Unity in Zimbabwe? What unity?

Source: Unity in Zimbabwe? What unity? | The Financial Gazette December 15, 2016

By Tendai Makaripe

AFTER signing the historic unity accord on December 22, 1987, the late vice president Joshua Nkomo famously retorted: “Unity is not just the signing of documents. Unity is what follows.”
His statement was pregnant with meaning as it denoted that there was more to achieving unity than mere talk in front of television cameras.
Nkomo showed his undying passion to see a peaceful and united Zimbabwe by signing the unity accord that paved way for the realisation of peace in a country which had been entangled in political turmoil soon after independence in 1980.
The turmoil arose after two groups of former guerrilla war fighters from the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army and the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army crossed swords over an alleged coup plot by the latter.
The two groups had fought alongside to topple the repressive regime of Ian Smith in the 1970s.
Thirty-six years later, the unity that Nkomo and President Robert Mugabe envisioned appears to remain a distant mirage.
The situation on the ground points to disunity amongst Zimbabweans themselves, and even worse within the different political formations.
This renders the momentous Unity Day celebrations held on December 22 redundant.
While that unity is supposed to be evident in the ruling party, it appears that is where it has, in fact, completely vanished.
The ruling ZANU-PF whose party symbol is accompanied by the words: “Unity, Peace and Development,” is currently characterised by serious infighting and disunity that is threatening to tear the 53 year old party asunder.
The party’s December 2014 congress saw the genesis of serious purges which to date have claimed the scalps of about 201 cadres through expulsions and suspensions.
Although the party is now trying to mend the wounds by readmitting those it once suspended and fired, the cuts ran so deep that achieving reconciliation might just be a pipe dream.
High ranking officials including former vice president, Joice Mujuru, were booted out in a bid to cleanse ZANU-PF of all “malcontents”.
Mujuru has, together with some cadres who were expelled for hobnobbing with her, since formed her own political party, the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF).
Her expulsion was the beginning of serious infighting as party members aligned themselves to distinct factional camps. They have been jostling to take control of the party as well as position their preferred candidates to succeed President Mugabe in the event that the 92-year old leader decides to retire from active politics.
Media reports about factionalism in the party involving Team Lacoste, a grouping which is reportedly propping up Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s perceived presidential ambitions and a grouping of young turks running under the moniker Generation 40 (G40), which is strongly opposed to Mnangagwa’s ascendency to presidency, were initially dismissed as creations of the fourth estate. But now everyone in the ruling party is alive to the fact that factionalism is rife.
While President Mugabe has been doing everything to whip factionalists into line, relations between warring camps have irretrievably broken down and some are openly defying the ZANU-PF leader’s spirited orders to stop the wrangling as disunity relentlessly ravages the party.
Public exchanges of harsh words among party cadres in both the mainstream and on social media are the order of the day.

Respect for superiors has vanished as seen by utterances by Women’s League secretary for finance, Sarah Mahoka in February and Manicaland provincial minister, Mandiitawepi Chimene, who both confronted Mnangagwa, calling on him to openly declare his alleged presidential ambitions. They said these ambitions were the root cause of disunity in the party.
Furthermore, Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Jonathan Moyo, a perceived G40 mastermind, attempted to sue Mnangagwa for allegedly using State apparatus to arrest him.
War veterans’ relationship with the party they religiously served so well for decades has irreversibly broken down. There is growing animosity between the two groups.
ZANU-PF political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, also stoked the fires of disunity when he drew the ire of the freedom fighters when he described them as “drunkards and taxi drivers”.
They hit back calling for his ouster from the commissariat, describing him as ideologically bankrupt and incapable to lead that crucial department because he does not possess any war credentials.
And this glaring disunity in ZANU-PF has since permeated the generality of Zimbabwean society.
Talk of a grand coalition between not only Mujuru’s ZPF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), but between all opposition parties that had gathered momentum during the year seems to be dying a natural death. Egos have taken centre stage at the expense of unity.
The idea was to form a formidable outfit that would wrest power from ZANU-PF in the 2018 plebiscite, but the parties have failed to agree on who would lead the coalition.
ZPF believes it is prudent for Mujuru to lead the proposed coalition as she is the only one who has the requisite political stamina to snatch power from President Mugabe. The MDC-T argues that Tsvangirai is the natural candidate to lead the proposed coalition given his past acts of bravery. He has challenged President Mugabe in the past 17 years during which he even managed to force an election rerun in 2008 after narrowly beating the veteran politician.
Catching onto the contagious flue of disunity, Norton legislator Temba Mliswa recently tore into Tsvangirai, accusing him of being childish for allegedly boycotting his victory celebrations over a picture where he posed with Kasukuwere.
“Tsvangirai, if you think you can control me because you supported me in Norton, go to hell. I talk to whoever I want regardless of political affiliation,” charged Mliswa, demonstrating how difficult it has become for Zimbabweans to see eye to eye over the simplest of issues.
Social commentators have also noted that unity among families has also been heavily compromised. The rise of child headed families for example, signifies the death of Zimbabwean social structure despite the fact that the country has a child protection framework guided by the 1999 orphan care policy. This framework provides for a six-tier child safety system.
The system posits that children are best cared for by the biological nucleus family, which forms the first tier followed by the extended family, the community, foster care, adoption and institutional child care tiers respectively.
However, individualism is making the system difficult to function.

Respect for superiors has vanished as seen by utterances by Women’s League secretary for finance, Sarah Mahoka in February and Manicaland provincial minister, Mandiitawepi Chimene, who both confronted Mnangagwa, calling on him to openly declare his alleged presidential ambitions. They said these ambitions were the root cause of disunity in the party.
Furthermore, Higher and Tertiary Education Minister, Jonathan Moyo, a perceived G40 mastermind, attempted to sue Mnangagwa for allegedly using State apparatus to arrest him.
War veterans’ relationship with the party they religiously served so well for decades has irreversibly broken down. There is growing animosity between the two groups.
ZANU-PF political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, also stoked the fires of disunity when he drew the ire of the freedom fighters when he described them as “drunkards and taxi drivers”.
They hit back calling for his ouster from the commissariat, describing him as ideologically bankrupt and incapable to lead that crucial department because he does not possess any war credentials.
And this glaring disunity in ZANU-PF has since permeated the generality of Zimbabwean society.
Talk of a grand coalition between not only Mujuru’s ZPF and Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), but between all opposition parties that had gathered momentum during the year seems to be dying a natural death. Egos have taken centre stage at the expense of unity.
The idea was to form a formidable outfit that would wrest power from ZANU-PF in the 2018 plebiscite, but the parties have failed to agree on who would lead the coalition.
ZPF believes it is prudent for Mujuru to lead the proposed coalition as she is the only one who has the requisite political stamina to snatch power from President Mugabe. The MDC-T argues that Tsvangirai is the natural candidate to lead the proposed coalition given his past acts of bravery. He has challenged President Mugabe in the past 17 years during which he even managed to force an election rerun in 2008 after narrowly beating the veteran politician.
Catching onto the contagious flue of disunity, Norton legislator Temba Mliswa recently tore into Tsvangirai, accusing him of being childish for allegedly boycotting his victory celebrations over a picture where he posed with Kasukuwere.
“Tsvangirai, if you think you can control me because you supported me in Norton, go to hell. I talk to whoever I want regardless of political affiliation,” charged Mliswa, demonstrating how difficult it has become for Zimbabweans to see eye to eye over the simplest of issues.
Social commentators have also noted that unity among families has also been heavily compromised. The rise of child headed families for example, signifies the death of Zimbabwean social structure despite the fact that the country has a child protection framework guided by the 1999 orphan care policy. This framework provides for a six-tier child safety system.
The system posits that children are best cared for by the biological nucleus family, which forms the first tier followed by the extended family, the community, foster care, adoption and institutional child care tiers respectively.
However, individualism is making the system difficult to function.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 1
  • comment-avatar
    Harper 5 years ago

    Both ZIPRA and ZANLA may have fought against Smith, but they did not fight alongside each other to achieve this aim. Quite the contrary. I well remember August 1977 sweeping the battlefield in the Maranda TTL following a clash between the two groups.