The Politics of Succession

Human Capital refers to the skilled personnel possessed by any state, business or organisation- often referred to as Human Resources.

 

There are two fundamental reasons why human resource departments are generally considered to be part of the pivotal pillars of organisations.

 

The first reason is that despite the rapid technological advances taking place in the world, it will always be skilled human beings who are needed to oversee the technology and to implement technology related policy.

 

Put plainly, you need skilled and experienced people in order to implement policy. This is true at both micro and macro levels. As a result people are the biggest contributors to organizational success.

 

Secondly, it is the department of human resources in any organisation that is tasked with executing succession related organizational policy.

 

In fact, some of the most successful global organisations today task their human resources departments to prioritize succession planning policy as a fundamental part of business strategy.

 

The reason is that organisations without a succession strategy lack continuity when a key senior member exits the bureaucracy for any reason.

 

This is true in all organizations; even political parties, governments, multi-national corporations and family businesses alike. Every bureaucracy needs a clear succession plan.

 

The reason is simple: without a clear succession strategy in place that runs in conjunction with a clear operational strategy, your organisation risks collapsing when any one of the organization’s key leaders exits for any reason.

 

This is because where there is no clear strategy on how to replace a leader  with  someone who is equally as critical, cohesive, commanding and charismatic, then factional conflicts and divisions will inevitably lead to the organisation’s uncompetitiveness and ultimately its demise.

 

As reported in the New York Times concerning succession planning in family businesses, “business owners who do not form a succession plan create a time bomb that can not only destroy their companies but tear apart their families.

 

“A lot of families fight and fight until the business is gone.”

 

I’ve written before about how family businesses typically collapse within three generations.

 

This is portrayed well by a certain Mexican adage which says, “Father, founder of the company, son, rich and grandson poor.”

 

Put plainly, the founder establishes a competitive business, the founder’s children reap the fruits of his labour, yet unfortunately they leave the founder’s grandchildren with a shadow of the original entity.

 

This is usually because of a lack of clear and methodological succession planning.

 

Of course, such a fatalist foreclosure is preventable in family businesses, large corporations and political parties alike.

 

However, such prevention is only pursuant to the implementation of clear and strategic succession policy which runs concurrently with the operational policy of the organization.

 

This brings me to the context of Zimbabwe’s current socio-political quandary.

 

Zimbabwe’s Succession Politics

 

I’m a born free Zimbabwean, meaning that I was born after independence in 1980.

 

This also means that I’ve lived through three phases of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic history: The honey-moon phase, the structural-adjustment phase, and the crises phase which we are still experiencing today.

 

I don’t intend to argue how, when or why we are in this crisis because that has been written about extensively and that literature is readily available.

 

However, the key concern of many a citizen is how do we as a country extricate ourselves from this current crisis and chart a cohesive way forward?

 

The answer is in clear succession planning.

 

It is my view that the reason why so many Zimbabweans were disappointed when Ex-Vice President Dr. Joice Mujuru was expelled from party and government in 2014, and also, why so many people are disappointed by ex-Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s expulsion today, is because Zimbabweans had placed their future hopes in these individuals ,who they perceived as the embodiments of a tacit succession plan.

 

Yet, as I mentioned earlier, a succession plan should not be secretive, informal or tacit- it must not be based upon secret agreements done amongst politicians in the liberation days or presently.

 

Instead, a succession plan must be open, clear, transparent and progressive.

 

As it stands, arguably, the palpable political disgruntlement amongst Zimbabweans, particularly war veterans and the Masvingo and Midlands regions is perhaps based upon perceptions of the betrayal  of certain informal and secret agreements done amongst politicians in the liberation days or presently.

 

Unfortunately, however, where there is no record or trace of such informal agreements, then the only way to settle the dispute is through conflict… and conflict is always the culmination of poor succession planning.

 

History shows this to be true in family businesses, corporates and political parties alike.

 

Nevertheless, where  there is an open, public, clear and concise succession plan that is agreed to by all the influential personalities in an organization, then conflict is avoided and continuity prevails.

 

Now, it seems that ZANU-PF has been deliberately expelling its strongest personalities for some time now, notwithstanding at the expense of the socio-political and economic stability of Zimbabwe at large.

 

 

It was Dr. Joice Mujuru yesterday and now it is Honorable Emmerson Mnangagwa today.

 

This systematic elimination of ZANU-PF’s strongmen and women over time has arguably been motivated by a dynastic agenda, which is now being formalized and presented to the public at the expense of historical informal, secret agreements allegedly concluded amongst politicians in the liberation days and recently.

 

Nevertheless the reality is that Zimbabwe is at an all-time low.

 

The way out (as I perceive Eddie Cross has tried to initiate) is to invite all the influential anti-dynastic and disgruntled forces to one negotiating table where they must discuss and establish two things.

 

Firstly, a sound socio-political and economic governance plan designed for Zimbabwe for the next ten years that will be implemented by a Government of National Unity similar to what we saw in the 2009-2013 period.

 

Secondly, the negotiations must draw out a formal, irrevocable, transparent, clear and concise succession plan that will be guaranteed by SADC, the AU and the UN.

 

Such a succession plan will run concurrently alongside the aforementioned economic governance operational strategy.

 

In this light, it is the hope of the Zimbabwean people that Dr. Joice Mujuru, Honorable Emmerson Mnagagwa, The MDC-T, war veterans and other influential, progressive and anti-dynastic forces can come to the negotiating table and chart a way forward.

 

 

Such an arrangement should be mediated by Former president Thabo Mbeki or Cyril Ramaphosa.

 

The fact is that too many Zimbabwean lives and livelihoods across races, regions, and tribes have been sacrificed for too long at the altar of political self-gain and expediency.

 

In all truth fifteen years from now, students of economic history, political science, and sociology will look back at this time and ask why the various disgruntled Zimbabwean leaders could not find common ground to defeat this crisis.

 

This is their opportunity to do exactly that.

 

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director

Email

zimrays@gmail.com

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