Politicians ignoring government as they fight for dominance of their factions

OPINION – Looking at the side shows being staged by Zimbabwe’s political parties, I tend to feel that we are in trouble.

Looking at the side shows being staged by Zimbabwe’s political parties, I tend to feel that we are in trouble.

No wonder negotiations to bring some normalcy to Zimbabwe have been dragging on for three years. The party people are fighting their own battles that have little to do with the nation.

Apart from self-preservation within their parties, many politicians are fighting hard to put or maintain a foot in the door. It is a job for a lifetime. Most of them have no proper professions to fall back on should they lose their positions in the party, parliament or cabinet.

In every party on the Zimbabwean scene, there is fierce jostling for positions and for influence, with those who do not have enough clout to progress further up the political ladder fighting other people’s battles so that they can be called to the high table when their candidates sit for dinner in days to come.

ZANU-PF has had factions for years and we have witnessed how it continues to mutate into smaller factions to the extent of shamelessly accommodating mad dreamers like Jonathan Moyo.

Top ZANU-PF people have staked their positions in factions and this has seen almost all departments in the party and government manned by opposing factions.

Even the inglorious war veterans have unsheathed their knives against each other, ready to fight for the dominance of their faction and faction leader.

The Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), a practically dead party that is being fondled for resuscitation, has sprouted factions that have started suspending each other before they even sell the first party card to prospective members.

Meanwhile, the MDC is nursing dangerous, high intensity political maneuverings at a time when they are engaged in endless talks with the wily ZANU-PF over the so-called outstanding issues.

Everyone appears busy fighting for party positions while the country moves directionlessly. These people have no time for the nation but for themselves.

There has emerged some factions within the MDC, a direct result of a power struggle, which first burst into the open in 2008 during the Thabo Mbeki brokered talks at which the MDC was literally forced to join hands with Mugabe in a government of national unity.

Clearly, the tussle pits MDC party president and Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai against his Secretary General and Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti.

A few weeks ago, the MDC party Treasurer General, Roy Bennett, announced from Harare that they had suspended the entire MDC-UK provincial executive over “disturbing new reports of corruption, with £57,000 unaccounted for”.

The MDC said it was embarking on a “clean-up operation” and would be sending National Chairman Lovemore Moyo and Deputy Treasurer General Elton Mangoma to the UK to conduct investigations.

But the accused executive members countered, telling SWRadioAfrica that there was “serious factionalism within the top echelons of the party”.

They alleged that the party is divided into two main factions. One led by President Morgan Tsvangirai, Vice President Thokozani Khupe and National Chairman Lovemore Moyo; the other led by Secretary General Tendai Biti, Treasurer General Roy Bennett and Deputy Treasurer General Elton Mangoma.
They accused Biti, Bennett and Mangoma of working to ‘dislodge the structures’ that are perceived to be pro-Tsvangirai, “so as to influence decisions in the external structures”.
Bennett denied this, calling it “hogwash”.

The radio report went on to say that some MDC members allege there is a longstanding grudge within the MDC leadership that started when Lovemore Moyo was elevated to National Chairman of the party after the death of Isaac Matongo.

“This meant Moyo, who had been Deputy Chair, became senior to Biti and was now controlling external assemblies, making the Tsvangirai group strong. The divisions widened also when another Biti supporter, Lucia Matibenga, was suspended and Teresa Makoni, a Tsvangirai ally and wife to Tsvangirai’s Chief of Staff, Ian Makoni, became the women’s chair. This grudge is not over. It’s a battle for control,” said one member, who, obviously, refused to be named.

Meanwhile in Harare on Thursday, it became public that three MDC cabinet ministers are being probed by their party for allegedly engaging in corrupt activities. They were named as Energy and Power Development minister Elias Mudzuri, co-Home Affairs minister Giles Mutsekwa, and Mines deputy minister Murisi Zwizwai.

The Zimbabwe Independent reported that a top MDC-T official who sits on both the national council and national executive committee, who preferred not to be named, told the weekly newspaper that the party was in the process of gathering evidence on the three and, upon completion of investigations, they would be brought before the national council for disciplinary action.

“Corruption is not tolerated in the MDC and we are planning to deal with it at whatever level,” the official said. “Currently there are three ministers under probe. We have received several reports on the three and we are investigating to get to the bottom of the matter.”

And, once again, a person close to the named ministers is reported to have described the probe as “a stage-managed enquiry by individuals on the national executive who want to get rid of certain persons, whom they perceive as threats to the succession issue in the party”.

“The three individuals are perceived to be close to the Prime Minister,” the official said. “This move seems to confirm the succession agenda. The three have for a long time been labeled part of the kitchen cabinet and it now appears that the succession kitchen cabinet is going full throttle to obliterate the kitchen cabinet.”

But Nelson Chamisa, MDC spokesperson, denied the story about their party instituting investigations of their cabinet ministers.

“We would like to state and place it on record that there are reports that are disturbing, reports that are malicious and mendacious that have been carried in The Independent that the party is carrying out a probe on certain ministers belonging to the MDC,” Chamisa said. “What I wish to state as a matter of fact is that no such committee has been put in place by the party to probe ministers. And there is no such probe that is targeting ministers, and that our ministers do not have any allegations levelled against them.”

But the named ministers, though surprised that they are being investigated, appear to be aware of the impending investigations.

“If the investigations are genuinely being done without any machinations, I welcome them,” said Mudzuri. “I am not afraid of anything — I have nothing to fear. I believe I have been straightforward and those claiming to have evidence must come out.”

On his part, Zwizwai said he had unofficially heard that he was being investigated but said if the allegations were based on the Marange diamonds, the matter was a cabinet issue.

The Zimbabwe Independent says that Zwizwai is being accused of seeking bribes for tender awards and conniving with ZANU-PF officials to flout tender procedures, adding that the accusations seem to be emanating from the way Mbada Diamonds was allowed to mine Chiadzwa diamonds without going to tender.

Mudzuri is being accused of taking bribes from petroleum companies; and so is Mutsekwa.

The MDC is to hold its next congress next year.