22 May 2018

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Is the Only Game in Town


President Mnangagwa was in Manicaland Province at the weekend. The tour marked the beginning of a nightmare for the opposition, especially the faction led by one Nelson Chamisa. Since February, he has been running alone, stumbling along the way, from Murehwa to London. Just when he was getting exhausted, President Mnangagwa ventures out to declare, let the games begin!

In line with his minimalist politics, President Mnangagwa used his rallies at Sakubva in Mutare and Murambinda Growth Point in Buhera to elaborate on his vision to make Zimbabwe a middle income economy by 2030.

This involves clear focus on energy and water infrastructure development.

He reiterated Government's position that companies doing mining in the country must invest in the local communities. Those companies used to tokenism will find themselves burdened with legal requirements. Our minerals are finite, exploitation of resources must manifest in local development beyond job creation. There are generations yet to come who cannot benefit directly from jobs.

The President is set to announce the dates for the harmonised elections in the next two weeks. Then the nation will begin to make up its mind on who is the more serious candidate to take this nation forward. But already the two rallies spoke of a master strategy. Zanu-PF began by doing what needed to be done first: executing its primary elections ahead of the major electoral campaign. This new experiment in grassroots democracy has shown itself to be divisive. Zanu-PF still went for it.

The party seems to have come out virtually unscathed if we go by the mammoth crowds witnessed at both Sakubva and Murambinda. Not even a self-deluding denialist can claim those people were rented crowds or bussed from other provinces. That is to say, Zanu-PF has given itself time to heal after the primary elections. Once that chapter is closed, it is time to close ranks and rally behind the party candidate for the harmonised elections.

The opposition faction led by Nelson Chamisa, the only one with a realistic chance of claiming to be national, is fighting itself. It has not decided whether it is democracy or merely paying lip service to that ideal to justify the 'democratic' movement in its name.

So far, things are not looking good for those at Harvest House. There are claims of candidates being imposed under a dictatorial, elitist scheme where the top leadership decides who should represent the party while the 'povo' is there to endorse! Voters are deemed too ignorant to make an informed choice, in what are clearly 'jobs for the boys' tricks. Indeed, some of the boys are being brought in from overseas ahead of those who were in the so-called trenches.

Then there is the alliance jigsaw. Constituencies are being traded for purposes of trying to remove Zanu-PF from power. There is bitterness that even parties-in-name-only are being given oxygen. This is creating a mountain of disaffection in the main MDC Chamisa faction. Remember the whole point is to get into power and eat. The stakes are high.

But that is only at the party level.

There is a scarier prospect at national level. The reasons the founding leader of the MDC Morgan Tsvangirai never managed to bring everybody under his 'big tent' in the past few years went beyond his alleged dictatorial tendencies and an irrepressible ego. Now Chamisa is trying to knit together an alliance.

The problem is that internally the parties have nothing in common. They are bound together by the hatred or fear of Zanu-PF. That means in the unlikely event of an alliance victory, everything will soon fall apart over distribution of posts when everybody's contribution is being evaluated. In short, this alliance thing has all the ingredients of a national catastrophe issuing from electoral triumph.

We thought it important to summarise this so Chamisa and his alliance partners can appreciate why every rational investor, individually or as a nation, prefers to deal with Zanu-PF. It is a solid party. After elections, it can incorporate technocrats in terms of experience and commitment to Zimbabwe. It already is clear on policies, not childish fantasies.

President Mnangagwa is embracing the world unencumbered by foundational prejudices against any nation.

Above all, his focus is on the economy and national well-being, not personal glory. Soon he will be treading on national impulse countrywide, erasing Chamisa's tiny footprints.


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