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Mzembi to break Zimbabwe political stalemate?

23 Jan 2020 at 12:19hrs | Views
Our political dynamics require a game changer to break the perennial stalemate between the two main protagonists of our failed politics, Zanu PF and MDC A . At the core of this gridlock is the vanity of the leadership of Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa who have failed to answer not just the national consensus and call on genuine dialogue but regional signals on the need for national convergence and unity of purpose, the most recent being an unusual and out of tradition advisory from Naledi Pandor, South Africa's Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

The impatience of regional leaders with Zimbabwe expresses itself through South African Ministers personal opinions on the Zimbabwe crisis and opinion articles in regional mainstream media where Zimbabweans are now being caricatured in the same vein as Mexicans in the United States of America. They decry that Zimbabweans have turned to all form of vices from prostitution to all manner of crime in their countries and want to take down the region with them. Even this has not moved Zimbabwean political actors to some serious engagement of solving a national crisis only rivalled by that of Venezuela.

It is this evident lack of empathy that has prompted Zimbabweans to start looking outside the 2018 electoral rivals for a solution. Perhaps this election was not inclusive in its leadership offering and the solution may actually lie elsewhere, is the argument in many chatrooms that include homes, kombis, saloons, bars, fuel queues, funeral and wedding gatherings etc.

Wherever two or three people meet and inevitably the national crisis becomes the subject there is a desperate conclusion that there is leadership failure both in Zanu PF and MDC. Many including Statehouse itself and Nelson Chamisa have resorted to the divine, prayer and more prayer, but prayer without national resolve is futile. Talk has begun in earnest on alternative leadership and politics and all sorts of names thrown in from Kasukuwere and his Wabantu Movement, Strive Masiyiwa to Walter Mzembi and his recently announced People's Party, and many others. Today I zero in on the name that the public seems to mention often including our mainstream media, Walter Mzembi.

Often described as a vibrant and technocratic politician Mzembi's name continues to disrupt on the political landscape long after being unceremoniously despatched from both Zanu PF and Government in November 2017 together with his G40 colleagues. Seemingly back in politics after a two year sabbatical which he announced himself in December 2017, it appears he is exploiting a political vacuum that is manifesting in our politics and growing by the day . Many are now increasingly betting on him as their preferred choice for the highest office .

This narrative is being reinforced by the anticlimax that Chamisa's 20th January SONA delivery turned out to be. His lengthy monologue in Mbare, which sounded more like a freshman's political wishlist confirms the vacuum that now clearly beckons in opposition ranks so undesirable at this juncture in our politics. Who will give traction to the second liberation agenda seems to be the burning question. Many in different quarters have suggested Mzembi as a viable option to save the current political impasse. The former Masvingo South Member of Parliament is receiving wide endorsements from students, politicians across the political divide, labour unions, business community even within the military ranks who view him as a practical and mature politician.

The former Tourism Minister who is linked to the new kid on the block, People's Party is viewed as a more acceptable third way option amongst the current political players. According to impeccable sources within the Party, recruitment is full steam with deployments taking place on a daily basis. Pressure is mounting on Mzembi to make a public statement accepting officially the People's Party nomination as its interim President. Mzembi who is widely believed to be in South Africa, is viewed by many as their last hope to break the current political stalemate. Mzembi seems muted by a new legislation in South Africa on Asylum seekers and refugees that takes away political rights of persecutees of tyrants in Sub Saharan Africa and its highly likely that him and his colleagues are studying the impact of this legislation on their political futures before taking any further steps on their careers. Mzembi's announcement as the leader of the People's Party has send Zanu PF into some panic mode over the new political party's surprise appearance on the political scene.

Zanu PF had not seen or factored an early comeback of the vanquished G40 functionaries, letalone Mzembi who is remembered for attempting to bring Emmerson Mnangagwa and his former boss Robert Mugabe together after the coup. His heart seemed at the time and until recently to be with his old party, an accusation thrown at him often. However Mzembi continues to be name dropped on the political scene especially his association with People's Party raising fears within the ruling Zanu PF circles that he an existential threat to their prospects in the future. The Party remains uncertain on the former Masvingo South legislator's next move who has not spoken to accept or deny his links with the People's Party. Mzembi has remained in the background, allowing his Party to speak with many other people pushing for his name in the political ring. Respected development and political Analyst Cladius Madhuku has weighed in saying Mzembi resembles good leadership skills and he is presidential material. He certainly commands the clout for office and is accepted across the political divide. The rumour mill says he enjoys a modicum of respect within the military who remember his succinct speeches and policy deliverables at the Army Staff College and his practical interventions for the Army itself during his tenure as Tourism Minister. Beleived to be turning 56 this year, he seems to be almost where Robert Mugabe himself and Morgan Tsvangirai were age-wise when they both became Prime Ministers in 1980 and 2009 respectively.

Zimbabwe has this age thing where it loathes immaturity which could be Chamisa's undoing as he glides through the 40s. His rejection by peers like Gutu , Khupe, Mwonzora and others was informed partly by the age and immaturity factor. G40 downfall itself was the cynical collapse of an age based ambition inside Zanu PF.

Within the ruling Zanu PF itself there are wide sympathies with Mzembi who is seen as an unfair victim of highhandedness by a jealous tribal cabal from his Karanga group who linked his promotion to Foreign Affairs Minister a month before the coup with the demise of Emmerson Mnangagwa. Unlike Mugabe who always assembled a team of rivals for Cabinet believing the best performance came from his foes his successor has preferred bleating greenhorns for office and discrediting Mzembi and other G40 colleagues as disloyal suited his purging plans hence their persecution and ommission from public office deployment. Interestingly the Corporate world misses Mzembi and describes him as pragmatic and sober citing his successful stint at Tourism and national branding efforts that brought the only sectoral UN General Assembly to Zimbabwe . Many people wonder why the Harare administration continues to persecute him but perhaps the answer is now shaping in their hearts and minds that he remains a contender for office and hence Mugabe was so fond of him he would spite his inner circle oftenly describing him as his best Minister, performance ratings confirmed by independent media annual Cabinet scorecards at the time. This ofcourse created many enemies for him , especially from succession contenders inside Zanu PF.

Apart from high local ratings the former Foreign Affairs Minister continues to receive attention from the international community, largely a product of his run for the post of UNWTO Secretary General which he narrowly lost in 2017 two months before the coup . Studying from a distance he has clearly calibrated his re-entry into politics but he certainly is not easily prompted into the toxicity of Zimbabwean politics. Now that he has literally been thrown into the ring the Nation is waiting anxiously for his next moves. From London his Secretary General appears to be the authorised voice of his People's Party and so far he has acquitted himself very well in protecting his boss while presenting the alternative narrative so badly needed to break the current impasse. Could Dr Walter Mzembi turn out to be the "David" that Lloyd Msipa has presented to us or a modern day "Joshua" who will take us to Canaan? That we need redemption from failed politics and a melting economy is no longer the debate but who is going to be the first amongst generational equals is the question on everyone's mind. The liberation generation is now past its sale by date, it's time for new politics and new purposed minds. I submit like many that Mzembi fits the bill for a redemption presidency we so urgently need .

Tawanda Ruzanhi is a Researcher who can be contacted at

Source - Tawanda Ruzanhi
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