The Zapu comeback…..

OPINION – On February 9th 2011, Methuseli Moyo, put up a statement on on behalf of ZAPU. The statement dwelt on an opinion regarding the party’s capacity and ripeness to run for elections especially under Dumiso Dabengwa, their current leader.

I am pleased we have this platform through which we can exchange dissenting views. First of all, I consider plurality of political parties as a healthy pill for democracy. I also salute Dabengwa for finally summoning his courage to run for political office after such a long term of political dormancy. I however hereby challenge some of the submissions made by through the ZAPU statement. 

Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC never promised unbearable moments for any potential opposition party. He never demonstrated any hatred for any tribe or affiliation. MDC has never terrorized or harassed any political party. To insinuate that the MDC prays for sole survivorship on the Zimbabwe political arena sounds misguided. Along the same lines MDC is not another ZANU PF in outlook and character. That assertion demands detailed explanations to highlight the alleged similarities. The commentator must be reminded that ZANU PF and MDC have different agenda, strategy and principles. That is why they remain virulently opposed. Either would take serious umbrage for being associated with another.

The statement boasted about the special treatment afforded to ZAPU by police when holding town hall meetings in Khulumane. That sounded childish and out of touch because the capacity to freely hold a meeting should mark the threshold for democracy. It should be a right and not a privilege. In any case if MDC were to be ill-treated when conducting meetings, ZAPU should not celebrate such differential treatment. The overall test is whether the agenda being fought for is being uniformly achieved regardless of political affiliation. To celebrate preferential treatment over another party that’s fighting for democracy sounds politically immature and debases a party’s principles. It also marks desertion of purpose and that’s a red flag for potential signs of despotism in the pipeline.

To assert that only ZAPU has the experience and capacity to confront ZANU PF sounds unfounded. First, it makes ZANU PF an indomitable monster. Secondly, it makes ZANU PF look big. Thirdly, it downplays feasible roles played by other big parties like the MDC. ZAPU may have had the potential to break away from ZANU PF for too many years. There was no one with the courage to declare the splinter group as a political entity. The claimed ZAPU experience is just a paper assertion. The capacity is foggy because so much had to happen before MDC courageously showed other opposition parties what to do. ZAPU was nowhere to be found.

Dabengwa joined ZANU PF after his prison term. He served ZANU PF and abandoned ship a decade ago. He let down his people for too long. Regardless of conditions, he was supposed to remain principled, exemplary and a man of his word. Now that he has finished serving ZANU PF, he appears like a hen coming home to roost. Like another Saul from Damascus, he owes his people a great apology for abandoning ship when they needed him the most. Because of that flip-flop stance he has demonstrated, his commitment sounds shaky. It appears like a convenient vehicle to carry him home so he can try to serve and die in honor.

The statement claimed that ZAPU was a solid party because ZIPRA shared trenches with Umkhonto we Sizwe and that Dabengwa is known by the ANC. Those two facts do not in any way mark the strength of a political party. That Dabengwa is a “black Russian” does not give him special powers or intelligence to do the extra-ordinary. He is not a stranger to Zimbabwe politics. He has partaken his share in ZANU PF. He witnessed all possibilities to leave but he stayed on ZANU PF board. His Russian-acquired skills simply add color to his social CV but don’t prove his might. Being on familiarity terms with a South African party does not boost a candidate’s capacity or qualification to serve his own people. The ANC is just another political party down south. It is not the blue print of perfect standards for government in the region. The MDC got in power without being approved or supported by the ANC. Seeking external approval from a foreign party may boomerang to demonstrate an absence of self-confidence in ZAPU’s potential. It also highlights a weakness through lack of independence in running one’s affairs.  

If ZAPU needs to recover assets grabbed by ZANU PF, legal courts serve that purpose. Neither the MDC nor the electorate will help ZAPU on that aspect since they are not obligated. Both camps have no interest in the assets, let alone the legal standing to help ZAPU fight the claim. In any case, that’s ZAPU’s private business.

The MDC has never cowed down, undermined, or repelled any potential opposition against ZANU PF. Instead, it has fought for its own cause, along its own manifesto. No one ever suggested that ZAPU must wait. In any case, ZAPU could do better through barking less and wagging more. ZAPU could do more legwork and hear what the people think. People need results. The era of volumes of hollow manifestos is gone. People need peace, jobs, food and a stable economy. In any case the heroism of the sixties could be different from that of today and no one wants to be burdened with historical chapters of a leader’s gallantry. People consider what or how you can improve their lives right now.

To ZANU PF my special advice is that if you stopped inciting acts of arson, violence and intimidation on the masses, you could probably recoup the trust you once enjoyed. There is so much difference between the ideologies of the teenagers in green uniform and those of gray-haired statesmen. Clear guidance to those on the ground may work a miracle to restore this fast-waning glory. Violence has badly damaged your outlook. You need to work hard enough to re-gain a human face. Regardless of efforts to dissociate yourselves from the perpetrators, most acts point to the Shake-Shake building. The ZANU ndeyeropa mantra now sounds bawdy, barbaric and outdated. You are simply creating resentment and hatred among the very people that could potentially vote for you. Through fears, many are sheepishly smiling at you but anyone’s vote remains a secret. Never be swayed by the thousands turning up at your rallies. They may probably be looking for an excuse to feed or get drunk. Who hates free lunch?

To MDC, please ensure you stand by your promises. Complacency could be your weakness. Reach out and connect with all your masses. Identify with victims of violence and show practical empathy and solidarity. What have you done to help the victims of violence so far? When did you last visit all your constituencies? Do you know your people’s concerns? Is it just the rhetoric and empty promises? Develop effective rapport with government to stop the violence. As your membership numbers get decimated by the day, flip-flop and wishy-washy policies will dearly cost your party. Also, your silence in some incidents may also mean acquiescence because you’re busy. (Mavekudyawo saka makanganwa!)

To ZAPU, my advice is that stop whining about Tsvangirai and his MDC. There are more important issues to be addressed. Out of all the opposition parties in Zimbabwe, you seem obsessed with attacking the MDC. The MDC has been to stages that you have failed to reach in the last 30 years. The MDC never had a Russian-trained intelligence person. It never had, among its leaders, a man with seven college degrees. Just courage and determination mixed with reading the social temperatures, put them into government. As a party, please aim to win an election and run an efficient government. Instead of getting consumed in comparing ZAPU strengths to those of MDC, practically demonstrate your agenda among the electorate. Sound convincing and be realistic with life. Forget about the “black Russian” fanatical theories. That’s way outdated and non-compelling to the progressive mind. This is 2011. A people-oriented agenda that’s inclusive and outreaching may actually put you into government!

Tapiwa Kapurura is a freelance writer. He writes from his website: