I remember some years back attentively listening to a lecture presented by the sage Dalai Lama – the supreme head of Tibetan Buddhism, and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people – as he shared his profound wisdom on many facets of human existence, and humanity.
One of the things he warned was for those who were wealthy to be on guard of all those people around them, who portrayed themselves as genuine friends – since, they would only be there for the money, and its trappings, but not the person himself – such that, in the event of touch times befalling him, all those so-called “friends” would flee, leaving him alone in his suffering.
I was thinking of those words this morning, as I wondered why ZANU PF was so terrified of losing their grip on power in Zimbabwe – to the extent that, were prepared to employ brutal violence, destroying property, and even cold-blooded murder against opponents, whilst at the same time, abusing state institutions (which are constitutionally-obliged to be neutral and apolitical) in attempts to crush the opposition, and win elections.
That is not normal!
What were they so frightened of?
In other countries, that claim to be democratic, the winning and losing of power is considered normal and acceptable (although, losing in anything can, understandably, be a bit painful) which has become firmly entrenched in their cultures – with political parties, and their leaders, being mature enough to lose in grace, and confident of always making a comeback.
For instance, in countries as the US and UK – even though, it may be a bit of a bruise on their egos, but when, let us say, the Democratic, or Labour parties lose the popular mandate, they do so relatively gracefully – emboldened by the knowledge that, should they play their campaign cards skillfully and intelligently, they will bounce back in just one or two elections.
The same applies with their rivals – Republican, and Conservative parties.
As much as having two parties being the only viable contenders for power in any particular country – on account of other players finding the political terrain most difficult to traverse – is not the best scenario…it is, however, far much better than what we experience in Zimbabwe, which is savagely hostile towards any other meaningful opponent to the ruling party.
So, why is ZANU PF not prepared to lose elections – and then plan meticulously for a comeback in the following polls?
Why do they appear terribly horrified with the thought of losing power – even be it for only one or two terms – such that, are more than ready to kill rivals, intimidate and commandeer rural areas using traditional leaders and security forces, buy votes using state resources, and deploy supposedly independent national institutions to serve ZANU PF interests?
I am quite sure the answer lies with the ever-insightful Dalai Lama.
The ruling ZANU PF only enjoys “tremendous” support due to its incumbency of power!
In other words, the party is fully aware that, all those who appear loyal to its cause – from the very top, to the grassroots – are only there for the immense (or, even mediocre) benefits that accrue due to their hold on power, or proximity to the same.
That is also why, no one in ZANU PF will willingly resign, and establish their own political party to challenge the incumbent – but, would rather fight each other within the system – since being on the outside is truly “cold and lonely”, as some (who have been booted out, more than leaving on their own volition) have testified.
What this then means is that, in the event that ZANU PF lost power – there will be no one left standing by the party.
Those who were there for the positions of power would leave.
Those who merely wanted the dubious tenders and business contracts would abandon ship, and try their luck with the new leaders – which is why, some of these “politically-aligned cartels” fear ZANU PF being kicked out, as not only would they lose their “benefits”, but most certainly be held to account by the new government.
Those who are desperate for so-called “empowerment projects”, handouts, and inputs – due to impoverishment authored by the same ZANU PF – will similarly look elsewhere for survival.
Furthermore, traditional leaders, the rank and file in our security forces, state institutions, and even journalists at state-controlled media, will take a breath of fresh air, and celebrate their freedom from the perennial dagger which had been hanging over their heads for decades.
Who can forget – when it became apparent that then dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe was resigning, after being held captive during the military coup of November 2017 – the chief correspondent at state broadcaster ZBC, Ruben Barwe (who had been known for his rabid support of Mugabe for years, as his “presidential reporter”, as well as even being added on US travel restrictions) coming on air, and suddenly accusing the ousted leader of forcing people to attend his rallies, and bussing youths from all across the country for his “Youth Interfaces”!
In the end, ZANU PF will be left with practically no one – since it does not have any genuine followers and even leaders – but, merely “fair weather supporters”, who will bolt as soon as the power, wealth, and other benefits cease.
Of course, its leaders are also terrified of being brought to book for their heinous crimes against humanity, and unmitigated looting of national resources.
In any case, there will never be any coming back for ZANU PF should they lose power.
As a matter of fact, if a thing called ZANU PF were to continue existing post-electoral defeat, it would be in the same mould as Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC, or its namesake ZANU Ndonga – which may subsequently fail to attain even a solitary seat in parliament or local government council ward.
That is why ZANU PF can never tolerate losing power – and, will resort to the most savage and barbaric tactics – even though, in a normal democracy, normal parties are prepared to make a comeback, and not particularly fazed by some defeats along the way.
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +26378897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com