Impunity now...forever

HARARE - Every time a local party goes into overdrive, which translates into open violence — either against itself or another party, I am reminded of the day in 1957 that the African National Congress was inaugurated in the Recreational Hall.

How things have changed! The hall is now Mai Musodzi Hall, named after a woman from a Harare township who had distinguished herself in social work.

I doubt if there are many women, inside or outside Harare itself, who could give you a blow-by-blow account of exactly who Mai Musodzi was.

This is a pity.

At that period, it was exceptional for women to play such major social roles in society.

Highlighting their names would be a great reminder for all women today — that they too can advance their group by following the example of women such as Mai Musodzi.

Unfortunately for me, a fracas or an upheaval in a local political party reminds me of how fractious our political parties have always been.

It has been calculated, by people who swear they know all about statistics that this trend was responsible for delaying our independence.

Malawi and Zambia preceded us in those stakes.

The reason is that we were not as united as they were.

We lost out in terms of economic, social and political advancement, as a result.

We are losing out even today, for the same reason.

There will be those who will insist that our slow start was due to other facts —  the unity of purpose of the whites and their willingness to use guns to quell any rebellion.

But that argument falls apart when you examine what occurred recently to Zanu PF. It started with a “meet the people’s tour” by President Robert Mugabe’s wife around the country.

It ended up with a massive purge in the party.

How soon the party will recover from such ructions is difficult to predict.

How much the country itself will cover from this political ruckus is just as difficult to predict.

Most difficult to predict is how much goodwill the country has lost as a result of this entirely unnecessary adventure into the wilderness of petty politics. “Factionalism” has no real meaning as a political gimmick.

You can say it was invented by someone who could not state the fact that Zanu PF was a party in disarray, any country run by such a party is courting impunity on a large scale.

Not even the law of the land is immune from interference from such a party.

Independent newspapers or radio stations are easy targets.

The citizen can no longer determine, from day to day, what a crime is and what is not.

What must be urgently required is a call for unity among all the people.

There must be a clarion call to abandon the frivolous idea that a political party, such as Zanu PF, can run the country single-handedly, without taking into account all the people.

Parliament must remain the bastion of all laws in society. All actions which endanger the freedom of the citizen from arbitrary action by forces not immediately answerable to the law must be banned.

You will have noticed that I wrote this piece before the opening of the Zanu PF congress on December 2.

There are deadlines on a newspaper and they are almost holy.

But the main point I must make is that there cannot be in a democratic country, a political party which wields so much power it can bring to a halt — by the stroke of a pen, almost — life in the country.

Zimbabwe must return to the basics of democracy — rule of the country by the people and for the people.

No political party can be bigger than the government.

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