Walter Nyamukondiwa Mashonaland West Bureau
THE treacherous path of politics is not for the faint-hearted as the fast paced events of 2017 showed, with a constant stream of twists and turns, drama and intrigue. The events of the ending year, delivered contrasting fortunes with some getting power, others proximity to the same while the unfortunate were shunted beyond the margins of power.
Heartbreak for some and jubilation for others!
Politics is the unquenchable quest for power that is centred on alliances and the bigger or well-equipped the alliance is to manoeuvre, the better are prospects for success. Mashonaland West province did not disappoint as zanu-pf delivered expulsions, counter- expulsions, suspensions and manoeuvrings as factionalism took centre stage.
Opposition political parties and players were drowned in the deluge of political drama that zanu-pf conjured. Nothing could compete with a mature and stellar political cast and storyline that had been several years in the making.
The epitome of political drama in the province was the zanu-pf Mashonaland West Youth Interface Rally at the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) grounds. In everything, zanu-pf calls the shots to ensure a well-subscribed and organised event.
The rally did not disappoint as more than 60 000 people converged at the CUT grounds to be addressed by former party President Cde Robert Mugabe. The rally, like others before it, saw covert manoeuvres to discredit now President, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Like other rallies before, the people from Mashonaland West province gave a resounding welcome to then VP Mnangagwa and his trademark slogan drew a response that reverberated in the open space.
Stoic as always, Cde Mnangagwa took the convoluted and bare knuckle attacks with a calm demeanour punctuated with an occasional smile. It is at that rally where former President Mugabe hinted at retiring some service chiefs.
Ironically, some of them would go on to voluntarily retire and trade fatigues for suits that go with political and Government office. In the aftermath of that rally, a series of events took place culminating in Operation Restore Legacy.
On November 6, the provincial executive council met and recommended the expulsion of Cde Mnangagwa from the party and subsequently Government. The axe was to also fall on Politburo member Cde Prisca Mupfumira and Zvimba West House of Assembly member Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi.
The proposal was made by then youth chairman Cde Tawanda Rupiya and seconded by another youth league member Cde Nobert Kazembe. Upon being read out to the provincial coordinating committee, Cde Ziyambi stood up on a point of order.
“I want to know what I have done to be expelled. Which sections of the zanu-pf constitution did I violate,” came a barrage of emotionally charged questions from Cde Ziyambi.
He ominously told the meeting that no one was immune from the flagrant disregard of the party constitution if the decision was allowed to stand.
“May God bless you all,” were his parting words as he left the meeting apparently dejected amid a storm of confusion.
Murmurs of disapproval could be heard while some openly declared that they supported the “Lacoste faction” which backed President Mnangagwa. Fast forward, two weeks later, the tide had turned, as Operation Restore Legacy emboldened those in the majority who could not voice their disapproval out of fear. Another PCC was held where youth leader Cde Rupiya ironically sought to propose the nullification of his earlier proposal to have Cde Mnangagwa expelled from the party.
That was turned down as the house felt that someone else had to make the proposal. The proposal to reverse Cde Mnangagwa’s expulsion was made then a counter proposal calling for the resignation of then President Mugabe was made.
It was among six other resolutions, which included participating in a solidarity march in support of the move by the Zimbabwe Defence Forces to restore order in the country. People in the province combined to mobilise resources to take people to the march with Zvimba district providing the highest number of people who attended the march.
Announcement of former president Mugabe’s resignation sparked wild cheers amid spontaneous street parties characterised by hooting and loud music, especially Jah Prayzah’s “Kutonga Kwaro”. In the aftermath of everything, Cde Ziyambi was restored to his position as provincial chairman which was being occupied by Cde Ephraim Chengeta.
Cde Chengeta was magnanimous in handing over the baton while there was also a change of guard in the Youth League with Cde Vengai Musengi reverting to his position of chairman. Cde Rupiya said as youths they were forced to make some of the decisions before asking to be pardoned.
As the winds of change swept through the province, it was time for the party to take stock of its position and ideals. Chairman Cde Ziyambi said the culture of fear characterised by scheming which excluded the majority from decision making should stop.
This was typified in one PCC meeting where a resolution to hold an Extraordinary Congress was announced by then chairman Cde Chengeta. He asked for someone to propose and another to second the motion in a swift move akin to Spanish football giants Barcelona’s tika tika.
The ball moved from then chairman Cde Chengeta to Central Committee member Dr Philip Chiyangwa and then to Cde Kindness Paradza who was seated next to him. Cde Ziyambi said matters should be debated before a proposal to adopt and second can be made.
In that meeting, Central Committee member Cde Joseph Chirongoma later asked for an explanation on how the decision to hold the Congress was arrived at. Threateningly, he was asked by then Politburo member and the most senior provincial member Dr Ignatius Chombo if he wanted to oppose the proposal.
Cde Chirongoma had to withdraw his question in fear. The coming of the new administration saw several people being reinstated following the resolution by the Central Committee to reverse all suspensions and expulsions made after the 2014 Congress.
However, Cde Webster Shamu had silently worked his way back into the party to land the position of Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs, taking over from Cde Faber Chidarikire. With odds against him, Cde Shamu also managed to make it into President Mnangagwa’s administration.
The year 2017 also saw Sarah Mahoka, Dr Chombo and Patrick Zhuwao being expelled from the ruling party for being part of the G40 cabal. It is the year when chameleonic tendencies and the fluid nature of party members was exposed.
To think that a whole PEC and PCC would make a resolution in support of Cde Mnangagwa’s ouster and elevation of Grace Mugabe to replace him overturns the decision in equal force a week later is astounding.
Although disdain for the toxic politics of the day was palpable, the system employed drowned the voices of the majority and demanded that they add their notes to the chorus of the minority.
With fortunes changing after Operation Restore Legacy, Cdes Mupfumira and Ziyambi were back in President Mnangagwa’s Government as Tourism and Hospitality Industry and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs ministers respectively.
A year characterised by political scheming, fights, general feeling of hopelessness evolved to one where hope was restored and a general sense of optimism even transcended the borders of the province and country to be felt by those in the diaspora.
They say one swallow does not make a summer, but the events of the past month have radiated the feel good factor as shown by the jovial festive mood. On a parting note, this will rank as one of the lows in political and diplomatic etiquette.
It all happened in Chinhoyi!
Who can forget: “Charamba uri kupi. Charamba; George. George iwewe, you are a prolific writer. You are an avid reader. I respect you for that. I respect you in your intellectual capacity.”
With such disorder, restoration was inevitable. With the change promising inclusivity, people are trooping back to the ruling party in droves. Former Mashonaland West zanu-pf provincial chairman Temba Mliswa was quick to state his intentions of rejoining the revolutionary party.
Others have done so quietly. Events of the past year are enough to make a gripping, fast paced blockbuster movie that will grab the attention of the world.