Zanu-PF is a strong party founded on the liberation struggle. It was formed to free the people from British colonial rule.
Parties that were formed before it, among them the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress, National Democratic Party and so on were also geared to liberate the people. They laid an important foundation that Zanu-PF built on.
To add steel to the fight for independence against a recalcitrant colonial regime, the Zanu and Zapu leaderships had to mobilise for a military campaign through their armed wings — Zanla and Zipra respectively. Thanks to that background that is steeped in the military, the party as we know it today profoundly respects the hierarchy just like soldiers do. Discipline, respect and unity are key elements that bind the revolutionary party together.
Throughout its history, disputes, if any occurred, were resolved internally and outsiders rarely got to know the happenings in the party. That is the Zanu-PF way.
However, as President Mugabe said on Saturday, there appears to be the emergence of a culture, a bad one that we condemn in the strongest of terms, whereby disunity is prevalent and disputes in the party are playing out outside of it openly sometimes in the media.
It is common these days to see cadres who disagree within the party, rushing to private newspapers to publicise the disputes in a bid to settle scores against a fellow comrade. This happens as if there are no internal dispute resolution mechanisms in Zanu-PF. One would expect the party members to approach relevant organs of the party for redress.
It is also common these days for every one of us to learn more about the happenings in the party after reading reports in the Press well before the party, through its structures, has officially issued statements to that effect.
This harms the party and exposes it to the opposition.
Speaking at the Zanu-PF Youth League National Assembly in Harare on Saturday, the President attacked top officials who share internal party information with potentially hostile characters, describing the practice as a “shame”. President Mugabe said it was pointless to involve the private media in internal party matters.
“. . . if there are problems, let’s discuss them, and discuss them not for the benefit of NewsDay or Daily News, or the outside world for them to have news to publish, about ourselves. All because you want to embarrass a fellow comrade. You don’t know that if you embarrass them today they will get their revenge in future. And you should learn politics, good politics. And at the top, we should give that lesson that power differences are discussed in-house. They are ours. They do not belong to the outside, it’s a shame; a shame even to our legend because our party was not built on that basis.
“It’s a party which has discipline; a party which has learnt that if we are divided and we become the food of vultures outside, the enemies will thrive and feed on us. No, we should never be like that. It doesn’t matter how offended you feel, bring your matter here, your things here, we will discuss it and we find a solution within the party. That’s it.”
The President has been consistent on this line, discouraging the peddling of sensitive party information to the outside world, public fights involving cadres including senior ones, indiscipline and disunity. Whenever he speaks, he denounces these vices.
However, it appears that some among the revolutionary party won’t listen. They remain uncontrollable. To us they are disrespecting the President, which is not right at all. They are daring him, possibly thinking that they are so important that their leader’s views are of no consequence.
They appear to be taking advantage of the President’s undying patience, his commitment to ensuring that party cadres heed his exhortations that he gives so liberally. The undisciplined cadres don’t seem to understand that the President has powers to crack the whip on anyone who refuses to toe the mark.
When he does those who refuse to listen must not then complain but take the punishment they courted, thus richly deserve.
We are however confident that all hope is not lost, the comrades will find each other and march on unitedly.
Unity is important, more so as we approach elections next year. Yes, victory for Zanu-PF is certain, but a lack of opposition mustn’t lull members into complacency, indiscipline, disunity and so on.