ZANU PF should brace itself for a battle that pits it against the reunited MDC factions. That is coming, and the sooner the revolutionary party gears itself up for that, the better for the cause of all nationalists. Not that this is a new challenge, or a forbidding prospect. Far from it. The reunion of the two factions merely recreates the original MDC of 1999. Ncube’s faction is nothing more than MDC politics gone tribal, while Tsvangirai’s faction retains the original MDC white patent.
Not that Ncube ever rid his faction of white influence. No, never. He merely gave white politics its regional grounding and flavour, something not entirely out of sync with the western agenda on Zimbabwe, an agenda which includes fanning ethnic fissures, which include sponsoring centrifugal politics meant to undermine a strong, unitary state.
Ncube might have had robust run-ins with the Americans, but that never quite got him to rediscover his local nationalistic grounding.
It only got him to swop masters within the same imperial power circuit, got him to gravitate towards the subaltern NORDIC factor. This is why the Olof Palme Foundation is key to his faction’ s financial and political wherewithal.
Of course Thoko Matshe, herself part of the original MDC, is the crucial flower pot within which the MDC-N pod gets its Swedish grounding, fertility and budding.
Going East too
Not to be beaten, Tsvangirai has also been trying to diversify his benefactors, which is why he is headed for South-east Asia where he hopes not just to get campaign money, but also to slough off this tag of massive Western hand-holding which cannot be shaken away. Again the South-east Asian country he is set to visit is the Nordic equivalent of American imperial power.
It is a subaltern of Americanised imperialism. I hope, dear reader, you see the parallelism. All this means the sentence on the eventual coming together of the two formations after, sorry, in spite of, so many years of animosity can only be completed by this last adverb of time: “again”, which is why it cannot presage anything new, anything higher, anything close to a dialectical synthesis.
Rather, this is the swing of a gyroscope: a big, loud motion, but little gain in distance, little movement. And that means Zanu PF will be meeting its original 1999 foe, more accurately the same foe in its original, founding form. This is all the more so when when one unpacks the two formations by way of the ideas which animate them.
Only then does one realise that even wafer is thicker than what set the two formations apart.
Largely, it has been a dogfight for leadership, with both contestants clawing onto the pedestal of tribe: one being accused of being tribal, the other being counter-accused of making that charge from a tribal standpoint. That way we have had an unending spiral.
While MDC-T may have given us some messy juice by way of its pseudo-policies and manifesto, Ncube is hardly firmed up on his “A.C.T.I.O.N”, a highly pseudo-intellectualised eclectic electoral proposition seeking to amalgamate the “best” from the insipid Juice of MDC-T, and the all-compelling indigenisation and empowerment policies of Zanu PF.
And both Juice and Action steal heavily and unashamedly from what the Inclusive Government has proposed but never implemented or delivered.
Today the MTP groans from unacknowledged liftings! The bibliography is thus the same in respect of the two derivative proposals, which is why the fusion by way of the impending reunion is the natural way to go.
A Second prostrating?
But when you read both against Zanu PF’s ideas, then you see a clear foil. That means ideationally, Zanu PF need not do any more than it is already doing, to differentiate itself from the new old fusion. Of course MDC-T will have to readjust its position on devolution in order to accommodate its hitherto lost shard. But that will not matter at all in public reckoning.
The draft constitution will, by then, have been adopted, in which case such an after-the-fact shift will expose MDC-T flip-flopping politics which have made this faction a follower of the wind of public opinion rather than a maker of the weather. It will thus be more of the same. Welshman will have a tough time shooing the ghost of Chief Ndiweni back to the quiet cemetery.
The good chief could not understand why the “Ndebeles” were always prostrating themselves before the Shonas when it came to party leadership. Did this amount to an acceptance that a “minority” group could never produce a national leader, a State president? Was this a discounting of meritocracy in the search for national leadership?
We all heard both Welshman and especially Priscilla robustly pushing this argument after the ouster of Mutambara. But Welshman might have to take back his sermon. Soon he is set to dally with Tsvangirai, and many people will, holding up their nostrils, wonder how a return to the same servile post will ever suggest any real repositioning of the southern region in national politics.
Of course there will be more complications, human ones at that. Welshman cannot return to secretary-generalship. He would have to be something higher if the talks are to avoid the collapse of 2008. He has to be Tsvangirai’s deputy, which means MDC-T bumping off Khupe, herself Ncube’s bete noire. How is that! Maybe just as well. The lady has good presentment. She was already in flight, was she not?
The three scenarios that bode ill
But all these are small points. The real big point relates to what is fusion, this second coming together presages for Zanu PF and national politics. As I said, this is one matter where Europe and America have come together, less to unite the natives, more to improve hopes for ousting or qualifying the Zanu PF win, a party whose formidable position electorally is now widely acknowledged.
Discount the puny efforts of Kenya’s midget politicians. I notice the media think Raila has something to do with the search for the reunion of the formations. Kenya is a mere venue; the real impetus is coming, will come, from elsewhere. I will tell you why the fusion now has a greater chance of success.
Fundamentally because Zanu PF’s winning chances have become greater. As one Nordic ambassador conceded recently, Zanu PF’s post-Inclusive reign will need a strong opposition. The construction of which is what is underway presently, given that it has now become apparent even to Tsvangirai that the Canaan Scenario is decidedly out. The second 2008 scenario in which the MDC would perform as before, thereby precipitating another inclusive set up where the MDC dominates this time, has also been shown to be an inert hope.
What looms menacingly large is the kumombe or better still, the kumbudzi option, in which the MDC gets soundly walloped at the polls, gets irretrievably splintered and consigned to the vlei where cows moo, all to play mapure. A very civil and supplicatory Tsvangirai is enough evidence of this dim prospect which requires good stock of goodwill for continued comfort the day after poll defeat.
No piper, only windpipe
Secondly, both formations are broke, very broke, which is what will make them most vulnerable or amenable to Western pressure. The pocket has been halved by reluctant donors, forcing those in Government to create false official journeys for the sake of T&S-based incomes.
Tsvangirai’s party now seeks to abuse the Government tender process as a way of covert fund-raising. But he knows the eagle is watching.
The Nordic people have been sending some money to Ncube through Brian Raftopolous’ ZI. But this has been money enough to help Ncube up a calibrated growth so Tsvangirai gets softened for unity talks. He has achieved that already and will thus have to be starved to motivate him towards the West’s desired endgame.
Zanu PF’s unstoppable victory must be circumscribed by a strong, post-inclusivity opposition.
The day Biti got killed by angry gods
Thirdly, Biti has badly destroyed his claim to the throne. Very badly. All along viewed as the Tsvangirai’s weaknesses made up, today he writhes from the after-effects of enormous folly that seized him recently, to huge disappointment of those who had pinned hopes on him as a time-bound complement to Tsvangirai in the present, and as his inevitable replacement in the not-too-distant future.
Interestingly, one Western diplomat had the audacity to call him “that fool”, adding that elsewhere in the world Biti would by now be shrieking and groaning from sharpest pain from the darkest corner in the deepest dungeon.
Thank God, the ambassador added, he inhabits a very polarised society which grants undue impunity. I had never heard before such irreverence said and shown against Tendai. And this is irreverence by the gods; it kills a whole man!
My point is that the West, which is so clear about the congenital weaknesses of Tsvangirai, has been accosting Ncube to be what Biti has been until now. It is really to save their man, indeed to save their party for another electoral day.
No more divided vote
What does all this mean for Zanu PF? Fundamentally it means Zanu PF must get away from the mistaken notion of hoping to benefit from, or beat Tsvangirai on the strength of a divided vote in Matabeleland. That will not happen. Ncube, who could have divided that vote, is now set to deliver it to Tsvangirai, hoping for an improvement on 2008. Of course the fallacy in that argument is to imagine that 2008 remains intact, in 2013!
That once reunited, the two formations will recapture their combined stature of 2008, indeed that their performance on 2013 will be the sum of their individual performance in 2008. It is a fallacy of frozen time, ageless MDC, and a thought-frozen voter. Not to mention Zanu PF, which is thought caught in a time and growth warp.
No one in that camp has paused to reckon with the daunting fact that a fusion is also a consolidation of major weaknesses, a rounding up of a hitherto scattered enemy into a killing box. After all, they are being united to mitigate a severe weakness. Zanu PF must seek to win votes, win support in Matabeleland, so these reuniting shards can fuse their weaknesses and get destroyed by them together. And that is quite feasible.
The appeal of Zanu PF policies is not regional; it is national. What tribe is indigenisation? What region is empowerment? What is the ethnic colour of employment creation? This is what is key.
Beyond staid structures, messages
Equally, Zanu PF has a campaign depth, which is why it should supersede those structures which have compromised its thrust in Matabeleland.
The structures through which we have reached the voter in Matabeleland has screened contact with the real voter. Often these structures have been frozen in time, staid and founded and shaped by archaic politics. The voter in Bulawayo has been alienated from the party for too long. New strategies have to be found, have been found which should cause a big upset. The party messages must get to the people so that Zanu PF as it is gets known, never again as it has been feared to be.
The issue of Rhodesian Viscounts
But there is a new dimension, thanks to the headless, frightened British. Long after the Conservatives have come to power, the defeated Labour continues to brew mischief meant to wreck whatever prospects there may be for a return to diplomatic normalcy between UK and Zimbabwe.
They are using parliamentary processes to stir up emotions of the media-vulnerable British public. Kate Hoey, that loose virago of nameless sexual scandals, has raised a motion in the British Parliament meant both to commemorate the shooting down of two Rhodesian Viscount planes by Zipra Forces in 1978 and again in 1979, and to condemn those involved.
We know which party courted Kate Hoey, indeed which party bedded her to give her a good, brave morning full of such hurtful mumblings.
She is an MDC hag, an MDC harridan whose hoary politics that British sponsored party must thus accept, own and take full responsibility for. Today the MDC which finds itself in the Inclusive Government, subcontracts to its girlfriend those messages and awful things it cannot say to fighters who liberated this country.
The actions of veterans are being debated in a Parliament of an imperial country which occupied us. Their fate, should the intentions of that motion ever get realised, is to be decided by the white man’s justice. An act of war - of a just war - is now being debated by a people who massacred millions here. Debated by people who get their cue from the MDC, itself a blunt instrument for attacking a founding process of this nation.
Who was a civilian?
What does this mean for the nationalist politics, firstly in Matabeleland, secondly in the rest of Zimbabwe? It will be foolhardy for anyone in this country to think this is an assault on ZIPRA. It is not. This is an assault on Zimbabwe, using ZIPRA’s war conduct as the starting point.
For a country whose entire white population was an active army, how does one talk about innocent civilians?
For a country that was under UN sanctions, how do you ever have innocent tourists? Did those receipts from the merriment of those so-called tourists not go towards the Rhodesian war effort? And I was looking at the list of Rhodesia’s dead, including comments from whites associated with Rhodesia and the rekindling of Rhodesian memories.
A good number of the dead were active military members on R&R. Still others were members of the Rhodesian government. Only a handful were foreigners, largely from NATO countries who supported Rhodesia covertly.
Who does not know the link between Rhodesian tourism and the Rhodesian war machinery and sanctions busting? Why raise maudlin sentimentality to cleanse victims of a war they believed and participated in? We must be bold.
The impudence of Rhodesian soldier
We must ask how many Africans the Rhodesians killed all told. We must ask how they have atoned for well over 30 000 civilians they dismissively reported as “caught in crossfire”.
I suppose the real sin of those dead civilians was that they were too poor to afford air-travel, which is why their slaughter cannot be compared to Lockerbie, or 9/11. I suppose their other sin was that they were dark, too dark to be photogenic for a case termed war crimes. Or the obverse, that their killers were too white to have any sin stick on them. I am angry, very angry, I who lost several relations in that cruel war of liberation. And what is worse, you have an ex-Rhodesian SAS soldier recounting this incident for the world. How many Africans did he kill throughout his career which started in the Rhodesian police? Who writes about all that?
Defending veterans, the struggle
But all this anger is a small matter. What is horrible is the fact that the forces of liberation are splitting. Dabengwa is out of the fold of the liberation circuit. Not just out, but attacking it, and even visualising alliances with the MDCs.
Unexpectedly, the Rhodesians have attacked at a time when all his flanks are open. It does not matter with what amount of good English he responds to this latest British attack. He remains ineffective, ineffectual to say the least.
You fight from your own camp. One hopes he has learnt from this. There has been a campaign to splinter the liberation forces so as to strike at them when at their weakest. And you watch the headlines. We will soon read of a story of a white man in Bulawayo who is associated with an old colonial family.
Recently, he confronted a veteran and accused him of killing whites during the post-independence disturbances in Matabeleland.
We have created a political environment so hospitable to negative whites who can now begin to mount mischief. Zanu PF should be able to use this to salutary effect in Matabeleland. After all, it is the party of all veterans, including those whose role in the war of national liberation is now being challenged in this heavily institutionalised way.
To do that the Party must be united, focused. Not this nonsense we have witnessed lately in Manicaland. Or the so-called succession-related divisions. After all, is it not a fact that without electoral success there can’t be any succession?
Nathaniel Manheru is a columnist for the Saturday Herald newspaper. E-mail him: firstname.lastname@example.org