p; ANC versus Zanu PF
THE ruling Zanu PF’s recent congress and South Africa’s governing ANC conference have come and gone. In Zanu PF tyranny prevailed while in the ANC democracy triumphed.
The Zanu PF congress, according to President Robert Mugabe himself, had a “terrible ending” due to the ugly public brawls sparked by the fights between a section of the Zanu PF leadership and the war veterans. I can’t agree more with Mugabe that his party’s stage-managed and chaotic congress had a “terrible ending”, but for a different reason. It was indeed a terrible ending because dictatorship won the day and in the process ensured more suffering is yet to come for Zimbabweans.
The contrast between the Zanu PF congress and the ANC conference was striking. While the ANC was electing new leaders in Polokwane through a democratic and transparent process, including the secret ballot, Zanu PF had been “endorsing” its failed leader through a confirmation process that was even opposed by Mugabe loyalists like Women’s League leader Oppah Muchinguri at a politburo meeting on November 28.
The Zanu PF process was not just anti-democratic but embarrassing as well.
The chairmen of provinces were railroaded into reading a standard and pathetic endorsement letter confirming Mugabe as leader. The letter ironically provided the clearest evidence of political manipulation, including violation of the party’s procedures and constitution.
Mugabe was endorsed in terms of Article 6 (30)(3) of the current Zanu PF constitution at that extraordinary congress. However, Article 6 only deals with issues of the annual National People’s Conference, not extraordinary congress.
The relevant section (30)(3), says one of the powers and functions of the Zanu PF conference — not congress — is to declare the president of the party elected at the last congress as the presidential election candidate. That is why Mugabe was in December 2001 declared the Zanu PF candidate at the Victoria Falls conference ahead of the 2002 presidential election.
At the heated politburo meeting on November 28, Dumiso Dabengwa raised this issue clearly. He pointed out Zanu PF legal affairs secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa was “mixing up” provisions of conference and congress.
Mnangagwa, who should know better as a lawyer, claimed the constitution was being followed despite clear evidence it was being violated. Mnangagwa was the architect of the Mugabe endorsement bid. Senior Zanu PF officials such as Joseph Msika, Dabengwa and Muchinguri had serious reservations about this procedure.
As things stand now, Mugabe is a disputed Zanu PF candidate ahead of elections. His desperate plea that party officials who lose primary elections must not throw spanners in the works was also an appeal to those who are sulking over his controversial endorsement not to sabotage him.
After clumsily bulldozing his way through congress via a blatantly contrived endorsement, Mugabe is clearly running to a standstill. He is racing to win the March elections, but after that what happens? He will find himself still in the blind alley with all the problems besetting the country hovering over his head.
The economic meltdown will without a doubt worsen. This means hyper- inflation and shortages of almost everything, including food, water, electricity, cash and survival commodities. The already worthless local dollar will continue crashing against base currencies.
Indeed, the black market will take over the whole economy. In other words, we will be worse off when or if Mugabe is re-elected. Everybody, including Mugabe himself, knows this. However, this is what the Zanu PF congress voted for.
Contrast that with the ANC conference which rejected a fairly successful leader who had steered his economy through eight years of uninterrupted growth.
While Thabo Mbeki was leading South Africa along that growth path, Mugabe was pushing Zimbabwe through a similar period of unprecedented cumulative economic decline, entering the country in the Guinness Book of Records for all the wrong reasons — the highest inflation in the world, fastest contracting economy outside a war zone, shortest life expectancy, weakest currency, etc.
The ANC voted out Mbeki for trying to overstay his welcome as party leader. The party also disliked his leadership style, centralisation of power, abuse of state power, arbitrary dismissals of those who disagreed with him, and refusal to listen to other views and accommodate dissent. Mbeki was also punished for tribalising and villagising government. Apart from that, Mbeki had become fatally alienated from the masses because of his elitist politics.
However, instead of removing Mugabe, the Zanu PF congress retained him as party leader amid a serious economic and political crisis, showing the two parties have different political cultures in currency. Zanu PF members and supporters believe in sycophantic politics while ANC members reject that and want participant democracy.
In Zimbabwe sycophantic politics have been rooted in the political culture since 1980 and that is why Mugabe and his government could get away — literally — with murder while people are watching.
People get the government they deserve, it is often said, and no doubt Zimbabweans deserve Mugabe’s corrupt and incompetent regime. Until Zimbabweans and Zanu PF members in particular start holding their leaders to account, like the ANC did this week, the current crisis will persist.