What is left of Zanu PF

In 1980 when we came to Independence the Party known as the Zimbabwe African National Union was a monolith. They had taken over 80 per cent of the vote in the elections and controlled all aspects of Government. Only in the south west of the country, where the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union had dominated, was the control of Zanu PF challenged.

Source: What is left of Zanu PF – The Zimbabwean 23.08.2016

Over the next 7 years conflict between these two Parties raged to and fro across the land culminating in the eventual collapse of Zapu and its integration into Zanu PF. Having cemented its hold over the country, Zimbabwe entered an era as a virtual one Party State. Opposition groups came and went but the hold that the Party had over national activities remained absolute.

Then came 1999 when the Trade Union movement in Zimbabwe launched a Party, the Movement for Democratic Change, the era of one Party hegemony virtually came to an end. At this stage the only measure of the relative strength of the Zanu PF Party was their performance in the elections that took place in 2000. In those elections they took just over half the support they had received in 1980. This was a decline of  one third and marks the first real sign that support for Zanu PF was on the wane.

In the following 16 years there were 4 more elections and in my personal view the 2002 Presidential election was lost to the MDC by a significant margin. In the 2005 elections Zanu PF was able to claw their way back into the field and secured a two thirds majority. In 2008, the March elections were held under reasonable conditions and Zanu support fell to less than 30 per cent of the vote, losing both a majority in the House of Assembly and the Presidency. In the 2013 elections, the Party repeated what it had done in 2005 and secured another two thirds majority in Parliament.

What was not apparent in this process was the changing nature of the Party on the ground. In 1980 the Party was firmly entrenched in the country with structures in every electoral District and Ward. These political structures were reinforced with the War Veterans and together they constituted a formidable political organisation. In the intervening years, the Party has treated the State as an extension of itself. In the process they have moved Party Cadres into key positions in the Civil Service and also into Parastatals and the Private Sector.

The security services of the State have become effectively, at a high level, extensions of the Party. This process was built upon the integration process that followed Independence. After 2000 when the MDC began to contest for power, the Zanu PF Party was forced to recognise that their field structures were no longer able to perform the way they had in the early decades of Independence. To remedy this, the security services were drawn upon to fill key gaps, a senior officer was recruited into the Party Head Office as CEO and in the 2008 and 2013 elections, the Army and other branches of the Security Services deployed staff in every District and Ward.

To augment these systems the Party then used its position in control of the State to employ tens of thousands of Youth Militia in various capacities and uses these as a Party militia. These are then employed on Party programmes and to bolster Party activities such as rallies and demonstrations. It was these militia that were used so effectively in the 2013 elections to secure the results that they obtained.

Then came the process of Party disintegration that set in following the 2013 elections, the health of the President was deteriorating, his grip on power waning and the succession issue came to the fore. Despite all efforts, the different potential candidates for his shoes began to build alliances and factions in the Party began to appear.

In 2013 it was Emmerson Mnangagwa who engineered the Zanu PF victory using the military/security/Party structures that had been established after the 2008 debacle. Having delivered the massive victory that he was personally responsible for in 2013, he expected to be rewarded. The Vice Presidency at the very least, the public assurance of succession prospects would have been his goal. Instead the Old Man played games with him and the others in the race. Joyce was promoted and given the job of nominating the new Cabinet. Emmerson was demoted from Defence to Justice. He was furious.

Within months plans were laid for the removal of Joyce from the Vice Presidency – eventually in October 2014 this was achieved after Grace had been released from her Genies bottle and set loose in the Party. December comes and Emmerson is appointed Vice President, his final goal in sight. But the Genie was out of the bottle and would not go back.

So the final struggle for the control of the Party and Government began. In 2015 this struggle morphed into a two horse race – the Emmerson Group and the G40. The circle of close support for the President shrank down to next to nothing. By the end of the year he was virtually alone and isolated although still holding the keys to State House in his hands.

Emmerson still controlled the State – virtually all arms of the administration and all key power brokers were in his camp. The G40 controlled little but in a series of swift actions secured control over strategic funding and by the middle of 2016, secured effective control of what was left of the Zanu PF Party. At the center of this process was the President’s wife who was enjoying her new status as the Women’s League Chairlady and Party activist. They built up the militia and brought them under their direct control, using them to exercise ground control of Party structures.

So by August 2016, the G40 had got themselves into the position where they could use the Politburo to remove Mnangagwa elements from the Administration and the Party. The stage was set for a final confrontation at the annual Conference of the Party to remove Emmerson Mnangagwa from the post of Vice President. If this happens all that would be left of the Zanu PF Party would be a tiny group of people with little grass roots support, no support from the Veterans of the War and the active opposition of the major factions in Zanu – the Mujuru and the Mnangagwa groups. I doubt if what would be left would represent more than 5 per cent of the Party that once was such a dominant monolith in local politics.

I cannot see any possibility of a reconciliation of these factions and one or the other has to emerge supreme. If it is the G40 then I would expect that the State structures that have protected their base in the country would for the first time be separated from the tentacles of the Zanu PF Party. Like the War Veterans they would be obliged either to maintain their independence or to affiliate with one of the other players on the political playing field. This sets the stage for the emergence of a Government which, for the first time since Independence, will have a form of real separation of the difference elements that make up the State.

The final moves are being taken as we go into September 2016. It is the question of just how a new Government to replace the present one is to be achieved. In my view the only option that has any chance of success is an election. Success; in the sense that the process will produce a Government that has legitimacy, democratic foundations and international acceptance. Nothing else can realistically address our present crisis situation. For what is left of Zanu PF, this is the end of the road.


  • comment-avatar
    Nyoni 6 years ago

    The demise of ZanuPF is of no surprise to any of us. For most Zimbabweans including myself we never had faith in ZanuPF from years back prior 1980. Their tendency to unravel the founders of the struggle was tantamount to treason. Fortunately or maybe we should unfortunately they survived thanks to outside forces who helped them stay united but in spirit disunited until Independence, when all hell would break loose and the true demon would be exposed. Zimbabweans fell for the wily old fox Bob and his cohorts and the rest is history.
    They have lied , stolen and murdered us just to stay in power and denigrate the names and sacrifices of all war vets . Their contempt for all past and present is shown everyday by their actions against the povo and anyone who threatens them .
    Our young ones who have not seen war realise fully that they have been taken for a ride and rightly are fighting for their rights . As parents who deservedly helped in the formation of Zimbabwe ,no mater what colour or race ,we support whole heartedly their actions denouncing the regime and asking for a regime change.
    All ZanuPF has to do right now is ask themselves what do we have to do to stay relevant in today’s Zimbabwe. The people of this great land are sick and tired of the treatment they are receiving and as such are demanding change. As time goes by , the demise of our country is increased tenfold and as long as ZanuPF is in power ,we are doomed for another 100 years of neo-colonialism treatment. Which is worse than the colonial days.

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    mandevu 6 years ago

    not sure that an election is the only option because what are we faced with? Voting for a party we really hate or voting for a party or parties that we do not trust. Not a great option. I still say that the people of this country could simply decide to trash the entire political grouping and start afresh with a new democracy and a new leadership, new policies and improved international relations

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    Mazano Rewayi 6 years ago

    True, Zanu PF the organisation is in intensive care, sustained only by the continued existence of RGM. The day he breathes his last nothing will be left of the party. Ideologically though it died a long time ago when it resorted to violence as the first line of defense against criticism. Yet the Zanu PF culture of intolerance, greed and selfishness pervades most aspects of life in Zim at the moment. Getting rid of this is more difficult. Yes, “starting afresh” is ideal and indeed desirable but I do fear that the “Zanu culture”, our current levels of political disorganization, propensity for power as leaders and general selfishness as individuals militates against us achieving that noble goal. I am also not sure the 2018 elections, if held, will yield much in terms of genuine transformation given that the main contestants are mostly from the Zanu school. Perhaps as a nation we need now to start discussing more vigorously and more openly the “fresh start” that we wish for so as to limit the degrees of freedom for whoever emerges to lead us post Zanu PF. We should avoid the mistake of 1980 – focusing so much on removing those in power and trusting too much those leading the fight that we do not allow ourselves to shape the future we want.

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    A fresh start – yes – even if by some magic, a new government incorporated the best academics and expertise in the land to govern and be accountable, the problem lies with all the rotten apples in the system across the board.
    Nothing will change and cannot change until these liars, cheats and crooks are removed from office, be it civil service, commerce, industry and so on.
    Once a land of people have been engrained in corruption, backhanders and free loading you have a disease on your hands and the cancer spreads down the line to everyone in the nation, because that’s the only way to get by. Join the bandwagon or sink!
    A good start is municipal elections. We have recently seen in South Africa, the ANC has lost over all control of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town – all the big cities to name a few, to the opposition, after coming to power in 1994 – 22 years ago.
    The overriding message is quiet clear – Corruption, bribery and state theft is public enemy number one, will not be tolerated and will be eradicated at grass root level.
    It will take time but all the crooks must be quaking in their boots! If brought to book the message and drums will talk!
    The ANC’s power base now is mainly the rural areas which may give you the majority of votes in an election but limited powers in governance.
    For Zanu PF, they are history – it’s only a matter of time but that is the enigma – when and how?
    There are many fine Zim folk scattered across the world that yearn for their country.
    Imagine if most of these kin came back, what could be achieved. Maybe I am a dreamer, but not the only one!