Zanu PF’s quest for a Diaspora province
By Kennedy Mapesa Mandaza
(ZANU PF SA Secretary for Information and Publicity)
THE mere existence of recognized Zanu PF structures in South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America is testament that the party embraces the rights and virtues of the their membership in the diaspora.
These external structures are slowly participating in the national political discourse in the party.
However such participation is at times hindered by the absence of a constitutional clause recognizing the Diaspora structures.
Zanu PF now realises that people who have left the country have not disappeared.
They are alive and socially active, hence they can become an invaluable asset to their country of origin.
That is why the Party realizes that people who have left the country retain their emotional, cultural and spiritual links with the country of their origin.
These links are critical to the influence that the diasporans have on their relatives in Zimbabwe.
The stance by the Party during the 15th People’s Conference held in Victoria Falls to build more external structures is noble and progressive.
Building more of the structures without undertaking to align them through a constitutional provision is, using Cde Nick Mangwana’s analogue, its like “father refusing or delaying to legitimise his children via a birth certificate.”
The Central Committee meeting which precedes the 16th People’s Conference which was held in Masvingo recently should resolve that the Party should recognize the Diaspora Province as the eleventh province of the Party as well as direct the Legal Department of the Party to make the necessary constitutional amendments.
The opportunity is now for the Party to constitutionally make it right for the participation of the Diaspora Province.
The Party has undertaken the first step to right this anomaly, by allowing for the official setting up of the external structures.
The benefits of legally institutionalizing these structures are many. As has been the norm for many years now, South Africa which is home to many Zimbabweans and had the first recognised Zanu PF external structure, the diasporans have been not only a channel of money but also much tacit knowledge and source of opportunities for trade and investment.
Zanu PF as the ruling Party should take advantage of the important role the diasporans take in mobilization in the diaspora constituency as well as in the country of origin.
The influence that comes through the financial support they give to their relatives in the country has a bearing on the sway of the support of the Party. It is in this regard that Zanu PF should recognize that an engaged diaspora is a strategically vital asset economically and politically.
As has become with the diaspora structures in South Africa and United Kingdom, the structures are involved in lobbying the host countries in shaping its policies in favour of the country of origin.
In South Africa, Zanu PF SA was part of the Zimbabwe Documentation Dispensation Stakeholders Forum, influencing and lobbying for the regularization of the diasporans documents.
Recently ZANU PF SA has taken a lead role in facilitating the formation of a forum which is facilitating the flow of investment into Zimbabwe. Such are the benefits of engaging the diasporans.
There is a massive electronic and social media presence of comrades defending the Party and country at their own cost. These cyber warriors, as Cde Mangwana would call them, are fighting a worthy cause which incidentally they get hate campaigns against them and their families.
Needless to say this is done out of patriotism, but the weight of this service is felt if the diaspora is given a status due to them, that is Diaspora Province.
The time to tap into the diaspora constituency is now. The people in the diaspora are joining the party to maintain their identity and affection.
They are driven by the love and passion of their party and country. Despite the uneven terrain and hostile reception in most quarters of South Africa, for example, comrades have not relented to tell the true story of their party and country. They are ready to fly the flag of the in the midst of persecution.
Therefore the Party should therefore build on these feelings and institutionalize the Diaspora Province.
Zanu-PF as the ruling Party should reach out systematically and constitutionally to engage the political interests of the diaspora interests.
The Central Committee should resolve to recognize the Diaspora Province as the 11th Zanu PF province and also suggest special forms of representation in the party and government.
This will not be a first to happen to our Party because elsewhere in Croatia in 1990 this approach had great political payoffs.
In order for the Party to keep and ride on the already existing diaspora political interest as well as sustain the much needed foreign direct investment flows, the its leadership should invoke solidarity among their expatriate nationals in SA, UK and elsewhere in the world.
Recognising the role that expatriates play for its benefit and nation-building is a critical and proactive stance.
The diasporans need this recognition as evidenced by what happened in 1990 in Ireland when the President called upon to work with the diaspora population.
Closer home in 2002, the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki appealed to all Kenyans abroad “to participate in nation-building, resulting in Kenyans strengthening their bond and participation in the building of the country.
Zanu PF can take the lead and such a proactive approach will suffocate the life out of the opposition parties in such a way that there will be more members of the party in the Diaspora by a wide gap compared to those who oppose it
Whilst recognizing the uniqueness of each diaspora constituency, Z anu PF SA has the greatest potential of mobilizing members who ordinarily have the potential to participate in any election because of proximity.
Because of the numbers that are allegedly residing in South Africa, the country is equally infiltrated by fledging political parties and formations which are seeking relevance, making Mzansi a political hotbed.
While Zanu PF UK talks of ZIM PF and MDC, Zanu PF SA battles with ZAPU, MLF, ZIM PF, all the MDCs, Tajamuka, PDP, IDLE Zimbabwe and many other opposition aligned civic organizations.
It is thus critical to empower the membership so that their voices as they defend the Party and country has weight and support.
Though the Party has won the hearts of many members in most parts of the country in SA, the question that needs s an immediate response is, are the views and contributions of these structures however big constitutionally recognized by the Party?
It is now time for the Party to recognize that giving lip service and attention to the diaspora constituency is a clear anomaly and travesty at its worst.
Zanu PF as a Party can do more to remove the obstacles inhibiting the growth of the diaspora constituency.
The Party can create opportunities for the diaspora to engage in political and economic development.
They can do this by taking specific and legal actions to understand where and who the diaspora populations are. This has been addressed partially by the issuance of party cards which indicate that the province is the Diaspora. But when one looks at the Constitution there is no place where it is written that the party has a province called Diaspora.
It is therefore imperative that this anomaly be corrected without any further delay in order to consolidate the diasporans’ sense of belonging in the Party.
Zanu PF s a mass party that has made its name in Zimbabwe, Africa and in the whole world. They are many liberation movements and progressive parties that have taken a leaf from Zanu PF to enhance their Party’s image.
Many of the Zanu PF’s diaspora members do it out of pride and are not apologetic of their support and allegiance to the Party and its leadership.
It is for this reason why it is important for the Pa ZANU PF to take advantage of the diasporans’ political interest and participation by constitutionally recognizing the Diaspora as the eleventh province of the Party. The advantages of doing so are innumerable and have a long lasting impact on the political narrative of the country.
Kennedy Mandaza is Zanu-PF’s SA province spokesperson and the opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s personal opinions and DONOT in anyway reflect the website’s editorial policy, whose stance is to give ALL Zimbabweans in SA and beyond a VOICE, regardless of political affiliation, race, gender, tribe or religious or sexual orientation.