Joram Nyathi Group Political Editor
THE Zanu-PF congressional roller coaster is slowly chugging towards a stop but there is no doubt that its ramifications will be felt for a long time to come.
In its course, it has jettisoned a lot of flotsam as the party sought to move towards a leaner, cleaner centre as proclaimed by its First Secretary and President, Cde Robert Mugabe.
Typically, Zanu-PF has confounded friend and foe as preparations for the 6th National People’s Congress climaxed.
Before that, there were apocalyptic predictions of every hue from all manner of “analysts” who have made a hobbyhorse of telling how the centre can no longer hold, that party leader, President Mugabe has lost control and how the party is either near collapse and will soon implode.
The experience of the MDC was used as a precedent although more often than not, the predictions were more of a prayer than a factual analysis. It’s all come to naught.
President Mugabe, quite the contrary, appears to have emerged from the chaos much stronger.
Those who were depicted as stronger and ready to pounce in some instances failed to make it to congress to deliver the much anticipated coup de grace.
In the factional or succession battles within Zanu-PF, Vice President Joice Mujuru enjoyed a lot of inexplicable support from the private media. She also had the sympathy of the opposition MDC-T and appeared to glow under their praise. She even found favour with pro-MDC-T and West leaning political analysts. Yet that endorsement was a kiss of death to the extent that she wanted to remain relevant in Zanu-PF politics.
The First Lady made it very clear from the beginning that she was fighting corruption, ineptitude and incompetence in Government. She declared that there were people who could not perform.
Stranger than fiction, the same quarters which all along pretended the problem with Zanu-PF and its Government was corruption, when the party started fighting the scourge, suddenly found something aromatic about the same allegations when made against the Vice President.
She was portrayed as an innocent victim of ZANU-PF factional politics without the slightest attempt to investigate the source of the smoke without fire. That only served to pile more burning coal on her head in her party. She was hoist by her own petard.
Most exposed are those who forecast an imminent split, seeing blood on the floor and even raising the country’s political risk. Congress was going to be Armageddon.
While previously, VP Mujuru was seen as no more than a beneficiary of the President’s benevolence and wearing the aura of her late husband and the sympathy she garnered given the tragic circumstances of his death, suddenly she was projecting herself as a source of power in her own right, representing a constituency seen in the West as moderate, rational, pro-business and inclined to review and revise the pro-poor policies whose central plank is the land reform and black economic empowerment and indigenisation programmes.
When the real war for the mind and soul broke out, VP Mujuru was found to be no more than a paper tiger. She could not throw a single punch, let alone cause a corporeal split of the party.
The result, as it turns out now, is that the pre-congress struggles have been some purgatory for the party.
They have reduced tensions and given the party a chance to look at itself with fresh eyes. They have given the party a chance to redefine itself with greater clarity in terms of policy. They have made evident that the party was not always pulling in the same direction, hence claims of policy inconsistency and the need for clarity.
Given the MDC-T’s open hostility to the land reform and threats by the party’s policy guru Eddie Cross that they would reverse the land reform and indigenisation policies, revelations by President Mugabe this week that VP Mujuru was working with the MDC-T and western nations which still maintain sanctions on Zimbabwe go a long way in illuminating the source of the alleged policy contradictions.
While the President is unequivocal that he doesn’t trust a Whiteman given his well known duplicity and contempt for blacks, some of his ministers seized every effort to be seen and viewed as the good guys who could be trusted to secure the white man’s interests against blacks in Zimbabwe.
This self-cleansing in the party has allowed for ideological clarity needed to accelerate the implementation of Zim-Asset. It eliminates both distractive and destructive discourses around the blueprint which all along have masqueraded as critical analysis.
One also hopes that the party is now left with a core of committed cadre, both at party level and in Government, to push for resource beneficiation and value addition.
It doesn’t make sense that only 10 percent of the country’s tobacco is processed locally, that all our diamonds are exported in their raw state and that the same people preaching self-reliance are at the same time promoting the importation of finished products which undermine local capacity building.
Rhodesia survived UN economic sanctions not just because of the support it received from the British and Americans but also because Ian Smith had people who were committed to import substitution. They knew their economic survival depended on it.
We have a different situation now where consuming foreign products has been turned into a serious human rights issue. We have people of different political persuasions who would rather local industry collapses than that they consume Zimbabwean products which they describe as of poor quality. Government should now go beyond lip service about the “Buy Zimbabwe”. It is a matter of national pride and national survival.
If the purges in Zanu-PF have not achieved much, at the very least it should give the President people who are committed to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow, people who put Zimbabwe first, people who have less faith in foreign help but believe Zimbabweans should be the prime movers in the nation’s economic revival, not the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund or the purported benevolence of the British who are still bitter and unforgiving about the land reform.
That the Office of the President and Cabinet has the overall supervisory, monitoring and evaluation role in the implementation of Zim-Asset should make it that much easier to weed out heads of implementing agencies, departments or ministries which are failing to deliver. Commitment to policy should come ahead of financial resources.