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Zapu: The great awakening

02 Oct 2019 at 05:34hrs | Views
Zapu has embarked on a brave mission by starting the long overdue process of ‘root-cause analysis' in order to tackle the twin scourges of declining membership and electoral failure at recent polls. The Zapu leadership has opted to kick-start this process by engaging in a country-wide listening exercise.  A series of Zapu Indabas have been scheduled in preparation for the coming congress to be held in 2020.

This process began in the diaspora province of Europe on the last Saturday of September 2019. The event was held in Birmingham, the second city of the once great Great Britain. An invitation was sent to card-carrying Zapu members and those sympathetic to the Zapu cause. Zapu sympathisers can be defined as those with a past or current connection with Zapu, those interested in preserving the Zapu legacy and telling of its story and those wish Zapu well in future political endeavours but are not members for one reason or the other. The Indaba approach is the brainchild of the National Policy and Strategy portfolio ably spearheaded by Mrs Sakhile Sibanda. The Susan Ndlovu-led provincial execute obliged by volunteering to host the first Indaba.

The main purpose of the discussion was to infuse the party with ideas from party members as well as those who, while not being members, consider themselves as being Zapu at heart. On this aspect, the participants did not disappoint as it was as near 50:50 as was envisaged. Thus, the scene was set for a vibrant exchange of frank views pitting insider views against those impartial observers. The event was billed as a no-holds barred session with no taboo topics. It came as no surprise that veteran journalist and DJ Ezra Tshisa Sibanda was roped in as MC and chief moderator. His was a splendid top-drawer performance combining entertainment and teasing quips to stimulate debate.

The session was structured to allow for an opening address by the designated guest speaker to be followed by separate workshops and to be concluded with a plenary session tying it all together and providing for group feedback as well as a general open debate. Mr Irvine Sibona took to the podium with unadulterated conviction depicting of the Zapu of old. His was a clarion call to embrace the nationalism and shun regionalism as that is falling into Zanu's trap to continue to divide and rule with disastrous consequences for the ordinary Zimbabwean unfortunate to be within the country's borders. The same strife reverberates across the oceans to reach the proverbial sons and daughters of Zimbabwe forced to flee from the economic collapse of a once thriving and, dare I say,  flourishing economy. Part of the audience shifted uneasily at the call of embracing national approach as opposed to considering the regional option. You would be wrong to try to guess which section of the house did exactly that. It was registered that national politics had let the people of Matabeland behind vis a viz  Zanu and the Zanu-lyte Nelson Chamisa-led MDC. The guest speaker argued that underdevelopment of one or two regions can be reversed easily where ther is political will in the spirit of nation building and this alone should not be used as an excuse to further divide an already polarised nation.

As per spirit of the discussion no conclusion was drawn as the purpose was to gather people's ideas about the key issues to lay the ground for future exploration of emerging themes. At this point Themba Mthethwa was duly handed the baton to lead the workshops. He opened by going over the ground rules, emphasising that there was no right or wrong answer or contribution. He encouraged participants to express their frank views and offer suggestions or possible solutions to actual or perceived problems. The four workshops were to cover the following areas:
•    Zapu's strengths facilitated by Ms Sipho Sibanda (Northern Ireland}
•    Zapu's weaknesses facilitated by Mlamuli Nkomo ( North East)
•    Inclusiveness in Zapu facilitated by Mlindelwa Vundhla (West Midlands)
•    Resourcing and financing party activities-Facilitated by Arthur Molife (London-Luton)

Reports from the circulators indicated that vibrant interactions took place in all the four workshops. Yours truly was witnessed passionate exchange of views in the Inclusiveness group. Surprise surprise as the passion of the sympathisers matched and sometimes surpassed that of their counterparts. The reader can draw their won conclusions on the implications of this loaded statement. I was reliably informed that the same situation obtained elsewhere.

The plenary session brought even more lively debates. Each facilitator presented what they had captured in their workshops. This was followed by a question and answer session after each presenter. In addition, the general audience was able to make additional contributions to those sessions they had not been a part of.  This ensured that all viewpoints were catered for. Of particular note was the Zapu elders and Zapu youth agreement on promoting nationalism against regionalism. The middle aged seemed to be caught in the middle and remained divided on this issue. Was this a midlife crisis reflection or a mature appraisal of the reality as it is and not as it ought to be, one wonder.

Topics covered included reviewing Zapu's current ideology, Zapu's current slogans, Zapu's visibility, alliance building and inclusiveness of youth and women in particular. The party's resource procurement was scrutinised as this was identified as a lifeline that can make or break Zapu. One speaker from the audience lamented the unsung heroines of the struggle who stood shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts under trying circumstances.

The specific information gathered is just raw data and will not be further discussed here, suffice to say that the Zapu subcommittee tasked with interpreting this information will feedback at the appropriate time. This may be in the form of another Indaba in this region as was suggested at the end of the meeting.  On this note, it remains to be seen whether Zapu will be changed by the views of its sympathisers or whether Zapu will be able to lure its lost sons and daughters back home.

When the dust settled, it was obvious that this Indaba had been a resounding success. Zapu is onto something but whatever this is, the Zapu leadership had better be braced to hear what they are not expecting to hear as they roll out this listening programme . It is time the people say their piece of mind as we commonly say where I hail from. The Zapu Indaba's owes its success to the ordinary participants who travelled to the midlands for this meeting. Sister organisations Like MHHRM and business partners that helped that blessed the event by their mere presence let alone their contributions. This goodwill will be reciprocated before and after a Zapu government.

Source - Mlindelwa Vundhla
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