Factional politics in Zimbabwe

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A bureaucracy is a large organization that is designed to achieve goals through hierarchical organization. Bureaucracies are designed according to rational principles, which are set in order to efficiently attain goals. Bureaucratic offices are ranked in a hierarchical order, with information flowing up the chain of command and directives flowing down.

 
The bureaucracy of an efficient political party, for instance, is designed in such a way that information from the grassroots’ structures flows up the chain of command without interruption, and accordingly directives flow back down.

 
Now, according to social theorists, in order for a bureaucracy to function at optimal efficiency it must have the following innate characteristics:

 
● Division of labor. This means that each person’s job is specifically broken down into routine and well-defined tasks. In a political party, this means that the function of each office is specifically defined, and that redundant offices are discontinued, as were the District Coordinating Committees (DCC’s) in Zanu-PF.

 
● Well-defined authority hierarchy. In other words: a multilevel formal structure, with a hierarchy of positions or offices, which ensures that each lower office is under the supervision and control of a higher one. Ultimately, this means that there is no ambiguity or overlapping of positions. In Zimbabwean politics for instance, this would mean that the role of a provincial chairperson and that of a politburo member within the same province are clearly set out in order to avoid ambiguity.

 
● High formalization, that is, an acceptance of formal rules and procedures to ensure uniformity and to regulate the behavior of office-bearers. Such formalization within a political party occurs in the form of a constitution, which should be applied to the letter in order to ensure optimum efficiency.

 
● Impersonal nature. This means that rules and controls are applieduniformly while avoiding preferential treatment of political personalities and office-bearers. In other words, the constitution of the organization is applied to the letter without favouring personalities or factions.

 

 

● Appointment decisions are based on merit. In a political party, this means that the selection and promotion of office bearers is based on exceptional technical qualifications, political competence and performance, and not simply for instance, factional, regional or racial classifications.

 
●Distinct separation of members’ organizational and personal lives. In other words, the demands and interests of personal affairs are kept completely separate to prevent them form interfering with rational impersonal conduct of the organization’s activities.

 
Now, in recent weeks the Zimbabwean media has been awash with reports of political infighting in ZANU-PF on the basis of factional politics. For those who are unaware, a political faction refers to a number of persons in an organization who form a party within a political party, which is seeking to further its own ends, usually in opposition to the ends and aims of the main body or leadership of the party; a clique.

 
While political scientists argue that political factions can be either cooperative, competitive or degenerative, it is a widely held view that factionalism leads to the disintegration of party cohesion, and ultimately the diminishing of the six aforementioned characteristics of an efficient bureaucracy.

 
As a result, where factionalism occurs, a party that previously had a Well-defined authority hierarchy finds that lower ranking party officials might openly attack senior party office bearers on the basis that the impersonal nature of the bureaucracy has been substituted by preferential treatment of party members based upon factional allegiance.

 
For instance, the Zanu-PF Harare province youth chairperson recently unashamedly and openly chastised senior members of Zanu-PF’s Harare leadership. It remains to be seen whether the party will throw the book at him as required in a highly formalized bureaucracy.

 
Unfortunately, the depressed economic environment encourages vote buying. To such an extent that party members in the lower structures openly solicit vote-money from factional bidders, meaning that elections within party structures are engineered and therefore do not represent a true reflection of grassroots’ sentiment. As a result, where information from grassroots’ structures used to flow up the chain of command without interruption, it is now thwarted by factional fissures, and this leads to the misinformation of the party leadership and again, it diminishes the efficacy of the political party.

 
Ultimately, the best way to thwart factionalism is to resurrect the constitution of a political party, and after making necessary adaptations, to ensure that it is followed to the letter. As it stands in the case of Zanu-PF for instance, it would seem that the constitutional means of conducting party affairs have been substituted by factional by-laws.

 
Tau Tawengwa

 
Executive Director

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KLEPTOCRACY

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Kleptocracy is a term that is applied when describing a state in which high-ranking officials take advantage of governmental corruption to extend their personal wealth and/or political power fundamentally through the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service.

The characteristics of a kleptocracy are:

The elite in society utilize political power to enrich themselves at the expense of wider social services and the general well-being of citizens.

Political power is condensed so that an elite holds the majority of the control over government.

Programs which benefit those who are not elite are subverted in order to increase the amount of money available to be shifted to the elite.

Institutions of the state squash dissent from the status-quo.

The ongoing salary-gate saga (an exposé of state entity bosses who have been awarding themselves ludicrous salaries that run into tens of thousands of American dollars per month in Zimbabwe; the second poorest country in the world) has raised questions about the maladmistration of state institutions in the country and the sincerity of government when it comes to tackling graft.

While I would not define Zimbabwe as an absolute kleptocracy as were Mobutu Sese Seko’s Congo or Sani Abacha’s Nigeria, my concern is that the country faces the danger of descending into the clutches of complete kleptomania if corruption is not urgently addressed.

But the question is how did we get here? How did we get to a point where a C.E.O of a medical aid society earns some USD $250, 000 per month while the members who contribute monthly to that society cannot access basic medical services?

In a work entitled “Re-Living the Second Chimurenga” Fay Chung, a Zimbabwe liberation war activist and a former minister of Education argues, “Structural Adjustment saw the entry of new leaders into ZANU-PF.

“These leaders had not taken part in the difficult pre-independence liberation struggle of the 1960s and 1970s, but had joined the ruling party after it got into power in order to promote their business prospects, which remained closely linked to political patronage.

“Known as the mafikizolo, or newly arrived, they integrated themselves into the party leadership.

“Thus by the 1990s, the new leadership within ZANU-PF began to outnumber those who had been in the liberation struggle. These new leaders became millionaires and billionaires through their political connections. They, like the wealthy whites before them, tended to expatriate their wealth, rather than investing inside the country.”

Now, ZANU-PF held its 14th National People’s Conference from 10th – 14th December 2013 under the theme, “ZIM ASSET: Growing the Economy for Empowerment and Employment”.

Some of the notable resolutions that emerged at the conference were:

to instruct the government to ensure that food relief is available and reaches the vulnerable and needy communities throughout the country

to urge the government to improve the living standards of the citizenry for an empowered society and a growing economy

that both the party and the government should implement zero tolerance against corruption in all spheres of public and private life.

Based upon these resolutions, kudos to Professor Jonathan Moyo, The Minister of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services who unilaterally spearheaded that salary-gate exposé. The fact is that Zimbabwe has for too long blamed hostile external factors for its internal problems.

In fact the salary-gate revelations have exposed the self-sanctioned profligacy within non-performing public service providers where various executives have been earning amounts ranging between USD$30, 000 and USD$250, 000 per month.

Put plainly, the salary-gate scandal has effectually buried the sanctions mantra forever- no one will believe it again, especially not when we, the youth, who constitute between 60 and 70 percent of the population are out of work, and are consequently succumbing to social ills like substance addiction and promiscuity.

In case you did not know, Harare has become a hub of multi-racial brothels, Class A drug trafficking, strip clubs and crime – the social effects of unemployment in the country. Those of us who cared to, voted in favour of economic growth and employment, and that is what we expect.

Exposing the kleptomaniac tendencies of the state is a good start that should be reinforced by transparency and accountability mechanisms within government entities in order to strengthen these institutions and as a result, to attract much needed funding.

Tau Tawengwa

Secretary General

 

Zimbabwe Elections 2013- Why they won’t form a coalition

zimraysProfessor Welshman Ncube, the presidential candidate and the leader of the smaller MDC party in Zimbabwe has launched his election manifesto and has unveiled a policy document entitled “Actions for Devolution.”

 
Simply put, devolution of power refers to the transfer of power from a central government to local units.

 
In the Zimbabwean electoral context, Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC party is campaigning for the decentralization of power and consequently, for the opportunity to give all the regions in Zimbabwe the self-determining authority to make developmental decisions.

 
Now, with the national harmonized election days away, a key question is whether or not Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC will form a last-minute grand coalition with Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T.

 
Although many opinions have been put forward concerning this issue, political analysts and commentators have however failed to recognize that this proposed coalition is a doubled-edged sword for both Tsvangirai and Ncube. As a result let me take the opportunity to unequivocally observe that this coalition will not be formed, for the following reasons:

 
•    Firstly, according to the MDC-T’s election manifesto the MDC-T
“is a social democratic party committed to serving all citizens….”
Conversely, the MDC led by professor Welshman Ncube has centered its campaign on the theme of devolution of power which, unlike the MDC-T’s position to serve “all” citizens, does not apply to citizens as a cohesive collective, but rather as separate groups. Furthermore, devolution of power as a political theme has internationally proven to be disorderly, divisive and in some instances deadly; the 27 year-long civil war in Sri Lanka is an example. Ultimately, there is a fundamental ideological rift between the two parties.

 
•    Now, bearing in mind that MDC-N is a party that principally draws legitimacy from the Bulawayo and Matabeleland provinces (provinces that largely feel as though they have been historically sidelined by the state in terms of infrastructure development and industrialization), if Professor Welshman Ncube forms a coalition with the MDC-T, his support base will perceive this as desertion and consequently the MDC-N will lose their supporters in the Bulawayo and Matabeleland regions.

 
•    Finally, the MDC-T seems to be desirous of this coalition on the maudlin basis that a united front with the MDC-N will dislodge ZANU-PF from power. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that this coalition will see to the end of ZANU-PF. In fact most research studies suggest that ZANU-PF will convincingly win the harmonized election, with or without the MDC coalition. It is therefore clear that for the MDC-N to sacrifice its political relevance in favor of a political union with a party that is ideologically distant, and on a basis that is not empirically justified, it would result in nothing short of political suicide.

Tau Tawengwa

Executive Director