Thursday, 10 December 2015

Harare City Council’s Inhuman, Cruel Home Demolitions Even on Human Rights Day

By Takura Zhangazha*

Harare City Council’s (HCC)penchant for cruelty cannot be stopped or stemmed.  Even on December 10, 2015 when the world pauses to remember international human rights day.  It was business as usually cruel for Harare’s City Council.  It undertook yet another housing demolition. It has been doing so with renewed fervor over the last half year.  Its argument, a legal one, is that the houses, some of which have been standing for more than a year were built without council permission or on land that it argues is allocated for purposes other than housing.

On the face of it, this appears to be perfectly legal. HCC however will not own up to the fact that its legalistic arguments do not for once explain or justify its thoroughly cruel and inhumane actions.  The houses that were demolished on international human rights day, together with those that are regularly being demolished almost as habit are the houses of the desperate for housing in Zimbabwe.

And there are many other humanitarian arguments that can be made against the cruel actions of HCC. The first is obviously a political one.  The eviction and demolition of housing or squatters is a characteristic of colonial administrations.  These demolitions and evictions regularly targeted unwanted persons in urban areas. They would use such arguments as planning and health considerations in order to exclude others from shelter and other ancillary amenities.  This while never providing cheap and affordable housing for a majority poor rural-urban migrant family.

Fast forward to today and a council led ironically by a party referred to as the Movement for Democratic Change (Tsvangirai) is spearheading a return to the past.  Using legalistic argumentation and in part colonial Salisbury’s urban plans, they are undertaking what essentially is potentially as heinous an operation as Murambatsvina.

Insensitive and probably housing secure pundits and opinion makers tend to argue that there must be law and order in the city. They are however not being entirely honest.  It is well known that some of these now destroyed  residential  stands were built on the basis of political patronage, especially via some Zanu Pf and MDC-T  activists who used influential positions in councils to undertake their own version of an urban fast track land reform programme. They collected money in a fashion similar to housing co-operatives that also had  political linkages.  After elections, these housing co-operatives are no longer seen as useful to a political agenda and there is quick resort to legalistic arguments and going back and forth between courts.

Yet the issue is very clear.  It is cruel, inhuman and degrading to destroy someone else’s housing and shelter without  offering them an immediate alternative safe and clean  place to reside. Especially after you have allowed them to reside at a given place for a period in which they manage to actually build immovable structures.  At the same time while the council in some instances, was collecting not only rates but also accepting building plans. 

These all being key traits and hallmarks of the infamous Operation Murambatsvina.  The fact that the demolitions  appear phased or a result of agreement between central and local governments, Zanu Pf and the MDC-T, does not make them any less cruel.

All of this while at the same time allowing bigger tracts of property to be leased to what are now referred to as land barons and baronesses.

The big lesson that has clearly emerged is that there is no major difference between MDC-T and Zanu Pf approaches to local government.  It appears that both parties intend to milk it for what its worth, and use colonial style eviction and demolitions to appear to be solving problems that they themselves created.  Zanu PF with its borderline stands for votes strategies in urban areas, inclusive of land barons/nesses and the MDC-T with its stand soliciting, selling and shockingly  neo-liberal councilors.

In the final analysis, what is now very evident is that we need to urgently democratize local government beyond issues of harmonised elections and token decentralization or devolution. We need to redefine the specific democratic value that local government brings to both the urban and rural poor in very basic, fair and people –centered terms.  We need to take back local government to the people and not leave it in the hands of oligarchs, inept and patently undemocratic political parties who see with each poor urban Mai Ezra, an avenue through which to expand their feeding troughs.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Prepaid Privatisation of Water is Wrong Mr. Chinamasa

By Takura Zhangazha*

The recent announcement by the minster of finance, Patrick Chinamasa, on the compulsory pilot placement of pre-paid water meters is a declaration of intent by government to privatise water and water supply in urban Zimbabwe.  It appears rational, even somewhat sensitive, especially when the minster in his made it clear that this rolling out of prepaid water meters will start with industries and what he also referred to as low density areas. The latter are assumed to be the harbingers of the well to do in Zimbabwean society.  The given assumption being that those who live in these areas will never share political values with the majority poor who live in what can also be referred to as the ‘high density areas’.  Or that they will never mount a protest against these new undemocratic measures. 

The intention is to pretend to be sensitive to both assumed low and high density areas urban class interests. That is, to demonstrate some affinity to the moneyed few who would have no problems with paying directly for water so long it is supplied while telling the urban poor that they will be initially treated differently. Or that they will not see prepaid water meters arriving at their doorsteps within the short term period or at least until the initial ‘pilot’ installations are complete.

This is all despite the fact that there have been a number of protests against pre-paid water meters by residents associations. The latter are spread across our cities of Harare, Mutare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and the town of Chitungwiza.  Though disparate and sometimes in part over reliant on donor funding to function, these associations have been the most legitimate aggregation of popular dissent at the intentions of government to privatise water.

The demonstrations should have been a key sign to central and local government authorities to halt any plans they had already announced over privatizing water. I have also previously written on this blog about the six steps that begin with the pre-paid meter system and eventually end up with the wholesale privatisation of water. Globally there have also been media reports of the problems that come with water privatisation and the overall verdict from those countries that have tried it to those that are considering it, is don't. 

The authorities undemocratic insistence is predicated on an argument that rests on the challenge of low revenue collection from ratepayers as opposed to safe access. (Just listen to the radio programmes and adverts sponsored by the Harare City Council for proof of this).   Not that  citizens of Zimbabwe do not want to pay nominal fees and rates for council services.  They do and they have been doing so ever since we inherited urban settlements from the colonial state.  And the rates they pay are not only for water supplies but also other services.  The major challenge is that a majority of them do not have the readily available or disposable income to pay.  That is essentially the heart of the matter.

Implementing the privatization of water will however  not resolve this serious challenge of paying water bills by residents and ratepayers. It will essentially mean that already meager resources will no doubt be utilized to purchase bare minimum water supply, a development that is  not only dangerous to our collective health but also patently dehumanizing. The end effect will be that water as an historically communal resource will become an individualized one.  To the extent that it may sadly become possible for one resident to refuse another a glass of drinking water in order to save their prepaid supplies.

There are however those that will support pre-paid water meters largely out of convenience or with the intention of profiting from the tenders that will accompany their installation. These colleagues do not do their cause any favours through expecting the implementation of the privatization of water to be protected by the heavy hand of the state in suppressing debate and protests in order to ram the policy down the throats of citizens. 

Even where they seek to argue that prepaid water meters are about billing, then they should have predicate their arguments less on revenue collected and demonstrate how it essentially benefits access for all regardless of income. Besides, it is not necessarily a pre-paid meter that can accurately measure the amount of water used per household. There are other unexplored and smarter ways of doing so. It is dangerous both politically and in humanitarian terms to subject people to the mantra and tragic reality of , ‘no money, no water’. 

There is therefore need for community based organizations to renew their efforts at mobilizing residents for further debate and peaceful protests against the privatization of water.  Furthermore this is a debate that should take on  a national dimension which must question the broad neo-liberal direction that our national economic planning is taking under the current government.  In doing so, we should be guided by the fact that our country, Zimbabwe, is not for sale. 
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

President Xi’s State Visit to Zimbabwe, Realities In the Aftermath of Fanfare

By Takura Zhangazha*

The immediate effect of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recently ended state visit to Zimbabwe has been to bring in that country in from the international cold. It had been a while since a leader of a global superpower had visited the country. Against the backdrop of United States President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya the Zimbabwe government was no doubt going to milk this visit for what its worth.  And the overall message that it intended to give to the country’s citizens is that its ‘look east’ policy works.  And what more evidence than the fact of a full state visit by the leader of the worlds second largest economy.

The state visit turned out to be exactly about economics and trade much to the delight of  a desperate for financial aid host government.  There was to be no mention of human rights, good governance from President Xi.  Instead the major highlights were predictably the signing of bilateral investment agreements on energy, telecommunications and a significant one on ending double taxation of Chinese investment companies.

The details of the deals are not quite in the public domain.  Suffice to say, they are about business more than they are about direct political solidarity.  While the Zimbabwean government may emphasize that it is  because of historical ties that Beijing has a soft spot for it, I am certain the Chinese are reflecting more on the opportunities and profit that they will gain from the bilateral agreements.  Not just in monetary terms but also with a keen eye on geopolitical interests given the centrality of Zimbabwe in Southern Africa.  Or alternatively, the gateway that Zimbabwe appears to be in doing business with the rest of the region.

So after the fanfare, the intentions of both governments may not be in complete tandem. 

Zimbabwe as the recipient of the loan facilities and investment  obviously had to concede a number of issues that normally its radical nationalism would not allow.  A quick example being the rather odd one of cancelling double taxation for Chinese investors.  This is not in keeping with its indigenization policy where even the 49% permitted for foreign investors has not been exempt from the taxman. In all likelihood, even the 51% compulsory state acquisition of foreign companies will not apply completely to those owned and operated by the Chinese.

The risk that the government of Zimbabwe has taken is that its major economic policies will no longer be as contextual as it or its citizens would prefer.  It will have to pursue economic policies that are in general keeping with the Chinese state capitalism model.  Even if the Chinese have got a policy of non-interference in the political realm of countries that they seek and establish trade agreements with, this state capitalism eventually comes with the necessity of a repressive state that prioritizes benevolence than it does human rights.  

The Zimbabwean state is however neither benevolent nor a keen advocate of broad human rights in the liberal sense but the state capitalist model suits its new found intention to create an environment characterized by what it calls the ‘ease of doing business’.

This development, though not particularly new to Zimbabweans after experiencing years of IMF and World Bank sponsored structural adjustment, is unique in that it is now shared by our Chinese counterparts. Both as an economic development template, but also as a long term strategy to retain political power.

So after President Xi’s visit, the Zimbabwean state is likely to step up  its withdrawal of social service provision and favour the path of privatization or its euphemistic version of public-private partnerships (PPPs).  It will do so in a fashion similar to its current  largest benefactor through ensuring opposition to its policies and rule are kept in check and businesses tow the state and party line. 

It will however face key challenges in its new found endeavour to somewhat mimic Chinese development models. These will be issues to with the problem of corruption and elite accumulation as well as ensuring\ that its leadership succession for a post Mugabe era runs smoothly. Furthermore, it may face the challenge of political dissent from a revived civil society or opposition which may call for resistance to these China inspired economic measures.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

VP Mnangagwa's Problematic Courting of 'Capital'

By Takura Zhangazha*

Last week I attended the National Peace Trust conference on Pillars of Peace where the keynote and official opening address was delivered by vice President Mnangagwa.  His speech made a number of assertions around the importance of peaceful societies with some historical references to his principal's then independence reconciliation speech.  

He also made further mention of the importance of redistribution of resources via the fast track land reform programme as having been a key pillar of the establishment of the peace the country is, in his view, apparently enjoying.

What however struck me the most about his presentation was when he mentioned, with limited evidence of doubt that Zimbabwe needs to create an environment in which ‘capital feels at home’.  This was a sentiment that was also echoed by the minister of War Veterans, Chris Mutsvangwa who emphasized as has President Mugabe, the ‘ease of doing business’.

On the face of it, these assertions are run of the mill.  In fact they also talk to one of the key pillars of peace as defined by the National Peace Trust as chaired by former cabinet minister Sekai Holland and also shared by the Institute for Economics and Peace.  This pillar is defined as a ‘sound business environment’ which could equate to the equivalent of the issues raised by the vice president.

What is however missing is a pertinent lack of context to Zimbabwe’s national economy.  This is not to dispute the easy fact that whatever our ideological pretexts, we are in desperate need of foreign direct investment (FDI).  The only catch is whether we are negotiating on fair and contextualized grounding?  From the vice presidents statement, one gets a sense that government believes its ‘radical' nationalist appropriation days are over. Particularly where it concerns land and negation of property rights.

The courting of FDI is probably  predicated on the belief that after the fast track land reform programme, there is no further need to ruffle the feathers of foreign capital. Even with indigenization, the assumption remains that local Zimbabweans can be partners in a new free market economics that creates some sort of comprador bourgeoisie class and therefore gives the connected elite a slice of the cake.

The only problem with this is that there is no demonstration of how it all applies to our context. And that it would appear as though we have learnt nothing from our historical interaction with capital.  Particularly after our experiences with economic structural adjustment. Instead of protecting our small markets and promoting local innovation, we opened up to the global capital and hemorrhaged our economy of not only its material resources but also undermined the legitimacy of the state as a key player in the provision of services and welfare for its people.

And the apparent danger is that we are now turning back the clock full circle with this desperate intention to court capital.  We are not asking the right questions concerning what it actually means for the everyday citizen.  For investors, even if they are Chinese, their primary concern remains profitability.  And they will not undertake corporate social responsibility where they are not making money. Nor will community share ownership trusts yield the necessary resources to address key issues of social welfare.   For the ordinary citizen what this means is that their livelihoods will be subjected to severe austerity or state cutbacks in funding for social services. 

What the vice presidents remarks indicate is that Zimbabwe is now in an era of neo-liberalism and austerity.  Not necessarily by consent of the governed, but by insistence of capital and global financial institutions. The state, as led by the ruling Zanu Pf party, is no longer keen on people centered government development and livelihood programmes. It is an intention that fits smugly into global financial and economic institutions narratives of how the free market is the panacea to all our problems.

The reality of the matter is that this approach has been historically discredited within the context of Southern Africa.  Even its newer version in the form of state capitalism has the same free market intentions where the state fails to protect its citizens from the vagaries of profiteering over and above equitable opportunities and livelihoods.

Indeed, a sound business environment remains a key aspect of a democratic and peaceful society.  It is however not enough to claim that Zimbabwe must be the ‘home’ of capital without a contextualized framework that understands that before we become that, the state must serve its citizens' basic needs.  If the vice president had been willing to take questions from the floor at the conference, I would have politely disagreed with governments intentions. 
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capcity (

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Ups and Downs of 2015 and a Prognosis of 2016.^

A Presentation to the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) Public Meeting
26 November 2015, New Ambassador Hotel, Harare
By Takura Zhangazha*

Cde Chairperson,

Reviewing the political developments of the year  2015 initially appears to be an academic exercise. That is to say it may be more for the purposes of recording history than it is for learning from our national successes or mistakes.  In some instances remembering the last twelve months may be more for entertainment than it is for serious reflection and mapping a way forward based on lessons learnt from the passage of not only time but also political acts.

In preparing for my contribution to this important discussion I sought the help of colleagues and comrades via the new phenomenon that is social media.  I did so because no matter how much expertise one is deemed to have and as our own local proverb implies, one person alone cannot encircle a hill (rume rimwe harikombe churu).

The  feedback that came via these colleagues was apparent.  The year 2015 in their views was largely about electricity shortages, vendors, Grace Mugabe rallies, succession within Zanu Pf, the splits within the mainstream opposition MDC-T; the impact or lack of it of new media and digitization; ineffective political opportunism via small opposition political parties; the effects of the bond coin on Diaspora remittances; unemployment; the dire state of the economy; the parlous state of our national reading culture and the elephant in our national room which is the national drought that we are faced with.  

Overall however there is no sense of optimism for Zimbabwe’s 2016.  There is the general assumption and prognosis that there is no silver lining in the cloud for next year. 

There are several dimensions that must be examined for the purposes of this discussion. The first is that of the national economy, the second being the political state of affairs, the third being civil society, the fourth being generational praxis, the fifth as  our national environment and finally the social democratic way forward.

In relation to our national economy the most significant development has been the abandonment of the people by the state.  Over the course of the year we have definitively become a free market economy. That is, we have become an elite centered economy where we, in neo-liberal fashion, place the ease of doing business as the cornerstone of our economic development and prosperity. This is evidenced not only by President Mugabe’s sole state of the nation address in August this year but also the general courting of the world Bank/IMF and other investors to our country.  We are a country that is on the borderline of being for sale to the highest bidder, so long they leave something for our political and business elite.  While it is a given that our country is in desperate need of foreign direct investment, it is the lack of a people centered economic baseline in our international begging that will eventually be our undoing.  

Furthermore, we are faced with high levels of formal unemployment which government wants to dispute on the basis of the reality that most Zimbabweans are trying out of a lack of choice to be self employed.  Its economic blueprint, ZIMASSET has in the course of the year been shown to be largely for pontificating purposes with no progress being made.  Our economic infrastructure largely remains embedded in the colonial settler states development plans particularly where one considers electricity supply, road networks and industrial capacities.  An ironic indicator of this lack of infrastructural development is when President Mugabe recently  officially opened the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo airport road.  This is a road that should have been completed in 2010 for the South African edition of the FIFA World Cup.

Further to this, we have failed to consolidate any benefits of the fast track land reform programme (FTLRP).  Instead of ensuring people access to this precious resource, what has emerged in the course of the year are land barons and new land taxes that essentially point to privatization and elite re-capture of land. 

And privatization of state services appears to be a key component of our governments economic master-plan.  It is keen on ensuring that it shed responsibility for the provision of social services such as access to water, transport, health, education and electricity.  The most fervent attempt at privatization is currently that of energy where we have all sorts of tenders for the supply of either solar or coal power stations being awarded without publicly acknowledging the future increase in the cost for our majority poor citizens.  Government will also pursue its state capitalist model through for example acquiring private companies such as Telecel and then distributing ownership to those that are politically connected.

The expansion of ICTs and internet reach will essentially remain slower and more costly than in other countries primarily because government views this sector as one of its key cash cows.  This will also include the digitization project where government has already announced its policy intentions but with the intention of keeping the latter more commercial than it is about open access for all. Furthermore these new technologies will continue to negatively affect the profitability of the mainstream media, a development that inevitably leads to less public accountability of government. 

Another key component to consider about our national economy has been the rise of our non-currency, the bond coin.  Initially meant for utilitarian purposes it has become a default means of exchange of goods and services at levels that many ordinary citizens had not foreseen.  Pegged to the US$ via a loan from the AfreximBank, the bond coin is currently the preferred ‘currency’ of choice over the South African Rand. There will however be no return of a local currency in the proper sense because this state of affairs remains quite profitable to parallel money market operators who have proximity to state power.

The civil service, not necessarily the security services, will be downsized significantly in keeping with the requirements of the IMF staff monitored programme. This also coming against the dramatic backdrop of the court case that changed the rights of employees to benefits upon termination of contracts. This however will not mean the government  intends to be leaner, it just requires balance of payments assistance from global financial institutions.

So if one was to gaze into Zimbabwe’s economic horizon, the probable reality for 2016 is that if the economy improves, it will improve for the politically connected. It will be a neo-liberal economic template characterized by political patronage and cementing of elite but primitive accumulation of the few. 

Where it concerns our politics, this has been the year in which Zanu Pf internal politics has dominated the everyday narrative. Not only due to the purging of senior Zanu Pf leaders but the continued flexing of political influence by First lady Grace Mugabe.  It is an influence that she will take into 2016 though with less alacrity as was the case when she maneuvered for the ouster of Joice Mujuru.  President Mugabe, will however increasingly demonstrate who he trusts to take over within the course of the year.  This person is most likely to remain current vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, though he must demonstrate indubitable loyalty to the first family and its interests.  

What is certain is that Zanu Pf hegemony is not in any form of direct crisis.  Its internal purges of 2014 and beyond are essentially the worst that it will face until its next elective congress. 
However the jostling for political influence in a post Mugabe era has brought into play one of the most dangerous dimensions to our national politics. This being the rise of crass materialism as a key value in politics.  Distribution of goods, services, tenders and turning of blind eyes to corruption (as is the case with the Public Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) shall increasingly become intrinsic to our politics if left unchallenged. 

Where we consider the mainstream opposition, there will be little left to say save for the fact that it appears to have been hoist by its own petard. It has split once again to no real democratic benefit. These splits have cost it seats in parliament as well as hemorrhaged its share of state sanctioned funding.  It is least likely to recover its form of 2008 even with a coalition. At best the opposition will continue being exactly that, the opposition in the coming year.

This latter point brings me to the Joice Mujuru factor as regards her ability to effectively challenge for political power.  The fact that she has taken so long to launch her envisaged People First political party while pointing to caution, is essentially underestimating the importance of being clear, forthright, principled and consistent in the eyes of the Zimbabwean electorate.  Indeed there are various factors at play that would make her bide her time, especially the possibility of a Zanu Pf without Mugabe at its helm, but the longer she bides her time, the more likely her impact will be minimal. 

The third dimension of a prognosis for 2016 is to view the functioning of civil society in Zimbabwe.  This with particular reference to civil society that actively lobbies government and broader society for democratic and human rights reforms.  In the year under review it has been on a serious backfoot that stems largely from the fact that it no longer has a common agenda.  It is divided into disparate sections that seek to curry the favour largely of the donor community and in part government institutions before it seeks to embed itself with people-centered strategies.  With the new constitution, it is faced with the primary challenge of picking up from where it left off in its elitist ‘yes’ referendum campaign  to make the constitution not only known but appreciated by the country’s citizens.  It will also face the evident dilemma of dwindling donor funds and will inevitably compete among itself for whatever funds that will be availed.  All of which will point to an activism that is increasingly disconnected from the masses and more keen on satisfying the multiple intentions of donors and government institutions.  So in 2016, civil society will function to achieve elite incremental progress with regards to major democracy issues.  It will however not reach as popular levels of support as that which characterized the period between 1999 and 2010. 

The other dimension to be considered in analyzing the year 2015 is that which I refer to as generational praxis.  This is to do with the young people of Zimbabwe and their understanding as well as expectations of the country in which they currently live.  These young citizens who have not known a sensitive and caring state are being captured by elitist and materialist tendencies that emphasise individual than collective well being.  As a  direct result of the state of the national economy , especially unemployment and expensive education, their ability to be good standing citizens is several compromised.  Hence you will find that a majority of our youths are increasingly seeking either to depart the country, work for the security services, become hired political activists or immerse themselves in various other vices that afflict Zimbabwean society.  I would however hazard to say that they remain our country's best hope going forward.  Whoever mobilizes the young people of Zimbabwe in 2016 on the basis of democratic values and principles is certainly set to change the country for the better. Especially if they include fostering a reading and knowledge acquisition culture that goes beyond formal qualifications.

Penultimately I must make mention of the environmental aspect of the year that is coming a close.  We are faced once again with a drought. The levels of its severity are yet to be officially measured or announced but as the case almost every third year, the drought shall negatively impact our environment and our livelihoods.  Furthermore, the generally accepted fact of climate change shall increasingly show itself as we go forward.  Where we do not undertake clear and strategic interventions over and about the pollution of our rivers, bio-agriculture, fossil fuel consumption and preservation of our flora and fauna we are set for harder times in 2016.

In conclusion, I may have painted a rather bleak picture for both 2015 and 2016 but the way forward appears to be fairly clear. We have to confront our realities with intrinsic social democratic values and principles.  We have to understand that progressive, peaceful but revolutionary change, will come from an activism that is contextual and people centered.  If anything all of us must heed that famous quotation from the global revolutionary icon, Che Guevara who once said, ‘at the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love.  It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.’ It is democratic love for our people and our country that will move us toward a better 2016 and a social democratic future. 

^With special thanks to colleagues and cdes who also contributed to this presentation via social media

*Takura Zhangazha spoke here in his personal capacity (

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Zim Cabinet Ministers Pursuing Full Time Degrees, On Whose Time?

By Takura Zhangazha*^

A friend recently sent me an image of three serving cabinet ministers outside the University of Zimbabwe Law Faculty. Carrying what appear to be folders, they are pictured with one of their lecturers who incidentally happens to lead his own political party.  As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words.  These three ministers are Prof Jonathan Moyo (Higher and Tertiary Education), Patrick Zhuwao (Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment) and Saviour Kasukuwere (Local Government). 

As already reported in the media, they all recently enrolled for the four to six year and full time (continuous learning) undergraduate law degree programme at our country’s oldest university. Their reasons for doing so are not necessarily in congruence but one can only guess it is to further their professional qualifications in one way or the other.  And that is not a bad thing in itself.  We are all encouraged in our highly competitive and small job market to get further qualifications where we can. Even if we are politically ambitious.

The only peculiarity that cannot escape notice is that these three ministers are obviously very  busy men. Just by dint of being elected (Moyo and Kasukuwere) and appointed (Zhuwao) members of parliament.  Add this to their ministerial and party portfolios, Kasukuwere is national political commissar of Zanu Pf, Moyo is secretary for Technology while Zhuwao  deputises the latter.  Where they find the time to study for a  full time law degree is baffling to say the least.

Even if they have special arrangements such as getting lectures in the evening, the last I checked the UZ Law Faculty does not offer part time studies for its undergraduate programme.  Once registered, it is assumed that you can make all the lectures on time and as per schedule with limited special arrangements. If there are exceptions then the Dean of the Faculty of Law has a bit of public explaining and justification on his to do list. Especially if the degree programme is to retain its credibility. 

This penchant for full time studies by those we assume to be ever busy and conscientious cabinet ministers should however be a cause for some national concern. 

Not least because it appears their priorities are clearly set elsewhere but also because they have not claimed study leave from the business of running the country.  Even as they reform the civil service to limit the ability of others to pursue similar knowledge acquisition endeavours for shorter periods of time.  To the extent that some civil servants, particularly teachers,  have opted to forego working altogether in pursuit of furthering their education after being denied study leave.

Furthermore, if the cabinet handbook permits ministers to use their influence to get scarce places at universities, then they must cite the relevant  sections for the public to understand that all of this is above board and based entirely on academic merit.  Or alternatively the Office of the President and Cabinet needs to explain how exactly three of its members handle a weekly dilemma of either missing school or a cabinet meeting while serving its core values of loyalty, patriotism, commitment, confidentiality, integrity, humility, accountability and professionalism.  Unless it has issued a special order that specific cabinet ministers are in need of further educational training and are therefore exempt from being expected to serve the country full time.

Perhaps in the broader scheme of things, there is an assumption that ordinary Zimbabweans accept anyone in a position of influence such as being a cabinet minister pursuing some sort of further education.  And in return those that are in these positions of national influence may not anticipate being asked about it.  Or even failing to achieve the required pass results.

The key questions however remain those to do with their political priorities  together with their own sense of self worth as elected leaders. And Zimbabweans do have a right to ask of their elected leaders on whose time they are pursuing what are essentially personal qualifications while having sworn a national oath to serve the country?  Furthermore, in the passage of time between starting and competing their full time degree programmes, how does that compliment government work and in any event, how did they get to where they are if they felt that their qualifications to hold political office are inadequate?

But then again, these are questions that can be avoided by those with political influence. Or they will answer via way of gloating about their educational qualifications to each other or senior civil servants via social media applications such as Whatsapp. How they pass their exams with such busy public office schedules is up to the degree awarding universities but we cannot be faulted for at least asking for a decent explanation as to how all of this really works.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (takura-zhangazha,
^ Blog was edited to note that the degree programme is four to six years full time (continuos learning) at 1522 hours CAT

Monday, 16 November 2015

Zim 2015 Drought, Waiting for the Rain Minus an Urgent National Action Plan

By Takura Zhangazha*

The rains have sort of started falling in Zimbabwe.  The general public impression is that they are late. For many citizens resident in the Southern, western and south east parts of the country these rains are for the next harvest. Between then and now they are now already experiencing the effects of a drought. Food and water are becoming scarce and the grass is no longer green for livestock.  So once again the begging bowls are out in parts of rural Zimbabwe. The givers, mainly in the form of government and food aid agencies, are beginning to mention importation of grain but perhaps without as much urgency as those that are waiting for help.

Not that the drought is unique to Zimbabwe. Its predicted to affect much of Southern Africa with the region’s biggest economy South Africa already feeling its effects through water shortages.  In Zimbabwe the government has initially presented it as largely being the main cause of the sharp drop in water levels at Kariba Dam.

The reality of the matter is that it is not just about the electricity crisis as largely felt in our urban and industrial production sectors.  It is more about its debilitating effect on the lives of a majority of citizens who reside in rural areas.  Nor is it just about the vulnerability assessments undertaken by the Meteorological Department or the early warning systems of Fewsnet. Or grand ministerial statements confirming what is already being experienced across Southern parts of the country. 

Understandably government will want to demonstrate that it is not only in control of the humanitarian disaster the drought will cause but also the equitable distribution of food aid.   In this, it will seek to manage the food aid distribution as carefully as possible because essentially a drought is and can be a big political mobilization issue. Especially in our own local context where the opposition political parties have generally and not without some credibility, accused government of politicizing food aid.

The problem here is that this is no different a typical response from previous and recent droughts.  In fact the major problem has been that government appears to have a singular short term template to respond to our increasingly cyclical droughts.  This generally involves a broad and vague statement from the responsible minister, a mention of it from a presidential address, claims of importation of maize from a neighbouring country and then general chaos about the latter’s distribution.  In the end, it is food aid agencies that eventually fill the gaps amidst tight monitoring by government.  In between both, it is private players, either millers or their middlemen that enter the lucrative business of maize distribution and selling in the most affected areas.

To state the obvious, this sort of approach needs to be changed. In the first place a drought is a national crisis, not a selective provincial predicament.  The failure of crops in one part of the country inevitably affects all other parts and must therefore be handled through a national and symbiotic programme of action.

Because of their continual recurrence, these droughts require a much more urgent and  long term national strategic intervention that limits their impact on peoples livelihoods.  This is because we have to learn to accept their increasing permanence in our political economy.  That is why we should by now have a broader national drought strategy that addresses this particular natural problem in a truly integrated fashion. Not just from year to year but over longer periods of time and seasons. Especially given the data that we already have from previous debilitating droughts such as those of 1991-1992, 1994, 2004, 2012,  and now 2015 (the list is actually longer).

We need to shift from relying on colonial legacy infrastructure and plans such as the still to be completed Tokwe Mukosi dam which were intended largely for commercial agriculture.  This must be replaced by a much more people centered response that takes into account not only commercial/industrial priorities for water storage and consumption but also looks at those long neglected in long term central government planning for droughts, the rural and urban poor.

Furthermore, our climate change policies need to be more robust and with contextualized solutions that go beyond attending global conferences where again we rely on the biased knowledge production from the world’s worst polluters of the environment.  

As it it, we are not taking the drought as seriously as we should. Beyond the politics of succession, we have a bigger national crisis in the form of the drought that a majority of Zimbabweans are going to be negatively affected by. We need to talk about it and pressure government to do much more than it has previously done and press for longer term solutions that help all and not just the politically connected.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Monday, 9 November 2015

Africa in Sports Scandals: Starting with Football, Not Ending with Cricket

 By Takura Zhangazha*

The 2015 edition of the University of the Witwatersrand Power Reporting conference began with an outline of  the coverage of the FIFA corruption scandal by Insight investigative journalism division of the Sunday Times (UK).  

After a schedule that also included discussions on  ‘data journalism’, the ‘fatal activities of Australian mining companies’ and the role of bankers and lawyers in offshore tax havens a second sporting scandal was unearthed. And it was on the global  sport that is cricket. 

In contrast to the investigative report on football, the International Cricket Council (ICC) was laid bare via an incisive documentary film, ‘Death of a Gentleman’ done by two cricket journalists/bloggers that was shown at the end of the first day of the conference.

In both exposés there is damning evidence of corruption that however ends up being ambivalently dealt with or downright ignored.  But there is no doubt left in the mind of the newsreader or documentary viewer that there is definitely more than something fishy that has been going on in football and cricket over the last decade.    

And Africa or at least African member states of FIFA and the ICC get some mention too.  Nigerian football administrators are implicated in bribes while one of  Zimbabwe’s former cricket chiefs is seen at a controversial meeting to change the rules of the ICC.

Moreover, as part of the smaller countries that have disproportionate votes on both sports world bodies, Africa appears to be complicit in shady deals of powerful executives who want flagship world tournaments to be awarded in specific ways.  For example the simultaneous awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively is fraught with irregularities that included a dinner hosted in Johannesburg at a ridiculous US$1m cost.  The latter however eventually ended up costing US$200 thousand with the remainder unaccounted for. Both by way of actual money and not knowing from whence the money had come from.

In cricket, it is the power of the Indian Cricket Board that is brought to bear on South Africa through threats to withdraw its cricket team from touring the latter. This reportedly led Cricket South Africa to accede to demands for support of reform of the ICC.

It is these weak and vulnerable position that African member states find themselves in that make them susceptible to not only corruption but also a damning complicity in compromising fair competition in global sporting competitions. 

And it will not end with football or cricket.  There is obviously another can of worms that will emerge from the recently announced report on doping in athletics and we are yet to hear of the potentially shady deals that have been going on in the International Amateur Athletics Federation. At least it will be about doping. Though anyone would also welcome inquiries into how the International Olympic committee also awards bids to host the Olympics.

 In all of this, as it probably is the world over, it is African sporting fans that lose out.  They begin to not only doubt the transparency and fairness of global sporting competitions but are also caught between a rock and a hard place. From the love they exhibit for these various sports disciplines, expressions of nationalism and identity in global competitions through to the fact that it may all, in the final analysis, be contrived and patently unfair.

Not that this is or will be peculiar to the African continent but it helps to have Africans also joining the global derision of global sports executives, the administrative bodies and associated governments for a job badly done.

Finally, it was an Angolan journalist at the conference  who asked a question that was reflective of the broader dimension to these sporting scandals.  His question was, and I am paraphrasing here, whether these sporting scandals are not symptomatic of deeper disorder and lack of transparency in other bigger international organizations that deal with the global economy and peace.

*Takura Zhangazha wrties here in his personal capacity ( 

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Cameron, Sisi Diplomatic Incident and Africa's Dilemma in Polarised ‘Global War on Terror’

By Takura Zhangazha*

This week was a scary one for Africa in international relations. In what has turned out be a very dramatic and sudden turn of events, the government of the United Kingdom has suspended all civilian flights from its airports to the Egyptian resort town of Sham el Sheik. The reason for this immediate decision was reported in the mainstream British media as being intelligence reports had advised that the tragic Russian airline crash over the Sinai last week  had ‘most likely been caused by a bomb’.  Therefore it would be unsafe for flights to continue until such a time security and threat to civilian life in that particular part of Egypt had been established. 

Meanwhile President Abdel Fatar el Sisi of Egypt was enroute to the United Kingdom for scheduled talks with his British equivalent.  In a further dramatic turn of events, the British government then de-escalated its decision to allow civilian flights to ‘rescue’ its citizens out of Sharm El Sheik after the meeting between Cameron and el Sisi.  All without their luggage and with empty cabin holds in the aeroplanes.

The threat to civilian life it turns out is from the Islamic State (ISIS) which both governments have been fighting either directly or by way of proxies largely in Syria.

The diplomatic incident took another turn with the Russian government reportedly telling its British counterpart not to ‘quickly jump to conclusions’ about a bomb having caused the tragic accident.
What strikes the mind however is the fact that this was a major diplomatic incident that could have had far reaching implications including the possible escalation of global polarization, with an African country, Egypt, becoming a possible pawn in a bigger game of global superpower chess.

It is a given that the West (read as Europe and North America) have serious differences with Russia over the latter’s 'unilateral' actions in Syria. And the West also thinks that if it turns out ISIS was responsible for the tragic airline crash, then it is partly the Russian intervention in Syria that is to blame.

These are issues that are difficult to take sides on mainly because African countries are generally meek in such global superpower disputes and tend to hide behind the principle of sovereignty to claim that its hands are tied. Even when an African country is in the throes of a major international incident as is Egypt.

But Africa and Africans should at least be worried about these developments that are still far from being amicably concluded. Even if we know that there is no direct risk of war breaking out in Egypt.
What we must however be able to discern is the possibility that the war against ISIS is evidently expanding into what is increasingly a ‘polarized’ global war on terror.  In this, we once again will be asked to demonstrate what would be similar to the disastrous ‘cold war’ loyalties of yesteryear.

So Africa is in an invidious position that we cannot wish away by arguing that the current standoffs between Russia and the West are none of our business.  It takes a tragedy such as the one in Egypt for everything to all of a sudden become quite complicated. Including the oddity of having a sitting African president while on his way to meet a leader of a global superpower of sorts and finding out that there have been major foreign policy announcements about his country by the counterpart he is visiting before they meet.

But regardless of the arrogance that the United Kingdom government displayed toward its Egyptian counterpart, the global war on terror together with increasing international incidents  is taking on complicated characteristics that Africa will have to tackle with great caution.  The responsibility for this should essentially reside in the African Union but as in the past, the primary challenge continues to be the Nkrumaist warning of the ‘bifurcation’ of the continent. 

Not by way of sovereign design but more by a repetition of history with the continent continuing to be the playing ground of global superpowers. Even if for development aid, but with limited contextualised continental solidarity and democratic consensus.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Citizens, Not Government, Will Protect Zim Journalists (if asked)

By Takura Zhangazha*

The recent arrest and charging of Sunday Mail Editor Mabasa Sasa and two of the papers journalists, Brian Chitemba and Tinashe Farawo is a sad and dangerous development for Zimbabwe’s media.  As journalists they do not in any way deserve to have criminal charges brought against them for stories they write. And media organizations are correct in condemning these recent arrests for being patently undemocratic and in violation of section 61 of the bill of rights in the constitution.

What has been most astounding has been the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s  (ZRP) justification of the arrests.  The force’s spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba  in a press statement argued that the journalists, through their story, essentially published a falsehood and undermined the authority of not only the police but also other security services. In her assertions she also accuses the media of abusing  what she refers to as 'journalistic privilege'.  It is however important to note that the police’s allegations and accusations shall now be determined by a court of law and until then, remain exactly what they are, allegations.

It is equally important to understand that the police’s actions are not necessarily to be viewed as out of sync with the attitude of politically powerful persons in the country.  Over the last months there have been veiled and direct threats against journalists and the media.  Not least from the President himself when he referred to going ‘rigid’ on what he perceives as errant journalism or the first lady who also has had no kind words for the fourth estate at her rallies.  This has not been helped by statements attributed to the permanent secretary in the ministry of media, information and broadcasting services who has been touting the government sponsored Information and Media Panel of Inquiry (IMPI) report as pretext to introduce stronger (read as criminal defamation) regulatory frameworks for the media.

Even seasoned newspaper columnists, while using the same platforms, have recently begun an unfortunate habit of self righteous finger pointing at journalism’s faults within  context of evident acrimony that really does not help freedom of expression and media freedom.

So the police may feel that they are merely speeding up processes that political leaders and some opinion makers are anticipating or even comfortable with against media freedom.  Hence the loud silence from the ministry of media, information and broadcasting services.

There is therefore a pattern to this newfound hostility toward the media.  Some of it can be found in the fact that there is the ratcheted desire to control media content by varying political factions in both the ruling and opposition parties. Both for general political expediency but more in order to manage succession battles in the ruling party and leadership contests in the opposition.  These contests are to be expected. What is however undemocratic is the overreach of criminal defamation in seeking this sort of control. And acting in disregard of the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression and media freedom.

But the media itself is not without fault. And one of its major obstacles has been its continual inability to negotiate its professional space. Both by way of overcoming partisan positioning fueled largely by media owners (government and private entities).  The Zimbabwean media therefore has to espouse the democratic value of its own existence beyond the partisan politics of the day in order to garner greater public support for its democratically important public work. And the point must be made clear that this sort of solution is not going to be found in the contested IMPI report or trading petty accusations against each other  in personalised opinion columns. This is because it is largely the Zimbabwean public’s misunderstanding of the democratic importance of a robust, ethical and public interest focused media that allows state officials and even the ZRP to continue to act with impunity against journalists. 

There is a further caveat to this.  The media must also begin to ostensibly campaign against the criminalization of freedom of expression, not just for itself, but for the ordinary citizen because it is in the ordinary peoples perceptions and lack of knowledge of rights that government gets the wherewithal to act with impunity.  Where citizens are arrested for expressing a view of the president, or a public official and convicted via a fine or custodial sentence, the media must stand up for these citizens right to express themselves.  Where it does not, the citizen will not see the need to do so in return.  Hence sometimes there is the ridiculous argument that the media needs to be monitored by the state via the threat of criminal sanction as though expressing an opinion or writing a story in the public interest is as criminal as misappropriating medical aid services contributions.  And if you wanted an answer to the latter point, no it is not.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Zim Bond Coin Vexing the Masses, Smiling all the Way to Reserve Bank

By Takura Zhangazha*

There are conversations that we are not having concerning our more mundane economic realities in Zimbabwe. I boarded a commuter omnibus, commonly referred to as a ‘kombi’ in our country.  An elderly lady, most probably a working mother, had a heated conversation with the kombi conductor about the change that she was handed for her one US dollar.  She had been given a South African five rand coin which she vehemently refused.  She argued that the five rands would not get her to next destination, by way of cost, because the rand is not as valuable as the bond coin.

Because of her rather loud remonstration, the kombi driver also got a talking to in which she explained the fact that  her next station’s arrival cost would be seven rand even though she had been given fair change for the route she was currently on. She therefore insisted on being given bond coins as change because that is only what the kombis on her onward journey would accept.

So  a journey that would have normally cost five rand, now costs seven or the 50 cent bond coin.
 Apparently it is the fall in value of the rand that has triggered this new informal exchange rate.  Except that the bond is not officially a currency. It was introduced to deal with the problem of a lack of lose change for retail businesses.  And initially it was quite unpopular. Fast forward to a year later and it is now a most valued ‘currency’. 

And I am certain someone at the Reserve Bank and the Ministry of Finance is smiling.  Primarily because this new found purchasing strength of the bond coin probably makes some sort of case for the return of a Zimbabwean currency.  Even if it is predicated on the promissory note of the African Export and Import Bank (Afrexim). And of course, that little talked about US$50 million loan.

But there is a pattern to all of this, apart from some economists referring to this a s evidence of the effectiveness of the free market.  Essentially the bond has become the currency of the majority poor. They may not understand its full import in relation to the fact that we do not have an actual currency but they are learning how to ‘deal’ with and in it.

From the vegetable vendor, through to the kombi conductor, passenger the refrain about the South African rand is that ‘this will not be accepted where I am going’. The preference is the US dollar or the bond coin.

What is not publicly debated is how all of this really works.  The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe mints the coins in South Africa with money received from Afrexim Bank. The latter also guarantees the equivalent of the $US value of the coin (1:1).  It is distributed to local banks who in turn distribute it to retail and other businesses at an equivalent rate.  From then on, it becomes laissez faire. 

And in this framework, there is room for the return of the money dealer of yesteryear, that is, 2007. In this the key question is one of who really has access to these bond coins when they are in circulation.  And this is the shadowy world of middle men and women.  Not that they will make a significant profit. But they will be able to at least make the proverbial dollar out of fifteen cents.

So the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has some serious explaining to do. Though I am sure they are quite comfortable (and very pleased) with the fact that their bond coin scheme now has 'transaction' legitimacy. Especially via the informal sector.

What we essentially have is a free market economy that confounds the poor before it affects the rich. Such little mini-battles about the value of small coins is not something that will be witnessed or argued in the leafier surburbs of our cities.  Probably because there the minimal denomination is the US dollar note.

But then again, we are used to the default mode of our national economy.  We do not collectively question the effects of specific economic policies. Nor do we get regular explanations from policy makers anyway.  Hence the bond coin has evolved from being the replacement for notes and sweets for change, to becoming an actual domestic currency. Knowing the ‘entrepreneurial’ spirit of those that are in proximity to political power and office, someone, somewhere is going to make a ‘killing’.  Particularly if the rand strengthens against the US dollar.
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Monday, 26 October 2015

Zim’s Crouching Ethnicity, Hidden Tribalism in Succession/Coalition Politics^

By Takura Zhangazha*

There is a new but old currency to our national politics in Zimbabwe.  Its infamously referred to as 'tribalism' and where one is politically correct, ethnocentrism or simply ‘ethnicity’.  In the academic world these are highly contested terms particularly where they become linked to analyzing electoral and political power contests.  

Our politicians rarely present their pursuit of power on the basis of ethnic identity publicly.  The proof always turns out to be in the power sharing configurations either in the run-up to an election, its aftermath or national ‘unity’ agreements. Or alternatively, gate-keeping of specific provinces as 'no go areas' for other opposition political parties. 

In our immediate contemporary politics there is the whispered aspect of this ‘ethnic’ dimension to political power and even opposition political office.  

In the case of Zanu Pf’s ongoing succession battles it has been whispered in the corridors of power that it’s the turn of the ‘Karanga’s’  in muted reference to current deputy President Mnangagwa’s potential to take over.  Others from the same party reportedly  swear that it will never happen and appear to be propping up other candidates in an apparently ‘counter-ethnic’ coalition basis and in similarly muted fashion.

In the opposition, the same can arguably be said to be true, though with the intention of courting former Zanu Pf supporters into a grand opposition party coalition. This in somewhat similar fashion to the Kenyan example of political coalitions. 

In all of these developments, a key question that emerges is whether it is right or wrong in the first place to claim an ethnocentric place at the table of power.  Especially via appealing to an ethnically derived popular base. There is no one answer and no one reason at which the same are arrived at.
In fact there are varying arguments in support and against the use of ethnic identity to pursue national or localized political office.  

One of the most significant arguments around this was posited by the late academic Professor Masipula Sithole where he argued that essentially there is nothing inimical to democracy about ethnic identity on the African continent. Not only because such politicization of ethnicity is universal (its there in the West as it is in the South) but also because both Marxism and modernization have ostensibly failed to resolve the issue on the African continent. In his view what might be more important is democratic inclusion. 

Other contrary arguments against ethnicity playing a prominent role in national politics posit that it causes divisions and diversion from national unity, which in most of our African experiences is more contrived than it is democratically arrived at. This approach has wrongly led to dictatorial attempts to forcefully stamp out diversity in pursuit of what is a false national unity via one party states. 

These somewhat real and equally academic arguments are sometimes dismissed as not quite understanding ‘African politics’ or a claim at a base uniqueness of ‘tribe’ to the African continent. The truth of the matter is that the post colonial state will always have vestiges of ethnic identity.  They do not however remain permanent. They are however subject to gross politicisation and ‘instrumentalisation’ to whip up emotions in pursuit of power for its own sake. 

As Ugandan academic Mahmood Mamdani argues, these usages of ‘tribe’, ‘ethnicity’ even ‘race’ only became full political strategies at defining and ruling with the onset and consolidation of colonialism.  Sadly they have been carried over by our contemporary African leaders to present day politics.  Even if in whispered tones as is currently the case in Zimbabwe.   

The point that however must be made is that there is much more to our national politics beyond ethnicity or tribe.  It is a point that must be made beyond the centrist intentions that were the one party state (and Marxism) or the colonial modernization project (divide and rule). Across Zimbabwe, and across many African states, we may have differences that include geographical location (particularly where its away from the lucrative center), language, historical injustices and in rare cases cultural differences but we share a common humanity that transcends the pursuit of political power.

This latter truth is what our competing political leaders are better off making greater reference to. that is our common challenges that include but are not limited to human rights and equality for all, access to basic social services, jobs, and secure livelihoods without discrimination.

While the electoral battles over succession in Zimbabwe may now unfortunately include whispered references to ethnicity and 'tribe' we have to overcome such misrepresentations of our values in pursuit of power.

Yes we are a postcolonial state that is still reeling from the impact that colonialism had on African identities but this is not reason for us to regress.  You can come from a specific village, district, province or speak a different language dialect as does everyone else in Zimbabwe, but we have to forge a much more elaborate, inclusive and democratic culture that transcends these more often than not contrived identities. It is not only what you say to your own kinsmen/women that matters.  Instead it is now what you say to the whole country while keeping your fingers on the national pulse that in the end is more visionary.
^Title of this blog borrowed though with different meaning from the title of the Chinese Film, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Zim Opposition’s Crisis and Denial.

By Takura Zhangazha*

Zimbabwe’s opposition political parties are in serious trouble and are functioning on a wing and a prayer.  They however will not admit to it. The largest  opposition in Parliament and also popularly, the MDC-T, appears to be entering a new phase of contrived factionalism spurred on by differences over congress outcomes and alleged coalition talks. 

Its most recent offshoot the Peoples Democratic party (PDP), in the aftermath of its congress is pursuing the path of name-calling its former allies, not so much the ruling party Zanu Pf, at its rallies. This while simultaneously laying ridiculous claim to having 'friends with money'. 

Another offshoot, the MDC as led by Welshman Ncube, is smarting from leadership departures and holding on by a thread to a public profile largely driven by a social media presence.

The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) are regularly putting up candidates in by-elections which they most certainly know they will not win (even at council level). Their hope being that they maintain some sort of grassroots presence to at least be able to win some proportional representation seats in 2018 and by dint of the same become eligible for funding via the Political Parties Finance Act.  Though no one knows what they really stand for.  The other parties, even the still to be launched  People First,  have already defined themselves as neo-liberal outfits in similar fashion to Zanu Pf. 

A common factor to all of these opposition formations has been their trepidation at a Joice Mujuru party and how to react to it.  For the majority the intention is to ride on whatever political momentum she can bring to the table with her People First outfit.  Some, even while missing the irony of it,  have gone as far as claiming that one of their reasons for splitting from the main MDC-T has been to form a strong electoral coalition of opposition parties for 2018. And for them this coalition could not have a better redeemer than People First. 

Never mind that their own internal politics may be in serious disorder and that any such coalition may face the very same challenges that led them to leave their parent political formations. That is personality cults, lack of internal democratic accountability and transparency together with monopolizing leadership roles or borderline dictatorship. 

The opposition is therefore not being honest  with itself, its memberships and the people of Zimbabwe.  The latter know too well the road they have travelled in supporting the main opposition MDC-T and they are always going to either grow weary of the culture of splits largely based on personality clashes or alternatively they will begin to have materialist expectations of politics that are  similar to those of Zanu Pf supporters. 

Hence one of the most coveted electoral offices in the opposition ranks is surprisingly not that of becoming a Member of Parliament.  Instead it is the office of a councilor and the direct link it has to the distribution of local government resources such as land and tenders.

The dilemmas of the opposition do not end there. They now have to contend, at least going forward, with an expansion of this materialist culture to our national politics as defined and spearheaded by Zanu Pf.   As things stand and in order for the opposition to mount a meaningful electoral challenge for power in 2018 it shall need a lot of money.  And that is not an understatement. It is however doubtful they will get the required resources without having to sell their souls.

Unless they shift from their current politics of personal entitlement, internal autocracy, perpetual splits  and monopolization of leadership. This will entail a much more organic understanding of their own values in tandem with their membership and active permission of others to represent these same said values at ward, district, provincial, national levels.  This too while paying particular attention to the youth and gender dimension in order to achieve what has been referred to as cross generational consciousness or ‘generational praxis’.

Such an approach would enable them to begin the process of establishing a true counter hegemony to Zanu Pf, if not a revolutionary one that will have far reaching positive implications for our country’s democratic posterity.

But then again, we know our opposition leaders.  While demonstrating messianic tendencies they appear to be waiting for their own messiahs. Be they in the form of a Mugabe departure from power (which they cannot influence), Joice Mujuru as an opposition leader (again which they cannot influence) or an economic catastrophe (which they can only hope for), they remain as stubborn in their ways as ever.  A trait which makes one assume that they may, in the final analysis, be content with being exactly what they are, opposition leaders.

*Takura Zhangazha writes here in his personal capacity (