Friday, March 12, 2010

Mugabe gets the Presidency, the Praesidium and the Politburo he wanted - now where's the policy?

The more things change, the more they remain the same. I had hoped that the party congress would give the party a new sense of purpose and direction. But it was not to be. A bit of shuffling of seats in the presidium in December followed by a similar shuffling in the politburo. Since then the inclusive government has had its first birthday, the President his eighty-sixth and what change have we seen? None, apart possibly from a deterioration in the prospects for any co-ordinated approach to resolving the country's problems. All parties are increasingly characterised by neglect of everyone's interest but their own. But, in the absence of any attempt to address the national or common interest, no-one's interests are served. The party, the IG and the president are all one year older and the main thing that strikes us about all three is that they are one step nearer death.

The only player able to affect the fortunes of all three is the President himself. He is perceived to have got his own way at the party congress. The shuffling of seats in the party were the ones that he chose. He has secured his position as leader for a further five years and has secured the team that he wanted, but what does he plan to do with it? Was all the manoeuvring simply to secure his own position for another five years? What about the legacy that looked so shiny a decade ago but has since become so tarnished? Will he allow it to get yet more tarnished or take active measures to restore it?

Sadly at present it looks like the former. The only discernible ZANU(PF) policy is to block progress on any front until Tsvangirai and the MDC get sanctions lifted. Mugabe and ZANU(PF) must know that this is not in the MDC's power, but they do not seem to care. They are simply patting themselves on the back for turning the tables on MDC-T, for convincing SADC and SA that this is the only route to progress and for paralysing the IG. All this achieves is the perpetuation of an unsustainable status quo.

So what lies ahead for the country? Deadlock and paralysis with little prospect of a way out. The party congress' promise of unity "in defence of our natural resources and people's economic empowerment" looks a long way off - a privileged few engage dubious external partners to help them pick over our natural resources, empowering only them. The people are left as bystanders while the party squanders the gains of the liberation struggle and with it the support of its followers - hardly the best way to prepare for an election that will inevitably have to come, even if not till next year. At least 2010 saw some improvement in the quality of life of the people. 2011 promises only stagnation.

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