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How Zanu-PF squandered the struggle dividend

21 Aug 2014 at 08:49hrs | Views

The culmination of years of violence, abuse and crimes against innocent citizens must see the implosion or rupture of a liberation party that never knew how to govern.

Liberation struggle political parties that came into power in most of Africa after independence from colonial rule sustained themselves through the "we liberated you" mantra. The liberation struggle dividend has hugely been abused simply because once into power, our struggle elite created extractive political institutions to keep opposition parties out of political power while ensuring that Africa's resources benefited them at the expense of inclusive economic development. This has diminished their relevance over time because they have failed to deliver.

It is evident that in our case in Zimbabwe, the liberations struggle dividend was used to stifle the emergence of an apolitical national bourgeoisie and an empowered black middle class. In addition, we saw a racist approach to economics which resulted in the dispossession of white property and its replacement by a black liberation struggle propertied elite all in the name of the "ideals of the struggle".

Of course the question of who actually liberated is still to be answered despite seeing so called war veterans continually claiming that "they died for the country". Sadly, those who were truly dedicated cadres who fought for our freedom and sacrificed all were side-lined one by one, but that is not the subject of my article.

Over the years, we have seen deterioration in the integrity of liberation struggle values and their replacement by essentially predator capitalist tendencies that have decimated our economy. Elections have really been used to fake democracy and we now sit with a ZANU(PF) that is fast deteriorating into a leaderless beast hungry for power but with very little to offer.
This should present an opportune time for us to banish ZANU (PF) to the dustbin of history and yet I worry that we are failing as a nation to organise ourselves around change. I think our problem is that we are expecting only the MDC-T to be the party that leads us out of Egypt but they themselves seem otherwise occupied. In the meantime, things are going from bad to worse.

The culmination of years of violence, abuse and crimes against innocent citizens must see the implosion or rupture of a liberation party that never knew how to govern or never knew how to develop our economy further than Ian Smith. Ridiculous is the absurd recent boasting by the inscrutable Manheru of the deliberate destruction of the Rhodesian economy by ZANU (PF) and its replacement by a subsistence economy fuelled by toxic patronage and corruption. Zimbabweans are poorer and desperate for change.

We are also now seeing a general deterioration in leadership quality within the party. This of course is the result of years of Mugabe's self-centeredness and fear. His failure to encourage and facilitate the emergence of new leaders over the last thirty four years will cost us. The future in deed looks rather bleak but more unsettling. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.

My contention here is that even if ZANU (PF) were successful in raising funds to revive this economy, something that I think is highly unlikely, it will not result in mass opinion shifting to support the party. The memory that Zimbabweans will have of ZANU (PF) is that of a political party that failed to address fundamental issues of national healing, freedom and economic development.

Rumours are abound that China will soon grant Zimbabwe USD4 billion and for that they will get a 99 year lease of mineral assets. If that is to happen, we can now claim that ZANU (PF) has sold Zimbabwe. It will have sold out the resources of our country for peanuts. For me that would a crime against Zimbabweans. We will certainly reverse that when we take over government.

What we never want to do is to create a political party that feels entitled to rule beyond the vote. We should never again see in Zimbabwe a political party gaining an outright majority because this breeds the arrogance, corruption and the lack of accountability as we have witnessed. The next elections therefore pose for us a once in a lifetime opportunity to create in Zimbabwe, a coalition government that is created through compromise, tolerance and the right to differ.

The struggle dividend has been squandered and none of us should accept the argument that ZANU (PF) liberated this country. In fact we can now claim that ZANU (PF) underdeveloped Zimbabwe, created massive poverty and stole billions of our resources. That is the legacy this political party will leave for Zimbabweans.

The recent leadership wrangles hardly worry me; it is like changing deck chairs on the titanic. The struggle dividend has expired. It's time for change.

Vince Musewe is an economist and author based in Harare. You may contact him on

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