EDITORIAL COMMENT: Zanu-PF: Time for introspection
TWELVE months ago today, Zanu-PF scored a crushing victory against the MDC-T sweeping 1 493 out of 1 958 wards in the local authority elections, translating to over 76 percent dominance in local government countrywide. President Mugabe routed MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai with 61,09 percent of the valid votes cast to 33,94 percent with Zanu-PF clinching 160 seats out of the 210 National Assembly constituencies to garner a crushing 76 percent dominance of the house.
After factoring in 60 women’s quota seats elected by proportional representation of six for each of the 10 provinces, the final composition of the National Assembly came to 196 seats for Zanu-PF, 70 for MDC-T, two for MDC and two independents giving Zanu-PF just under 73 percent of the total seats in the National Assembly but well over the two thirds majority of 180 seats.
As such Zanu-PF has dominated all levels of government over the past 12 months and will do so till the next elections in four years time.
Today is thus a time of celebration and also introspection during which Zanu-PF leaders must ask themselves what they have done with the colossal mandate they were handed by discerning voters and how the winning manifesto has been translated to transform livelihoods.
Regrettably, history has consistently shown that Zanu-PF is normally at its worst after a strong electoral showing.
This may be because, with the opponent vanquished, the revolutionary party has a tendency of channelling its energy against itself.
A few examples might suffice here.
In election 2000, Zanu-PF edged the MDC-T with a mere five seats after landing 62 constituencies to the MDC’s 57 in the 120-seat legislature translating to a mere 48.6 percent of the vote to the MDC’s 47 percent.
In the wake of this narrow victory, Zanu-PF galvanised its structures to give President Mugabe a telling victory against Mr Tsvangirai in the 2002 presidential election where he garnered 56.2 percent of the vote to 42 percent for the MDC leader. This trend was carried over to election 2005 where Zanu-PF won 78 seats to the MDCs 41 translating to 59.59 percent of the votes to the MDC’s 39.52 percent.
On the back of this impressive showing, Zanu-PF again turned against itself with the self-defeating “bhora musango/ibhola egan’eni’’ before being given a rude awakening by the MDC-T in March 2008 where for the first time since independence, Zanu-PF lost its majority in parliament after managing 99 seats to MDC-T’s 100 and the MDC’s 10, this translated to 45.94 percent of the vote for Zanu-PF to 42.88 percent for the MDC-T.
Yes, despite losing its simple majority in Parliament, Zanu-PF won the popular vote in 2008, but its lead from the previous election was whittled from over 20 percent to just 3 percent.
What is more, because of bhora musango, President Mugabe also trailed Mr Tsvangirai in the first round of the presidential contest after garnering 43 percent of the vote to Mr Tsvangirai’s 47 percent which was a massive negative drop from his lead of 14.2 percent scored in 2002.
With that near miss, Zanu-PF once again mobilised its structures for the runoff, delivering a crushing victory that saw President Mugabe rout Mr Tsvangirai with 85.5 percent of the vote to 9.3 percent.
And this unity of purpose was carried over to election 2013 under the slogan “Bhora mugedhi/ibhola egedini’’ as opposed to the bhora musango/ibhola egan’eni’’ of 2008 giving Zanu-PF the crushing victory highlighted above.
We said today is a time of introspection because Zanu-PF is once again channelling its energy against itself on the back of the impressive electoral showing last year.
We commend the Women’s League for taking a stance against the ruinous factionalism and hope other party organs, the Main and Youth Wings will follow suit.
Election 2013 was won by Team Zanu-PF not Factional Zanu-PF. To this end, the ongoing internecine tussles may prove detrimental in 2018. It is, however, not too late to make amends. It is providential that Zanu-PF commemorates its historic victory in the run-up to the Youths and Women’s Conferences that will culminate in the party’s elective Congress in December this year.
Last week President Mugabe laid out the template of progressive leadership which we hope party cadres will use as a yard stick to elect the party’s leadership for the next five years.
Speaking during the unveiling of his sister, Bridget Mugabe’s tombstone, in Zvimba last week, President Mugabe said a good leader embodies qualities that identify him/her with the people and the willingness to make sacrifices that drive national objectives forward.
We hope the electoral colleges at the Women and Youth league conferences will have this in mind when they elect their leaders for the next five years..
They should remember that what they should be picking is a winning team ahead of election 2018 where the party needs to defend the gains of 2013 and make inroads into constituencies held by the MDC-T.
As such what should emerge is a team determined to put the ball in the net not on the terraces.
We thus call on the Zanu-PF leadership, at all levels, to harness and channel the energy being expended on factionalism to implementing the party’s history-making manifesto that has since been crystallised into Zim-Asset.
Zimbabwe is the asset that needs defending, and it is only a united Zanu-PF that can ensure the defence of the national interest.