What future for ZANU-PF?
Posted by CM on April 2, 2008
One of the reasons Robert Mugabe has given in recent years for not retiring has been his expressed fear that ZANU-PF would disintegrate into infighting over how to succeed him, and that he wanted to stay on until a natural successor emerged to take over from him.
This was cynical and self-serving of course, but that is now an issue of grave importance for the party as it contemplates defeat in parliament and the possible exit of the man who has dominated its affairs for the past 30 years. Remaining united while choosing a successor to Mugabe as a ruling party was going to be difficult enough. But losing power as well as losing Mugabe as the party’s flag-bearer at the same time could decimate ZANU-PF and threaten its very existence.
There is no ideology beyond access to state resources that can be said to hold the party together. Unless MDC made some huge blunders during its first few years in power ZANU-PF will initially have little credibility and authority as an opposition party. If the MDC decides to pursue cases of corruption and abuse of power, many of ZANU-PF’s leading lights would be brought down, or at least severely weakened by being tied up in the courts for a long time. It is likely that the picture that will emerge from exposed details of ZANU-PF’s last several years in power will not be pretty.
Will ZANU-PF withstand all these pressures? Will it be able to remain strong and united without access to state resources? On what basis? Who among its leaders will be able to take over from Mugabe, and what power will he be able to wield to keep the party together? Will liberation war-era sentimentality still have a draw for a party that would have been deposed from power for having failed to deliver a better quality of life for the people?
From being a collosus that heavily influenced all sorts of areas of Zimbabwean life from politics to business to being an opposition party will be a transition ZANU-PF will find difficult to do, especially without the ruthless discipline of Mugabe as its boss.