Zanu-PF’s Extraordinary Congress to be held on Friday will be special, not only to the ruling party, but also to the historical institutional memory of the nation. In fact, we view this Extraordinary Congress as adding another page in the history of the liberation struggle and that of the ruling party.
Indeed, the 6 000 delegates expected to attend the congress will be carrying a heavy responsibility of sealing another chapter in the long history of the ruling party. We note, without doubt, that the Extraordinary Congress on Friday will be firmly grounded in history.
Operation Restore Legacy, that made the Extraordinary Congress necessary, came after the Zimbabwe Defence Forces stepped in to stop the rot in the ruling party that was threatening its survival. There were a lot of unnecessary purges that were happening in the ruling party, targeting members with liberation war credentials, leaving ordinary card carrying members dejected. We recognise that the situation in Zanu-PF had become unattainable, hence the intervention of the military to restore order and protect gains of the liberation struggle.
The operation clearly re-emphasised the role of the armed forces as the vanguard of not only the ruling party, but the nation at large. If the army had not intervened, the social, economic and political turmoil caused by the G40 cabal was going to result in a much larger conflict that would have required more resources and effort to resolve. There is no doubt that the Extraordinary Congress on Friday will revoke historical moments, as it will remind all of us of the Mgagao Declaration at the height of the liberation struggle in 1975.
Again, the military was at the centre of the action, which helped refocus the party to its original ethos. The Mgagao Declaration was written by young military officers at the main Zimbabwe African Liberation Army (ZANLA) training camp in Tanzania in 1975.
The declaration laid the foundation for the removal of Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole as leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu). His removal paved way for former President Cde Robert Mugabe to take over leadership of the party. It then took an Extraordinary Congress of the party in 1977 to confirm the former President of the party as its leader.
We find the similarities with what is happening now irresistible. The military, after realising a departure from the original basis upon which Zanu-PF was founded, found itself leading another self-cleansing of the party.
Operation Restore Legacy led to the recalling of former President Mugabe by the party’s Central Committee and the elevation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to lead the party.
Just like during the Mgagao Declaration days, it will take another historic Extraordinary Congress, this time in Harare, to effect the changes. This is why we view the Extraordinary Congress on Friday as part of history repeating itself. Delegates to the conference should be aware of the responsibility they carry in moving forward this crucial epoch in the history of Zimbabwe.
We believe that the endorsement of resolutions made by the Central Committee on November 17, which recalled ex-President Mugabe and some G40 backers, will itch the delegates into the annuls of Zimbabwe’s history.
It is important for delegates to realise that the ruling party has never departed from its constitution, and their job will be to effect lawful recommendations made by the party’s Central Committee. This is why we believe that the delegates to this Congress will be special and their names will always be remembered whenever Operation Restore Legacy is mentioned.
The delegates should, therefore, not take their role lightly, as they, just like their colleagues at the Extraordinary Congress in 1977, are helping chart a new path for the ruling party.
The 1977 Extraordinary Congress helped with the reinvigoration of the liberation struggle, a crucial intervention at a time when liberation fighters were no longer sure about how to proceed because of lack of focused leadership. We reckon that Friday’s Extraordinary Congress will also help refocus the ruling party membership on issues that matter, instead of being distracted by the actions of the G40 cabal.