Columnist/Opinion

ZANU PF is the black sheep of liberation movements

by Tendai Ruben Mbofana

So, Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF is currently hosting a conference of former liberation movements.

Nonetheless, just how is the party viewed by their colleagues in the region?

Are they truly regarded as ‘genuine allies’ or simply liabilities and a dark stain on the image of liberation movements?

In October 2008, some 16 years ago, I penned an article entitled, ‘ZANU PF renegades from day one’.

In fact, I remember that piece very well on account of the events that surrounded my writings at that time.

This was when I had moved to South Africa – in search of the proverbial greener pastures – at the height of Zimbabwe’s worst ever economic meltdown.

This was also in the aftermath of the brutal massacre of hundreds of opposition supporters, with more having their hands chopped off by the ZANU PF regime for ostensibly ‘voting the wrong way’.

As most will remember, then Zimbabwe President Robert Gabriel Mugabe had just been defeated by the opposition MDC’s Morgan Richard Tsvangirai in the March 2008 elections.

After my relocation to our southern neighbor, I secured very good job with an NGO involved in assisting the poor and disadvantaged.

As much as the bulk of the organization’s work was within South Africa, due the unbelievable poverty and suffering in Zimbabwe at that time, we also distributed food aid in the country.

However, in all this, I never stopped writing social justice articles in the media as a way of speaking out for the oppressed and marginalized against the corruption and incompetence of the ZANU PF regime.

That is when I wrote the ‘ZANU PF renegades from day one ‘piece, amongst several others.

Nonetheless, this proved quite problematic for my employers as they believed that my supposedly anti-government stance could compromise the NGO’s humanitarian work in Zimbabwe.

As a result, I was fired from the organization after I had rejected their ultimatum to either stop my writings or lose my job.

I chose the people of Zimbabwe over my own financial welfare and wellbeing.

This has been the case even today, whereby my vocal advocacy for the poor and oppressed has cost me so many opportunities that could have uplifted my financial status.

Be that as it may, let me not get distracted from the purpose of my discourse today.

In my October 2008 article, I exposed the fact that ZANU PF was never really regarded as one of the authentic liberation movements.

As a breakaway organization from the mainstream ZAPU in August 1963, it was widely viewed with strong suspicion due to its openly tribalistic nature.

In fact, Mozambique’s FRELIMO characterized ZANU as ‘guided by power-hunger’, that ‘represented dangerous divisions and tribal secessionist tendencies’, as well as being ‘racist and undisciplined’.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s liberation struggle, ZANU was viewed with disdain by the Frontline States, as its policies clearly ran contrary to the aspirations of the people.

Furthermore, organization as ZAPU, SWAPO, FRELIMO, MPLA, and others in the region grouped themselves into what were termed the ‘authentic liberation movements’, referring to each other as ‘natural allies’.

As an outcast, ZANU associated itself with the PAC of South Africa and the likes of Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA.

This is the same UNITA that launched a brutal destructive 27-year-long civil war after losing to MPLA at Angola’s independence in 1975.

We have witnessed the same barbarism from ZANU PF – who do not accept any defeat or strong challenge from anyone – and ready to resort to murderous violence against opponents.

That is why, barely two years into Zimbabwe’s independence, the regime unleashed unspeakable atrocities in the Midlands and Matebeleland provinces, leading to the cold-blooded massacre of over 20,000 innocent unarmed civilians.

These were the same scenes we were to see in 2008 when I ended up leaving the country for a two-year stint in South Africa.

Even today, the ZANU PF regime is characterized by its vile intolerance towards any voices of dissent as well as the disgraceful rigging of elections.

We have never ever witnessed these deplorable dictatorial tendencies exhibited by the ANC or SWAPO, for instance, who were the ‘authentic liberation movements’.

In actual fact, South Africa and Namibia have been beacons of democracy in the region.

Some may ask, how then did ZANU end up receiving military assistance from FRELIMO if there was so much distrust?

When FRELIMO opened up the western part of Mozambique on 7th and 8th March 1968 during its own liberation struggle, it offered its ‘natural ally’ ZAPU to use this as an entry into Rhodesia to fight.

However, at that time, ZAPU was embroiled in fierce divisions and was not ready to commence fighting.

As it turned out, the fighting within ZAPU was being orchestrated by ZANU’s Mugabe through his proxy and fellow Zezuru, James Chikerema, who was the ZAPU vice president and leader in exile.

In the meanwhile, Mugabe (who was secretary general) was busy plotting to oust then ZANU leader Ndabaningi Sithole – who was a Ndau.

In 1967, Mugabe was trying to form a ‘Zezuru alliance’ with Chikerema so that if ZAPU ousted Nkomo (a Kalanga), then they could form a united party led by Zezurus.

However, the divisive and tribalistic machinations between Mugabe and Chikerema resulted in the debilitation of ZAPU, which made it unable to take up FRELIMO’s offer.

Since FRELIMO was eager for the liberation struggle to take off in Rhodesia, it then reluctantly opted for ZANU.

As FRELIMO leader Samora Machel stated at the time, ‘We do not support ZANU, but support the people of Zimbabwe’.

It can not be denied that ZANU PF was a renegade from day one and was never seen as one of the genuine liberation movements.

In fact, ZANU PF has been nothing more than a huge embarrassment to the entire southern African region. 

Its tainted record of undemocratic anti-people policies is in stark contrast to those of fellow liberation movements.

As the former liberation movements meet in Victoria Falls, they all know that one of them (ZANU PF) is a black sheep that really does not belong.

Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice advocate and writer. Please feel free to WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or email: mbofana.tendairuben73@gmail.com, or visit website: https://mbofanatendairuben.news.blog/ 

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