Bring on the woman of sub­stance

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - OPINION -

IF HIS­TORY is to be re­lied upon, who could ever for­get that those who cam­paigned for for­mer ANC pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki’s third term in 2007 had en­dorsed Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as the coun­try’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date for 2009 gen­eral elec­tions?

There were no mis­giv­ings about her re­la­tion­ship with the then-ANC deputy pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma. Nor did her close ties with Mbeki make any dif­fer­ence.

None of those things would taint her po­lit­i­cal pedi­gree, for she owes her al­le­giance to the move­ment she served with dis­tinc­tion at the height of apartheid. Why is it now a mat­ter of taste?

The pro­gres­sive cadres of our move­ment are on the ground mo­bil­is­ing branches to counter the ef­fect of slates en­dan­ger­ing the coun­try. We have a pa­tri­otic duty to dis­cern a true cadre from the mere, of­ten dan­ger­ous, politi­cians with­out grace.

The only way to avert the im­pend­ing risk is to bring to the fore a woman of sub­stance and build the na­tion.

Dlamini Zuma ex­em­pli­fies the ser­vant-leader we need to shep­herd a so­ci­ety racked by un­em­ploy­ment and poverty, which af­fects women and chil­dren in ru­ral ar­eas. Mor­gan Phaahla

Ekurhu­leni ZIM­BABWE’S new po­lit­i­cal era leaves the op­po­si­tion with a tough choice – ei­ther work with Zanu-PF as part of a pos­si­ble gov­ern­ment of na­tional unity (GNU) to re­build the econ­omy and re­form elec­toral gov­er­nance, or re­main in­de­pen­dent and build its struc­tures ahead of the 2018 elec­tions. It’s not yet clear whether Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa will at­tempt to forge a GNU but there is a size­able con­tin­gent of Zanu-PF’s cen­tral com­mit­tee which, at its meet­ing where for­mer pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe was re­called, were adamantly op­posed to jump­ing into bed with the op­po­si­tion.

When Tendai Biti spoke in Sand­ton last week about 90% of Zim­bab­weans be­ing un­em­ployed and 80% living below the poverty line, the prospect of a unity gov­ern­ment to get the econ­omy back on its feet sounded tempt­ing. It would also likely be the op­tion that South Africa would pre­fer given that it pri­ori­tises po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity for its north­ern neigh­bour.

But join­ing forces with Zanu-PF once again will come at a sig­nif­i­cant po­lit­i­cal cost to the op­po­si­tion. His­tory is al­ways in­struc­tive, and the op­po­si­tion needs to con­sider the po­lit­i­cal strat­egy of Zanu-PF since in­de­pen­dence – to dec­i­mate and ter­rorise the op­po­si­tion, and then sub­sume it.

As Welsh­man Ncube told me this week, Zanu-PF has never be­haved as a demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal party, but more as a para­mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion, which is a master at the re­ten­tion of po­lit­i­cal power. Ncube con­tends that Mnan­gagwa is pre­sid­ing over what has al­ways been a vi­cious po­lit­i­cal party, and Gen­eral Con­stantino Chi­wenga (who en­sured Mu­gabe’s demise) has been the en­forcer of Zanu-PF’s vi­cious­ness since in­de­pen­dence.

So when the op­po­si­tion care­fully weighs up its choices, it should be mind­ful of the fact that this is the very same Zanu-PF which first dec­i­mated and then sub­sumed

Zapu, the orig­i­nal lib­er­a­tion move­ment. In the mid-1980s Zanu had set about de­stroy­ing Zapu as a po­lit­i­cal op­po­si­tion, de­tain­ing and tor­tur­ing lit­er­ally all Zapu of­fi­cials, and starv­ing and mas­sacring the Nde­bele in Mata­bele­land which backed Zapu.

Just as Mnan­gagwa had been head of the in­fa­mous Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Or­gan­i­sa­tion in the 1980s that, along­side the 5th Bri­gade, presided over the bru­tal tor­ture of the Nde­be­les, Chi­wenga had com­manded the 1st Bri­gade that al­legedly gave lo­gis­ti­cal and ground sup­port to the 5th Bri­gade. So atro­cious were the mas­sacres at the hands of the 5th Bri­gade that Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo fi­nally ca­pit­u­lated by sign­ing a unity ac­cord with Zanu to save his peo­ple from fur­ther de­struc­tion.

The op­po­si­tion to­day should take care­ful note of the re­sults of Zapu ca­pit­u­lat­ing to a unity deal with its po­lit­i­cal ri­vals. While in the unity gov­ern­ment, Nkomo was ig­nored by Zanu-PF col­leagues.

Just as Zanu had dec­i­mated and ter­rorised Zapu’s po­lit­i­cal base in the 1980s, a sim­i­lar tac­tic was used to neu­tralise the MDC in the 2000s.

In 2002 three prom­i­nent MDC lead­ers were charged with trea­son – Welsh­man Ncube, Mor­gan Ts­van­gi­rai and Ren­son Gasela. The trial and re­stric­tions weak­ened the MDC, and by 2004 Zanu-PF had suc­cess­fully man­aged to dec­i­mate most of its po­lit­i­cal struc­tures. The MDC went into the 2005 elec­tions weak and un­able to cam­paign in many ar­eas, and its mem­bers in the ru­ral ar­eas were too ter­ri­fied to go to ral­lies.

De­spite all the ob­sta­cles, the

MDC still beat Zanu-PF in the

2008 elec­tions, al­though it failed to get 50 plus 1% of the vote. The mil­i­tary and Zanu-PF struc­tures then un­leashed un­prece­dented po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence against the MDC op­po­si­tion.

It was the same Gen­eral Chi­wenga who staged a coup against Mu­gabe last week that had worked along­side Po­lice Chief Au­gus­tine Chi­huri in the re­pres­sion of the op­po­si­tion. After the 2008 elec­tion Chi­wenga sup­pos­edly told Mu­gabe: “We can’t lose elec­tions. We can’t hand power to the MDC. We are go­ing to oblit­er­ate them.”

That po­si­tion is un­likely to have changed.

For the op­po­si­tion it is cer­tainly time to choose whether to sub­mit or fight.

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