Manheru says the biggest threat to ZANU-PF is lack of the big idea


Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru says the biggest threat to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front is lack of the big idea and a society bereft of a bid idea begins to scuffle.

He argues that the party’s much-touted economic recovery programme, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation cannot be the big idea because it comes from bureaucracy.

“A society bereft of a bid idea begins to scuffle. To my mind this is what threatens ZANU-PF: what it becomes in the absence of a big, ruling idea,” he argues.

“All great parties found politics or dissolve others. ZANU-PF is at that dangerous crossroads where it can’t found politics; even keep the politics that founded it. And because of that failure to do both, it runs the risk of failing to dissolve existing or competing politics. Hark; I hear a nightmarish, Rhodesian echo: happy 50th anniversary UDI. Who counters it?”

What is Zanu-PF’s big, filling, governing idea(s) today? He asks.

“I know what it is not. It is not Zim-Asset, can’t be. Zim-Asset comes from the bureaucracy; however good it may be as a plan as a tool of recovering a sanctions-battered economy, it cannot be the big political idea that enkindles this nation, sets it alight.

“It is staid, dry and formulaic. It is academic, an economist’s explanation to an abscess. Very esoteric, far removed from mundane comprehension. So, what is it that does the role of a big idea? Sadly, it does seem there is no such an idea. Or if it is there, it has not been communicated well enough to galvanise and mobilise the nation. To fill its imagination.”

Manheru says personalities seem to have displaced big goals, biug programmes and big ideals.

“Above all, personalities have displaced big goals, big programmes, big ideals. Society focuses on individuals, gets polarised around this or that petty official. Today society is transfixed around fights for sinecurism, fights for positions, not visions.

“Even the moribund opposition begins to twitch with a whiff of new life, less from its own will to live, more from our own inexplicable urge to die, to self-immolate. There is now a boldness to challenge authority in the streets, a transposition of big visions by rehearsals of clauses of the constitution.

“We seem to have entered a phase of testing compliances, not of teasing out big possibilities, upsetting status quos. Challenging old politics’ creating new realities. We are judged by static constitutions, not followed by once hallowed paper now miniskirted by a society in the middle of a rapid march. Why?

“Many reasons of course. But a key one is 2013. We took our election victory as a sealing accomplishment, an invitation to settledness. We abandoned the restlessness of a people on a quest. We rested. Some kind of post-creation sedentariness, call it post-coitus peace, sleep and snore.

“An endorsement of a reigning status quo which is preserved, defended by busy idleness, by a retreat into staid bureaucratic programmes, as if running a country is the same as ruling it. We cannot tackle the status quo, leaven it even, which is why the ideas which won us in 2013 today emit a stench sharper than that of a civet cat.

“Where is indigenisation? Where is economic empowerment? Where is employment creation? If ideas that secured 2013 are now stale, what big ideas have been invented to replace them? How do we keep the nation focused, gazing at that ever elusive but inspiring Star of David? Need we wonder that our people now think factionalism is the big idea? Or can’t reject it when Party enemies proffer it as the only reality shaping the Party, the Nation?”


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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