ANC message supporting Zanu PF shameful
By Brent Meersman
There were probably many occasions this past year, but nothing quite like ex-trade unionist, now ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe’s speech last week at Zanu-PF’s congress, to move one to repeat E.E. Cummings’ laconic observation: “A politician is an arse upon which everyone has sat except a man”.
Mantashe pledged the ANC’s outright support for an election victory for Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF, offering to assist the party with strategy, messaging, and electioneering. It sounds all too proper for a ZANU-PF campaign.
Though glad of the support (since ZANU PF has on votes lost the last couple of elections), I’m sure Minister of Defence Emmerson Mnangagwa was scratching his head wondering what use he could make of the ANC’s bourgeois election campaign techniques of polling and focus groups.
Mnangagwa simply unleashes State terror squads and sets up torture camps. A “killer campaign” in the USA does not mean the same thing as it does in Zimbabwe. GOTV (Get Out the Vote) is done with a truncheon not a phone call.
Or perhaps it is the ANC, looking ahead that hopes to learn more from ZANU-PF about stuffing ballot boxes, starving the electorate into submission, suppressing the media, and beating up opposition leaders. One recalls Mantashe lashing out at COSATU for holding a civil society conference last year.
Spooked by shades of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe, he accused the unions of plotting “regime change”. Like ZANU-PF the ANC has more than once said it will not accept an electoral defeat.
So the ordinary people of Zimbabwe struggle on, desperate and invisible, while the moribund African nationalist liberation parties steal the food and the money, and grow all dewy eyed for past glories as they assemble at ZANU-PF’s congress (their Manguang, riven as it is with factionalism, corruption and a succession debate looming ever bigger as Mugabe’s political general paresis loosens his grip on power).
Forgotten too was history. The ANC, with the notable exception of Thabo Mbeki, had always sided with ZAPU (Soviet backed) and not ZANU (China supported). In fact MK veterans have testified to exchanging fire in the bush war with ZANU cadres.
Post-liberation, Mnangagwa, leader of the notorious Fifth Brigade and perpetrator of the Gukurahundi (the ethnic massacre of more than 20 000 Zulu descendants in Matabeleland), presided over the torture and detention of the ANC’s entire military command in southern Zimbabwe.
South Africa has never played a straight brokerage in Zimbabwe. The continued suppression of the presidential report on the 2002 election is telling enough. Mbeki’s controversial “quiet diplomacy”, which a famous satirist observed was so effective you couldn’t hear the people scream, was de facto surreptitious appeasement.
In an interview with a Zimbabwean academic, Mbeki, utterly oblivious to its implications about his impartiality and good faith, said ZANU-PF intelligence furnished him with transcripts of phone taps and surveillance of the MDC’s internal discussions while negotiations were underway for the power sharing agreement.
This was proof for Mbeki that the MDC were part of some international conspiracy. Imagine if apartheid national intelligence had fed De Klerk all the ANC’s internal discussions during CODESA?
Sources in the State intelligence and ZANU-PF told the Zimbabwe Mail that Mbeki, while paying lip-service to resolving Zimbabwe’s political crisis was clandestinely collaborating with Mnangagwa to assure the latter’s succession.
The plan was to have a clause in the new constitution that allows the sitting president to appoint a successor who will then rule for the remainder of the electoral term without calling a general election. Perhaps this is why there is suddenly such haste to rush into elections now.
The latest developments cast a deep shadow over Zuma’s credentials. Some have called for him to recuse himself. Mantashe, unnaturally, sees no contradiction. Zuma will simply wear his president of South Africa, SADC hat, and not his president of the ANC hat, when in Zimbabwe.
One presumes Mantashe is merely being disingenuous, though the possibility exists that he is simply brain-dead. After all, the ZANU-PF Youth are petitioning on behalf of Julius Malema and those who have been calling for Mantashe’s blood.
Mantashe also seems to have forgotten how in 2008 he was talking of a “coup” in Zimbabwe when the election results were being manufactured by ZANU-PF and Mbeki stood by Mugabe. How can one not think of E.E. Cummings’s statement?
Zimbabwe, if it ever was, is not a foreign policy predicament; it is a full-blown domestic problem. Not only the grievous refugee situation inside South Africa, but the fact that South African businesses in Zimbabwe are being indigenized or confiscated.
By pledging allegiance to ZANU-PF, the ANC has once again ignominiously sided with the old, backward-looking, recidivists.
Worse still, by identifying itself as a kindred spirit to a party that is a world pariah and under sanctions, a party that has been God’s gift to every Afro-pessimist on the planet, is an exceptionally damaging move for Zuma, for South Africa’s dwindling international standing, and it will hurt the economy. Politicsweb.co.za
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