The Herald (Harare)

28 August 2014

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF's Internal Contradictions

WHILE it is a given that any contestation for power is bound to create friction, it is unfortunate that Zanu-PF officials are now spending more energy fighting among themselves instead of consolidating the gains of last year's elections.

It is time Zanu-PF dealt with errant behaviour as witnessed in Mbare, Harare, when the Harare Provincial Youth League chairperson Cde Edison Takataka was allegedly attacked at the instigation of Politburo member Cde Tendai Savanhu for backing the First Lady.

It cannot be overemphasised that in dealing with such behaviour, prudence must prevail. Any remedial action must be carried out within the context of the party's founding principles that sustained it during and after the liberation struggle.

ZANU-PF has historically dealt with factional problems by constantly seeking guidance from its ideological ethos as enshrined in its constitution.

The behaviour exhibited by those members who attacked Cde Takataka, among other incidents, is indicative of the lack of appreciation of this ideological grounding by members who have simply decided to ignore these for political expediency.

But in dealing with these factional tendencies that threaten to weaken the party, it is critical to locate the genesis of the current physical confrontations and verbal assaults, a culture that seems to be entrenching itself within the party ahead of the national congress in December.

Several catalytic factors seem to be fuelling factionalism in the party. First, besides the lack of appreciation of the ideological guide post, there is the issue of tribalism. Tribal profiling seems to be so rampant in some provinces that if one is not born in a certain area he is barred from holding any party position in that community regardless of his or her competency.

It goes without saying that the natural dictates of any election is based on the free will of the people to vote into office any candidate deemed capable of articulating their concerns regardless of the birthplace of the individual. Tribalism thus gives birth to decadent leadership bent on protecting its own selfish interests instead of being servants of the people. Tribalism must be uprooted as it has the effect of negatively affecting the cohesion of the party.

The second catalytic factor fuelling discord in the party are personality differences emanating from simple detest of an individual for reasons that have nothing to do with one's capacity to lead. The bane of personality clashes is that they cloud objective judgment of potential office bearers. Members must be informed that what should bind them together is their belief in the same value system rather than personal differences.

Without doubt, the succession issue seems to be the major cause of differences within the party. There is a disturbing tendency within the revolutionary movement for people to align themselves to an individual or group of people deemed to have leverage to power in the event of changes in leadership at the top.

Attempts to align oneself with an individual or group tend to create fissures within the party and create conduits for destabilisation by the party's detractors. But there is an even more disturbing trend.

Over the years, the liberation movement has absorbed within its ranks members who simply identify with the party's pro-majority policies without a clear understanding of its ideological foundational principles.

The other issue the party needs to deliberate on is the issues of the generational gap between the post-independence young members with the old leadership whose hierarchical structure is derived from the liberation war. There is urgent need for a healthy osmosis between the old and youthful members of the party. A balance between the two must be established.

ZANU-PF needs to embark on serious introspection in order to rediscover its soul. Background checks must be routinely carried out and new members need to undergo adequate orientation.

This is a revolutionary party and not a students' union where members can run errant without any adherence to rules and procedures. It is without doubt that if guided by the party's foundational values, ZANU-PF will emerge stronger and rejuvenated from the December congress.

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