HARARE – South Africa (SA)’s Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande has slammed President Robert Mugabe’s long-ruling Zanu PF, labelling it a “rural party”.
The general secretary of South African Communist Party (SACP) – an ally of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) – told a Cosatu meeting in Pretoria on Monday that Zanu PF had lost the largely black urban base after embarking on a controversial land repossession programme that brought the once prosperous southern African economy to its knees.
He said 93-year-old Mugabe seized white-owned commercial farms to resettle landless blacks, who had little or no experience in agriculture.
“Because iZanu PF essentially has lost the urban working class, has lost the middle classes, has lost the professionals, has lost many urban-based organisations, it’s become a rural party because of the mistakes they are making. Now ama comrades are denying that there is a problem,” he said.
The rural vote is the mainstay of support for Mugabe and Zanu PF, which liberated Zimbabwe from white minority rule in 1980 after fighting a guerrilla war.
Nzimande said urbanites — dominated by academics and professionals — have largely become “enemies” of Zanu PF.
“When we went to Zimbabwe around 2000, i(the) SACP sent a delegation on a fact-finding mission when we were engaged with our Zanu PF comrades.
“Everybody was the enemy. I ZCTU (the largest labour federation Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions) was the enemy, ama professionals, ama academics, everybody.
“And then we said, how come comrades all these forces you say are enemies today were part of the victorious forces led by Zanu PF on the victory of your struggle in 1980? What has changed?” Nzimande said.
Mugabe says the land seizures were part of an ambitious black empowerment drive and sought to correct colonial injustices that left 70 percent of the best farmland in the hands of whites.
The long-time ruler — raring to stand in Zimbabwe’s 2018 election when he turns 94 — blames Zimbabwe’s economic woes on Western-imposed sanctions.
Nzimande warned that “i (the) danger (is) once ama liberation movements begin to lose power or sense that they are beginning to lose power, they start doing a lot of funny things. Yes”.
“The first thing, they start coming up with radical concepts esingazazi ukuthi zivela ngaphi (which we have no idea where they are coming from),” he said.
His remarks come amid a push in SA to amend its laws to allow expropriation of land without compensation for owners, as it tries to speed up the redistribution of land to its black majority.
“UMugabe lost i referendum and started radical land reform. Wathathi umhlaba (He seized land) anyhow. And the next thing, if they don’t succeed, they unleash the security forces on the population. And we must not think that we are immune to that,” Nzimande said.