“But a good leader requires intuition; and this is more than a mere command of facts and data. It demands the ability to deal with numerous intangibles, in our case including the politically sensationalised issue of Gukurahundi, that forgettable conflict of the eighties so unfortunately viewed as a starting point by some ambitious but uninspiring political aspirants so devoid of current affairs initiative.” Reason Wafawarova (January 8, 2015).
TO many people in and outside ZANU-PF, the party’s 6th National Congress held in December was barely related to its official theme, “Accelerated Implementation of ZimAsset.” Our pettifogging media did not make things any better, as they clearly focused on the factional dramas of ZANU-PF, seemingly forgetting this was a policy implementation forum for the country’s ruling party.
While the resolutions passed at the Congress detail the party’s position on the core aspects of ZimAsset, it is the status of the party that steals the attention of the reader, perhaps justifying the frenzied fixation the media had with the party’s state of affairs.
The media did not exactly capture any debate of ZimAsset during the Congress, and neither did the speeches publicised by the media attend much to the state of the economy. It appears the resolutions passed at the Congress did not interest the media as much as the controversies around the person of Joice Mujuru, but a read of the resolutions tells of a party “distressed” by the state of the economy.
There are impressive “directives” given by the party to government on social services and poverty eradication, infrastructure and utilities development, valued addition and beneficiation, state of indigenisation and land reform, public administration and fiscal reforms, as well as women and youth affairs. It is hard to believe that ZANU-PF cabinet Ministers take directives from the party’s Congress seriously, given that many of the Ministers have this misguided but genuine belief that they are above the party structures.
ZANU-PF policy formulators are no novices at all, and whatever they put on paper impresses by definition. However the party’s policy implementers are an awful lot, and judging by the language in the party’s resolutions, even the party itself is “distressed” and “outraged” by the lack of commitment on the party of those seconded into government.
Well, the ruling party has had no competition whatsoever from the opposition at policy level, for the simple reason that the opposition enjoys breathtaking mediocrity throughout its leadership ranks, led by a coterie of lazy thinkers that is so good at feigning popularity.Advertisement
As indicated earlier on, it is “the state of the party” exordium to the Congress resolutions document that is quite telling in terms of ZANU-PF leadership. There are eight points describing the state of the party, five of which show a corybantic party trembling with indignation over its own internal affairs.
It all starts on a happy note with the party “buoyed” by the 2013 electoral victory, “inspired” by President Mugabe’s campaign strategies, and it also ends on another high, as the party declares it was “grateful” that the First Lady “showed revolutionary skill and courageous leadership” through “the Mazowe Crush initiative.” But that is as far as the frolic mood goes.
Throughout point number 3 to 7 the party is “appalled” by the actions “of counterrevolutionaries” reportedly led by Former VP Joice Mujuru; is “dismayed” by the “dirty minded and reactionary deal” between the Mujuru cabal and the opposition; is “appalled by the cabal’s “machinations to manipulate the voting structures” of the party’s grassroots; is “outraged” by the fact that the cabal did not want elections in 2013; and is “outraged” by the cabal’s sabotaging of the party’s programs, including the 2008 election campaign.
The overly “appalled,” “dismayed,” and “outraged” ZANU-PF unavoidably attracted the wrong attention to its Congress, and precisely that is why we heard next nothing related to the theme of the Congress, with all focus aimed at the exit of Joice Mujuru and the elevation of Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko to the presidium, the later happening a week after Congress.
It appears like there is so much of politics and so little of leadership in Zimbabwe at the moment, and that is why even our ruling party is dismayed and outraged by the goings on within its own ranks. We cannot even start talking about the numerous fractions of the ever-splitting MDC, save to say most Zimbabweans have given up on the irredeemable anguish of supporting any of the purposeless outfits.
Our people have been bamboozled by our politicians to the point where they no longer can figure out what a leader looks like, many times thinking a leader must be powerful, impressive, or charismatic. We can no longer imagine the small stature big impact leader whose credibility is based on sacrifice for the good of all others.
True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned; and that is why Zimbabweans must not immerse themselves into the presumptions of succession politics. Leadership must be earned. It comes with influence, and no one can mandate influence. What the ZANU-PF Congress did was to give people titles, and titles in themselves do not have much value when it comes to leading.
No doubt President Mugabe has immense influence as a leader, and it appears like those that have tried to compete with him have not matched his prominence. The question many people would ask is why, especially given the veteran leader’s age.
Some people have alluded to President Mugabe’s eloquence of speech and charisma as the key secrets for his massive influence. But surely the country does have a lot of eloquent and charismatic characters, including some in politics; yet they cannot seem to command the same influence as the head of state enjoys.
To answer the question why, the first thing to look at is character. We always want to establish the inner person within anyone that avails himself or herself as a potential leader. We want to see who they are, what they stand for, the depth of their character, and what their principles are.
President Robert Mugabe rose to prominence during the days of pre-independence nationalism, and his character was tested by 11 years of incarceration, the sacrifice of surrendering a comfortable middle class life in order to help lead the fighting masses, and his uncompromising principles, regarded as radical by those who at the time saw opportunity in compromises, especially in regards to the internal settlement deals then offered by Ian Smith.
In the post-Mugabe era, Zimbabweans will still be looking for a leader of character, and unfortunately character is quite hard to contrive. It is not any easier when one looks at how high the Mugabe bar has been set.
To be a leader one has to have followers, and followers themselves are a product of leader-follower relationships. We have aspiring leaders who have no relationship whatsoever with the grass roots, no relationship at all, and yet they believe they have what it takes to lead Zimbabweans into happiness. These are intellectually high rated leaders with no followers, the likes of Simba Makoni, Welshman Ncube and Lovemore Madhuku. The Mugabe-people relationship has its roots in the mobilisation effort that attracted people to the liberation-armed struggle, and this explains the compelling link between the ZANU-PF leader and war veterans.
Many will agree that after 34 years of independence, there is a whole generation that was never mobilised against colonialism, and these Tsvangirai has tried and failed to mobilise against the excesses and shortcomings of ZANU-PF, imagined, manufactured or real, which are not exactly few. While Tsvangirai initially did a splendid job mobilising against ZANU-PF in urban areas, he dismally failed to create a rallying point for himself as a leader, leading to him being followed by protesting people with no sense of either unity or direction, no sense of belonging, and of course this came with disastrous consequences.
Meanwhile ZANU-PF has been attracting youths with some of its economic people-oriented policies like the land reform and indigenisation program. That makes mobilisation a lot easier for any leader to emerge from the party.
A leader must be seen to have knowledge, and preferably he or she must in reality have knowledge. A leader needs a good grasp of facts, and understanding of dynamic national matters, a good sense of timing, and above all a well-articulated vision for the future.
For Zimbabwe right now the facts that are mandatory to grasp have to do with the economy, the dynamic factors include our international relations, the timing required is to do with the next three and half years, before we hit the next election; and the vision needed is to do with the urgent need to recover the economy.
While the likes of Makoni, Ncube, or Madhuku often come across as knowledgeable at the face value of their intellectual exploits, these people generally lack the required relationships with the voting public. They are alienated boxes of knowledge, so to speak, and the ballot simply has no respect for these kinds of velvety but vacuous reputations.
ZANU-PF has already set up a vision for a future Zimbabwe, and a strategy for 2018. They have the indigenisation vision and the $27 billion dollar ZimAsset, and as mentioned earlier on, the party accounts for itself so impressively on matters of perceived knowledge, especially when it comes to formulation of public policy. That also makes it easier for any leader to emerge, even if that leader were not as knowledgeable at personal level.
But a good leader requires intuition; and this is more than a mere command of facts and data. It demands the ability to deal with numerous intangibles, in our case including the politically sensationalised issue of Gukurahundi, that forgettable conflict of the eighties so unfortunately viewed as a starting point by some ambitious but uninspiring political aspirants so devoid of current affairs initiative.
It is sad when someone lacks conscience to the point of manufacturing or inventing a historical family tragedy in order to build a political career, or to win a political argument; as recently happened when this writer challenged one reader to prove their claimed personal experience with the tragedies of Gukurahundi.
The reader made up an entire extended family that he said used to live somewhere imaginary in Matebeleland at the material time of the conflict, got this manufactured family slaughtered ruthlessly in his narrative, all in a monstrous and heartless manner “by Robert Mugabe,” only to fail to come up with a single name of the said victims, or where exactly they resided; sheepishly asking “why should names matter?” Of course names do not matter in lies.
For me it is simply unethical and highly irresponsible to hijack the tragedy or misfortune of others for political expediency, or to seek recognition in the civic sector by building exaggerations and other sensitivities on the premises of real misfortunes of others, even if the pretensions were done in the name of advocacy and speaking for the voiceless.
People who do this are a disgrace, especially when they pretend to be the custodians of the collective feelings of those who were genuinely affected by the tragedies of the conflict we had in Southern Zimbabwe in the eighties.
There are other pertinent intangibles like ethnicity, diplomatic relations, and trade relations, and a good leader will require the right intuition to steer the country through such turbulences.
It is really hard to make an impressive impact as a leader unless people know where you have been. Recently VP Mnangagwa alluded to his 34 years of experience in various capacities in the country’s executive. While experience in and of itself does not guarantee credibility, it is a good starting point to getting people to give someone a chance to prove that they are capable.
Experience works better with past successes. Nothing speaks to followers like a good track record, and equally nothing destroys a political career faster than a bad track record.
This is why it is fashionable for political opponents to concentrate on soiling the track record of their rivals, whether by pure slander, or based on facts.
We all know how the successes of ZANU-PF are sometimes overplayed each time we are approaching an election. It is important in politics to capitalise on the mileage of past success stories.
People essentially follow ability, be it proven or perceived. It is important for any leader to at least show what they are cable of doing. People want victory and success, not struggles and suffering.
For Zimbabwe right now, what the people really want is a leadership that is capable of delivering the lofty promises of ZimAsset, someone that can help the economy to recover.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
REASON WAFAWAROVA is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.