ZANU PF is a party which cannot countenance competition for political space and office. It is the belief of the party leadership that Zimbabwe is a private property that they wrested from the colonists through war, so nobody but Zanu PF has a right to rule Zimbabwe.
That is why Zanu PF always relies on the tried and tested method of unleashing violence on the electorate to retain power. To the party, elections are a nuisance that it has to put up with to meet constitutional demands and "democratic" expectations.
History shows that Zanu PF has always thrived on violence and its use of violence has never failed it over the years. The party has also perfected the art of saying something and doing the very opposite in an attempt to fool the world.
This is the same party that way back in the 1970s massacred Zipra forces at Mgagao camp in Tanzania, buried them and then proceeded to play soccer on the ground under which the bodies were covered to conceal the crime from the Tanzanians.
Zanu PF is also a master of propaganda. Having blatantly stolen farm produce, moveable property, cattle, equipment, vehicles and other farming implements during the land reform programme, the party has successfully dignified this otherwise contemptible theft by brilliantly employing propaganda to convince the world that the blatant stealing is justified as it is part of righting a colonial injustice.
In fact, a large part of the well-meaning progressive world, including South Africa's ANC, which should know better, has been taken in by Zanu PF's propaganda that the party is an African knight in shining armour battling imperialists who are bent on recolonising Zimbabwe. But how can a genuine liberation party, which claims to be fighting for its people, kill the very same people it claims to be trying to protecting for simply holding opinions different from those of its leaders?
In the early 1980s, Zanu PF created phoney dissidents to increase the number of dissidents in Matabeleland and used that as an excuse to massacre 20 000 Ndebele civilians for supporting Zapu and Joshua Nkomo, while hoodwinking the world into believing that the party was in fact only killing dissidents. So effective was Zanu PF propaganda that in the 1980s to be Ndebele was to be Zapu and therefore a dissident and to be a Shona was to be a dissident-hater (read Ndebele hater).
Zanu PF today claims it brought democracy to Zimbabwe, yet Zimbabweans have never known true democracy as any attempts to vote against the party have been violently suppressed. About 20 000 Ndebeles were killed for daring to vote Zapu in the 1980s; Patrick Kombayi was maimed in 1990 for merely trying to exercise his democratic right to offer himself for election against Zanu PF's late Simon Muzenda and thousands of Zimbabweans have been killed for daring to vote MDC.
So Zanu PF brought a strange sort of democracy to Zimbabwe where citizens effectively only have two choices on the ballot paper: Zanu PF or death (which is what voting for any opposition party entails). This can only be a strange form of democracy! What kind of a liberation party is this which kills its own people for merely exercising their right to vote for candidates of their choice?
Zanu PF leaders have declared that the country cannot be wrested from them by a mere stroke of the pen in the ballot box when they took up arms to seize the country from the whites. For good measure, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri has said the country cannot be taken away from its "owners" -- Zanu PF -- through a pen which costs a mere five cents! The First Lady weighed in, declaring that even if "Baba" (meaning her husband President Robert Mugabe) loses an election, he would not give up power to anybody who is not Zanu PF.
So Zanu PF's version of democracy is one where while people go to the polling stations to vote, party elements will be preparing to deal with anybody who wants to be so irresponsible and treacherous enough to vote for any party of their choice other than themselves.
To save people from being maimed, harassed and killed, Zimbabwe should just be declared a one-party state and Mugabe life president so that there are no elections where people will be in trouble for daring to elect a party and leader other than Zanu PF and Mugabe. That way Zimbabweans and the world at large will be under no illusions about what type of "democracy" Zimbabweans "enjoy", thanks to Zanu PF. The truth is to most Zimbabweans, democracy remains a dream deferred, 32 years after independence.
Zanu PF does not brag in song that "Zanu ndeyeropa (Zanu is a product of blood and sacrifice)" for nothing. Their slogan says it all: Pasi nanhingi (down with so and so), charitably interpreted to mean may harm befall the person so mentioned in the pasi (down with) slogan or at worst an exhortation to Zanu PF supporters to harm the named person.
Zanu PF is a party that mobilises support on the basis of fear, coercion and violence, and no less a figure than the party's spokesman Rugare Gumbo admits that so fearful are politburo members to challenge Mugabe that one has to be made of "sterner stuff" to even bring up for discussion in the politburo, leadership succession in the party.
So people should understand that Zanu PF will never abandon violence because it has served them well in the past. It is the major beneficiary of violence in the current government as they hold the presidency, thanks to violence. The current attempts at fooling the world into believing that Zanu PF has suddenly had a road to Damascus experience in relation to violence should not fool anyone. It has not. Zanu PF remains the same old wily fox and master of the politics of deception.
All this noise about condemning violence -- as Mugabe did on Heroes Day on Monday -- is a carefully choreographed exercise in deception designed to pull wool over the eyes of the world. The party is just going through the motions. They are not about to let go of the only weapon left to them whose efficacy has been proven over the years.
Zanu PF will not let go of the levers of power that give them access to untold wealth like the diamonds that generate US$2 billion a year, a big chunk of which goes into the private pockets of politicians in a country where there is no censure against corruption. As long as you are politically-connected the supposedly long arm of the law will never catch up with you, no matter how brazenly corrupt you are.
Zanu PF's strategy, crafted at the highest level, is to preach non-violence while practicing violence in the belief that the world will be fooled as it has always been over the years. That is why you hear Zanu PF politicians publicly denouncing violence when their fingerprints are all over acts of violence in the country.
So convinced are Zanu PF of the effectiveness of violence, especially after it landed them the presidency in 2008 after a bloody run-off that they think they can wrest some urban seats from the MDC by employing violence.
Remember how they prevented Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirayi from holding a rally at the Harare showgrounds and forced him into brief exile in the run-up to the 2008 presidential run-off? Come next elections, we are going to see more of that when vintage Zanu PF swings into action through violence and intimidation.
Marazanye is a newspaper columnist. He writes in his personal capacity. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org