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Factionalism in Zanu-PF: G40 vs Lacoste

24 Jun 2020 at 20:08hrs | Views
Factionalism is not a phenomenon peculiar to the ZANU PF. Political parties are plagued by "parties within a party" whose members band together to achieve particular goals and advance their agenda within a political party. For example, in the USA, there is a tug of war between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic Party (DP). The progressives within the DP, are championing an agenda which would lead to a radical transformation of the American society.

The ZANU PF since its formation has been a factions riddled party. In many instances, the factions within ZANU PF were motivated by tribal and ideological considerations. Dylan Mangani (2018) accurately postulates that there is a symbiotic relationship between factionalism in ZANU PF and the "different political trajectories" in Zimbabwe. These factions in most instances were not visible and operated under the radar of the public eye. The political philosophy of democratic centralism ensured that party members valued discipline and unity of the party, not varied political ideas and vision.

Leftist (sometimes reactionary) and moderate ( sometimes ultra-conservative) factions existed in ZANU PF during and after the liberation struggle.  In the middle of the 1970s, the so-called "Young Turks" (ZIPA/ZANLA commanders) influenced by Marxism and Leninism, and the nationalists led by Mugabe vigorously competed to control the trajectory of the armed revolution. During the early years of the independence period, Tekere and Nkala represented the leftist faction of ZANU PF, which argued that Mugabe was becoming a paper tiger, because of his "reconciliatory approach towards Nkomo and the white community" (Mangani, 2018). This contest between the leftists and moderate factions in ZANU was not salient and manifest but motivated the actions and behaviors of ZANU PF as a party and Mugabe as a leader. However, the emergence of the G40 and Lacoste factions is perhaps the most visible in the history of ZANU PF as a party and liberation movement. The struggle between these two factions captured the attention of the public. The Munangagwa and Joyce Mujuru factions that preceded it pale in comparison.

The Lacoste and G40 factions defined the political trajectory of Zimbabwe. These two factions are to blame for the political, economic, financial, and social crises in Zimbabwe. The November 2017 "coup" could not have happened if these two factions did not exist. Mugabe could have been dethroned constitutionally without dividing and creating hatred within Zimbabwe's body politic. The writing was on the wall for the demise of RGM, and the birth of a new Zimbabwe. Unity within ZANU PF could have forced RGM to pass on the baton leading to a smooth transition from the Mugabe era and thereby unleashing leadership renewal and regeneration in ZANU PF. The arguments and explanations of the two factions are not convincing and demonstrate selfishness and the desire to use state power for personal and tribal aggrandizement.

Arguably, although the G40 was vanquished and is now scattered all over the globe, remnants and sympathizers of the G40 are still in Zimbabwe—in industry, commerce, government, etc. These constitute the greatest threat to ED's government. Remnants of the G40 inside and outside Zimbabwe are now a security threat. Within government, they are sabotaging government programs and policy implementation. In industry and commerce (with their allies and supporters), they are raising prices and creating artificial shortages to generate hostility and anger towards the ED government. The tragedy is that in its desperation to seize the levers of state power the MDC (perhaps the only credible opposition party in Zimbabwe), has embraced and welcomed some G40 members. This strategic error on the part of MDC means that the people's movement has been diluted, polluted, and corrupted.

The G40 and Lacoste factions have failed to reconcile and bury their differences. ED and those around him are to blame. ED as president of the country and ZANU PF and ZANU PF as a party have dismally failed to build bridges. They cannot forgive and forget. In politics, there are no permanent enemies. The polarization and hatred whether between the G40 and Lacoste factions or ZANU PF and the MDC is not good for Zimbabwean politics. RGM and RMT had to some extent broke the polarization and encouraged bipartisanship. The legacy of the conflict between the Lacoste and G40 factions in ZANU PF will haunt us for eternity as a nation. The test and caliber of leadership are demonstrated during times of crisis. ED must rise to the occasion, reconcile with G40 and extend an olive branch to the MDC by humbling himself and start negotiations with Nelson Chamisa for the sake of our children and grandchildren. He is the president, not Nelson Chamisa. Humility and servant leadership is what it takes to usher Zimbabwe into a land full of milk and honey.

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Dr. Lovemore Sibanda is an academic, historian, and teacher educator in the USA and former lecturer at Solusi University a Seventh Day Adventist institution. He can be contacted on lkgsibanda@hotmail.com

Source - Lovemore Sibanda Ph.D.
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