Source: Why Tyson, Mzembi are doomed to fail | The Herald January 22, 2020
Nobleman Runyanga Correspondent
Since November 2019, former ZANU PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere has been attempting to effect a political comeback and went as far as threatening to contest the 2023 presidential elections despite his self-exiled status.
Two weeks ago, his G40 counterpart and former Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Mzembi, is said to have formed a political party named People’s Party from his South Africa base, but not without controversy and charges of name stealing against him.
This brings to mind a number of other former ZANU PF members who have, mainly out of anger, formed their own parties to contest the revolutionary party with dismal results.
A look at how each of the parties fared, the reasons thereof and why ZANU PF continues to dominate the local political landscape exposes the weak political mettle of the politicians involved.
Ndabaningi Sithole and ZANU Ndonga
The late Ndabaningi Sithole was the first on the list of people who, after being ejected from the party presidency in 1975 for prioritising his family at the expense of the cause of the liberation, went on to form his own splinter party, ZANU Mwenje/Isibane (light). The party participated in the country’s first democratic elections in February 1980 and secured no seat.
Over the years, ZANU Mwenje ended up being reduced to a tribal political outfit as it concentrated on seats in Chipinge District-based constituencies where Sithole originally hailed from. In line with its new Ndau ethnic thrust, the Mwenje/Isibane description which was aimed at distinguishing the outfit from ZANU PF, was later replaced by a chi- Ndau word, Ndonga, which means knobkerrie. The political outfit last contested in elections in 2013 and lost, signalling its demise.
Edgar Tekere and ZUM
The late nationalist and national hero, Edgar Tekere, was a founding member of ZANU PF but over the years he fell out with the party due to his wayward behaviour.
He was expelled from the party in 1988 for behaving and issuing statements which ran counter to ZANU PF’s ideology, culture and ethos. Tekere went on to form an opposition party — the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) — in 1989 under whose ticket he contested in the 1990 presidential elections and lost to the late former president, Robert Mugabe.
This was followed by a downward spiral in political fortunes resulting in Tekere applying for readmission into ZANU PF.
He was accepted back in 2006 on condition that “you will not exercise your right to be elected to any office in the party for a period of five years. You will be required to uphold all the duties of a member …”
Simba Makoni and others.
Another politician who left ZANU PF and contested against it in a general election is Simba Makoni, a former Cabinet minister who also served as Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC) Executive Secretary, between 1983 and 1993.
On his return home, Makoni served as Zimbabwe Newspapers chief executive officer and Minister of Finance.
In February 2008, he announced his intention to contest that year’s Presidential election under Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) party.
“Following very extensive and intensive consultations with party members and activists countrywide, and also with others outside the party, I have accepted the call and hereby advise the people of Zimbabwe that I offer myself as candidate for the office of president . . . I share the agony and anguish of all citizens over the extreme hardships that we all have endured for nearly 10 years now . . . I also share the widely held view that these hardships are a result of failure of national leadership and that change at that level is a prerequisite for change at other levels of national endeavour,” said Makoni then in a statement.
He enjoyed the support of other disgruntled people such as the late ZAPU leader, Dumiso Dabengwa and former civil servant and Government critic, Ibbotson Mandaza.
He was also tacitly supported by the late MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Makoni participated in the 2008 election and lost to Cde Mugabe.
His political fortunes took a slump thereafter to the extent that in the run-up to the 2013 harmonised elections, Tsvangirai caused a scene at a rally in Makoni South when he attempted to impose Makoni onto the constituency, but the constituents stood their ground.
Closely related to Makoni’s stunt is Dabengwa, who later ditched ZANU PF.
He told the online publication, Nehanda Radio, in December 2011 that he had “pulled out of ZANU PF to revive ZAPU because of widespread violence in the run-up and aftermath of the 2008 elections”.
Despite attempting to use ZAPU’s history and association with former Vice President Joshua Nkomo, the project failed to gain traction.
By the time that he passed on in May last year, what remained of the party was just the name only.
What can one say of former Vice President Joice Mujuru who was expelled from ZANU PF early in 2015 and formed Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) a year later amid high expectations of troops of ZANU PF members following her, but this did not materialise?
Renaming the outfit to National People’s Party (NPF) in 2017 did not improve her fortunes and today it is just a shell. Even some G40 members also attempted to form a political party, the National Patriotic Front (NPF), in 2018 with Cde Mugabe’s tacit support but the project failed. Only one Jealousy Mawarire remains the only vocal party member.
It is clear that from the foregoing accounts of how some ZANU PF members who attempted to form their own parties to rival the revolutionary party failed to endure for a number of reasons.
Sithole was replaced as a leader for lack of commitment to the struggle.
Any disinterested observer would easily judge the ZANU PF 1975 executive harshly for its decision and readily sympathise with Sithole.
His links with the Americans in whose country he had dispatched his family for “safekeeping” did not make it easy for nationalists to continue tolerating him. He was hobnobbing with the same system which they were fighting against.
ZANU PF’s decision was to be vindicated when Sithole participated in Ian Smith’s sell- out Internal Settlement Agreement together with United African National Council (UANC)’s Abel Muzorewa, resulting in the latter becoming prime minister of the short-lived and discredited Zimbabwe-Rhodesia government in 1978.
Successful political parties like ZANU PF and the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa are built on a solid foundation of sound ideology.
None of the foregoing political efforts was based on ideology. Even Tekere, who attempted to sell his candidature on his opposition to what he alleged to be Cde Mugabe’s bid to turn Zimbabwe into a one-party state, did not have a solid ideology.
All he had was a hate-driven agenda to hit back at ZANU PF for expelling him. This is why all his efforts failed to last beyond the 1990 general elections.
Sithole’s formation of ZANU Mwenje/Isibane was purely out of a bruised ego and not the desire to prove a formidable alternative to ZANU PF. The same can be said of Tekere.
Some people whispered into the ears of Makoni that Cde Mugabe was no longer comfortable with him as he was said to be the potential successor to the then President. On that basis the guy became a conceited willing tool in the hands of other party members who were also interested in the crown only to be dumped and deserted.
The story is no different for Kasukuwere and Mzembi. Kasukuwere’s refrain, “Tatamba zvakwana (Enough is enough)” betrays a bitter man who feels that Operation Restore Legacy of November 2017 snatched from him and other G40 elements of a bone which they thought they had firmly clamped in their teeth.
That they are pursuing parallel political comeback initiatives exposes their ambition and over-inflated egos. None of them is prepared to serve under another, resulting in each leading a thin and rickety effort to fight a solid ZANU PF.
G40 chief strategist, Professor Jonathan Moyo, has refused to have anything to do with Mzembi and Kasukuwere, while Patrick Zhuwao is joining South African opposition party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Prof Moyo is said to have been put off by Kasukuwere’s naivety in naming his project Tyson Wabantu after the nudity-loving South African entertainer, Zodwa Wabantu.
Given this background, the G40’s political comeback projects are ill-fated and set for certain collapse. They are set to fail dismally. This is because, like similar projects of the 1970s and 1980s before them, they are based on personal grudges and not on the needs of the people, hence, they are doomed to fail.
The electorate does not vote for selfish and vindictive politicians.