The run-up to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front congress was nasty. Though no blood was shed, the internal fighting has left many disgruntled, bitter and aggrieved people.
We have been assured that this was all a cleansing process to rejuvenate the party and get rid of bad apples. The congress will be over tomorrow and a new leadership will be in place.
Party leader Robert Mugabe has been quite frank about what kind of leadership the party should have. Well and fine, but for the sake of continuity, it is now time for ZANU-PF to let Mugabe rest.
Indeed, he has every right to remain State president because he won last year’s elections, but he should surrender the reins of the party to a new leader, and allow the new leader three years to build his or her own solid political base.
The Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania after which ZANU-PF seems to have been modelled has survived up to now because it has changed leaders. After Nyerere, who was at the helm for 25 years, came Ali Hassan Mwinyi who, in turn, left the mantle to Benjamin Mkapa. Mkapa left the presidency to Jakaya Kikwete who will be stepping down next year.
Next door, the same has happened to the African National Congress of South Africa, the South West African People’s Organisation of Namibia and the Botswana Democratic Party. The parties have changed leadership but remained in power- the BDP for 48 years.
In Zambia, former President Kenneth Kaunda’s United National Independence Party lost to the Movement for Democratic Change which in turn lost to the Patriotic Front.
The same happened in Malawi where founding President Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s Malawi Congress Party lost to Bakili Muluzi’s United Democratic Front which in turn lost to Bingu wa Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party.
ZANU-PF almost succumbed to a similar fate in 2008, but somehow it managed to extricate itself, regaining its hold last year.
Mugabe has therefore restored the party to its former glory and must take his deserved rest. Age is telling on him and whether his lieutenants call it a slip of the tongue, you do not want a leader who has to constantly be reminded about, or corrected on, facts that are so crucial to the nation. It does not bode well especially when this refers to a disputed election which he lost.
If Mugabe really means what he says, that politicians should bow to the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe and that he loves Zimbabwe, then he ought to take a deserved rest.
There is a saying that: “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it was, and always will be yours. If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with.”
Mugabe should let Zimbabwe free and people will adore and recognise him for the role he has played over the years. He has laid the right foundation, but it is time for someone else to take the country to the next level.
For an exclusive report on why Mugabe has survived up to now, get our ebook: God, Mugabe and The West