climax was his successor. Emmerson Mnangagwa came in commanding a massive goodwill from across the political divide.
He clearly was overwhelmed in his first speech after arriving from his two week exile in South Africa – and we remember two things he said at the time, “The people’s voice is the voice of God,” and “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”
We had an election pending for 2018 when Mnangagwa took over, and by the time we got to that election in July, it was clear there were two separate campaigns running – one for ZANU-PF and a low key one for Mnangagwa.
While Mnangagwa scrapped through with a disputed 300 000 votes, ZANU-PF won the election with an undisputed 78% majority in Parliament and Senate.
Mnangagwa started squandering his goodwill as soon as he got into office. He failed to articulate what he stood for. We all now what he stands for now. He stands for his family and relatives, and he believes the presidency is an opportunity to enrich oneself and those dear to the person occupying the position. He is no more than any other rogue average politician out there who believes politics is looting career.
There are numerous shortcomings with Mnangagwa the politician. He is incoherent, unassuming, erratic, and absolutely unconvincing.
He has allowed his sons to interfere with his office, his wife resigned from her senate position, apparently to help him carry out his duties. It turns out the two are pre-occupied with creating wealthy cartels funded by the tax payers money.
The First Family is deeply linked to a lot of corrupt wealth we have been seeing in the post Mugabe era. Kuda Tagwireyi’s wealth is unclean, just as dirty as the foiled looting attempts by Drax frontman Dilesh Nguwaya.
The Mining sector under Chitando is stinking to high heavens with corruption, and it actually dwarfs the dramatic COVIDGATE scandals at the Health Ministry.
Mnangagwa has put in place the right channels for us to deal with corruption in ZACC, and he has ensured that ZACC is the place where all corruption cases go and die, unless they involve expendable people that deserve to be prosecuted for show.
ZANU-PF did not fall with Robert Mugabe, and it will not fall with Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa has to realise that he faces a real prospect of not finishing 2020 as the leader of ZANU-PF. The threat is real, and it is his own making.
ZANU-PF has what it takes to rally the whole of Zimbabwe across the divide against Mnangagwa and his shady family. He can save the situation by focusing on genuine development with the little time left. Bu that means he has to disappoint a whole lot of looters around him.
He cannot expect to silence Zimbabweans with buses imported at a cost of US$54 million government funded profit to Mr Kuda Tagwireyi.
What is going to happen is the buses will be seen as a vehicle of ill gotten wealth, not a relief to our transport woes.
It is sickening to think that someone could even think of making money through the CIVID19 pandemic. There is a reason why Mnangagwa has not spoken publicly on Drax and related COVID19 racket scandals.
Mnangagwa is squandering an opportunity to consolidate his personal support base even with the clueless and utterly thoughtless Nelson Chamisa as he justifiably pays for his misguided lawless popularity.
If Mnangagwa is advised that the fall of Chamisa means his political security then he needs to fire all his advisors.
Zimbabweans are not going to put up with corrupt mediocrity for another 37 years, especially after realisation that we have an army, parliament and revolutionary partly capable of defending the people’s will.
This looting will be abated and arrested politically because the whole racket is apolitical creation blessed and endorsed politically. The people will rise and defend their party and legacy.
No one will be allowed to wear the jacket of the liberation party’s name while looting. ZANU-PF is not looting. Thieves masquerading as ZANU-PF stalwarts are looting. That is about to be stopped, and I stand informed of pending repercussions.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
- Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney Australia.