With another imminent split within the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM) less than a year after differences first surfaced within the party, regarded at the time as the only plausible challenge to the ruling ZANU-PF, it is now clearly evident that the party is no longer -or perhaps never was- what the people believed it to be.
A closer scrutiny, in fact, shows that the party only survived this long because some of its members, like those who were fired last year, believed they could work from within to change the party into a viable, democratic opposition.
As The Insider reported in July last year, a majority of the provincial members of the party who met in Gweru at Patrick Kombayi’s Chitukuko Hotel wanted to oust Edgar Tekere from the leadership then “because he was running it like a family affair”.
In an effort to save the party from disintegration, at a time when it appeared it was still gaining support, it was agreed that Tekere be given a chance to accept a new constitution that stripped the leader of most of his powers, including those of sacking and suspending members.
Tekere refused to accept the changes, labelled those involved as opportunists and suspended most of the top members. Despite their involvement in the Gweru meeting, Patrick Kombayi, who was then the national organizing secretary, and Masipula Sithole were spared. Those who were suspended stuck on to their own splinter group of ZUM until they decided to go it alone under the Democratic Party.
At the launching of the DP, the new leader Emmanuel Magoche said if democracy in ZANU-PF was in the intensive care as Tekere once said, then democracy in ZUM was in the mortuary, shrouded and ready for burial.
At the time this sounded like mere politicking but Sithole, who went on to win a council seat under ZUM, now seems to share the same sentiments. This was after he was suspended for the umpteenth time.
Tekere, who does not seem to see eye-to-eye with Masipula’s brother, Ndabaningi Sithole, has repeatedly accused Masipula of trying to build a platform for this brother, who, at that time, was in self-imposed exile. Now that Ndabaningi is back, it will be interesting to see if the brothers will team up and, if they do, how much political support they can wrestle from ZUM and even perhaps ZANU-PF.
Ndabaningi’s ZANU(Ndonga) already has one seat in Parliament in Chipinge. Could it get the other seat in the same constituency?
It will also be interesting to see how Ndabaningi takes up the game now because it appears the euphoria he was received with and the press coverage he was accorded even by the dailies seems to be waning.