By Thelma Chikwanha
HARARE – Alarmed by the escalating anarchy devouring the ruling party, Zanu PF bigwigs — including an under pressure President Robert Mugabe — are planning to devote most of their time looking into the mindless bloodletting when the politburo, the party’s highest decision-making body outside congress, next meets in Harare.
Well-placed sources told the Daily News on Sunday yesterday that the rampant factionalism and “destructive ambition” that continued to characterise the party — as manifested in its divisive restructuring programme, escalating purges of senior party officials and the recent civil servants’ bonuses debacle — had “surprised and shocked” its leaders, necessitating a re-think of strategies.
What is worrying the party leadership even more is that the party’s brutal infighting was “more and more impacting negatively on the workings of the government and service delivery”, at a time that the country’s economy was plummeting precipitously, throwing many Zimbabweans into the ranks of the unemployed and abject poverty.
“Things are very bad in the party at the moment and no-one seems to have a clue on what to do to arrest this worsening sickness.
“It is thus, inevitable that the next politburo meeting will be a massive one as the untenable situation in the party and government cannot be allowed to continue any longer.
“What is most worrying is that the party is engulfed in serious anarchy at all levels as seen in the continuing recommendations by provinces to suspend and expel senior officials wantonly, and the question on everyone’s lips is how and where will this end?
“The hope that many had that the purging and expulsion of Mai (former vice president Joice) Mujuru and her allies from the party would stabilise the party has proven to be a false one,” a Zanu PF central committee member said.
A Cabinet minister echoed the same sentiments saying in all the decades that he had been in Zanu PF, he had “never ever seen this much chaos and turmoil in the movement”.
As a result, he said, he was “praying” that Mugabe would, somehow, find a quick political solution to the escalating problems bedevilling the party, as well as the country.
“This dog-eat-dog situation that now obtains, where comrades are turning on each other viciously and without good reason must stop now.
“I am praying that the president is reflecting deeply on what is happening and that he will trigger solutions to all these myriad problems when the politburo next meets,” he said.
Many observers who spoke to the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, including political analyst Takura Zhangazha, said things could only get worse within the party, as well as the country generally — at least in the short to medium term.
“The now muted ZimAsset is appearing more and more to be not worth the paper it was written on because most of the planned economic programmes have failed to take off the ground.
“The economy will however, improve if there is a shift from State-led economic models that lead to elite accrual and the impoverishing of the majority.
“This is opposed to social democratic models that guarantee social welfare and that promote innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.
Director of Youth Initiative for Democracy in Zimbabwe, Sydney Chisi said until Zanu PF got to the bottom of the implosion within the party, the economy would remain in the doldrums.
“The president had the energy to fire ministers and deputies but could not replace them because of serious factionalism in the party.
“In addition, many ministers are living on the edge because they don’t know who is next to be fired, and hence no one is performing.
“The bonus confusion revealed that firing Mai Mujuru was in fact not the solution to having multiple centres of power, and that bonus debacle must have scared everyone in the party,” Chisi said.
Hubert Humphrey fellow at Minnesota University, Gladys Hlatshwayo, said Zanu PF had for decades been more interested in “retaining power for the sake of power” and less about the welfare of the State and ordinary Zimbabweans.
“But people do not eat party issues, they need jobs and food. Too much energy is being devoted to non-issues. We need the government to provide solutions to the worsening economic outlook. That is why, after all, they are in government,” she said.
Another prominent analyst, Maxwell Saungweme, said it was now apparent that getting rid of Mujuru had not solved the factionalism that was bedevilling Zanu PF, which he said had been caused by the party’s poorly-managed succession issue.
“All that Zanu PF, including the president, has been worried about and preoccupied with in the past 12 months has been power struggles and factionalism in the party.
“It’s likely that the anarchy in the party will continue to consume them at the expense of issues of national importance.
“One would have expected that issues such as xenophobia in South Africa, the economy, civil servants’ bonuses, the liquidity crunch and the closure of firms would take centre stage. But alas, nothing like that will happen.
“We are all being held to ransom as a nation by Zanu PF squabbling.
“But with age and declining health catching up with Mugabe, one can see some changes in Zanu PF in terms of office bearers, sooner or later.
“But whether that will help us move forward as country I doubt as Zanu PF is a political system which is in shambles and the power struggles can potentially plunge the country into chaos once Mugabe is incapacitated or gone,” Saungweme said. Daily News