ONE of the most fascinating dynamics of politics in Zimbabwe today is that whenever Zanu PF coughs – as it recently did when it courageously disbanded its District Co-ordinating Committees (DCCs) that had become a deadly political disease capable of killing the party – detractors of the liberation movement invariably sneeze and some among them who suffer from the chronic diseases of succession politics or regime change or both end up worsening their underlying conditions with fatal consequences.
Ordinarily, and for the sake of perspective, if you cough a disease out of your body or system you should be fine. So Zanu PF should be fine. But if you are suffering from a chronic disease and you swallow another deadly disease that has been coughed out by somebody else and you start sneezing as your temperature rises uncontrollably, then you must know you are in big trouble.
Against this backdrop, it is as astonishing as it is revealing to hear or read false claims that Zanu PF is in trouble for coughing out its politically poisonous DCCs whose toxin was being used like counterfeit currency by divisive elements in and outside the party in their dangerous pursuit of succession politics and regime change against the people’s revolution.
The claims are also laughable considering that they are coming from the same diseased elements that – until their long overdue dissolution two weeks ago – had seen and abused DCCs as a fatal disease afflicting Zanu PF from within. It is in this connection that Zanu PF’s political and media detractors who have swallowed the deadly political disease called “DCC” that the liberation movement has now coughed out are now sneezing from that cough.
It is also in the same connection that the same detractors who were hoping to use the DCC disease coughed out by Zanu PF to poison the party and weaken its critical membership for succession politics or regime change or both are now sneezing so much that they don’t know whether they are coming or going while they contend with their now exposed and worsened chronic diseases of succession politics and regime change with no medicine on offer.
But what is the import of the disbanding of the DCCs? Frankly most if not all that has been said or written about this very important matter thus far has been either way off the mark or just hot air. It is instructive to survey three views that have defined the public reaction to the disbanding of the DCCs before outlining the significance of the disbandment from the standpoint of Zanu PF as a liberation movement.
The first view is based on the claim by some media pundits that the disbanding of the DCCs means that Zanu PF is in crisis ahead of the forthcoming general election. But this view which has been overplayed in regime change political and media circles in and outside the country has been based more on wishful thinking than on anything concrete on the ground.
There’s no evidence that any DCC anywhere in the country was particularly geared for the general election. Related to this fact and more specifically, there’s no evidence on the ground which shows the existence of a majority or plurality of DCCs whose totality or programme was such that Zanu PF would not do well in the forthcoming general election without those DCCs.
If it is anything at all, and this is really to give it an undeserved benefit of doubt, the mendacious view that the disbanding of DCCs will cost Zanu PF at the polls is entirely and thus only based on the ignorance of what the DCC was as a constitutional structure of Zanu PF and also on the ignorance of the party’s organisational strategy as both a liberation movement and a political party in power in a country under the onslaught of succession politics and regime change agendas.
The second dominant view, which is as mendacious as the first, and which has found expression both in the media and in some sections of the political community is that the DCC structure was disbanded from the constitution of Zanu PF in order to deny the party’s Secretary for Legal Affairs, Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa, of what is alleged to have been his victory in the DCC elections that started in January and were still going on when the DCC structure was scrapped two weeks ago.
Those peddling this misplaced view falsely allege that the party’s Vice President and Second Secretary, Cde Joice Mujuru, engineered the disbanding of the DCC structure to outwit Cde Mnangagwa who had allegedly won the DCC elections.
This view, which is in wide currency especially in bars and desktop newsrooms, is particularly mendacious and even mischievous not only insofar as it seeks to falsely portray the DCC elections that were eventually not concluded as an alleged contestation for the leadership of the party between Cdes Mujuru and Mnangagwa but also insofar as it seeks to personalise, corrupt, misrepresent and obfuscate the actual ideological and organisational reason behind the disbanding of the DCCs.
While the scourge of factionalism in Zanu PF today cannot be denied by any sane person given that it has reared its ugly head everywhere for everyone to see, and while it is undeniable that the DCC operations did not escape that scourge because as it had permeated every structure of the party especially those with a co-ordinating function or responsibility, it is simplistic and in fact plain wrong to view, understand or explain the disbandment of the DCC structure with reference to factionalism in Zanu PF or within its exclusive confines.
While Zanu PF factions may be influential, there’s more to politics and certainly more to the revolutionary agenda of the liberation movement than any faction not least because while factions and the individuals associated with them come and go, the people’s revolution continues uninterrupted with its ups and downs until the attainment of a national democratic state which has nothing to do with the so-called constitutional democracy being sought by merchants of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism under the false banner of an alleged democratic transition.
As such, the disbandment of the DCCs was beyond factionalism in that it was quintessentially in the interests of the party as a whole and therefore in the broader interest of safeguarding the national democratic revolution. Anyone who does not understand this will not understand anything useful about Zanu PF or Zimbabwe.
A third view that has underlined the media take on the disbandment of the DCCs whose roots appear to be within Zanu PF is the assertion that if there were indeed good reasons for their disbandment, then the procedure of disbanding them was wrong in that they were disbanded like a bolt from the blue in a Politburo meeting before the decision was endorsed by the Central Committee two days later.
Those maintaining this position say that the disbandment of the DCCs should have been done legalistically, procedurally and therefore constitutionally over time through a process of back-and-forth consultation and engagement across various organs of the party and so forth and so on.
This argument of procedure or methodology is important and always needs careful attention. If you examine history carefully with reference to momentous decisions, you will find that conservatives and liberals always hide under the presumed rationality of procedure or methodology whenever they either are about to lose property or an argument with historic proportions.
In fact the ideology of conservatives and liberals is “procedure” which is designed to leave society hostage to the folly of methodology. This is because conservatives and liberals believe that “the right thing must be achieved in the right way” and they frown upon “achieving the right thing in the wrong way”.
This fanciful view is understandable but not meaningful and certainly not revolutionary. While revolutionaries employ strategies and tactics, they do not necessarily implement them in a procedural way which is why in a revolution “theory follows practice” which explains why the mother of theories is practice. It is for this reason that the revolution will never be televised or webcast even in this digital age of the Internet that seeks to influence politics through the corruption of the social media.
Any revolution that is televised and is therefore procedural and not strategic or tactical is by definition fake. That is why the so-called North African spring revolutions in countries like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have all turned out to be false to the core as counter-revolutions in a long and dark winter. Anybody who thinks revolutions have taken place in those countries needs to have his head examined by a competent psychiatrist.
In any event this stands to reason. Imagine you are in the middle of the road with oncoming traffic fast and furious from both directions. Would you want to procedurally get out of that situation with reference to the Highway Code or would you rather find the best way out and not put yourself back into that situation ever again?
For Zanu PF, to keep the runaway DCCs and hope to deal with them procedurally in terms of the book given their clear and present threats to the people’s revolution coming from self-indulgent succession politics and unrelenting regime change agendas had become equivalent to staying put in the middle of the road frantically dodging speeding oncoming traffic and hoping it will not run you over while you peruse the Highway Code looking for a rule out. The DCCs had become just bad news over and above their constitutional remit. They had to go.
In terms of Article 13(117) of Zanu PF’s constitution “the main function of the District Co-ordinating Committee shall be to co-ordinate the activities of the Party Districts in each Administrative District”. Article 14(118) provides that “there shall be a District Executive Committee for each District of the Province which shall consist of all Branches within the district”.
There are two crucial points that are instructive about this. The first is that as co-ordinating structures the DCCs had nothing to do with Zanu PF membership which make up the critical core of the party but were only and entirely about co-ordinating activities of districts that are also not about membership of the party because they are co-ordinating structures of branches. The second is that as co-ordinating structures, DCCs were about only 13 elected officials or office holders and not about the party’s membership.
A structure of office holders cannot be as or even more important than a membership structure. Zanu PF is not a party of officials but a party of members and thus a people’s liberation movement and indeed a mass revolutionary party. The only membership structures in Zanu PF are the Cell which on average has 100 members (not officials) and the Branch which on average has 500 members (not officials).
Cells and branches, not DCCs and not even provinces, are therefore the most important membership structures and substance of Zanu PF. Membership of the party is defined in Article three of Zanu PF’s constitution and there’s absolutely nothing about the disbandment of the DCCs which has in any way affected those two key structures.
If anything, disbanding the DCCs has freed the party’s cells and branches by removing a poisonous burden over their heads and by reminding everyone that Zanu PF is not a party of officials but a party of members and that any co-ordinating structure of the party must not become more powerful or more important than what it is co-ordinating.
In the circumstances, the triple view that disbanding DCCs has left Zanu PF in crisis ahead of the forthcoming elections, enabled one alleged faction to outwit another alleged faction and undermined proceduralism or legalism in the party is not sustainable because it is an abstract view about an ill-fated DCC structure that had to go because it was not rooted in the membership structures of the party and which never found a functional way of linking up with that membership to the point of becoming a readily available tool to any resourceful bidder including some with nefarious or evil intentions or ambitions and thus had to go for that reason and that reason alone.
While disbanding the DCCs was courageous and commendable, it is by no means enough. Other co-ordinating structures of the party, such as provinces, should be re-examined to realign them with the membership of the party where real power resides. The same evils that surrounded the DCCs clearly surround the provinces but do not and cannot surround the party’s cells and branches which are membership based and membership driven.
The evils of the so-called chef syndrome, imposition of candidates and use or in fact abuse of money will thrive only if the co-ordinating structures of officeholders are allowed to become more important or more influential than membership structures of the party at cell and branch level.
While it has proven possible and even easy to bribe structures of officials, it is not possible to do the same with membership structures in the same way that it is very difficult to bribe the electorate itself.
In the final analysis, and going forward, Zanu PF co-ordinating structures must understand that it is not them but party members at cell and branch levels that should elect the leadership of the party. When that happens, the chicanery politics of individualism and factionalism will come to grief and the revolutionary march towards a national democratic developing state in Zimbabwe will be secured.
The disbandment of the DCCs, therefore, is a most refreshing and most welcome development whose revolutionary logic should be used to reform but not disband the provinces to give power and authority to the membership of the party at cell and branch levels.
The idea that co-ordinating structures like DCC’s and provinces should elect the national leadership is necessarily open to corruption and manipulation and thus fundamentally flawed as that responsibility should belong to the party’s incorruptible membership.
Professor Jonathan Moyo is the Zanu PF MP for Tsholotsho North and member of the party's politburo