Featured post

The Mnangagwa’s Unfinished Homework: The Need for a True Public Media

By Blessing Vava Zim's power couple The media comedies of errors by the Mnangagwa’s from the events of the past weeks have b...

Monday, 12 February 2018

The Mnangagwa’s Unfinished Homework: The Need for a True Public Media

By Blessing Vava

Zim's power couple
The media comedies of errors by the Mnangagwa’s from the events of the past weeks have been interesting in the so-called ‘new dispensation’.  Since taking over the reins of the state in November last year in James Bond style, with the assistance of the military, Mnangagwa has been on a massive rebranding exercise aimed at sprucing up his dented historical image.  The man has been working the clock up to rebrand his image. From his dressing and daily governance practices, Mnangagwa has been trying to show the world that he is different from Mugabe in all aspects and this seems to send confusing signals to his fores. 

In contrast to Mugabe the technophobe, Mnangagwa has endeared himself quite well on social media with active Facebook and Twitter accounts in an effort to reach online audiences.  The active presence of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) leader on the emerging digital public sphere is a realisation of two things: 1. The capability and potency of the social media and 2. That the state media is now unpopular and has dropped in audience and not likely to be effective in reaching the professionals and those in the diaspora. This is largely attributed to the fact that the state media had been reduced to a propaganda outlet a point observed by blogger Takura Zhangazha that it had failed to serve the public interest because of its inclination to the ruling party. The MISA Zimbabwe chapter called for media reforms before elections in their 2017 State of the Media report. Hence Mnangagwa’s coming online should go beyond luring votes or rather a ‘moving with the times’ gesture but prod him to realise the necessity for transforming the public media from being state-controlled propaganda outlet to a truly public media that conforms to the dictates of democracy. I underline this fact because of how Mnangagwa and his supporters had to rely on social media during the height of factional politics in ZANU PF after being blocked from the various public media outlets.
A tale of two 'First Ladies'

While Mnangagwa has been busy on the online outlets and equally dominating front pages and headlines of all state media outlets, his wife Auxillia has had her lion’s share of the coverage. Auxillia Mnangagwa has exhibited an unquenchable appetite for the camera and media attention since ‘taking over’ from Grace Mugabe as the First Lady. In a short space of time, she had made headlines, particularly on the state broadcaster ZBC; hopping from one hospital to another with small handouts as if that will address the myriad of challenges affecting our health delivery system. To sum it all, her antics are nothing short of a seemingly calculated but rather a clumsy Public Relations exercise to build her image as to be different from the previous first lady. In that regard, both the husband and wife seem to find it difficult to find a life of their own outside the long shadow of the Mugabes. There is really no strategy at all on how she should manoeuvre her way and act as the first lady other than to move everywhere she deems with hordes of journalists from the state media to film her while she buys tomatoes from vegetable vendors. If anything this is an abuse of the media and journalists who should be covering public interest stories rather than to be a press team for the First Family.

As if this attention and coverage are not enough, the media-obsessed First Lady is not stopping, she has decided to have the media closer to home.  A few days ago, the Emperor’s wife invited female journalists to state house ‘’to get an appreciation of the challenges they face in executing their duties,’’ as put by the Herald. We were told that ‘’the meeting was the first of its kind by the First Lady of Zimbabwe’’ true, even the attention-loving Grace Mugabe did not go to such levels, but was also notorious for trying to bribe journalists using food handouts. Presumably for favourable coverage. The Herald also reported that ‘’the First Lady promised to donate chickens to the female journalists as a way of empowering them’’ and this is quite clear that this was just another poorly crafted PR exercise with nothing aimed at improving the welfare of journalists in the country. The meeting exposed her limited knowledge as to how the media is structured and how it operates. When you invite the media to your doorstep, it wants to leave the pace with knife edge ideas rather than a promissory note on chickens. The media is a knowledge industry, whose survival rides on the strengthening of ideas from across the socio-economic and political divide.

In addition, Mrs Mnangagwa should know that the media is not part of her office and they should not seek any favours from her, the challenges affecting female media practitioners are broad and well documented and they did not even need an invitation to state house for a banquet. There are many ways in which she can champion the cause and working conditions for women in the media industry and not by donating chickens. It is clear that these antics are a poisoned chalice. She seems to be dangling a carrot to entice the female journalists to report favourably on her ‘philanthropic’ work in a bid to outdo the previous First Lady, Grace Mugabe. In the process, she has ended up exposing herself as an attention seeking and a self-entitled person just like Grace Mugabe.  

In conclusion, I hope the First Lady should be told that in a democracy we need a free and independent media system that not only reports about the positives of the First Family and the First Lady’s projects. The media environment in a democratic state should have equal access for all and not a preserve for a political elite. We need a transformed media system which is free and independent non-partisan and a strong journalistic profession.

Blessing Vuvuzela Vava is a blogger based in Chipinge. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com and Twitter: @blevava

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Rethinking the opposition and the civil society in Zimbabwe

By Laswet Savadye and Blessing Vava

The November military coup in Zimbabwe marked the end of Mugabe’s 37-year stranglehold on power, as the balance of forces shifted in the ruling ZANU PF party which was being hounded by a succession battle over the past two decades. The talk of succession was treacherous, ambition was sacred, it was taboo to express one’s ambition in ZANU PF and everyone who dared was either expelled or demoted, history is awash with many examples. President Mugabe’s dream was always to be the life president of ZANU PF and the country at large, but that dream did not become a reality as he was forced to exit the corridors of power by the Zimbabwe army generals in a classical coup. 
The last address by Mugabe as President. IMAGE:Joseph Nyadzawo

While the succession question in ZANU PF seems to have been solved the main opposition, MDC-T remains in a quandary with the succession ghost haunting the 17-year-old party, which is struggling to reform and reassert itself.  For 17 years, since its inception in 1999, the party has had one leader in the mould of Morgan Tsvangirai. At its inception, the MDC’s main slogan was ‘Mugabe must go’ a popular slogan which became the hallmark of the party’s campaign message. It was a slogan premised on the fact that Mugabe had stayed too long in power a move which was against the letter and spirit of a democratic model that emphasizes that leaders should be succeeded. Morgan Tsvangirai has long been accused of being a ‘clone’ of Mugabe in the sense that he continues to hold onto his party’s presidency, suppressing ambition and above all the succession debate in the MDC. Tsvangirai’s leadership style has been characterized by allegations of stifling internal democracy, dictatorial tendencies that have resulted in the party splitting twice since its formation. Funny, the MDC and its leader accused Mugabe of staying in power for too long whereas they are guilty of the same. It’s a classic case of seeing a speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your eye?  Consequently, that has left the party weaker with less fortune in the future even after the fall of Mugabe on the political scene.

As the coup was unfolding, it was abundantly clear that ZANU PF was now dealing with its succession, their agenda was clear right from Chiwenga’s November 13 press conference. In the midst of the confusion, the opposition parties in Zimbabwe were caught with their pants down. Without a clear agenda of their own, they joined the ZANU PF agenda, participating in a march that literally endorsed the illegal ouster of President Mugabe from power.  The opposition leadership was clandestinely pushing for some sort of transitional government that would suspend elections next year until ‘adequate reforms’ are achieved. The endorsement of the ‘coup’ by Tsvangirai raised these eyebrows at the same time other leading opposition figures like Eddie Cross who supported the 'coup' at least temporarily. This was in itself a veiled attempt to be included at the dinner table but it was all in vain. Never mind the denials now by the MDC after Mutsvangwa let the cat out of the bag as he boldly claimed that Tsvangirai was negotiating for inclusion.  

Rethinking Opposition and civil society politics
In the wake of renewed ZANU PF, it is in our view that there is now a greater need for the opposition and civil society to rethink strategies if ever they want to remain relevant in the national body politics. It seems for now that the focus is on the 2018 elections, with the opposition and civil society mounting some ‘serious’ voter registration mobilization campaigns mostly in the towns with little of that effort being directed to the rural areas. From our snap survey in the Mashonaland Central area, voter registration is still being manipulated to frustrate ‘First Time Voters’ and the sabhuku’s (Headmen) are alleged to be recording serial numbers of those registered in their villages threatening that they will know where and whom they would have voted for. Most elderly folk in the rural areas are being told that the electronic photos taken when they register will reveal who they voted for.  Some village headmen are refusing to give villagers farming inputs such as seed maize if the villagers do not reveal their voter registration serial numbers. The long disenfranchised aliens who have since been allowed to vote, provided they produce an unabridged birth certificate, will probably not be able to cast their vote as most of them are finding it hard to get the ‘long’ birth certificate. It’s costly and only issued at Makombe building in Harare. Above all, there are also some reports that soldiers who are harassing people by doing stop and search, asking people to show them their serial numbers. And in our view, such ingredients will not bring about a free and fair election.

That is probably the reason why ZANU PF is not talking much about voter registration but rather they are expressing confidence that they will romp to victory in the coming elections. It is disconcerting, that in light of all this the opposition seems rather quiet and we wonder why they are not raising any alarms.

The opposition and the civil society have to be very much strategic and probably revisit the Peoples Charter as it lays bare the aspirations of the people. At the moment they have been reduced to reactionaries occupying the ‘radical’ space. Mass movements cannot be built or led by reactionaries who are detached from the realities on the ground. There is also a section of disgruntled Zimbabweans, especially the ‘intellectual’ class who posit the argument that Zimbabwe’s political quandary can be solved by the formation of a new political party. In this group, it contains those who are disgruntled by the ineptness of the MDC leadership or either they are disgruntled for failing to get positions.

Firstly, we argue here that the only way a movement can be formed is only if it is based on people's daily struggles, not on the basis of massaging inflated egos of self-proclaimed leaders who feel that they have some sort of entitlement based on some past high school Headboy fantasies. Secondly, they need to be embedded in the actual processes of those struggles and not the other way round. Thirdly, they need to organise it as a platform of some sort coalescing around concrete issues and a clear ideological framework. Fourthly, that sort of movement would need four to five years of building it as a platform before becoming a political party. Therefore it is too late for that kind of movement to be formed in time for next year’s election. The onus is upon the opposition to revisit the people’s charter and as tools of analysis to solve the political puzzle and chatting a way forward for Zimbabwe.

Beyond the politics of electoralism and election cycles
As we brace for those elections which would be held with no reforms to talk about it is prudent to remind the opposition and the civil society that elections are not won by movements that campaign for elections.  Winning elections is a consequence of an entirely different aspect altogether, it requires to always being with the people's struggles whether for land or education; whether for political rights or liberties; whether for jobs or for clean water; whether for housing or against state violence. In simple terms, if you are with the people they already know your manifesto for change because it's already a daily reality of their lives. So you don't 'go to the people if you have been part and parcel of their daily struggles and not on the eve of an election. You are with them already. It is the same if we look back to 1999, the working class identified with Morgan Tsvangirai and the ZCTU. The students knew ZINASU. The same with the women's movement they knew their leaders and activists so did the landless farmers and homeless. Social power and political power is manufactured in the daily grind of the struggle and it might have to be a simple struggle based on class analysis, class solidarity and class political action. Everything else is hot air including suddenly popping up with tonnes of Biometric Voter Registration blank affidavits.

About the authors:
Laswet Savadye is a former student leader, a budding academic, human rights activist, socio-economic analyst and commentator with a special focus on Africa. He can be contacted by email on laswet@gmail.com

Blessing Vava is a blogger based in Chipinge. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com. Twitter: @blevava

Monday, 20 November 2017

Zimbabwe’s unending wild goose chase: from the ‘people’s revolution’ to ‘Operation restore legacy’

By Blessing Vava

Zimbabwe’s 93 year old despot Robert Mugabe’s 37 years hold on power has been checkmated and has reached its end after the military put him on house arrest last week. In a Hollywood style of events that left the whole world amused and confused whether to call it a coup or not coup, something that puzzle military scholars for some time. Whatever interpretation, the reality is that a coup was executed in Zimbabwe and we are currently in a transition to a new dispensation and this signifies a shift in the power dynamics, particularly in the ruling party. Already, high ranking cabinet ministers have reportedly been detained by the military and more arrests are expected. Unprecedented though that a majority of Zimbabweans welcomed this ‘coup’ and have participated in huge numbers in the call for President Mugabe to step down. No doubt Mugabe is finished, the march to state house and the rally in Zimbabwe grounds was a decoy 'people's popular uprising' meant to disempower regional bodies like the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN)not to censure Zimbabwe’s military apparatchiks. Essentially, Zimbabweans were taken on a wild goose chase by the military hawks despite warnings from Blogger Takura Zhangazha that this was a purely ZANU PF succession affair when all this charade started.
'Coup plotter?

Zimbabweans had suffered under Mugabe’s 37 years iron fist rule to an extent that they had reached a point that anything else and not Mugabe was good. One thing for sure, the calls for Mugabe to go attracted Zimbabweans from all walks of life; from the opposition, civil society, churches, civil service, the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, the National Rainbow Coalition (NRC) among many others and other sections of society. However, there is a danger to it in the sense that whatever is happening is not a people’s agenda, it is not a people’s revolution but a rearranging of chairs on the ruling party’s high table.  My fear is premised on the fact that, most people just want Mugabe to go without laying on the table what we envisage for the future of our country. This is the same dilemma that hogged the opposition while accepting the GNU and the COPAC constitution saying ‘it’s better than a no deal.’  Whereas it was only years to come that they realised that the ‘better’ deal was actually nothing on the surface.  

Equally, events of the past days were largely triggered by Mugabe’s firing of his vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, the newly anointed ‘crown prince’ of the securocrats.  The eventual dismissal of Mnangagwa from government came after verbal attacks directed to his person and the military. The ‘coup’ was long brewing, it was just a matter of day and time, but Grace Mugabe became its trigger. The purges of senior leaders of ZANU PF aligned to Mnangagwa prompted the military chiefs to step in and stop Mugabe because they also felt threatened.  They realised that the axe was also going to fall on their necks if the succession events in the ruling party had continued on the same trajectory; hence, they had to pre-emptively strike. The generals have achieved their mission, they wanted the purges to stop, they did. They wanted to stop the dynasty project. They did. They wanted to take power from the G40, they did. They wanted Mnangagwa to be at congress, he will be.
The conspirators? Emmerson Mnangagwa and Gen Chiwenga

Historically, the major political contradictions in Zimbabwe have always been resolved by the gun. Here I refer to five historical events that were resolved by the gun.  Firstly, it was the First Chimurenga (War of liberation) in 1896, which was a contest between the colonisers versus the people of Zimbabwe, a war which we eventually lost resulting in the colonisation of Zimbabwe. Secondly, the second Chimurenga which was Smith’s UDI versus that ZANLA/ZIPRA affair. Thirdly, it was post-independence, in the 1980s and that featured Joshua Nkomo versus Mugabe, which resulted in the massacring of more than 20 000 people in Matabeleland during Gukurahundi. Fourthly, the MDC versus ZANU PF in 2008, when the military factor became a crucial element in resolving the political contradictions, thereby keeping President Mugabe in power. The last of such events is the succession question we are currently witnessing in ZANU PF which is now being solved by the gun. George Charamba, Mugabe’s spokesperson for 17 years told Financial Times that Mr Mugabe’s fate would be decided by those wielding power and not by the will of the people. “What we see in the streets is just atmospherics,” he said. More importantly, what we are currently witnessing is problem solving of the ZANU PF succession, now being handled, executed and directed by the gun after Mugabe had suppressed that debate and by default making himself life president of Zimbabwe.

However, as many Zimbabweans in and outside the country were celebrating Mugabe’s ‘demise’ which has been instigated by the gun, they should think about the future. From a fair analysis without attaching any emotions the coup is a ‘family (ZANU) affair’ and General Chiwenga was unequivocal in his 13th of November 2017 statement that it’s a military resolution of internal party contradictions. As a result it has nothing to do with the generality of the populace, not even democracy rather a self-correction of ZANU PF as it solves its succession. It has always been a power tussle that dates back from Zimbabwe’s war of liberation between the nationalists (political leadership) and the military leadership who were playing different roles in the war. Mugabe, a civilian (who has no military background) was supported by the military in his ascendancy to the throne in 1977.  Forty years down the line, the military is featuring again to remove Mugabe and replacing him with another trained soldier Emmerson Mnangagwa.  Secondly, the military chiefs are now an economic class with its own distinct interests and this is a 'military class project' to keep hands over the party-state apparatus no matter which angle you look at it. The alleged involvement of the army elites in the Chiadzwa diamonds are a case in point. Thirdly, the coup has exposed that Zimbabwe’s opposition has paid heavily for being directionless and unable to build a cohesive social and political project. The failure of the opposition even to reform or renew itself will be their greatest downfall if ever they are going to gain space in the wake of a rejuvenated ZANU PF.

Going forward, Zimbabwe should retain to civilian order and allow the constitution to be respected. They must be a clear framework, that at least should try to involve the people or rather any transitional mechanisms should lead to reforms and ultimately a democratic election. The people of Zimbabwe should be given a chance to choose a government of their choice, but Alas! the events in the past few days indicate that we will always be asked to participate in civic affairs with the nozzle of the gun on our head in the immediate and foreseeable future. Therefore, it is critical to create conditions for a free and fair election so that we will have a government that is elected by the people. Free and fair elections are the only way to have a legitimate government and retain to civilian rule. The question again is, will the new dispensation create those conditions for a free and fair elections? If yes, will the military accept a ZANU PF electoral defeat given their strong vested interests in the ruling party and role in aiding ZANU PF to remain in power even despite losing in 2008? For the pro-democratic forces, the question is how do they build progressive political platforms that can be seen as part of the National Democratic Revolution? How do progressive forces mobilise to deepen a structurally deep movement which makes the transformation national and not be subjugated and domineered by the factions in the national liberation movement? They should continue mobilising on the ground and be relevant in the struggles ahead. However, given the fragmentation in the opposition and lack of cogent policies to address the socio-politico-economic crisis ZANU PF has somehow managed to solve its complex succession question. This means after they are finished with addressing the self-cannibalising that was threatening to tear them apart, that machinery will be re-directed at the opposition and civil society with much viciousness.

President Mugabe’s speech read on the 20th of November 2017, whilst flanked by all the security forces was a tell-tale sign and this was confirmed by Patrick Chinamasa’s utterances after the Central Committee meeting held on the same day that it was a ZANU PF affair and they did not need the opposition on the dinner table. In addition, the military apparatchiks released a statement on the 21st of November 2017, that ‘Operation Restore Legacy’ had been successful and it was time to go back to normal life. The question that begs to the military and ZANU PF is: what happened to the people’s revolution? Maybe it was never about the people but ZANU PF and its survival. The opposition, civil society and Zimbabweans in general need to avoid being easily excitable otherwise they will keep on being taken on a wild goose chase in Zimbabwe’s politics.

NB: Views expressed in this article are personal 

Blessing Vava is a research fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand, Africa-China reporting department. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com. Twitter: @blevava

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Mnangagwa’s Downfall: The Proverbial Case of Giving the ‘Kiss of Life’ to a Dying Goblin

By Blessing Vava

Kissing the Goblin
The battle for the soul of ZANU PF and succession of President Mugabe had been a tumultuous game that has in the past four decades claimed the scalps of veteran nationalists. From 1976, after the toppling of Ndabaningi Sithole, the leader of ZANU, Mugabe has out manoeuvred any potential or aspiring successors to remain the soul of ZANU PF and at the same time its life leader. Those in that category include the revered Josiah Tongogara, the feared Edgar Tekere, the sharp Eddison Zvobgo, leaders who harboured ambitions of one day leading the liberation movement. In a typical fashion of a dream deferred, all the above mentioned met their demise with no success in succeeding Robert Mugabe, who has remained the leader of the party since 1976.

 Even the indomitable late Father Zimbabwe Joshua Nkomo could not take the crown neither, after leading  the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) in the war of liberation he was called a traitor and at some point, arrested by Mugabe and accused of treason. The same tragedy befell erstwhile comrades, Solomon Mujuru and his wife Joice, accused of trying to topple Mugabe from power. This is the same fate that has met ‘most loyal’ comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa, who over the past four decades naively thought he was the anointed one to succeed Mugabe. For Mnangagwa, he lived with Mugabe for all these decades learning and forgetting nothing. As Grace Mugabe insinuated over the weekend that Mnangagwa claims to have known Mugabe for four decades but in reality he does not know who Mugabe is. The question is was that observation wrong? Mnangagwa became too much comfortable and failed to understand that Mugabe has one principle in politics, keep your friends and enemies closer. What befell Nkomo, Ndabaningi, Mujuru were all lessons to learn for Emmerson that Mugabe was one man not to be trusted no matter what.  However, it seems Mnangagwa failed to understand the nature and character of Mugabe and his obsession with power.

Mugabe’s obsession with power: lessons to learn
In my previous article I deliberately referred to the late Samora Machel’s warnings about Mugabe taking charge of ZANU after the toppling of Sithole. The leaders of the Frontline states had already noticed bad leadership traits in Mugabe and their scepticism about him have finally been proven decades later. This is where we are today; he has been in power since 1980.  It seems Mugabe has never relented from his dream of becoming a Life President of Zimbabwe and it now almost seems on course after expelling the remaining veterans of the war in ZANU PF. President Mugabe’s continued hold on power has been aided by naive and selfish people who contributed in the creation of a Monster, and building a cult on the personality of Mugabe for selfish reasons. This is the scourge that has returned to afflict Mnangagwa.   Suffice to say, Mugabe has not changed tact in his bid to be the Life President of Zimbabwe.  Mujuru failed to learn, and for Mnangagwa, he should have learnt that no matter how much you play the loyalty card to Mugabe or even swallow a bullet for him, the man just doesn’t care. He is a narcissist, it’s all about himself and no one else. Mugabe is shrewd and unforgiving and believes in no other winner besides himself. He has been a master of dirty tactics, a political weapon that he always deploys to deal with perceived enemies. In describing Mugabe and his quest for power, the late Joshua Nkomo once said this about Mugabe:
I have suffered, I have worked so hard for this country before independence, during the war. I worked so hard after independence to make our independence stick and this man today calls me a traitor, me a traitor? A man who worked so hard for this country? I have never done anything wrong and Robert knows it. I tell you this is for personal power let him stand up and deny it, this is for personal power. He is frightened of my stature, he is frightened that he will not win the next elections. This is what he is doing, trying to smear me, very sly, very dirty.
Another interesting revelation on Mugabe’s crudeness is in Rugare Gumbo’s interview by the Rhodesian Herald on the 21st of February 1980:  “He (Mugabe) uses people — the Presidents of the Frontline States, people like Joshua Nkomo to build himself up and then he tries to destroy them. He cares nothing for the masses or for the country. All he cares about is Mugabe. “When he joined the party he had only a dirty shirt and trousers. Now he has money — a lot of money. He is wealthy. He built a fortune on the backs and the sweat of people like us. He takes his wife all over Europe and spends thousands. This is the man who wants to make this country Marxist. He must be stopped.” Rugare Gumbo stops talking. Then in a hushed tone, he says; “Yes, I am bitter. I am also afraid — for my people and for my country. Those who vote for Mugabe will do so out of fear, and it is wrong. They must be told not to do it. Mugabe’s intimidation must be stopped. The people must be united. I will do everything to accomplish this.”

Mnangagwa and resurrecting the Goblin?
Consequently, it is now a reality that Mugabe’s game has always been about power and nothing else. Interestingly, those who have been harbouring ambitions and yet worked tooth and nail to aid his consolidation of power have no one to blame apart from their selfish interests and political naivety. That is exactly why Emmerson Mnangagwa’s downfall is something the prodemocracy forces in Zimbabwe should welcome and capitalise on. I will explain later on in the article why and how I think the opposition and other forces can capitalise on Mnangagwa’s downfall. However, I would not want to delve much on Mnangagwa’s dark past and his alleged involvement as Mugabe’s hitman that is well documented. Hence, in the same breath I would like to point out that the most disgusting of him was his involvement in resurrecting the goblin in 2008 (kumutsa chikwambo change chafa) and now the same goblin has claimed his scalp. This I make particular reference to the 2008 plebiscite in which the incumbent Robert Mugabe lost to Morgan Tsvangirai by 73%, a figure announced by Mugabe while addressing chiefs in 2014, never mind the correction he made. Mnangagwa confirmed and boasted at a rally in Headlands on the 4th of having saved Mugabe in 2008, denying Morgan Tsvangirai and the people of Zimbabwe a victory.
President vofona, ahh zvakamirasei? Ndikati ndomamiro azvakaita,      Mugabe: saka todini? Mnangagwa: sokuti ndiri gweta ndaiziva kuti kune clause iya yekuti you must have 50 plus 1 percent. Ndikati ah imwi maita henyu 43%, uyu (Tsvangirai) 47 asi pakati penyu hapana awinner, saka kunoitwa runoff. Zvikanzi udza mai (Grace), ndobva ndaudza mama, zvikanzi toita sei manje ? ndikatoti hunzai baba nditaure navo, ndikati baba imi gadzirai cabinet   
(‘’I called the President to tell him the results and he asked for my advice and as a lawyer I was aware of the 50 plus 1 %, therefore there is no winner since you  got 43% and Tsvangirai 47% so we are heading for a runoff. Then I advised the president to organise a cabinet’’)
 This is the same man who coordinated the military and militias to lead a violent campaign ahead of the June run off poll, killing opposition supporters and destroying their houses. It is also reported that after the March elections, Mnangagwa took over as chairman of Joint Operations Command (JOC).  And when he became aware he (Mugabe) had lost the March 29 presidential election to opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Mnangagwa’s first action was to advise Mugabe not to concede defeat but that he should force a second round run-off election and that at the same time the veteran leader should put pressure on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to delay official results of the election. Therefore, Mnangagwa deserves no sympathy and surely got what he deserved. Today he should rue the day he contributed to the controversial constitutional amendment of the ZANU PF constitution to consolidated Mugabe’s one centre of power, giving the President of the party unfettered powers to appoint his deputies, positions previously elected at congress. For Mnangagwa, he is a man who stood for nothing, he lacked principle, he lacked tact and was relying on borrowed robes, but they have now been taken from him.

Don’t hate Grace, she has done it for you
While ZANU PF is going through a seemingly self-destruction path, it is rather amusing that the opposition and other prodemocracy forces are intricately involved ‘emotionally’ that is, sadly a majority seeming to be sympathising with Mnangagwa. What they must understand is that the hatred for Grace Mugabe should not therefore translate to sympathising with Emmerson. So instead of enjoying or becoming analysts on what’s happening in ZANU PF, the opposition need to strategies and capitalise on the chaos happening in ZANU PF. Though it might seem as if ZANU is imploding, the party might actually be on the mend and in fact they are undergoing a transition to a post Mugabe era, no matter which angle we look at it ZANU PF will be a different animal altogether after their congress in December. Maybe Chirimambowa’s article, “Succession Politics in Zimbabwe: GraceMugabe and the End of Patriotic History” is instructive in understand the current politics. Chirimambowa argues that the ‘Grace’ moment present opportunities for democratisation rather than chaos:
ZANU PF-although by default and politics of convenience-is undergoing some kind of perestroika and glasnost, it presents opportunities for cross-political elite convergence on the limitation of liberation credentials based politics.
As a result, it also means that ZANU PF is changing tactics, they have already replaced the liberation generation with through the Youth league, and the tone has already been set at the interface rallies. It is unlikely that ZANU will use violence in future elections, but patronage and intimidation as a means of wooing voters. The 226 Isuzu vehicles bought for the traditional leaders are a case in point, and about 320 cars and trucks for campaigns, free residential stands being parcelled to the youth.

The MDC and the future
However, this calls for the opposition, in particular the MDC to seize this moment in the wake of an impending election which is almost six months away. Sadly, the leader of the party and the Alliance Mr Tsvangirai is going through difficult moments and has been in and out of hospital going through the straining chemotherapy sessions. In my own view, I think there is now a need to have a frank discussion about Tsvangirai’s health vis-à-vis the succession. Never mind what the spin doctors and those closer to him presenting brave faces that the man is recovering fast and ready to lead the coalition.  They need to be honest with themselves and plan ahead. Unlike ZANU PF, the MDC’s denial game will only lead to the demise of the party, which at this critical juncture has been presented with a golden opportunity to remake itself.  Tsvangirai has reached a dead ending, and no miracle or magic will even improve his fortunes if he is standing against Mugabe. The GNU did him bad, and therefore the party needs a new face. Had he handed over the baton after the 2013 defeat he would have saved the MDC and his brand as a democrat and not a cult leader like Mugabe. I argue that, he still has a chance to be different from Mugabe, this is the time for him to step down and prepare a new leader to bring in fresh ideas and a new impetus altogether. The Save chete chete mantra is akin to the ZANU PF cultism of Gushungo chete chete, being slogans that have created cults and dictators. Those singing the Save chete chete mantra are not genuine and sincere, but are rather doing it for selfish gains and not for the greater good of the party. It’s typical of the politics in ZANU PF where people are bootlicking Mugabe for the sake of personal benefit and not conviction. The most progressive move for Morgan to do is stepping down and paving way for an extraordinary congress that will choose a new leader for the party to lead as the elections draw closer. The issue of his health needs no emotions. The human body is not made of steel, it does go through such moments, and it is difficult when faced with a terminal ailment like colon cancer. Only yesterday while featuring on SABC Tsvangirai was at pains to convince the world that all was well. Anchor: We are now joined by the president of the opposition in Zimbabwe. He is joining us from his hospital bed here in Johannesburg where he is being treated for cancer. Mr Tsvangirai thank you very much for joining us welcome. Perhaps…Tsvangirai (interjects): Thank you Peter…(coughs)I am…I am not …I am not in hospital ..eh..I’m just taking a rest outside a...a hospital…eh…I’m just taking leave outside the hospital. Sadly Tsvangirai denies that he is not in hospital, but outside hospital taking a rest. Well… we all know that hospitals are not places to take a rest! Therefore in these difficult moments it does require a sober approach and accept reality. Though some might call it stigmatisation I still posit that a frail looking Tsvangirai will not do the MDC any good during the campaign period, he needs to rest and allow others to carry on the fight. The election period is a rigorous process, which will require a lot of travelling, meetings, rallies in my view will prove difficult for the MDC leader to encounter.  Tsvangirai will forever be a hero of our time for having led the struggle against tyrannical rule by Robert Mugabe but this is now the time to pass on to a new generation of leadership.Even Moses had to pass on the baton to Joshua, he never entered Canaan!!

Blessing Vava is a blogger based in Chipinge. He can be contacted on blessingvava@gmail.com