Ground shifts for ZANU-PF

IT will go down in the annals of history as one of the reports that angered President Robert Mugabe and posed headaches for his ZANU-PF party as it tried to wriggle off the hook after more than three decades of playing the survivor in the region.

To many, the rebuke from the Southern African Deve-lopment Community (SADC) Troika on Politics, Defence and Security was unexpected, more so President Jacob Zuma’s stinging report about the Zimbabwe situation.

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The report exposed ZANU-PF from many fronts: its weakness in reading external developments, being able to contextualise these developments and its heavy reliance on the camaraderie syndrome that used to bind revolutionary movements in SADC even when it was so clear to everyone that the party was now abusing this relationship.

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That failure to read the situation on the ground blinded ZANU-PF from foreseeing SADC and Zuma’s impatience with the stalemate in the unity government, which has dragged on and on since its formation in February 2009.

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There is growing impatience within the region as well as the world about the long period of time it is taking to find a permanent and lasting solution to the challenges that face Zimbabwe. Zuma pointed this out in his report.

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“There have been mo-ments, which have given us hope in the past that a breakthrough would be found but we have been continuously disappointed by the slow pace and lack of progress in areas, which are critical. We have been disappointed by continuous backtracking and lack of implementation of resolutions and agreements made,” the South African leader said.

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To all intents and purposes, ZANU-PF turned the tables on itself.

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The party had become used to backtracking not only on what it would have agreed with the Movement for Democratic Change formations that are signatories to the power-sharing pact without SADC doing anything about it, but it also took the game too far by prevaricating on agreements rea-ched with SADC through its facilitator to the dialogue, Zuma.

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In one such incident of political prevarication, Zuma met President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsv-angirai and his deputy, Arthur Mutambara on Nov-ember 26, 2010 where the four agreed to develop a roadmap leading to future elections, but ZANU-PF is now singing from a different song sheet saying the Global Political Agreement is the sole roadmap it has.

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Zuma may also have been influenced to act tough on ZANU-PF by fears that a deteriorating situation in neighbouring Zimbabwe would have a contagion effect on South Africa.

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Judging by the way events and revolts in North African countries have spre-ad to neighbouring countries, Zuma has every reason to be very afraid.
In recent mo-nths, South Africa has been hit by protests as anger boils over the Afri-can National Con-gress (ANC)’s governing record, 17 years after the country’s independence.

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ANC itself is now divided over Zim-babwe with more and more of its officials now advocating tougher action against President Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party.

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The country has also previously be-en hit by xenophobic attacks, also blamed on South Africa’s failure to create new jobs, and providing running water, housing and other critical services following the end of apar-theid.

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An estimated thr-ee million Zimba-bweans have skip-ped the country in the last decade. These economic refugees are now crowding out the South Africans on the job market creating unbearable pressure on the ruling ANC.

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“Zuma may also have been concerned about the bonfire effect, fears that events in one country may spill into another. There are times in history when events in one country tend to influence what wo-uld happen in another country. For example after Ghana got independence, other Af-rican countries got their independence too,” said Hopewell Gumbo, a political analyst.

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Zuma’s eight pa-ge report to the SADC Troika clearly reveals these concerns.

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“The developments in the Northern part of our continent should impress upon all of us within the SADC region about the need and importance of resolving the Zimbabwean impasse speedily,” he said.

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But can ZANU-PF recover lost ground ahead of the extraordinary summit to discuss the country on May 21?

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Political analyst, John Ma-kumbe, said it was possible to do so provided that the party repents and reforms.

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“ZANU-PF can recover if it repents from its evil ways; if its turns away from its usual chibhakera (fist) app-roach. A lot of people would be happy to support ZANU-PF if it stops beating people; if it stops imposing candidates. But the problem is that ZANU-PF is incapable of leadership renewal,” said Makumbe. – Financial Gazette