This could not be further from the truth when it comes to the oldest party on the political scene in Zimbabwe, The Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic front (ZANUPF). Renewal is central to every organism in order to maintain its perpetuation. Failure to renew will ultimately lead to that organism become extinct.
Zanu PF has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980. At no point in time has its ruler ship of Zimbabwe ever been more threatened by opposition political parties than in the last plebiscite. The breakaway of Dr Simba Makoni and Professor Jonathan Moyo and the subsequent failure by ZANU PF to garner the majority vote in the harmonised March 2008 election was a signal that ZANU PF needs to remove the bottle neck that has characterised its existence for a long time. The political party has failed dismally to renew itself, let alone attract young leaders to understudy the current crop of leaders and subsequently takeover.
The advent of the all inclusive government in February 2009 between ZANU PF and the two MDC’s has introduced a new dimension to Zimbabwean politics to the possible detriment of ZANU PF. ZANU PF is almost unwittingly grooming the young Turks from the two MDC’s by working with them in government. Their inclusion in the all inclusive government gives them the opportunity to learn from the veterans in ZANU PF the skills of running government and country. ZANU PF on its part has proceeded to recycle the old guard from yester year at the expense of the many young leaders respectfully hanging around in the periphery waiting for an opportunity to serve the party.
The all inclusive government has presented a platform in government for the two MDC’’s two slowly eat away at ZANU PF from the platform created by the all inclusive government by first targeting the small number of young Turks that have managed to find their way into the middle hierarchy of the political party. The likes of the Attorney General fit into this category. The call by the MDC for the Attorney General to step down is a double edged sword. His removal will leave the Judiciary vulnerable to possible manipulation by the opposition. This will definitely become ZANU PF’s Achilles heel. It is not an accident that the Judge president Makarau has recently rebutted the allegations that the judiciary is not independent when a Harare magistrate revoked the bail of MDC activists charged with treason. They are under attack.
ZANU PF needs to match the young MDC Turks in the all inclusive government man for man or woman for woman by young ZANU PF man and woman. The reasons for this are threefold.
Firstly, in the event that the all inclusive government arrangement goes south, elections will almost be inevitable. It will definitely go against the spirit of ZANU PF perpetuation if the old guard are to be fielded in that particular election.
Secondly, if the all inclusive government is allowed to run the course of its natural life, which is according to the global political agreement, the next 18 months or so, the Global Political Agreement under Article 6 provides for Zimbabwe to write a new Constitution. This Constitution will almost definitely present Zimbabwe’s elections with a new set of rules. A new set of rules requires a new set of players. Any attempt to field the old ZANU PF guard will be self defeating.
The third and the most important reason relates to who lays claim to the recovery of the country at the end of the life of the inclusive government. The sudden availability of basic commodities on the supermarket shelves in Zimbabwe has been attributed by many to the MDC joining the all inclusive government. The role of the policies arrived at by both parties are largely overlooked.
The idea of provisionally dropping the Zimbabwe dollar and adopting foreign money and manufacturers who were exporting all their products and are now selling them locally in hard currency explains the sudden availability of basic commodities. This reasoning will not be bought by the general populace. The question that ZANU PF needs to ask itself is whether the people of Zimbabwe will except this explanation come election time. Especially if that explanation is coming from the old guard who presided during the days of shortages.
The infusion of new blood in ZANU PF will immediately transform the political party to one that is geared to take on the challenges of a new Zimbabwe. The attendant ideological shift will be felt almost immediately across the country taking Zimbabwe forward and at the same time defending the legacies of the founding fathers of ZANU PF and country.
The recent electoral success of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa under the leadership of Jacob Zuma is enough testimony to what renewal to a van guard political party can be central to its perpetuation.
The writer Lloyd Msipa writes from the United Kingdom. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org