The Herald September 30, 1980
EIGHT central committee members of the Rev Ndabaningi Sithole’s ZANU yesterday announced they were joining ZANU (PF).
They spoke at a press conference held in the office of the Minister of Local Government and Housing, Mr Eddison Zvobgo.
They are Mr Joel Mandaza, second vice president; Mr James Dzvova, former secretary for information and publicity; Mr Nelson Bangajena, administrative secretary; Mr William Nyabadza, transport secretary; Mr Steven Mariga, deputy secretary for social welfare; Mr Canicius Katsande, deputy secretary for commerce; the Rev Henry Makoni, and Mr James Mudzimba.
In a signed statement read by Mr Dzvova, the men called for ZANU to be disbanded and merged with ZANU (PF). They denounced Mr Sithole, calling him a “diehard regionalist, tribalist and a dictator”.
The men, four of whom were at the press conference, said Mr Sithole run the party like a family business, considering nobody, “other than those related to him or those who come from his area”.
“Since what the people have been fighting for over the years has been achieved through the indomitable and far-sighted leadership of Comrade Robert Mugabe, we accept that the question of the leadership of ZANU was finally settled in February.”
Mr Zvobgo was not at the Press conference.
Commenting on the men’s resignation, Mr Sithole said: “It is a question of deadwood getting rid of itself.”
Asked how the defection would affect his party, Mr Sithole said: “If they were members of substance, maybe we could have felt their departure, but as it is, I do not even recall some of those as being members of the central committee.”
He also rejected some of the allegations that he was running the party on tribal lines, saying that the composition of the central committee spoke for itself.
The composition of the people who had resigned “seemed to indicate that this is a resurgence of Zezuruism”, he said.
“The canvassing has obviously been done along tribal lines. But we live above that.”
On allegations that party funds had been used to buy individual farms and property, Mr Sithole said that was “obvious rubbish”.
“We did buy farms through a corporate body on behalf of the party.
“The only problem was that these people who have resigned wanted to eat the capital by selling the farms. We said ‘no’ because we were keeping refugees at some of these farms.”
ZANU secretary-general Mr Edward Watungwa said: “Only those who do not know these individuals can take them seriously.
“Those who have worked with them know that they are just opportunists wondering from one party to another looking for employment or fortunes.
“If ZANU (PF) can make use of them, then good luck to them because these people are unusable.”
LESSONS FOR TODAY
- Defections are a common occurrence in politics. In recent months, members of opposition parties such as the MDC and more recently a number of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters have also defected and joined the ruling Zanu-PF party.
- Political parties, especially those with a national outlook should be all encompassing to ensure that its members do not defect.
- In politics, there is need to always foster unity and avoid splits. The MDC has split several times since it was formed in 1999. Some of the reasons for the splits are based on ethnic lines.
- The ruling party remains a formidable party since it came to power in 1980 and has largely remained united since then.