Bring on the woman of substance
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.