Zanu PF conference – What is in it for the people?

  JOHN MAKURA MASVINGO- IT is that time of the year again when ZANU PF holds its annual national people's conference.  As happened in 20...

 

JOHN MAKURA

MASVINGO- IT is that time of the year again when ZANU PF holds its annual national people's conference. 
As happened in 2003 when Masvingo Technical College hosted the mega event, this three-robot controlled town will be awash with top of the range vehicles, men in dark glasses guarding VIPs and thousands of ordinary people attending the conference.
Organisers say food will be in abundance, what with 50 beasts being slaughtered for the delegates. 
Ironically the Zanu PF members will feast amid a sea of poverty. Masvingo is the worst province affected by drought and this year alone, more than 5 000 cattle died due to lack of pastures, and thousands of people require food aid.
The situation is worse for 18 000 Chivi villagers displaced by the construction of the Tokwe Mukosi dam who are still living a hunter-gatherer type of life in the semi-arid Nuanetsi Ranch. Government promised $7 million compensation for them, but never fulfilled its promise condemning them to a life of misery.
Unless one is a dyed-in-the-wool party supporter, there is little to suggest that the conference will produce any tangible solutions to the problems facing the inhabitants of Masvingo and millions of Zimbabweans across the country. 
Unlike the 2003 conference when a defiant Mugabe announced to the world that he was pulling out of the Commonwealth, nothing dramatic or meaningful is expected to come out of the meeting. In fact, it is going to be yet another expensive talkshow where big wigs outdo each other in praise-singing Mugabe, despite the fact that he is at his weakest as president of a party badly fractured by factional fights.


War veterans who have backed him since independence have disowned him.
Attempts by Minister of War veterans Tshinga Dube to re-establish the romance between Zanu PF and the former freedom fighters have fallen flat, as the Christopher Mutsvangwa led executive has insisted that the party goes back to its founding principles. The executive announced they will not be attending the conference, a hard slap in the face for Mugabe.
It should not be forgotten that war veterans have been Mugabe's storm troopers who are credited with ruthlessly crushing any opposition to his rule. Now without their support, Mugabe appears like a one-legged man hoping to win a hotly contested marathon in 2018.
At 92, Mugabe no longer has that spring in his step and simply walking is now a daunting challenge for him. Two years ago he left his aides red-faced as he fell on the red carpet at the airport and just recently in Morrocco, he portrayed himself as a man too tired to walk on this earth. His aides however insist he is as fit as a fiddle.
But as old as he is, Mugabe remains Mugabe- that maverick veteran leader who outfoxes opponents and believes he was ordained by God to rule this country. He will seek to be endorsed as the party's candidate for 2018, despite a groundswell of opposition to his rule. That is already a foregone conclusion as most of Zanu PF's provinces have endorsed him as their candidate for 2018.
Barring any miracles, no-one, not even *Dickson Mafiosi and Higher and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo who were derided for calling for a constitutional provisional abolishing Mugabe's power to appoint his VPs can muster the courage to shake things at the conference. 
So it is highly unlikely that there will be any serious discussion on the state of the economy, the cash shortages and the effect of the introduction of the bond notes that have been introduced against public will.  
Over the two day event, Mugabe will blame sanctions and speak against factionalism and corruption, but it will be foolhardy for anyone to expect him to wield the axe against those accused of the vice. He routinely speaks about it, but unsurprisingly keeps in his inner circle those accused of graft. 
Moyo, who stands accused of abusing the Zimdef funds will not meet his waterloo at the Masvingo showgrounds. In fact, Moyo will emerge stronger from the conference and will continue to launch his attacks on  Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, much to the delight of the G40 faction.
Always a master at dividing and ruling Zanu PF, Mugabe finds Moyo,who uses his twitter account to attack Mnangagwa, a useful tool in checking his deputy's presidential ambitions. The VP is thought to be the leader of the Lacoste faction.
While there is nothing wrong with a Vice President aspiring to be a president, in Zanu PF where 'one centre of power' is a slogan, it is a taboo for anyone to dream of succeeding Mugabe while he is alive. 
While many in the party believe that it may be a question of time before Mnangagwa face the same fate as former VP Joice Mujuru who was hounded out of the party two years ago, others however, believe Mnangagwa who has been Mugabe's aide since the days of the liberation struggle is a survivor. Party juniors like Sarah Mahoka and Mandy Chimene know the futility of fighting "ngwena" in public. Chimene, the Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister tried to lead the crusade against Mnangagwa in his face a few months ago, but her antics failed to win support. She later made a major climbdown, describing Mnangagwa as 'her father'.
While the factions eager to maintain a facade of unity will not engage in bare-knuckled fights in the conference sessions, they will engage in behind the scenes manouvres in order to gain the upper hand in the battle to succeed Mugabe. For them, that will be the most important thing to do at the conference, something that will not be useful to the generality of the suffering Zimbabweans.
But it will not be all doom and gloom for the people of Masvingo, Mugabe's presence in the city of Masvingo, will spawn short term benefits and economic spinoffs for the local economy.
Hotels and lodges are fully booked for the event, meaning that the moribund hospitality industry will be boosted. The small town will surely wake up from its deep slumber and service stations, eateries and many shops will enjoy brisk business. Even airtime vendors will cherish the time when thousands of Zanu PF comrades descended in this ancient city.
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The Mirror: Zanu PF conference – What is in it for the people?
Zanu PF conference – What is in it for the people?
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