The Herald (Harare)

4 July 2012

Zimbabwe: The Trouble With Zanu-PF

opinion

MANY acquainted with the Queen's language may have come across the term "burying one's head in the sand." This practice is attributed to Ostriches though zoologists dismiss it with typical scientific contempt for the simple reason that it is not true.

It appears the phrase originated from the peculiar nesting habit of the giant birds.

The male ostrich digs a deep hole in the sand to nest his partner's eggs to protect them from predators.

The hen and the rooster take turns tending to the eggs, turning them over with their beaks and because of the indention in the ground, from a distance it appears as though they have buried their heads in the sand.

Despite scientific clarification, many believe the poor birds actually stick their heads in the sand when faced with difficult situations, yet their key strategy is diversionary. Be that as it may, the axiom gives me my entry point this week.

Zanu-PF, the vanguard party, appears to have its head firmly in the sand judging by its response to the problems that characterised District Co-ordinating Committee elections countrywide, particularly in Masvingo and Manicaland.

The grassroots were up in arms amid reports of widespread candidate imposition by some senior party members.

The party leadership's response was recommending that the Central Committee disband the DCCs.

Announcing the disbanding of the DCCs last week, President Mugabe said: "As we discussed the matter, we decided that the Central Committee should look at the issue of DCCs and we came to the conclusion that they are serving a divisive process.

"They are an organ which must go. The Politburo came to the conclusion that DCCs must be repealed.

"A recommendation would be made to the Central Committee so that it could remove the organ called the DCC from the party."

The DCC is the party organ perched between the branch and the province, and is tasked with co-ordinating party activities countrywide.

The DCC is very powerful as it not only determines who represents the party at provincial level but also who represents the party in council and parliamentary elections.

Hence anyone who controls the DCC, in effect stands in good stead to influence Zanu-PF at national level.

This explains why the DCC became the battle ground for the so-called succession battles that some love to wage in the dark even though the First Secretary and President is on record urging open debate on succession.

In my view the problem within Zanu-PF does not vest in having a structure called the DCC but in the "Chef syndrome" that sees some party heavyweights put themselves above the people who elevate them.

This holier than though thinking explains why some party bigwigs impose their own candidates at the expense of the wishes of the grassroots.

Had Zanu-PF conducted the DCC polls democratically and transparently to the satisfaction of cadres at all levels, there wouldn't have been any noise about the poll outcome.

Supporters wouldn't have picketed party offices in different provinces, and the special Politburo that convened last month wouldn't have sat.

So in disbanding the DCC, Zanu-PF is infact dealing with the symptom leaving the malady. It's akin to chopping the trunk of a baobab whose roots have spread and run deep into the subsoil.

What Zanu-PF requires is curbing the excesses of the "Chef-syndrome". The cancer that sees some leaders say no self-respecting party cadre should challenge

another cadre with a higher rank in party polls must be nipped in the bud.

Intra-party democracy must not have any scared cows. One's standing in the party should not be an issue but one's ideas and appeal to the electorate.

It is such vibrancy that brings renewal, and kills the scourge of self-defeating protest votes that marred the March 29 2008 poll and also manifested during Lovemore Moyo's re-election as House of Assembly speaker.

Rather than disband DCCs, Zanu-PF must strengthen intra-party democracy to allow the grassroots voice to be heard. Once the grassroots speak, their choices must be respected.

The approach taken by Zanu-PF over the DCC fiasco is bold and timely but more should be done. The perpetrators of the mayhem should be identified and made to answer for their actions.

Instead of sending teams countrywide to explain the disbanding of DCCs, the party leadership should be sending fact-finding teams to identify the bad apples so that they can answer for their actions.

Anything short of that will be a throwback to the lethargy that set in after the near miss of 2008.

Despite reports that some Zanu-PF leaders openly de-campaigned the President in their constituencies, a development that saw some Zanu-PF MPs get higher votes than President Mugabe in their constituencies as the President's vote was split with Simba Makoni; it was business as usual for Zanu-PF after the run-off.

The "bhora musango" architects continued pumping their puny fists in the air, chanting slogans going as deep as their throats but missing in their hearts.

Yet heads should have rolled. Party structures should have been re-constituted to separate the compromised from real cadres.

The past four years should have been used to heal any rifts emanating from a major shake-up such that going into election 2012 only tried and tested cadres will be on call.

But what does the party do?

It pretends 2008 never happened; and when some forces try to short-change the people at DCC level, they disband the organ leaving the architects to their devices.

Bold decisions were needed, after all its said if you have to eat a dog go for the pit-bull not the puppy.

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