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Opinion / Columnist

Of NPF, NPP, political legitimacy & 2018 elections

01 Jun 2018 at 11:18hrs | Views
The liberation war waged by Zanla and Zipra forces against the settler Rhodesian regime in the 1970s shaped the new nation State of Zimbabwe and has, in fact, continued to guide the narratives that have characterised political discourse in independent Zimbabwe. The liberation war was basically influenced by the "winds of change" that swept across Africa from the 1960s. These "winds of change" were foundationed on demands for national political independence, land reclamation and respect for traditional Ubuntu as passed from generation to generation.
That liberation war has continued to be the foundation upon which liberation parties in Africa draw their legitimacy as mass vanguard parties. This is applicable to Frelimo in Mozambique, the ANC in South Africa, UNIP in Zambia, MPLA in Angola, Swapo in Namibia and Zanu PF in Zimbabwe.

Most, if not all policies implemented by Zanu PF since independence have been aimed at fulfilling the dreams that inspired the liberation war, ranging from the historic land reform programme, indigenisation and education and empowerment policies.

It is therefore not surprising that today, opposition parties like the National Patriotic Front and the National Peoples Party led by liberation war combatants, Ambrose Mutinhiri and Joice Mujuru, respectively realise the value of the legacy of the liberation war and are very much at pains to associate their political projects with the liberation war.

Recent NPF regalia has pictures of former President Robert Mugabe and former Vice President, Dr Joshua Nkomo, the two being prominent features in the liberation history of Zimbabwe. This is purely an attempt to draw legitimacy from the liberation war by the political party, which ironically, was formed by former ZANU PF members. The likes of opposition personalities Mutinhiri, Dr Mujuru, Rugare Gumbo, Didymus Mutasa and Agrippa Mutambara, share participation in the liberation war.

The use of the Mugabe/Nkomo images by the NPF is a calculated move to draw support for their parties through associating themselves with these liberation personalities. They however lack the founding values of the liberation war, values which were premised on service to the people, not just occupation of positions for personal benefit. No wonder why the NPF has been rocked by fights for leadership positions well before it is officially launched as a political party.

No policy alternatives have been offered by the NPF, save its mantra that they want to remove the government of President Mnangagwa. It appears the party was formed solely to oppose the new dispensation.
On its part, the NPP is also seeking to identify with the liberation war, with Dr Mujuru making reference to her liberation war credentials each time she gets a platform to speak.

The liberation war will, for the foreseeable future, continue to offer legitimacy to political actors in Zimbabwe, over and above the mandate given by people through elections. As such, it is not surprising that those parties that have sought to downplay the significance of the war as a political platform have failed to win the hearts and minds of the majority of Zimbabweans. The MDC, despite massive funding from Western powers, failed at the last minute to dislodge Zanu PF from power, largely because of its liberal policies and approach which sought to denigrate the inspiring values of the liberation war.

The new dispensation is riding on these very values, hence the massive support it is enjoying from the generality of Zimbabweans. It is inconceivable that a politician can launch and sustain a successful career in today's Zimbabwe without attachment and association with the liberation war. This is not to downplay the relevance of being forward looking in line with the ever changing international political arena. The trick lies in domesticating the international trends to suit the needs and aspirations of the Zimbabwean citizen. Only then can the country's engagement with the international family of nations be of immediate benefit and relevance to the ordinary Zimbabwean.
The new dispensation under President Mnangagwa continues to spearhead fulfilment of the founding values of the liberation struggles. Results of the forthcoming elections will confirm that the majority of Zimbabwean voters identify themselves with these values through voting for Zanu PF.

Source - Bevan Musoko
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