The recently concluded congress deliberations have ushered a new era in Zapu. The injection of new personnel and a review of policies and strategies signify a change of gears for Zapu. Zapu congratulates the organising committee and the delegates for successfully hosting a successful congress under trying political and economic conditions. Sithi Amhlophe, Makorokoto, Congratulations!!!
Respecting party constitution
Zapu believes in honouring the letter and spirit of its constitution. Of late the party leadership and party membership had become increasingly agitated and uncomfortable due to the twice postponing of congress which had left the leadership with a weaker mandate to run party affairs. The reasons for postponing the congress on both occasions were justifiable but this did not make the situation palatable. In Zapu it is a taboo to conduct business without a clear mandate from the real owners of the party, its members. On 24-27 August 2016 a new mandate was given by Zapu members, empowering the chosen leadership to take Zapu forward for the next 5 years.
Dr Dumiso Dabengwa retained the party's presidency unchallenged, indicating the massive confidence that he commands amongst the general members. The veteran politician, former intelligence supremo and quiet diplomat has been endorsed as the leader of this great and historic party. One underestimates the Black Russian at one's own risk. This is a man feared even by Robert Gabriel Mugabe and Zanu pf to the extent that they prefer to arrest him on trumped up charges just to ensure he is ‘safely locked away'. They are never comfortable when he is freely roaming the streets of Zimbabwe. Ask yourself why. Zapu members know the qualities and attributes that make Dr Dabengwa a man for all seasons.
Dr Strike Mkandla clinched the coveted Secretary General post and is set to become the pacemaker and engine room of the Zapu command centre. He has a telepathic working connection with the party president as they have worked well together while Dr Mkandla was the Alternate Secretary General. For those who are wondering what happened to the versatile former Secretary General, Dr Ralph Mguni, just watch the space as it whispered that he has been shifted to an area where his expertise in international relations will come in handy. This congress was about ensuring that available talents are deployed in areas where they are likely to produce high impact political gains for Zapu. Amai Laura Makuzva is the surprise candidate after she was voted in as Vice President. Little known to outsiders, this political stalwart will certainly surprise many. Those who think she has been appointed as a window dressing gesture to capture the gender and tribal balance could not be more wrong. She will be advancing the foundation work laid down by her predecessor Mama Mukaratirwa who has now left the party but is still in the trenches fighting alongside other liberation fronts. The re-introduced Party Chairman's position is in safe hands after it was allocated to Isaac Mabuka who is dependable and has been tasked with the day to day running of party business.
Gender and Youth balance in the NEC
Zapu had delivered in this area well before kickoff. Introducing more youth and women in more responsible portfolios is likely to reap rewards for the party. Zapu is pleased to note that only those with proven track records and those with rare talents have made it to the helm of this great party. Tawanda Majoni and Iphithule Khumbulani Maphosa (Info and publicity), Mjobisa Noko (Deputy Secetary General), Derrick Katsenga, Ndodana Moyo and Orchard Nyathi (Mobilising), Future Msebele (International Affairs) and Cakes ‘Makhekhe' Vundla (Deputy Policy and Strategy portfolio). On the women side we have the likes of top achiever Mrs Mildred Mkhandla (Education) Mrs Theresia Thaka and Mrs S Ndlovu (Welfare and Health). This team is going places and we say bring it on Zanu pf.
Succession road map
Zapu is the first party in current Zimbabwe to map out a succession plan. Despite the clear mandate to lead the party for the next five years, the party president, Dr Dabengwa, has offered to pave the way for a new leader to take over as presidential candidate for the national 2018 elections. Recognising that age is creeping up on him the Zapu ‘Commander-in-Chief' has decided to call it quits at 80 years of age in about two years' time. What a noble gesture! This should allow for a new leader to emerge and gather up their political wings and challenge for the 2018 elections. Owing to the closeness of the 2018 elections, it is likely that such a candidate will emerge from the growing field of those already well known to the members and the electorate. Succession planning is a rarity in Zimbabwean politics and small wonder the state run media has likened such a move to 'Dabengwa chickening out of 2018 presidential race'.
Zapu members have given the party leadership to permission to explore ways of engaging in any reasonable coalition and political co-operation with other democratic forces. Only one condition was made clear, that Zapu will not take part in any deals that will lead to Zapu changing its name. Win or lose Zapu would like to retain its integrity and principles. There is room for compromising in any negotiations but Zapu will remain Zapu in or out of any coalition or political co-habitation.
There were two incidents that marred this congress, one at the beginning and one at the end of congress. The first was when the police picked up Zapu youths for questioning on whether they had a hand in defacing street signs and replacing them with Devolution signs. Arresting Zapu youths on the eve of congress is tantamount to intimidation and can be interpreted as attempting to derail the Zapu congress. This left a bad taste in many a mouth.
The one that takes the biscuit was the ill-timed press release by the degreed ‘semi-literate' who goes by the misnomer of Geneva Sibanda ( Geneva is a beautiful city with some appropriate historical connotations in Zimbabwean politics). His vile comments will not be repeated here. Whether or not he was representing himself or his party, his comments were uncalled for. They served only one purpose and one purpose only, that is, to demonstrate that an academic degree can only change an ordinary fool to a fool with a degree.
From Europe, the Arthur Molife-led Zapu executive committee extends its congratulations to the new team while taking the opportunity to thank the outgoing members for their contribution in keeping the Zapu vision alive. More thanks to the delegates who made it to congress and to all those who contributed in making this congress possible. Aluta Continua! This time victory is more certain!