Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF simply fostering one party state

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Marshall Shonhai 

Vladimir Lenin once said: “The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves”
literally “putting the lid on the opposition” as he stated at the tenth congress of his party, the Bolsheviks in 1921.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed true that history repeats itself and in present-day Zimbabwe, we are witnessing an attempt by the Harare regime to revive a new version of Leninism. A political theory that proposes the establishment of a dictatorship led by a revolutionary vanguard party as the political prelude to the establishment of socialism. In Zimbabwe’s context though, socialism is replaced by blatant corruption and cronyism.

Zanu PF is back at pursuing one of its founding ideologies, the creation of a one-party state. This time with a new twist to it. Zanu PF knows that it can not totally get rid of opposition politics, remember, we are on paper supposed to be a multi-party democracy. To give a front of constitutionalism and democracy, there must exist an opposition political party that sanitises the sham of a republic that Zimbabwe is.

Zanu PF needs a political outfit that does not threaten it’s existence and the MDC Alliance in its current form is a threat to Zanu PF’s existence. So, what to do?

What we are witnessing before us is the creation of or an attempt to create what is called a CONTROLLED OPPOSITION.

What is the purpose of a controlled opposition? According to James McClurg, controlled oppositions exist to: “Give the public the false illusion of choice by presenting a political party or organisation that superficially speaks to the desires or frustrations of the people but whose actions do not further the stated goals of the organisation
• Disinformation or deception of the masses. Steering the masses in the wrong direction or misdirect their energies, beliefs and actions
• Unmask and monitor the true opposition
• Create a chaotic and divisive environment in which the opposition cannot band together and there is general mistrust thereby ensuring that an organized opposition with clear goals and priorities never manifests
• Act in such a way that superficially appears to benefit the opposition, but in truth furthers the ends of the controlling party.”

McClurg goes on to say: “The strategy of controlled opposition works best under circumstances in which the masses are gullible, credulous, lack critical thinking and are unable to connect the dots and see how the actions/inaction or manipulation of information from the controlled entity benefit the controlling entity.”

By definition, a controlled opposition is a protest movement that is actually being led by government agents. This is normally done covertly but in Harare, it is being done openly. Zanu PF is desperately trying to create its own opposition in the weak MDC led by Thokozani Khupe, Douglas Mwonzora and Morgan Komichi among others.

Thursday night’s events where the Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic Police helped the Khupe faction seize the control and occupancy of the MDC Alliance Morgan Richard Tsvangirayi House, formerly Harvest House, is a clear testament that Zanu PF will not rest until all forms of opposition to the Military regime in Harare is crushed!

But how did Zanu PF end up in the middle of this power struggle?

The MDC’s love for resolving its internal struggles in the courts has been its downfall. How on earth these Cdes expect fairness and impartiality in a Zanu PF captured, run and owned legal system boggles the mind. What result do you expect when you approach your enemy to arbitrate your internal disputes? It would be foolish of Zanu PF not to take advantage of such a situation.

It was only a matter of time before the court challenges and counter applications were going to come home to roost. And boy, home have they come! In a March 31, 2020, ruling, the Supreme Court ordered the party to hold an extraordinary congress to elect Tsvangirai’s successor using the 2014 structures. What has followed is a domino’s effect, first the recalling from the parliament of four elected Members of Parliament by 2014 Secretary-General Mwonzora, which parliament through speaker Jacob Mudenda quickly enforced. The ruling by the High Court that MDC Alliance is not a juristic person, Justice Chitapi ruled that the MDC Alliance cannot sue or be sued and as a result, their case had no legal standing. Then came the “firing” of Chamisa by Khupe from the party and last night’s take over of the party headquarters.

MDC has played into Zanu PF’s hands and they have done so two ways.

The struggle is that MDC is full of lawyers and Advocates, so every problem or dispute must be resolved legally. Yet some are mere political disputes and they need political resolutions, not litigation. There is what I call one way thinking operating in the MDC. When will these Cdes realise that there will be no respite for opposition parties in Zanu PF courts? It is about time the MDC A has a rethink to its strategies.

What is sad is that Zimbabweans see all that is happening as an MDC problem and it does not concern them. Which is a bonus for Zanu PF. How have we come to this place where a struggle for democracy is left to a political outfit to deal with?

Again, a problem of MDC’s creation. Whilst Zanu PF is clear from inception that they desire a one-party state, the Cdes in the MDC have behaved in a manner that has left some of us thinking they prefer a two-party state, them against Zanu PF!

This sounds harsh I know but I have been a victim of this behaviour and mentally. When I joined a few colleagues and launched a bid to run for Harare City council, the most resistance surprisingly did not come from Zanu PF. Instead, it came from people we considered Cdes and colleagues in the struggle for free and democratic Zimbabwe.

The demonetisation, name-calling and ridicule came from people I knew personally. We were labelled a Lacoste creation and funded by ED! Sellouts we were called, all for exercising our constitutional right to belong to a political grouping of our choice and participating in a national election. We thought we are a MULTI party democracy but no! you can only oppose Zanu PF within the rank and file of the MDC anything else is unacceptable.

This lack of pluralism in our politics has immensely benefited Zanu PF, if they silence the MDC, they silence everyone else. Now that the struggle has been privatized, it is very difficult to get the support of other progressive forces and the citizens to view the onslaught on democracy by Zanu PF as a collective national problem. It is viewed as an MDC problem and believes me it is all working out for Zanu PF.

The struggle for a new Zimbabwe is not an MDC struggle alone, it is all our struggle and the Cdes in the MDC need to realise that fast and so does the rest of the country. We can not subcontract the fight for our freedom.

The push for Khupe, Mwonzora and Komichi and company by the state machinery MUST be resisted, not by the MDC Alliance alone but by every right-thinking and freedom-loving Zimbabwean! The military regime in Harare can try all it may subvert the will of the people but it will not work, the good will eventually prevail over evil.

What Zanu PF is trying has been tried before and it failed, dismally! It was tried by Ian Smith in what he called the Rhodesian Internal Settlement.

The Internal Settlement was an agreement which was signed on 3 March 1978 between Prime Minister of Rhodesia Ian Smith and the moderate African nationalist leaders comprising Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Ndabaningi Sithole and Senator Chief Jeremiah Chirau. The settlement was meant to ease pressure on the country from crippling sanctions and political pressure from the international community, particularly from Britain and The USA.

The agreement led to the creation of an interim government in which Africans were included in leading positions for the first time. This, in turn, was to lead to the achievement of the settlement’s main goal which was for the country to gain international recognition, which in turn implied that sanctions imposed on Rhodesia which came about as a result of the announcement of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence of 1965, would be abolished.

The Harare regime, if ever forced to make a political settlement, they would want to it with a weaker opposition and Khupe provides that. Let’s not forget that there is an ongoing “dialogue” with other participants of the 2018 presidential election. A settlement of sorts can come out of it, otherwise what is the reason for the meeting?

However, The Internal Settlement collapsed after Zanla and Zipra continued waging war, and the United Nations Security Council declared any settlement drafted under Smith null and void. Leading to the Lancaster House talks which included Nkomo and Mugabe leading to the birth of modern-day Zimbabwe.

What Mnangagwa is attempting to repeat is exactly what Ian Smith attempted and dismally failed in 1978. Mugabe said back then “legitimacy is not sort through some kitchen dialogue but from all the people of Zimbabwe, black or white….” and those words ring loud and true today. Mnangagwa can dialogue with whomever he pleases, but right now Chamisa is more important to this equation as Nkomo and Mugabe were in the late 70s. So with or without a political party name or headquarters, they will be no legitimate settlement in Zimbabwe that excludes Chamisa.

One thing that we must all remain alive to is that the Zanu of Mnangagwa is not the Zanu of Mugabe and the MDC of Chamisa is not the MDC of Tsvangirayi. It is now time the MDC to rethink how it approaches this battle with Zanu PF. The battle is not for the name, but the battle is for the idea MDC Alliance stands for, so if this fails, Zanu will come up with another strategy.

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