Politics of fear rules Zanu PF

HARARE - In the past, I have reduced the explanatory framework of President Mugabe’s political survival to two dominant components of patronage: fear and reverence.

In these past few weeks, these two dynamics have played out, revealing the workings of Zanu PF patronage system.

I use here the examples of Shuvai Mahofa, Karikoga Kaseke, Joice Mujuru, Ray Kaukonde and Jabulani Sibanda to illustrate how fear and reverence have manifested in Zanu PF’s patronage politics in recent weeks.

In defending himself against allegations of sabotaging Grace’s rally, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Karikoga Kaseke said such an act, according to him, would constitute “treason.”

Beneath this melodramatic exaggeration is a deep sense of fear. Kaseke further instructed his wife, who would be attending the rally, that she had to ensure that she is “seen” or be visible to Grace.

At the Zanu PF politburo meeting, Shuvai Mahofa, spoke herself hoarse, oozing praise for Mugabe and his wife.

Patronage politics has developed its language. It has dispensed with official titles; it addresses the benefactors as baba and amai.

In the past weeks, some Zanu PF officials have been accused of, not supporting Mugabe, but not “loving” him. Soon, the accused were declaring “love” for baba and amai.

In Margaret Dongo’s words, the men are all “Mugabe’s wives” — an expression better comprehended in patriarchal societies where wives are deemed subservient to men.

These semantics of submission illustrate the nexus of fear and reverence that has propped up Mugabe, because the fearful and exceedingly reverential can neither challenge nor tell truth to power.

While the opposition has feared Mugabe’s excesses, in Zanu PF, the fear has largely derived from potential loss of what patronage-based politics has provided. The men and women who have abandoned official duty to attend Grace rallies are precisely driven by this fear.

In the example of Kaseke, he has served in the State’s aviation and tourism bodies for a very long time.

To associate with those challenging his benefactor’s power or “sabotage” his wife (Grace) may not be treason. But it may, not only result in the loss of office, but the excavation of the old allegations of rape against him.

Mahofa was once a deputy minister; she has acquired properties. Her fawning is also comprehensible in the patronage framework. She would not stay a day longer at the controversially acquired Save Conservancy if she fraternised with opponents of her benefactor.

Kaseke and Mahofa are just two examples in an intricate patronage network.

Under Mugabe, patronage-based politics has conferred power, wealth, status, office to patrons — and for a very long time — and impunity to many clients.

These benefits are lost the moment clients no longer exhibit fear and reverence or challenge the power of the benefactor.

It was not three weeks ago that allegations against Vice-President Mujuru or her late husband surfaced.

And it was not three weeks ago either that it was suspected Ray Kaukonde may have been involved in corrupt deals and, as State media now alleges, sex scandals.

These, as the reports suggest, have been known for a long time.

Jabulani Sibanda’s status as a war veteran was questioned years ago.

Under Zanu PF, official deviance can continue as long as one demonstrates loyalty.

As long as these accused persons remained loyal, these allegations did not matter.

As Grace said, Mujuru only had to apologise to “baba”

Zanu PF does not have systemic commitment to eradicate corruption.

The accusations have surfaced primarily because the accused have deviated from the patronage politics of fear and reverence that underpins Mugabe’s political survival. In the words of one war veteran, Mugabe must rule forever.

Patronage-based politics is averse to contrarian opinion or challenge to its power as jailed Bo Xilai of the Chinese Communist Party learnt when corruption allegations arose upon indications of his desire for higher office.

The benefits of status, office, power, wealth and impunity are withdrawn. Zanu PF “deviants” will lose their meal tickets or face jail.


 

Comments (5)

Conrad! An excellent piece. Zimbabwe has a problem of this as you said "patronage based politics". AS you said Karikoga Kaseke should play his political games to his chest because, the guy as intelligent as he is, has many cases dating way back from the Civil Aviation as a Chief Security Officer after being deployed from the ZNA. Office related relationships, rape case at the Ministry of Transport when he was a Permanent Secretary, ZTA. But let me tell you, the guy is highly educated with more than 5 Master Degrees hope he is still pushing for his PhD a certain Singapore University. But! Hooooo his other reference hope he still has it on his CV, Guess Who.......the late Solomon Mujuru..which has the Netone contact. Hope yange iri ye contract yemadhara......................The Chickens are coming home to roost as Morgan always say it in the MDC

Clemence Tashaya - 4 November 2014

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GALLERYCARTRIDGES - 5 November 2014

ZANU PF seem to be a fake party. How can people be punished for saying their mind. ZANU PF should be viewed and realise that its bigger than Mugabe or Grace. However if these war veterans want to remain cheap, not recognising that when they went to war they were sacrificing their only one and most important possession, life. Life is life even if its a life of a Mugabe is no greater than a life of peasant. Life of a human being is life and not less. However its up to them to realise that. No one can do it for them.

annanian - 5 November 2014

ZANU PF seem to be a fake party. How can people be punished for saying their mind. ZANU PF should be viewed and realise that its bigger than Mugabe or Grace. However if these war veterans want to remain cheap, not recognising that when they went to war they were sacrificing their only one and most important possession, life. Life is life even if its a life of a Mugabe is no greater than a life of peasant. Life of a human being is life and not less. However its up to them to realise that. No one can do it for them.

annanian - 5 November 2014

I believe the major problem facing ZANU PFpeople comes fro their rapmpant theft and corruption.Because they know Mugabe is aware of all their wheeler-dealings, thy dare not upset the old man or the police will be given the green light to investigate. And if you happen to be clean, (which is impossible in this party) false charges will be laid against you!

Johno - 5 November 2014

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