Book title: Zimbabwe Struggles Within The Struggle
Author: Masipula Sithole
Publisher: Rujeko Publishers Years Published: 1999
Number of Pages: 230
THIS review will try to simplify some of the key issues that are discussed in this book.
It is concerned with the various kinds of fighting that bedevilled the different nationalist organisations during the quest for independence mainly between the years 1960 to 1980.
The author looks at the nationalist groups waging a war against the white colonialists. He calls the whole organised effort a movement.
The movement was made up of what he calls organisations, mainly Zapu and Zanu and for brief periods Frolizi and ANC.
He looks at the whole effort of the movement together as the struggle – all the organisations fighting (struggling) a common enemy, the white colonialists.
But the different organisations understood and approached the struggle differently and many times so differently that they struggled against each other, eg Zanu against Zapu and Frolizi against both Zapu and Zanu.
Many times Zanu members disagreed and fought among themselves or even killed one another.
So did Zapu members. The deaths of Herbert Chitepo and Josiah Tongogara of Zanu and of Alfred Nikita Mangena of Zapu have remained a life-long question and somebody, now dead or still alive decided to harbour the secret in the heart and has resolved to die with a guilt conscience.
This book, therefore, is describing the struggles (the infighting) between the organisations and within the struggle. The author does not see the struggles within and between the organisations as being necessarily wrong.
That is natural for any organised group. He shows that the winners in a struggle are not necessarily in the right.
In Chapter 3, pages 34 to 43, the author has strenuously tried to explain the Zapu and Zanu split in as objective a manner as he could go as an expert in political science.
Although he does not give judgment, his inclination is as clear as daylight. Someone else would give as eloquent a description, but perhaps fail to hide his inclination also.
The point that Sithole brings out clearly is that the struggle for independence included, hand in hand, both the military and the political struggles. These two were always at the forefront.
Each side (each organisation) strived to win the military side which could easily give it the political win.
In these matters might is right.
For a long time, even Ian Smith depended on his military strength until his might curved in and he capitulated. The author shows that the cause of internal struggles was sometimes ideological.
Zanu’s alignment with China as against Zapu’s alignment with Russia often raised differences of both political and military approaches.
Careful scrutiny of the text, however, reveals that deeper causes arose from the force of power/ambition – personal (individual), ethnic, regional or plain tribal.
The author appears to be skirting around the causes of the 1963 Zapu/Zanu split in so many words when what he is saying can be reduced to one or two of those four forms of ambition. It was more than a difference of personalities.
The Frolizi split was perhaps less sophisticated, but it was bound to fail because it stood in the way of stronger forces, Zapu and Zanu. But ambition was no more the stronger cause of the Frolizi split than the Zanu/Zapu split.
In Chapter 5, entitled “Who Killed Chitepo”, the author has displayed glaring pictures of the formation of the Zimbabwean politics.
He has given simple statistics of the Zanu central committee with what he calls the tribal/regional composition.
At that point, as it indeed turned out to be six years later, if this was the party that would form the country’s government, what better would be expected of the government’s tribal/regional composition?
Ndabaningi Sithole was the Zanu president then.
Take a casual look at all the tables on pages 87 to 90. They are all tribally and regionally laid out.
Then read the explanatory “obvious” facts one to three and the rest of the text to page 114.
If these facts are read with any amount of understanding, is it any wonder that the composition and practice of the Zimbabwe government is what it is today?
Consider the key government posts, the headship of the army and the police, government ministries (finance, security, local government, agriculture and land settlement, etc) and key government positions.
How far do they reflect the present with those formative years?
The relationship between the liberation movement and the neighbouring countries which were called Frontline states is discussed in some details.
At times the relationship was sour and tense because some of these countries wanted to impose their own solutions or the liberation movements refused to see sense.
The fact is that these Frontline states could not wish away their involvement because of their proximity.
While Mozambique provided a base for guerilla operation more than anything else, Zambia and Tanzania were also the hotbeds of political intrigue.
Both Zapu and Zanu “grew” to political and military maturity in Zambia and Tanzania.
Both countries (Zambia and Tanzania) — according to Sithole — had each their inclination towards one or the other of the main players of the movement.
At home (then Rhodesia) Zapu and Zanu played their cards differently in their bid to win more popular support.
As a general rule, the game was to whip up a lot of emotion of the general population to gain popular support.
Where that failed, intimidation through torture and killings was employed.
Perhaps at that time nobody cared what and Sithole says that the “methods employed to achieve an end influence or shape that end product” or “the end product itself influences the means employed to achieve that end, that is, the end justifies the means (page 220)”.
You can download the ebook here StruggleWithinthAestruggleinZimbabwe