Friday, 15 February 2008

Zanu-PF: The threat of second détente

Zanu-PF: The threat of second détente

What threatens Zanu-PF is not a divided vote. What threatens it is divided attention. Last week I made the point that Simba Makoni is a political minor who personifies a monumental miscalculation on the part of his outside handlers.

The little vote he will carry will come from both factions of the MDC. It will leave Zanu-PF’s power base untouched, undisturbed. This is before the Zanu-PF juggernaut starts rattling and buffeting his thing. As I write, the chiefs in Manicaland — Chief Makoni included — are up in arms.

They do not like what Simba has done, with Chief Makoni threatening to revert to the historically resonant name of Chingaira, in order to distance himself from this misshapen shura mugura, one which threatens to taint his family’s proud record in national struggles.

Indeed, it is this rejection from the rural power base which accounts for senseless pronouncements from some officials within the same province, all along known to have worked with Makoni. Pronouncements such as announcing the suspension of the renegade politician well after the Politburo has already expelled him. How do you suspend a man whose expulsion has already been formalised? It is a measurement of the level of panic within the group.

Comparative badness

Even the alliance between Makoni and Mutambara already mooted lacks the basic ingredients to make a strong alloy. In leading a breakaway from Morgan Tsvangirai in October 2005, Welshman Ncube always knew he needed the symbolic visibility of a figure from Mashonaland, in order to escape charges of leading a tribal formation. He settled on Mutambara because politically better characters would not oblige his invitation. We wrote about it.

Makoni’s name was briefly mentioned. Mutambara was not Welshman’s first choice. Nor did subsequent political praxis graduate him into one such, to this day. He is a president who is a failure they endure, a "president" who underlines the absence and need for one.

The faction has failed to grow a presidential candidate. From that viewpoint, there would be nothing extraordinary in Welshman jettisoning the dour Mutambara for Makoni’s "nice face" (Eddie Cross’s phrase).

The collapsed talks with Tsvangirai which would have hidden his lack of a candidate through the one-candidate has made alliance with Simba unavoidable. Let history record this fact correctly. Simba Makoni cannot tout this as testimony to his enlarging influence in the national body-politic. He has not united anyone, anything.

He has joined; been recruited to a formation that needs his symbolism. He is not real, in other words. He validates Zanu-PF’s charge that he was always in Zanu-PF without being of it, or always in MDC without joining it. At the end of the poll, the inevitable lesson will be that Welshman’s search continues.

When the groom notices another bride

Reading Makoni’s press conferences, his sparse manifesto, and Mhanda’s piece with Violet Gonda, it is clear pressure has registered too soon on his outfit.

Its reluctance to concretise its break-away — if one it is — by way of an outright launch of a party, strongly suggests the unsure. It also confirmed last minute doubts and even differences with its big-wigged godfathers who cautioned for a delay.

In retrospect, even Makoni himself admits it was quite a dull theory to proceed on the premises that giving a face to sparse internal opposition to President Mugabe, would embolden and crystallise dissent for the much hoped for snowballing effect.

He is shrinking quite fast, bitterly learning politics is not quite easy theory in the work-a-day world. Most probably he will have a few individuals scattered here and there — represented by the likes of Kindness Paradza — all of them counting for nothing beyond their own solitary persons.

He will have lots of goodwill from the boardroom, itself a place of damaging hyper-caution at a moment demanding choice and action. That cannot be a worrisome rupture to Zanu-PF.

The irony of it all, one which must be quite painful to Simba, is the fact that his announcement has got half cheers from traditionally anti-Zanu-PF quarters, thus bringing to the fore the fact that his western backers may very well have fragmented the opposition, which means enhancing Zanu-PF’s already bright prospects. Which is probably why Tsvangirai is quite angry with Makoni, dismissing him as "old wine in new bottles". Of course that is an inaccuracy.

He has never been wine, let alone an aged and therefore tastier one. He is bitter water from the English Channel, a British concoction that will not heal. Tsvangirai feels betrayed that the suitor’s eye has been caught by more extravagant coquetry, away from the old bride.

The statements of endorsement from the other Brown, himself a former Rhodesian would have infuriated any within the pantheon of traitors.

By any tool, by any personality

It should not be lost upon those in Zanu-PF that the British do not quite care about the colour of the cat for as long as it catches the mice.

Historically, they sought to turn the pre-October 2005 MDC into that mouse, until it proved it could not do the job. With the split, it also became obvious to them that numerical many did not mean more politically.

The MDC formations became even more effete as pawns in this historical game against President Mugabe and his party. Let it not be forgotten that in 1979/80, a number of combinations had been configured, again by the same force to ensure Zanu-PF would not form the first government.

The likes of Mhanda and others whom the British had insisted had to be freed from detention dungeons in Mozambique, and sent home ahead of Zanu-PF, know this story very well. Many joined many internal settlement formations in the hope of causing the badly wanted upset.

They failed, which is why there is nothing new in what Dzinashe Machingura seeks to do with Makoni, another face of the British project. This column carried a nuanced record of how the Anglo-American factor has been revising its regime change premises in the last five or so years, in order to nurse internal contradictions within Zanu-PF.

It is significant that Makoni is not uniting with Morgan Tsvangirai. That is how the British have now configured their latest stratagem. Personalities do not quite matter at all other levels, except that of the target, in this case the President.

Most probably the British know that none within the lot there are working with can govern this country. Most certainly the British know that a good many of them lack even the most elementary integrity to give a leadership of basic rectitude.

But they need to use them hopefully to bludgeon Mugabe and his liberation ethos.

Back to politics of détente

I say Zanu-PF, please beware! Zanu-PF is in mortal danger of not realising soon enough that we are back to the politics of the early seventies, politics of détente.

The parallels could not have been more striking: a backdrop of unity talks; an attempted assault on the fabric of its ideas, leading to self-doubt and even a questioning of its chosen method of liberating the country; creation of a false leadership through war-emblazoned personages to lend legitimacy to the project and, above all, a strong hand of imperialism organising all this confusion in order to decapitate the liberation project.

The devastating manifestation of politics of the détente is always confusion over who the real enemy is, creation of false goals, false methodologies, leading to false struggles.

Alfred Mhanda knows what I am writing about, and must be noting the irony that history has harpooned him back into the whirlpool of Zimbabwe’s second détente, so well personified by Simba Makoni.

As before, everything is triggered by intellectual arrogance and vaulting ambition, both leading to rebellion against the command. And this is where my point comes: while dealing with potentially antagonistic contradictions created internally by the détente, focus must remain on the principal contradiction.

Little, inconsequential fronts should

not weaken focus on the principal contradiction. I reject any politics in Zanu-PF

which seek to lionise Simba Makoni and his henchmen. They are not principal actors. I emphasise the British-led Western

factor which has conceived the détente whose marketing sleeve is Simba Makoni and his ilk.

The British hand

Makoni’s hurried notes that pretend to be a manifesto betray the British hand. It suggests land reforms are still underway and stresses should be done in a way that helps turn around the economy.

On surface, it sounds laudable, innocent. Beneath, it carries a very sinister subtext that allows for land reform reversals, in a way that gives land back to white farmers.

As I said last week, this is one area Makoni differed with the rest of Government. This will be the thin end of the wedge which will allow massive reversals on that foundational front. One other sentence promises to re-engage the "international community", itself a euphemism for British-led alliance of anti-liberation westerners. The point is made palatable by claims of re-engaging Zimbabweans in their various categories.

In combination, both points get you to the pith of what the British want, which Makoni promises to deliver.

The tactic is to lure voters through melodramatic descriptions of present hardships, ironically caused by the very same quarters he wants to speedily re-engage. He seeks to mobilise around consequences which he has turned to causes.

That way President Mugabe becomes the evilest part of the piece, the British the solution. It is thus not difficult to see where the détente politics are taking us. The issue is, does Zanu-PF correctly read this strategy to adequately countermand it? Food for thought. Icho!


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