Of im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates, in­ter­nal party democ­racy

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa made it crys­tal clear that im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates by some party god­fa­thers would not be tol­er­ated un­der the re-branded Zanu-PF, em­pha­sis­ing the point that can­di­dates should come from the peo­ple.

The Manica Post - - Analysis - Ha­tred Ze­nenga Edi­tor

ZIM­BABWE has had a very long pe­riod — 37 years of rule de­scribed in many quar­ters as au­thor­i­tar­ian—which ended in Novem­ber, 2017. And it re­mains a fact that the legacy of that pe­riod is still with us as can be wit­nessed in our var­i­ous gov­er­nance in­sti­tu­tions, where tol­er­ance and mul­ti­ple voices are not en­ter­tained.

Un­de­ni­ably, some rem­nants of that au­thor­i­tar­ian past still ex­ist, and wield power and in­flu­ence in the rul­ing party Zanu-PF as we try to tran­si­tion from that legacy.

It is there­fore a mam­moth chal­lenge for the new lead­er­ship to in­stil demo­cratic tenets in the party. The new lead­er­ship of Zanu PF has made it clear that in­ter­nal democ­racy is crit­i­cal for the party it­self, its mem­bers and for the coun­try at large.

It re­mains a fact that the ab­sence of in­ter­nal democ­racy in po­lit­i­cal par­ties is a ma­jor rea­son why the qual­ity of lead­ers that we at times pro­duce has not matched our ex­pec­ta­tions, es­pe­cially in Par­lia­ment and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa has been try­ing ex­tremely hard to es­chew evil and un­ortho­dox prac­tices in both Govern­ment and the rul­ing party Zanu-PF.

But shak­ing off the vices of the past will not be an easy job and can­not hap­pen overnight.

The Pres­i­dent, who is also Zanu-PF’s First Sec­re­tary, last week in Chipinge at a field day at a farm owned by Mr Ir­vene Taguta, took time to speak on im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates and the need to al­low in­ter­nal party democ­racy to flour­ish in Zanu -PF as the coun­try edges closer to har­monised elec­tions sched­uled for July this year.

“No im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates, no im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates. Ma­can­di­dates anomirira kuenda ku Par­lia­ment ngaabve ku­vanhu, ngaabve ku­vanhu. Ha­pana kuti uyu ndishefu; uyu ndiyani. Umwe neumwe ngaaende ku­vanhu, abve ku­vanhu, vanhu vasimudze kuti ndiye watin­oda uyu.

“Sisi ava kana mukoma ava ndivo vatin­oda, zvichibva ku­vanhu. Ndoz­va­toda izvozvo. No im­po­si­tion at all. Ndozvi­no­zoti to­zouya kwa­muri ti­chiti ko munhu azo­tadza kuh­wina sei murimi makatipa, kwete kuti moti imi vakuru ndimi makatipa, isu tanga tine wedu, ayehwa. Isu toda munhu wa­munotipa imi; ndo­mu­rairo wavapo.

“We want peo­ple to elect their rep­re­sen­ta­tives them­selves. We don’t want im­po­si­tions; kuti uyu ndiye an­odiwa na Pres­i­dent, uyu ndiye an­odiwa na chair­man we­mu­sangano vaMadiro. Ha­pana in­hema, in­hema! Ini ndin­oda anenge adiwa nevanhu kwete kuti adiwa na shefu. An­odiwa nevanhu ndiye wandin­odawo” said Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa to wild ap­plause from the crowd.

It is im­por­tant to note that the Pres­i­dent was em­pha­sis­ing and re-em­pha­sis­ing that Par­lia­men­tary can­di­dates for the forth­com­ing hamor­nised elec­tions must come from peo­ple and not be im­posed by the Pres­i­dent or the Zanu-PF Chair­man for Man­i­ca­land Prov­ince Cde Mike Madiro, who are ser­vants of the peo­ple. It is not a se­cret that im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates has in the past been Zanu-PF’s Achilles heel dur­ing elec­tion time.

Im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates on the party by some in­flu­en­tial lead­ers had be­come the rule, which Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa is do­ing ev­ery­thing is his power to elim­i­nate.

Some party god­fa­thers brazenly picked and chose favoured can­di­dates at will with­out any con­cern for the good and progress of the party.

Such god­fa­thers pre­ferred their loy­al­ists to pop­u­lar can­di­dates.

This spate of im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates as­sumed dis­turb­ing di­men­sions over the past few har­monised elec­tions as the for­mer Pres­i­dent and party leader, Mr Robert Mu­gabe was slowly los­ing con­trol of the levers of power to crim­i­nal el­e­ments around him. The prac­tice has spelt doom for many Zanu-PF can­di­dates whose po­lit­i­cal am­bi­tions had been cur­tailed un­demo­crat­i­cally in pref­er­ence for some sa­cred cows.

Con­se­quently, Zanu-PF mem­bers, who felt short-changed dur­ing party pri­maries left to ei­ther stand as in­de­pen­dents or join other par­ties.

Mudzi South Mem­ber of the House of As­sem­bly Jonathan Sa­mukange is one name that quickly comes to mind.

The truth is, this evil prac­tice causes the dis­in­te­gra­tion of a po­lit­i­cal party and breeds bad blood and dis­con­tent­ment in the rank and file of a party.

It is a threat to democ­racy as it does not give room for party mem­bers to have a say in the choice of can­di­dates to stand for the main elec­tion.

Ev­ery can­di­date in­ter­ested in an elec­tive of­fice should be given the op­por­tu­nity to test his or her pop­u­lar­ity within the party by demo­crat­i­cally con­ducted pri­maries which will pro­duce the most pop­u­lar can­di­date for the main elec­tion.

Any­thing short of that is a to­tal di­ver­sion from demo­cratic norms and prin­ci­ples.

This is pre­cisely what the Pres­i­dent was say­ing in Chipinge last week.

Im­po­si­tion of can­di­dates dampen the morale of mem­bers. It is a prac­tice that is ca­pa­ble of shak­ing the be­lief of mem­bers in their party and in its in­ter­nal mech­a­nisms. It is a di­rect af­front to democ­racy which re­duces elec­tions to a process of sheer favouritism. No doubt, this be­comes party bul­ly­ing, not party build­ing. Any demo­cratic sys­tem for a na­tion ought to be­gin from the par­ties and how they choose their can­di­dates for the main elec­tion.

There­fore, there should be a close re­la­tion­ship be­tween democ­racy within a po­lit­i­cal party and democ­racy within the coun­try.

Put sim­ply, Zanu-PF can­not build democ­racy on a sub­struc­ture of in­tol­er­ance within the party, con­strict­ing the free­dom of its mem­bers to choose can­di­dates of their choice, and then want to prac­tice democ­racy at na­tional level.

It is very clear that the Pres­i­dent wants his party to re­alise that democ­racy should not just be an idea, but a cul­tural prac­tice that should per­vade the whole party.

THE rul­ing rev­o­lu­tion­ary party Zanu-PF is sched­uled to hold its pri­mary polls this Sun­day, April 29. In a first of its kind in the party, most of the constituencies are be­ing heav­ily con­tested, a de­vel­op­ment at­test­ing com­mit­ment to pro­mo­tion of in­ter­nal party democ­racy un­der the new lead­er­ship of Pres­i­dent and First Sec­re­tary, Cde Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa.

it is a re­al­ity that in the past, se­lec­tion of some can­di­dates in Zanu-PF was not done through out­comes from proper party pri­maries, but through hook and crook - the prin­ci­ple of nepotism and mas­ter-ser­vant re­la­tion­ship, among other fac­tors.

Can­di­dates vy­ing for a po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion found it eas­ier when they were the ‘sons or daugh­ters’ of a party god­fa­ther. Cred­i­bil­ity and pop­u­lar­ity were sec­ondary con­sid­er­a­tions to the favouritism pri­ori­tised and cham­pi­oned by some un­prin­ci­pled lead­ers.

Con­tin­ued tus­sling for po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions ex­posed the di­min­ish­ing in­ter­nal democ­racy within the party and con­se­quently, the chances of the elec­torate get­ting the best man or woman for the job were shat­tered.

Thus, the party was weak­ened by var­i­ous de­grees of in­ter­nal con­flicts and squab­bles with the im­pli­ca­tion that the in­ter­nal struc­ture was of­ten mired in end­less fights. This trans­lates to the fact that Zanu-PF, which was ex­pected to pro­mote the tenets of democ­racy, had fallen short of en­sur­ing that such a goal is achieved.

Bick­er­ing within the party pro­duced two end re­sults: Proper co-or­di­na­tion of the party in re­la­tion to cam­paign­ing and other fac­tors could not be achieved; also some mem­bers of the party be­came dis­il­lu­sioned and ex­pressed their dis­con­tent through de­fect­ing to op­po­si­tion par­ties.

Cu­mu­la­tively, these re­sulted in fac­tion­al­i­sa­tion within the party, dis­trust among party mem­bers, can­di­dates stand­ing as in­de­pen­dents and pro­lif­er­a­tion of po­lit­i­cal par­ties in the coun­try. But the new rules of the re­branded Zanu-PF and wishes of its leader, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa, de­sire to en­sure that se­lec­tion of the right can­di­dates for the 2018 har­monised elec­tions is not sub­jected to the whims and caprices of few am­bi­tious lead­ers within the party.

Party Pri­maries have been suc­cinctly de­fined by Nige­rian scholar, Alu­oma as “the ini­tial elec­toral con­test amongst can­di­dates for the pur­pose of win­ning the nom­i­na­tions of their par­ties for the gen­eral con­test”.

The im­por­tance of party pri­maries is that they serve as a lit­mus test for po­lit­i­cal par­ties and are also ex­pected to en­sure that the el­e­ments of democ­racy are ob­served. There­fore, the se­lec­tion of com­pe­tent can­di­dates is most im­por­tantly and firstly done through the or­gan­i­sa­tion of pri­mary elec­tions be­fore the gen­eral elec­tions.

This is vi­tal as it serves the pur­pose of nom­i­nat­ing the right can­di­dates for po­lit­i­cal of­fice, thus mak­ing it rel­e­vant in en­sur­ing that in­ter­nal democ­racy of the party is prop­erly up­held.

This is be­cause, not only does it cre­ate room for op­por­tu­ni­ties to vi­able party mem­bers, but also weak­ens the in­flu­ence of po­lit­i­cal god­fa­thers within the party, which will con­se­quently aid democrati­sa­tion of the party. In turn, in­ter­nal democ­racy will help in en­sur­ing most of the party ac­tiv­i­ties are in or­der.

As Zanu-PF heads for pri­maries, pro­cesses of can­di­date se­lec­tion have been made as open as pos­si­ble. This is nec­es­sary to en­sure the can­di­dates se­lected are cho­sen based on their mer­its, rather than god­fa­ther-sup­port, bribery or cor­rup­tion. By re­peat­edly stat­ing that there should be no can­di­date im­po­si­tion, Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa is merely en­trench­ing in­ter­nal democ­racy, which was slowly but surely dis­ap­pear­ing in his party.

We can­not there­fore overem­pha­sise the fact that sur­vival, ef­fec­tive­ness and vi­brancy of a po­lit­i­cal party is largely an­chored on its in­ter­nal process of pri­maries and can­di­date se­lec­tion process. Cer­tainly, by us­ing in­ter­nally demo­cratic pro­ce­dures Zanu-PF is likely to se­lect more ca­pa­ble and ap­peal­ing can­di­dates.

Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa

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