ZIMBABWE – Around 2002 the nation’s service chiefs, headed by Vitalis Musungwa Gava Zvinavashe, called a press conference and addressed the nation. The crux of the press conference was to inform the nation that the highest office of the land, i.e. the office of the Presidency, was a straightjacket that was available for occupation only to Zimbabweans with war of liberation credentials.
The service chiefs further warned all and sundry, particularly those without the requisite credentials but who still harboured unbridled ambitions to occupy the office, that it was an exercise in futility and an abomination that would not be tolerated.
At the time, the power matrix in the nation was balancing on a knife edge, with most of the Zimbabwean electorate expressing disenchantment and weariness over the manner in which the ZANU PF government was discharging its responsibilities.
There were fears that the then government could be voted out and be replaced with a democratic dispensation, which promised guarantees to human rights sacrosanctity.
That, supported by strict rights observance, anchored on universal and democratic value systems, was seen as the panacea to social cohesion, a necessary ingredient for human development.
Of course there were murmurings of disapproval here and there in the nation, but overall, it was accepted that the nation had religiously acknowledged the order as given by the service chiefs.
Fourteen years later, the policy appears to have been thrown into the dustbin or has it been conveniently forgotten to accommodate new aspirants who fail to meet the requisite qualifications to the throne?
I am stating this, not because I hold sympathies for its continued existence as an expansion of the nation’s value systems, but that the discontinuation of a policy enunciated with such drama, thunder and Hammurabian eloquence, could not have escaped the notice of the public and naturally, would have attracted varied reactions from the public.
The above narrative has been provoked by the emergence of a political outfit within ZANU PF, commonly referred to as the Generation 40 or simply G 40. The thrust of my narrative is therefore, to highlight the potential G 40 possesses, if any at all, in its endeavor to reshape the political configuration, both within the ZANU PF establishment and the nation at large.
The chief architects of G 40 are alleged to be Professor Jonathan Moyo, Patrick Zhuwao and Saviour Kasukuwere who are further alleged to have roped in the First Lady, Dr. Amai Grace Mugabe to front the outfit.
Of course there have been denials and counter denials over its existence with the media being accused of mythically creating the faceless outfit. While it may be true that G 40 does not exist, I personally remain convinced and certain that something, which binds the trio beyond the camaraderie cordiality within the party and whose identity and motive we are yet to establish, does in fact exist.
The genesis of Generation 40 is found in an opinion piece written by Professor Jonathan Moyo titled: ZANU PF An introspection, which was published by the Sunday Mail of August 7; 2011.
Like Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians; (Corinthians 1. V.10) when he says “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
In the alluded to article, Moyo, rhetorically poses a number of key questions to colleagues in the party, whom he refers to as comrades in the nationalist movement. One such issue is the empowerment of the generation 40. I have no idea as to why Moyo chose G 40 and not G 20, G30 or even G70. Perhaps this is the age he identified as his catchment area, which naturally, would provide willing cadres to undertake the task at hand.
There had been no noticeable links between the trio and Moyo’s article until after the December 2014, ZANU PF Congress, at which the new party leadership was ushered in including Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, who was appointed Vice President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and the Second Secretary of ZANU PF.
Soon after, discernible signs of resentment, irritation, and deliberate outpouring of negative perceptions by the trio over the Vice President’s ascension, began to manifest themselves. It was conspicuously evident that the trio was not comfortable with the appointment, and sooner rather than later, fissures began to emerge within the institution.
A postulation by one of the newspapers, alluding to the fact that Vice President Mnangagwa was poised to take over the reigns after President Mugabe, given his new and strategic role in the succession matrix, provoked a flurry of unmitigated newspaper protests from both Moyo and Zhuwao.
Moyo went on to dismiss both the assertions and suggestion through newspaper articles quoting some provisions of both the party and national constitutions to back up his argument. He stated that Mnangagwa would have to win both the hearts and minds of the electorate to lend the post, as if to confirm the “Mnangagwa is not electable” inferences, deliberately planted in the nation to discredit the Vice President.
Ironically, Moyo missed a very important fact, that winning the hearts and minds of the electorate is a fundamental tenet of democracy and a sine qua non for that matter. It applies not only to Vice President Mnangagwa, but to anyone who wishes to win an elective contest.
It was therefore unbelievably hollow, for Moyo to cite the obvious as a point to augment his argument over his dislike of V.P Mnangagwa. Of course Moyo would still continue to make spiteful and scornful attacks on the so-called successionists through the internet.
On the other hand, Zhuwao also went on the offensive, producing serialized but uninspiring newspaper narratives in which he fumbled and tumbled over the succession issue, dismissing perceived successionists for allegedly attempting to remove President Mugabe before the expiry of his term of office. He even had the audacity to challenge V.P. Mnangagwa against hoisting a victory celebration party at some unknown and obscure venue in the Midlands province instead of the capital city, Harare.
Across the stream, Kasukuwere was busy supervising the restructuring or is it refracturing, or both of the provincial party structures to ensure there were in a sound state. Like a Somali warlord searching for a strategic position to set up a political base from which to launch raids against foes, Kasukuwere and his team, traversed the width and breadth of the country, conducting the painstaking exercise. They saw the creation of some structures while at the same time they also destroyed others, particularly those suspected to be at variance with his strategic thinking.
He had wielded enough authority which he could deploy against enemies to defend his turf. He publicly derided some senior party officials whom he accused of consulting Apostolic Sect Prophets (Vaporopfita) to seek for divine assistance in their alleged bid to create another center of power.
While the melodrama was playing itself out, discipline within the institution of the party, was being compromised in a big way. A poor woman, who did not see anything wrong with shouting the slogan “pasi ne G40,” which she poignantly made from the bottom of her heart, with the solemnity and innocence of a little girl, was rewarded with a suspension.
Ironically, this came after a series of spirited efforts by the entire party, to deny the existence of G 40 to the extent of even calling it a fertile imagination of the media. And that poor Nhari, who appears to have impulsively made the slogan, to confirm the underlying position that had been agreed on in the party, that G 40 did not exist and that she should be suspended because the slogan had aroused anger and revulsion within the top leadership, is indeed incomprehensible and regrettable. This is brazen hypocrisy that stinks to high heavens.
There is no doubt that indiscipline in any organization is a cancer that must be nipped in the bud as it can destroy the fabric of the institution. And yet in ZANU PF, one does not need magnifying glasses to see what goes on within the institution.
Some Party officials appear to be more equal than others and in fact they are immune to Party rules. They publicly challenge, denounce and even deride their seniors in a manner that leaves one wondering whether the Party has two sets of rules, one for the small fish and another for the untouchables.
Notwithstanding the glaring howlings of insults against fellow comrades and in direct contravention of Party policy, the untouchables speak to the media as and when they wish to. They make comments on any portfolio with or without the approval of the Party.
This in fact, is the major reason why factionalism will remain alive and lingering in the Party for a very longtime to come. If this is not the strike that will break the camel’s back, then I do not know what will.
Let me at this juncture, turn to one key player in the nation, Dr. Amai Grace Mugabe and examine the role she has played in the reconfiguration of the political matrix, both within the ZANU PF Party and the nation at large.
Dr. Amai Grace Mugabe started her provincial tours positively, with a concise and consistent message. But somewhere along the line, she got engrossed in factional or is it fictional politics or both, and this got her entangled in the political maze of ZANU PF. And because she seemed to have picked a side in the ensuing feuds, she also started making disparaging remarks against the other group.
A case in point is her recent, ill-conceived and unsolicited comments about war veterans at a rally in Murewa. It was an uncalled for remark which could have been avoided. War veterans are a key player in the politics of our nation and a very important stakeholder.
Apart from delivering independence to Zimbabweans, they are also a strong pillar upon which ZANU PF has relied on in difficult and challenging circumstances. They are the true vanguard of the nation’s liberation legacy which they also contributed to immensely. It was therefore inappropriate and ill- advised of the First Lady to make such admonitions in public.
Addressing her last rally in Gutu, Masvingo, the First Lady also made surprising lamentations about the future of the nation after the departure of President Mugabe. She painted a gloomy picture about the country and revealed that the nation would be engulfed in a state of chaos. She further made inferences about the current leaders’ lack of capacity to manage the affairs of the nation.
These disconcerting revelations petrified me and probably many Zimbabweans as well. There is no doubt that the fear and consternation about the future is clearly a symptom of the succession matter that is cumulatively overdue, and has not been properly handled. Great leaders are renowned and remembered for the legacy they leave behind when they are long gone and If President Mugabe’s legacy is going to be characterized by chaos and conflict, then that will be very sad indeed.
The First Lady left many with more questions than answers and more concerns to ponder about. Her Intimation that much more hardship and suffering is yet to come, gets everyone nervous, agitated and worried particularly in view of the economic hardship, trauma and anguish Zimbabweans have endued over the past fifteen years. She makes it even more frightening when she decides to remain mum over what Zimbabweans are supposed to do to circumvent the impending calamity.
While I agree with her about President Mugabe’s mega size shoes, I nonetheless maintain the opposite view about Vice President Mnangagwa’s ability to take over as President of the nation. I strongly believe that with his experience, coupled with three decades of his association with President Mugabe, he should, without any doubt be able to put on the old man’s shoes, and comfortably walk in them.
Furthermore, V.P. Mnangagwa has done exceedingly well since his appointment twelve months ago. He has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that he has the gravitas and stamina to manage the affairs of the nation. What he now needs is everyone’s support and cooperation, not the denigration that he is sometimes being subjected to by some overzealous, over ambitious and immature G 40 activists.
In my view G 40 is just a bunch of confusionists that represent selfish interests. They are clueless as regards what needs to be done to transform the economic fortunes of the nation. While they have no agenda for the nation, they hold dear to dogmatic and sterile economic policies that are characterized by populist rhetoric which inadvertently, is totally out of sync with the new economic world order. Zimbabwe, at this juncture, is in urgent need of sincere, sober and clear minded leaders, not pretenders and glory seekers.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article responding to what was clearly an unjustified attack on V.P. Mnangagwa by some regular newspaper columnist. A few days later, a former colleague in the opposition, who is now with ZANU PF, phoned demanding to know why I was meddling in ZANU PF politics.
My response was simple and still is, that if ZANU PF politics overlaps into the national realm, it becomes everyone’s responsibility to partake in. I will not seek for permission from anyone to contribute to matters of national significance. Mnangagwa is the Vice President of the nation and not of ZANU PF and he needs everyone’s respect.
Anyone who believes that a fight between Hon. Patrick Chinamasa and Hon. Patrick Zhuwao over the review of the nation’s indigenization policy should be left entirely to the two politicians or to ZANU PF in particular, is indeed unpatriotic.
Indigenization is a national policy matter whose implementation, altered or in its current state, has serious ramification on the nation as a whole and Zhuwao should be told in clear and unambiguous language that he is total lost in the political maze of successionism.
His lack of maturity as typified by his recent comments about Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) clearly shows that the young man is indeed a political Lilliputian. He should slow down a bit and learn from those who have been in the game longer than he has been. They know one or two more things that he does not know.