[lg policy] Zimbabwe: Making the Case for Zapu in 2010

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 18 15:34:18 UTC 2010

18 January 2010

Making the Case for Zapu in 2010

17/01/2010 00:00:00
by Mlamuli Mhlaba Nkomo

Last year in December, in a country where life expectancy is 36, an 85
year old President Robert Mugabe swore into office a 76 year old John
Nkomo to become the country’s second vice president. The occasion was
witnessed by Morgan Tsvangirai, the chubby but powerless Prime
Minister who poled more votes than the President in the last
inconclusive election. This scenario does not inspire confidence at
all!  After being launched amid pomp and fanfare, the ramshackle
government of national unity between Zanu PF and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) has still not brought any meaningful change in
the lives of ordinary Zimbabweans.
Morgan Tswangirai still behaves the old sulking opposition leader well
versed in boycott tactics while Mugabe remains a raving dictator
driving both the country and his party into oblivion.

Faced with a dysfunctional governing body formed after bitter and
scandalous negotiations without any elected mandate, the GNU has no
immediate plans of rescuing Zimbabwe from the current mess to a proud
nation. Mugabe is President not because of an election and Tsvangirai
is the errand boy not because any Zimbabwean voted him to be in that
position. The current set-up is a result of Mugabe`s scheming and how
the MDC, hungry for power, fell into the trap.  The problem with the
MDC and Zanu PF is that they have this silly idea that Zimbabwe’s
problems started in the late 90`s when Tsvangirai formed his fractured
party or 2000 when Mugabe invaded white-owned commercial farms.
Zimbabwe challenges are deeper than the petty feud between Zanu PF and the MDC.

There problem is simply that there is no culture of democracy in the
country. Many Zimbabweans were misled into thinking the MDC-T was
fighting for democracy only to be disappointed the party’s main
concerns revolves around appointing and disappointing a few
individuals into positions of power. The fight between the two is not
ideological; it is about power and positions, nothing else. Witness
how Tsvangirai overturned a majority vote in his party over their
participation in senatorial elections in 2005. Tsvangirai is hell-bent
on clinging onto the leadership of the MDC which is why he tempered
with his party’s constitution in order to remain in office.

Despite their empty talk on human rights, democracy and rule of law,
Zimbabweans are beginning wise up and seeing the MDC-T for what it is-
a useless piece of beautiful beads that unfortunately does not fit on
their necks. It is in such gloomy and depressing times that
Zimbabweans are excited by the emergency of a revolutionary
alternative in the revival of their beloved Zimbabwe African Peoples
Union (Zapu). The emergency of Zapu is not only refreshing and
calming, it is also nostalgic; it revives the glorious past of a
liberation movement rooted in the aspirations of the people. Zapu,
with its predecessors the NDP, ANC and PCC, has a proud tradition of
fighting injustice in this country. Its experience and mistakes are a
lesson to all on what it means to be grounded with the people.

However, one of the often rehashed criticisms is that Zapu is a tribal
party bent on creating ethnic tensions in the country. To begin with,
such criticism is in itself tribalistic in the sense that it
presupposes that only people from a certain ethnic group have a right
to form and lead political parties, while people from smaller cities
and minority groups can only be followers of these movements. How can
victims of tribalism be perpetrators of the same tribalism? It is well
known that Zanu broke away in 1963 because some among the party felt
that they cannot be led by a “zimundebere”. How on earth can a
splinter group be more representative and nationalistic than the
mother body?

The tripartite alliance misgoverning the country at the moment does
not seem to believe that a leader from the minority groups is capable
of leading a national party. The worst example is the MDC-M which in
an act of desperation imported Professor Arthur Mutambara, seemingly
doubting its own leadership capabilities. Many Zapu members are
victims of tribalism. They were dismissed in the police and army
because of their ethnic origins and orientation. Zanu PF specifically
targeted Ndebele members of Zapu during the Gukurahundi. Notice how
the state has covered Zapu activities in its media. The revived Zapu
has been active in all provinces especially in Mashonaland West but
one gets only to see a couple of negative stories in the Chronicle
while the Mashonaland based Herald totally ignores the party’s
activities in that part of the country.

It is deeply insensitive to propagate lies that Zapu is a tribal party
when the facts on the ground clearly show its members are victims.
Linked to the criticism on tribalism is the myth that Zapu is a
secessionist movement. The fact is that secession and devolution of
power are very different issues. Zapu does not advocate for the
creation of a Masvingo Republic neither does in preach for the
Republic of Matabeleland. Established democracies have taught us that
to enjoy democracy and human rights countries need not necessarily be
homogeneous units consisting of a single ethnic group. In the era of
globalisation people can practice their culture and enjoy their
freedom based on rights enshrined in state constitutions. Ndebele
people do not necessarily need to be camped in Matabeleland to fully
enjoy their freedom and rights. The same applies for the Karanga group
in Masvingo

All that is needed is to campaign and work for a constitution that
strengthens democratic institutions, promotes talent and realisation
of one’s full potential. The only way that the discredited GNU can
salvage a modicum of credibility is to oversee the smooth running of
the constitution making process currently underway. (Already the
process is obviously flawed but with this ruling coalition we have
become accustomed to mediocrity) Devolution is not about dividing
people. It is primarily meant to distribute resources and ensure that
local and provincial government structures are accountable. In the
current set up a provincial governor represents the President. Where
power is devolved the governor ideally comes from the party with the
highest votes in that province. It is undemocratic to have a situation
where a president appoints a governor in a province where his party is
not in the majority.

A lot of work and consultation still needs to be done to ascertain
which services to decentralise to provinces and which ones should
remain with central government. For instance, defence will always
remain the preserve of central government while provinces might have
more say in language policy and education and delivering service to
citizens in their area.
With regard to the Unity Accord, the formal withdrawal of Zapu from
Zanu PF in May 2009 was just a symbolic gesture. The facts on the
ground indicate that the Accord died decades back. For John Nkomo to
purport to represent Zapu as deputy president and second secretary of
Zanu PF is one of the lunacies associated with the GNU and Zanu PF.
It is a well established fact that Zapu was forced into the unity
accord with a sizeable number of parliamentary seats. Today Nkomo, who
purports to be a bona fide Zapu representative, would not win a ward
election even in an “un-free” and unfair election.

It is the people and not Dabengwa who pulled out of Zanu PF; Dabengwa
merely followed the people. Looking ahead, and as we enter the magical
year 2010, Zapu is emerging as the only genuine force for change. The
party is embarking on a number of projects to bring hope to the
desperate people of Zimbabwean. Instead of mourning and complaining,
Zapu brings a vision for a democratic and progressive Zimbabwe based
on the respect for individual freedoms and the respect for human
rights. The party has identified key issues in Education, Health, and
economic empowerments as key pillars in the development of the

Zapu is on a drive to be an attractive movement to millions of
unemployed and unemployable youths. The involvement of the youths is
crucial to the survival of the party. As a movement we should be proud
of our liberation war credentials but at the same time we should not
lose sight of where we are going in shaping the future of the country
by neglecting the needs and aspirations of the youths. From Ian Smith,
Abel Muzorewa, Robert Mugabe and, lately, Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe
has had its fair share of bad and vision-less leaders. With the
inspiration of its founding leader Joshua Nkomo, Zapu is on the track
to deliver the leadership that will take the country forward. The year
2010 is so important to Southern Africa because of the soccer World
Cup in South Africa. In political spheres Zapu is the mover and shaker
in 2010. Watch this space!

Mlamuli Mhlaba Nkomo is a member of the Zapu Youth Front. He writes in
his personal capacity and can be contacted at mlamulin at yahoo.co.uk

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