AS President-elect Robert Mugabe gets sworn-in today, a lot must be going on through his mind.
This five-year term may actually prove to be the most challenging in his leadership of the country since independence.
Let’s forget the rhetoric and “pomp and fanfare” laced speeches and proclamations that we have heard from ZANU-PF supporters and leaders, this five-year term is not an easy “stroll in the park”.
There are multiple fronts that ZANU-PF would have to contend with, if this election win is going to amount to anything.
Firstly, we must appreciate that ZANU-PF cannot continue to be in combative mode for too long.
Every combative era of political history has to come to an end.
The end of every combative era has to culminate in some victory that delivers the expectations of what the struggle has been about.
The fallacy that has gripped many in ZANU-PF is that, they can continue to use the emotive call to battle to mobilise people.
We have seen the party do that in calling for battle against the imbalance in land ownership in the early 2000s.
The party also went on to call against imbalances in economic equity, through the indigenisation and economic empowerment programme.
There was then the call to battle against the western countries, seen as a major inference to extended imperialist tendencies.
The 2013 election was the climax of the battle against the MDC parties, also seen through the lenses of the anti-imperialist adage.
These form the collective ensemble of the battles that have forced ZANU-PF to become so combative in the last decades.
However, the 2013 election win, would be seen by many among its membership and even outside, as the pinnacle which must now begin to deliver the fruits of all these battles.
This election win would inevitably put pressure on ZANU-PF to display the resultant profits of all these battles.
The party cannot use the next five years to continue to rally the people to battle.
I sense battle weariness among the Zimbabweans. They have been taken on this trajectory for too long by ZANU-PF.
What they now aspire is to at least see the tangible outcomes of what they have all along been combative for and about.
ZANU-PF just needs to realise that it’s now time for delivery. It’s time to prove that battles are not perpetual, but lead to compensation outcomes.
The next five years are not about ZANU-PF blaming the misfortunes of the country on western imperialist pressures, even if they exist.
If the western countries decide to continue with the sanctions regime, like the United States has said it would, ZANU-PF can’t use that as an excuse anymore, not in its next five-year term.
ZANU-PF can’t also continue to play the land card; nearly most of the land is now redistributed. In the next five years, ZANU-PF cannot continue to blame anything on the MDC parties, they would be off the political scene.
As President-elect Mugabe for-ms his Cabinet, he needs to at least bring-in whatever “men of steel” are left in ZANU-PF.
This Cabinet must not merely be about rewarding loyalty.
Should President-elect Mugabe fall for the temptation that has always overpowered him in the past, that of rewarding loyalty ahead of meritocracy, then he is openly inviting a five-year torrent of economic instability with some political implications?
Besides the appointment of a professional and competent Cabinet, President Mugabe needs to redefine his economic policy line.
Zimbabwe is faced with two main challenges on the economic front.
Firstly, there is a depressed income generation in the totality of the economy.
Secondly, whatever is generated has no “trickle-down” effect to where it must make most impact — the social base.
The case of the diamond industry easily demonstrates this misnomer. President Mugabe just has to rein-in on that sector. It must deliver for the people of Zimbabwe.
For sure, these are the tangibles that President Mugabe and his new Cabinet need to deal with in order to transform the long-drawn combative battles of the past into a new phase of delivery for the people.
Imagine President Mugabe waking up one morning and demanding operational sanity in the diamond sector. Imagine him going a step further and proposing a policy where 30 percent of the income from diamond sector is shared equally between the health and education sector in the country — beyond the paltry receipts they get from the national budget.
This is the kind of radical delivery that is required in the next five years. This is what would tone down the emotions of expectation and uneasiness currently prevailing among most of the Zimbabweans.
I am not sure if ZANU-PF has capacity for self-regeneration and refocusing. It’s not clear if the party has any appetite to move from ideocentric populism to embrace developmental politics.
Some people say that, “those that have a perpetual fighting spirit normally find it difficult to exist in peaceful times; peace becomes a threat to their existence and an aid to their extinction. Should peaceful times demand more than they can offer, their existence will be sustained by creating more fights or at least giving relevance even to those fights that seize to exist”
If ZANU-PF fails to address the expectations of the Zimbabweans, this time around there may be more pressure on the party than before. I assume this pressure would firstly arise from those ordinary members who may have voted for the party in the full belief that its policies would deliver better livelihoods for them.
The greatest threat of non-performance by the new ZANU-PF administration is from within its own ranks.
This time around even its rural supporters would likely lose their patience should the party attempt to continue pacifying them with ideological excuses.
President Mugabe has difficult choices to make — one of them being to change the DNA of a party whose historical existence has been based on blaming it all on “detractors”.
ZANU-PF looks like it’s due for an internal revolution, if at all it is to be relevant to the next five years.
President Mugabe would either prove his relevance to the future of the country or his disconnect from it. The next five years are a real test for him and a possible breaking point for Zimbabweans.
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