Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai

The ruling Zanu-PF party seems to be getting very badly distracted by a problem which should belong to the collapsing, Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T. We refer in particular to the ongoing wrangle within Zanu-PF over who should represent the party in Harare East in the June 10 by-election.

The vacancy follows a decision by MDC-T leader Tsvangirai last month to recall 21 MPs who had allegedly crossed the floor to be part of the MDC Renewal Team. Logically, it should be the MDC-T party cracking its head over who to field in that constituency and whether it will be able to retain the seat in the event of a serious challenge by Zanu-PF.

In the event, Tsvangirai has opted not to contest future by-elections, thus leaving Zanu-PF to take the seat on a silver platter.

That should have been a simple matter, allowing the party to focus on pressing national issues. Instead it has created problems for the ruling party with two candidates now splitting loyalties among followers who made their position clear in the primaries. We don’t need to repeat the obvious that prior to the decision by the MDC-T to boycott the by-elections, very few Zanu-PF members were prepared to tackle the opposition party head-on in most urban constituencies. Suddenly everyone wants to stake their chances.

It is in this light that we find the internal feud over a candidate to represent the ruling party in Harare East not only embarrassing, but also opportunistic. Why not give each other a chance in turn and allow the party to attend to the distressed economy? Are the ghosts of factionalism refusing to be exorcised?

The problems which dogged the party ahead of Congress last year and since then are just too many. These seem to have taken precedence over the implementation of the party’s economic recovery blueprint, Zim-Asset.

People are rightly asking whether enough is being done to fulfil the agenda of the Congress: “Towards an empowered society; growing the economy?” It is extremely dangerous to take voters’ loyalty and patience too much for granted. A recent survey by South Africa-based think-tank Afrobarometer has just given the ruling party a morale booster amidst palpable gloom. President Mugabe is rated the most popular public figure in the country. That might account for his party’s rating as well, especially in rural areas where it has the endorsement of over 70 percent of the electorate.

Together with his party, President Mugabe is the reason many are in Parliament today.

But the party cannot sit on its laurels in light of these survey results. People want service delivery. Time is ticking away towards 2018. Party supporters have a reason to dust up the party manifesto and the Zim-Asset document to assess what has been done.

The score might certainly not be as high as the latest survey results.

This is time for a serious reality check for Zanu-PF. That the opposition parties are committing hara-kiri every day, causing disaffection and defections among followers should not fool the ruling party to believe it will be plain sailing come 2018.

There are many people spending sleepless nights just to see Zanu-PF out of power. This is not helped by ongoing clumsy attempts to kick former party stalwarts out of their farms. It condemns the party to petty vindictiveness while at the same time donating to the enemy people with a liberation war record despite shortcomings.

Zanu-PF cannot afford to be reckless. The regime change agenda is far from over.

Its drivers would only be too happy to harvest disgruntled former members with inside information.