I think it is pretty much agreed – by the sane and rational, not by those with vested interest – that Zanu PF is unpopular and clinging to power. But to what end?
“To keep the whites out” is a theme I have heard often. And it has some resonance with a lot of people. Land reform was more popular than many will admit, because, even if it meant to many losing food, jobs, houses, health, schools, etc. it was a final nail in the coffin of Rhodesia. Old whites, especially those on farms, in many ways saw the new regime as the old. Life carried on, on the farms. White was the boss, black was the labour. White told black what to do. Lived at a higher standard. In a more comfortable house. Better. In many ways, it was the nature of the business, the farming business. Boss tells labour what to do. Boss makes more. Boss lives better. Just that boss was white, labour was black. And in many ways, land reform was welcomed because it ‘upset’ the traditional way. No one wants to remain labour, underclass, less well off. The fact that land reform was not about to change that, was not about to make labourers bosses and bosses labourers. Was only going to bring new bosses in (of the same race). Labour was going to remain labour and actually be worse off because cheap food was suddenly not available, as well as many other things lost. They (labour) did not know that, and they welcomed the change, and even know they know now, it is still not completely unpopular because it brought a change of/from the old regime that was frustratingly continuing. It is not better, but it is different.
So land reform, to me and my perception, ended white power. White domination of the economy. It ended land and agriculture (dominated by whites) as a an economic force. It pretty much ended the economy as well, but that is a burden we have to bear for change.
It seems to me then that “keeping the whites out” is not a real reason. The whites, as a force, a power, are dead and gone. However, this is not a good enough reason to stop using that as an excuse. First, as mentioned, it has a resonance with people. They like it. They understand it. Second, it is all Zanu PF have ever done. While it is important to note that they did that well – who else (even if they did not do it alone) has managed to mobilize the masses against an existing regime? A force in power? Certainly not the MDC. They have managed to mobilize themselves to some nice houses, new cars, and other good things, but they defiantly have not managed to mobilize the overthrow of a regime!
So that excuse is used, but moot (good for debate, but not actually valid in reality). A point the population generally does not see, and Zanu PF is thankful for that! It works! Even if it does demonstrate that the ‘reason’ for Zanu PF s over.
So why are they clinging to power? So we can move from a European colony to become a Chinese colony? Look East?
The vested interests want Zanu PF power there. Must have it there.
Money. You can make money. A great deal of it. And Zanu PF have ushered in a big capitalist regime – not socialist by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. Money is all that counts. Private vice equals public virtue (read Adam Smith). Even those who learnt ‘politics’ (rhetorical propaganda) under the Rhodesians cannot call the new regime socialist. In this regime, it is defiantly not what you know, it is who you know, if you want to make money here. Ask Mr Rautenbach. Ask the Chiadzwa diamond field ‘owners’. You can even hunt the Presidential herd!
So Zanu PF connections (or just being ‘inside’) was the way to make money. From the earliest. Ask why Maurice Nyagumbo committed suicide. And today, Zanu PF military! That is the ticket to wealth (and infamy).
And even if you made money, and don’t need to make anymore (yes, we have all been there!), in order to hold on to your money, you cannot allow “regime change”. Who will get hold of the records? And what records? And who will say what? And where anymore can you retire and keep your slightly dirty money ‘safe’? Ask Col. Mengistu.
Then, those with degrees in violence. There are few places safe to retire when you get that diploma. Ask Charles Taylor. And very cleverly, while they had theirs (from Matabeleland up to 2002 elections) they managed to get a new class in and graduated at the 2008 elections. Junior (none higher than Brigadier General), but still, suddenly, with a new vested interest. And therefore an inability to allow things to move on.
Other reasons to keep power? Some agenda to complete? Well, the manifestos are out. What are (any of them) about? One is obviously ‘change’. But change to what? The trough system, or the faces at the trough? Create jobs. Scoff… How?
The other big one? Not change but indigenisation, which is simply race based (“keep the whites out”) method of taking things for those inside. No go back on land reform (keep what ya got). Not much in either about ‘build’. Social justice. Equality. Standards, values, leadership. Health system. Education. Sure it is the details of both, but it is not noticed now, why should we believe it ever will be noticed.
Or acted on.