As sad as it may sound, some senior leaders in the governing Zanu PF party, the national body-politic, some sections of the media and political analysts still view contemporary political developments through the lens of PF Zapu and Zanu PF’s Unity Accord of 1987.
Alarmingly, some of the aforementioned sought to understand what President Robert Mugabe’s recent mini cabinet reshuffle may mean for the accord and the place of former PF Zapu cadres in Zanu PF.
The sad reality is that the accord has been dying for a long time. In the last couple of years, however, the condition of this arrangement has deteriorated into a comatose state and all that remains is for it to be pronounced dead.
A telling point about the imminent demise of the agreement is that it only has two talking points in the reshuffle. Some analysts seem to be reading some significance in the movement of Kembo Mohadi from Home Affairs to the State Security portfolio. Home Affairs is no longer occupied by a former PF Zapu cadre after such a long time. There seemingly was an unwritten rule that the position was for ex-Zapu leaders. The position was first held by Joshua Nkomo soon after independence and was subsequently held by Dumiso Dabengwa, John Nkomo and Kembo Mohadi after the signing of the accord.
The only other minor talking point was the elevation of Ambrose Mutinhiri to a mere Minister of Provincial Affairs for Mashonaland East. Mutinhiri, a senior former PF Zapu cadre and decorated hero of the liberation struggle is a man who should have been holding a more significant position at this twilight stage of his political career if the accord still mattered.
This change of pattern is telling coming hot on the heels on the abolishment of the national chairman’s position at last year’s congress. With little clarity regarding the actual contents of the Unity Accord, there is a long standing perception that the accord stipulated that there would be equal representation of both parties in the presidium. Sadly, there was very little noise at this monumental departure from the norm which should have torn the accord in half. The remaining Zapu cadres, preferred instead to remain silent and align themselves to the current warring camps.
The media has also been recently awash with lamentations by ex Zapu stalwart Cephas Msipa complaining about being sidelined and having his advice disregarded. In the run-up to the annual conference last year, Msipa convened a gathering of senior former Zapu leaders that resolved to deploy Simon Khaya-Moyo to the vice-presidency, a request that was flagrantly ignored. In a recent media article Msipa, like a sulking child, said that he would now take a back seat and desist from trying to advise Mugabe.
Those who are crying foul about the Unity Accord today need to be reminded about its origins and the socio-political climate that was prevailing when PF Zapu-Zanu PF unity was first mooted.
It is known that it was at a time when the Gukurahundi campaign was in full throttle and the Zapu leadership was just being bulldozed into a one-sided negotiated settlement in which the raging genocide was being used as leverage to force them to succumb. To put it clearer, at the first unity meeting in 1985 attended by Emmerson Mnangagwa and Eddison Zvobgo of Zanu as well as Joseph Msika, Naison Ndlovu and John Nkomo of Zapu, chair Maurice Nyagumbo made it clear that the name of the united party and its leadership by Mugabe were not negotiable. He told the Zapu men that the meeting was simply to make political and constitutional arrangements for the assimilation of Zapu into Zanu PF structures.
With the current Weevils-Gamatox dichotomy in Zanu PF, the game has changed and there is a new order in the party that is no longer driven by archaic variables by the Unity Accord. Of late, ethnic balancing seems to be more important than pleasing the minute Zapu component left in the party. Even ethnic balancing itself hangs in the balance given the President’s recent declarations that ethnicity no longer determines leadership appointments. When Dabengwa appealed to the likes of Msipa to abandon the dysfunctional party, they looked at him like a lunatic. Sadly, they are reminded of their folly with each passing day.
Another dynamic that has killed the accord faster is the natural rise of influential and ambitious non-Zapu appointees from Matabeleland like Jonathan Moyo and Obert Mpofu whose big personalities have grown their profiles without a Zapu ticket. Those still waiting for their entitlement from Joshua Nkomo will sadly wait till the second coming of Christ.
If Msipa still dreams that Mugabe will one day jump into his helicopter and fly to Gweru to consult him on any party issue, God help him. He is now just a forgotten old man like many before him who are shunned by Zanu PF and probably too ashamed to rejoin his original party. He and his colleagues passed up an opportunity to make a bolder statement by walking away with Dabengwa and now they must accept any crumbs that come their way. In any case, every affirmative action regime has a time span and the Unity Accord has outlived its usefulness.