FROM tourists flocking in to get a view of one of the world’s natural wonders, to locals bustling to make ends meet night and day, Victoria Falls is a town that never sleeps.
By Andrew Kunambura
The resort town’s hyper-activity heightens during every festive season when many from around the world take a break to relax far away from their daily chores.
But the resort’s inhabitants cannot afford such luxury.
For them, it’s time to maximise on the presence of the visiting high spenders and sell anything they can.
Between December 7 and 13, the town will host a different kind of visitor — albeit still a big spender.
But not everyone entirely fancies this particular big spender strolling into Victoria Falls next week.
And that big spender is ZANU-PF, which is rallying no less than 6 000 of its members to gather in the resort town for its annual conference — otherwise jokingly referred to as the annual feast.
For the party members, Christmas comes this early.
Thus, the town will for the second time this year, host the ruling party after the 21st February Movement was held there earlier in the year.
Every year members of the ruling party, drawn from various districts across the country, retreat to a selected venue for the event.
There, they sit down to discuss how the party has fared for the year, as well as plan for the future.
But with the party now heavily fractured and undergoing a terrible spate of factional fights, analysts say those agenda items will play second fiddle to power tussles likely to headline the conference.
After decimating a faction headed by former vice president Joice Mujuru last year, ZANU-PF had hoped it had exorcised the demon of factionalism and would enjoy enduring peace ever after.
Yet only months into the new dispensation, two distinct factions threatening to tear the already disfigured party asunder have emerged.
Mujuru, now out of the picture, had fought a decade-old war with Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The latter has kept most of his old lieutenants while some of Mujuru’s backers have switched allegiance, but still very much against the Vice President.
And fighting him is a new brood of factionalists going by the term Generation 40 (G40), which is reportedly determined to frustrate Mnangagwa’s presidential ambitions.
There have also been suspensions and counter-suspensions in the party as factions seek to establish a lasting foothold.
And 12 months after Mujuru’s ouster things are back to the murky state again as the Politburo last week suspended Happiness Nyakuyedzwa, Manicaland provincial Women’s League chairperson and Mashonaland Central provincial youth chairman, Godfrey Tsenengamu, among others.
Meanwhile, the factions continue trading vitriolic verbal attacks, often with extremely derogatory subtexts.
As such, tempers are raging as neither faction concedes ground, meaning that ZANU-PF goes into the conference next week with a dark cloud of factionalism hanging over it.
Amid all this, first secretary of the party — the man whose throne is being tussled for — has preferred to remain mum, only speaking here and there and even when he does, showing no allegiance at all and deceiving at most.
Judging by the level of tempers flaring at the moment, there are fears that ZANU-PF could turn the usually peaceful town into a war zone.
Plausible pretexts for this are not lacking, for many times already, ZANU-PF meetings have been used by rival camps to physically settle scores.
The conference therefore could descend into vicious infighting and nasty encounters.
ZANU-PF gatherings are traditionally a colourful affair — a few years ago roses would be thrown, but more recently it has been punches.
Now with leading factionalists continuously accusing each other of heinous crimes against their party and leader, one can be excused for expecting quite an eventful conference.
While in terms of volatility, this year’s event — compared to the congress of last year — would be relatively tame, there is a fair share of accusations of jaw-dropping hypocrisy over the issue of succession, even if ideally no posts are up for grabs.
With no one able to point with any measure of certainty what next week beholds, all one can do is glean from some of the mundane items on the agenda that include: Liberation war heritage, review of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation blueprint, sports, culture and religion and youth and women’s affairs.
One needs not be a sophisticated person to realise that these other agenda items are mere additives. Political analysts know it and they don’t expect much from it.
The real deal is the state of the party.
“I do not expect any sound policies to come from there. The leadership is highly divided and one can safely bet that it is one of the issues they will concern themselves with and not economic transformation,” said political commentator, Rashweat Mukundu.
Political scientist, Ibbo Mandaza, gave an ideal conference situation, which he, however, said would remain on the wish list as the party prefers consolidation of its power than finding solutions to the country’ problems.
“It’s good that ZANU-PF has the economy on its conference agenda. The conference will better serve Zimbabwe if practical solutions are thought through and implemented while corruption is tackled. Unfortunately, the leaders will be too occupied with power issues than fixing the economy. That is the sad reality of our country,” he said.
Whatever the case, next week ZANU-PF will be the talk of the country and any other nation with bilateral interests in Harare. – Financial Gazette