THE opening of political space by President Mnangagwa since coming to power in 2017 has resulted in an unprecedented flourish of people’s liberties, including active participation of those in Zanu PF in telling their war stories, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga said.
Speaking at the launch of Zanu PF secretary for Administration autobiography, “On the Shoulders of the Struggle: Memoirs of a Political Insider” Dr Chiwenga, who was the guest of honour, said the fact that several senior officials in the revolutionary party were now writing their own stories “signifies a change in our political culture”.
“The launch of Dr Obert Mpofu’s book, affirms the need to credit His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and Commander-In-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Dr ED Mnangagwa for widely opening our political space to frank nation-building dialogue. This publication affirms the existence of free political-thought attached to the Second Republic. In the past, we were only accustomed to the reactionary self-reflections by ousted political actors and those in the opposition. However, with the opening of the political space, we have seen active political participants writing their autobiographies which also serve as counter-accounts to our long-held traditions in Zanu PF.
“You will be aware that in 2019, Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube also published his autobiography titled ‘Quiet Flows the Zambezi’. Now with Dr Mpofu depositing a similar national memory preservation instalment, it is clear we are moving towards a new era of open dialogue,” said Dr Mpofu.
The President has over the years encouraged the country’s liberation war heroes to make contributions to the country’s liberation canon of literature, which before the birth of the Second Republic, was dominated by self-serving narratives that were penned by disgruntled people or through distortions by the Western world.
“It is on this pretext, that Dr Mpofu’s reflections are significant in expressing the revolutionary movement’s consistent tradition of consolidating the liberation struggle. As a result, I found the last two chapters of the book, particularly important in explaining the role of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) in the preservation of the legacy of the armed struggle.
“To this end, Dr Mpofu gives the rationale of Operation Restore Legacy and how it captured the emotions of restoring Zimbabwe to the default settings of true democracy, building tolerance, equality and economic freedom,” he said.
The publication was initially intended as a reflection on Zimbabwe’s pre- and post-independence political journey with a focus on the impact of the liberation struggle on contemporary politics. However, the November 2017 developments that birthed the “New Dispensation” necessitated a broader scope.
While Dr Mpofu’s contribution still follows the original blueprint, his book gives due regard to recent socio-political and economic developments.
“When the New Dispensation under President Mnangagwa started, he first appointed senior members of the party on a full time basis to run the affairs of the party and I was made to run the party as the secretary for Administration together with my colleagues.
“One of the assignments that he gave us was to professionalise the party, which we have done. The Zanu PF party is now a perfectly professionalised institution,” he said.
Dr Mpofu said President Mnangagwa has called for the need to set up a research unit within the party.
“In doing that he directed that I set up a research unit composed of top scholars which I did and their assignment was to do research for the party.”
Dr Mpofu said President Mnangagwa wants senior party members to leave a legacy, which will be understood by the new generation.
“President Mnangagwa wants us to leave a legacy that is clearly understood by those that come after us. In doing so, President Mnangagwa urged all members of the party to submit their Curriculum Vitae so that we leave a revolutionary legacy to our members and those who want to know the history of this country,” he said.
In addition, he said:” I thought for my colleagues to do that, I needed to take the lead in doing that.
“My writing of this book is a true reflection of what transpired and the book which answers a lot of questions which a lot of people did not know about. I discovered when I came to this office that we did not know each other and persuading colleagues to be known through their writing of the history of our struggle.”
He said that his book chronicled the training he received in preparation of the liberation of the country through combat engagements.
It also talks about independence, what transpired after independence, and what has been happening since the Unity Accord of 1987 between Zanu and Zapu, and the time of the New Dispensation.
Zanu PF chairperson, Cde Oppah Muchinguri, the party acting spokesperson Cde Patrick Chinamasa, and other Politburo members attended yesterday’s book launch at a local hotel in Harare. The business community and academia were also represented.