I am not certain if the saying is of continental African provenance or it is one of those proverbial creations by a hitherto unknown Zimbabwean. But whoever said it, got it right, that “when a leopard wants to eat its offspring, it accuses them of smelling like goats.” Throughout the history of mankind, there has always been bizarre tales of cannibalism – mainly driven by a compulsive urge of survival when nothing else exists to nourish the body. Close to the ‘dog eat dog’ cliché is a situation manifesting itself in the dark, mysterious world of ZANU PF politics
Ordinarily, a normal democracy affords the party with the majority a legitimate opportunity to focus relentlessly on its electoral promises. I remember distinctly during the GNU when protracted policy debates clogged the cabinet agenda, ZANU PF would claim that government business – their so-called progressive vision – was being impaired by the MDCs. They reminisced and romanticised about the 1980s and 1990s when President Robert Mugabe enjoyed unrestrained political monopoly. And so when they succeeded in stealing a two thirds majority vote in 2013, one would have thought Zimbabwe was headed for political, social and economic paradise.
Few would have imagined that a once seemingly compact and impenetrable ZANU PF machinery would crack everywhere and teeter on the brink of ideological and institutional bankruptcy. Yet here we are, witnesses to unprecedented ‘dog eat dog’ politics where the law of the jungle appears to be reigning supreme. Having hounded, pounded and humiliated the Opposition over the years, ZANU PF, like a deranged prize fighter who has run out of opponents, is punching wildly at everything that moves in the ring. Faced with the stark reality of mortality and exhaustion of its leader of almost fifty years, the party appears to have no game plan to deal with its succession conundrum. So they do what they always do best, bludgeon each other.
Throughout its history, ZANU PF has resolved internal power crises with force – at times outright death as in Hebert Chitepo’s untimely demise, Josiah Tongogara’s ‘road accident’ and of late, Joyce Mujuru’s humiliating demotion to political oblivion. There have been arguments in the past decades – as in the case of Edgar Tekere and Simba Makoni’s exit – that have caused rapture, but none compared to the drama we are witnessing now.
You might be asking yourself why I and millions of other Zimbabweans would have sleepless nights over the predatory and cannibalistic shenanigans prevailing in ZANU PF. After all, aren’t we, as members of The Opposition, not supposed to be celebrating the inevitable and precipitous disintegration of our old foe? Actually, no! The conflation of ‘State’ and ‘Party’ – a common feature in dictatorships the world over – is the malignant tumour afflicting ZANU PF that should bother us. When Jonathan Moyo brawls publicly with Constantine Chiwenga; when Christopher Mutsvangwa wrestles with Patrick Zhuwao; or worse still, when a whole then national Vice President like Joyce Mujuru is humiliated, not only are state resources abused, but service delivery is affected. Acres of space in the public media have been used to justify indigenisation arguments and counter arguments between Patrick Chinamasa and Zhuwao while thousands of scarce dollars and unlimited airtime have been squandered by state broadcaster ZBC to portray the opposition as enemies of the people. When President Mugabe awoke from his governance stupor to admonish his rampant nephew for ‘misinterpreting’ the indigenisation laws, Zimbabwe had already lost a couple of billions of dollars in potential foreign direct investment.
You cannot imagine the time and energy invested in high offices by members of the so-called Young Turk G40 and Team Lacoste to conspire and counter-conspire against each other. Everything that a ZANU PF cabinet minister does now has more to do with appeasement of either faction or as proof of allegiance to the so-called ‘centre of power’. A case in point are the delusions of the ZANU PF Youth league national Deputy Secretary Kudzanai Chipanga who is at pains to convince the nation that it is a worthwhile cause investing time and money to mobilise 100 000 youths from 10 provinces for a ‘one-million-man match’. At a time when millions of these youths are unemployed and thousands of college graduates churned out to a life of poverty, should ZANU PF youth structures not be ‘marching against poverty and unemployment’? What manner of ideological bankruptcy is it that a party can mobilise resources merely to prove that “… we are the vanguard of the party and we will mobilise ourselves for the march in solidarity with our President, who is also our 2018 candidate”?
At a time when three million rural Zimbabweans are facing hunger arising out of the drought and the country is struggling to settle a ten billion-dollar foreign debt, how can we Zimbabweans tolerate such trivia of gigantic Jurassic proportion? My conclusion – and no doubt millions of other Zimbabweans – is that this political party that claims to have a more than two-thirds parliamentary majority is taking us for fools. The ruling party ZANU PF should not have been; must not be and should never be taken seriously. Their ideals are not about the revolution, national emancipation or empowerment. For thirty-six years, they have only been preoccupied with retention of political power, revenge and destruction. There is empirical evidence in the smoking trail of Gukurahundi, land invasions, year 2008 electoral murders and of late, the plunder of fifteen billion dollars-worth of diamonds in Chiadzwa.
This whole arena of conflict between G40 and Team Lacoste is nothing but a game of succession; where party mandarins, cronies, and hawks are spending more time on a course of self-preservation than critical national governance. For them, the inevitable departure of Robert Mugabe from the political scene is an opportunity to safeguard their long term interests. It is therefore up to us – in the opposite camp – not to be distracted by these acts of political cannibalism and instead re-focusing our energies in enhancing our relevance so that we can rescue the country from the talons and beaks of these shameless political vultures.