Matemadanda’s Recall Sets The Pot Boiling
2 April 2021
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Victor Matemadanda

By Dr Masimba Mavaza | Zimbabwe is settling to the news that the outspoken and hardworking National Political Commissar Comrade Victor Matemadanda was relieved of his position and has been re assigned a diplomatic position in Mozambique. The dominance of ZANU PF in the political landscape can not be over emphasized. In Zimbabwean politics ZANU PF is the thing. Whatever happens in ZANU PF becomes news for an exceptionally long time and is mostly accompanied by theories and counter theories. So, when anything happens in ZANU PF it is always accompanied by explanations and counter explanations.

The Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) is a political organisation which has been the ruling party of Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. The party was led for many years by comrade  Robert Gabriel Mugabe, first as Prime Minister with the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and then as President from 1987 after the merger with the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and retaining the name ZANU–PF, until 2017, when he resigned as leader.On 19 November 2017, ZANU–PF sacked Robert Mugabe as party leader, who resigned two days later, and appointed former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his place. We should remember that ZANU PF is a merger of two main parties which means they completely became one party thus wondering awY FROM MY TOPIC THE CELEBRATED RECALLS being muted by the little known ZAPU will not work as it is not legitimate, ZANU PF is a party unlike MDC A is a group of many parties which means it is not one solid party and the members can still be recalled by their mother parties. In ZANU PF the mother party is ZANU PF and thus there is no other party outside the party which can be a party on its own.  

In December 1987, after five years of the low-level civil war known as Gukurahundi, the opposition ZAPU, led by Nkomo, was absorbed through the Unity Accord with ZANU to form an official ZANU–PF. 

Being that as it may ZANU PF maintained the administration of its party in a way which has seen it grow from strength to strength. The heartbeat of the party is the Political Commisariat department which is led by the secretary of commissariat known as the National Political Commisair. This position becomes an immensely powerful position in the party and in the country. It shapes the party, and it is responsible for the party’s survival. This explains why the recalling of comrade Matemadanda became a story of the year after COVID 19.

It must be known that today the political commissar is largely responsible for administrative tasks such as public relations and counselling, and mainly serves as second-in-command after the party’s presidium.  The position of political commissar has seen much blood and sweat and thus becomes one of the most dangerous positions to have in any political party. Because of its importance there is always blood and blood in the comfort area of this position. Those appointed to this position mostly are carried from the office by six men straight to the hero’s acre. Very few have walked unaided from this office. Those who did are in political quagmire. Some are exiled to pollical oblivion and some are exiled out of the country with many in the land of the dead their deaths most violent. This is because the position decides on the political future of many people and thus once you are given the position you become an enemy of everyone from your party to the opposition.

The political commissar of a party should work as efficiently as possible in that position. The position to which he has been assigned has an important task to guard the skies and perimeters of the party and indeed the nation. It is beyond party politics it sets the political discourse of the whole country hence the need to appoint mature and free thinking cadres in this position. Defending the ideology of the party and defending the party itself is the commissariat’s first and foremost task. To defend the party in a reliable way, you must not allow any counter revolutionary idea to fly over or to drop a single bomb of disunity on the party and its people. If the Commissariat is to carry out its duty efficiently, all the members of the party and its leadership should first of all be prepared as revolutionary fighters unfailingly loyal to the Party and the leader. Education in the Party،¯s monolithic ideology and revolutionary traditions should be intensified among the members so that they all think and act in line with the will and ideology of the party and the leadership. They need to learn the ennobling revolutionary spirit of the guerrillas, to fight by laying down their youth and lives without hesitation for the country the Party and the leadership. Teaching them the spirit of the freedom fighters, who fought bravely in the period of the motherland Liberation War, should also be strengthened to ensure that in any kind of adversity our soldiers defend the capital of the revolution to the last man.  A commissar must observe discipline better than those of other officers. They should be models in keeping their personal appearances neat and clean and observing the proprieties. Many people view the party through the NPC and if officers do not abide by discipline, they will bring shame on our country and our People’s party. The commissariat must educate the members and regulate their behaviours to eliminate any violations of discipline. For the party to carry out its tasks as required, the political commissar should also work with efficiency. The political commissar is a representative of the Party, delegated to the unit concerned.  the political commissar takes responsibility for the unit in political affairs before the Party. He should bear in mind the importance of his position and duty as the political commissar and discharge his duty in a responsible manner. The political commissar should persistently keep up the work of establishing the Party،¯s monolithic ideological system in the unit. This is the first and foremost task of the political commissar. He should lay great stress on this work and not make any concession in this undertaking. he should conduct an uncompromising struggle among the members against any practice detrimental to the Party’s monolithic ideological system. He should also pay great attention to enhancing the collective leadership of the Party committee. 

The political commissar is the supervisory political officer responsible for the political education (ideology) and organization, and committed to the civilian control of the military. Historically, the commissaire politique (political commissary) first appeared in the French Revolution (1789–99), guarding it against anti-Revolutionary thought and action, and so ensuring the Republican victory.

Officially, ZANU–PF has a socialist ideology. The party maintains a Politburo and a Central Committee. However, the party’s ideology may be changing as Mnangagwa said that “all foreign investments will be safe in Zimbabwe” and calls for “increased production and capacity and new investment in the country.”

We need to understand then that because of the importance of the commissariat their job becomes both dangerous and seriously important. Any person in the party who wishes to have unlimited power targets the commissariat. Being in that position becomes the most dangerous position in any political party which has the office of the Commissariat. It then explains why the commissar becomes an enemy and a friend of many. Many people who graced that office are licking their wounds and some are still haunted even when they have left the position long back. One important point to note is that no one in history rose from the commissariat to become a leader in the party. Many commissars have died or imprisoned they were never allowed to get to the presidium this is because they have so many enemies to contain before they even consider the office around the presidium. Many people who have their own ambitions always start by attacking the Political Commissariat spread rumours and some would even tell the president wrong information to aim at the groins of the commissar.

It is therefore not surprising that since independence 1980, every ZANU PF political commissar has suffered either an assassination, or a humiliating ouster. The list includes, Mayor Urimbo, Maurice Mhofu Nyagumbo, Movern Mahachi, Border Gezi, Elliot Manyika, Webster Shamu, Saviour Kasukuwere, The retired General Engelbert Rugeje and today comrade Victor Matemadanda. ZANU PF has seen several Political Commissars and then there were no lady except the deputy Cde Omega Hungwe. As of the appointment on Monday of Cde Victor Matemadanda to replace cde Major General Rugeje ZANU PF commissariat is once again male-only and the most volatile position in the party. Of the team who graced the most volatile position in the History of the party not a single member is left at the table. It must however be noted that the NPCs National Political Commissar serve at the pleasure of the president. This means that something is done or can be done because His Excellency wants it to be done. The political commissar serves at the pleasure of the president and will continue to serve if the president wants him to. His removal does not reflect his failure but simply shows that the pleasure has ended. The pleasure of the president has departed. Over the years, political commissars in the ruling party have been one of the most endangered species due to their influence on the masses.

Some of the ZANU PF political commissar have, suffered either an assassination, or a humiliating ouster includes Mayor Urimbo, Maurice Nyagumbo, Movern Mahachi, Border Gezi, Elliot Manyika, Webster Shamu, Engelbert Rugeje and latest; Victor Matemadanda. Those who died, met the end of their lives mysteriously, amid reports that they would have been assassinated. A political commissar or political officer is a supervisory officer responsible for the political education (ideology) and mobilising support for the party. This must not surely attract such acrimony and animosity.

Apparently, President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week did not fire the outspoken Zanu PF political commissar Victor Matemadanda. Infact those who have been aiming their dirty on Matemadanda have congested the social media with lies and scorn. Matemadanda was not fired, but he has been reassigned for a higher responsibility out of the country,” All things put together General Rugeje was the most short-lived PC in the position. But he pulled through one of the toughest elections in the history of Zanu pf. An election which came when the party was seriously divided. ZANU PF was divided into G40. Into People’s first into all sorts of divisions. Rugeje worked through the curves and indeed deserves a pat. Unfortunately for Rugeje he was surrounded by gossiping comrades and indeed it was just a matter of time before he was retired. He gave his all but the lies and gossip around him was so electric and like a great tsunami it swept him aside. 

We only had hoped that Cde Victor was quick to see those around him as they are and chose his friends wisely. Unfortunately, Matemadanda faced a lot of enemies, some of them are so close to the president and they have drowned the president with gossip and lies. This has swept Matemadanda and indeed his recalling was more for his protection than for his punishment. The president has simply played his cards well and it is his wisdom we have to rely on. The fact that Matemadanda has been recalled while his soul and flesh are together is a good thing for him Whoever will come after Matemadanda must not celebrate but hold his breath and apply more prayers than gossip. Those who are celebrating thinking that Matemadanda has been laid down they must think again.

If he is to be overtaken by pride, he will be the victim of the office.
Matemadanda’s recalling is a timely reminder to party supporters across the land that political survival rhymes with party unity. We must remember that it is the pleasure of the president not the wish of the gossipers. Even though sometimes the pleasure of the president coincides with the wish of the gossipers it is just a temporary victory but soon the gossipers will be swimming in their own metal spiky bed. Some serving officers at the President’s  pleasures, if more explicitly known, would make some of us cringe and no president cares to consider his pleasures any more than absolutely necessary.

And yet, serving at the pleasure of the president remains a consideration that any observer of politics must consider. these political Commissars serve at the pleasure of the President and traditionally are given a term. The pleasure of the President does not have to wait for any time it is as he pleases and it has pleased the President to retire one and appoint the other.

Despite this acclimation of unfettered power, there must be some reason for a decision. Of course, “at the pleasure” does not require a reason to be justified. If the basis for a change in the is simply on a Presidential whim, then that is as scary, if not more so, than partisan politics.

But before jumping to the conclusion that gossip has played the key role in the relatively swift demise of the previous PC , it is worth considering that they all came to the fore in an age of ever-increasing electoral volatility.

In less than a decade, commissariat has been governed by five different commissars.
Matemadanda was facing mounting hostility from his own party over poor public support, leading to a struggle for power that threatened the survival of the party in the midlands. What is it about Political Commissar that has led to so much instability in that position? So, is there a chance it could happen again? It is not unlikely. Under the current system, this job security is linked to the size of the pleasure of his excellence. Since the elections in 2018 the position of the PC in recent months had been precarious.

The party is currently deeply divided between a hard-right faction, led by the unsuccessful leadership-challengers and a more moderate wing all in the corridors of power. The most dangerous issue is that all these people claim to be very close to the president. The president is being owned by a few who do not command public support but have immense weight about how close they are to the president. Matemadanda’s leadership was more right than left, however he became increasingly unpopular amongst hardliners in the face of a looming national election in 2023 and good opinion polling for the party.The internal fight came to a head when Matemadanda was pleasured out. Would the ouster heal the divided party.

Matemadanda was expected to pilot the wishes of the war vets and to speed their inclusion in all party structures. He tried his best but he had to fight many fronts and indeed it came to this.

The position of the NPC is not for the faint hearted. Cde Mayor Urimbo who was born Mamutse was the political Commisar in 1977 he was retired at independence. He was so charismatic that he was nicknamed Mutupo we ZANU. Cde Mayor Urimbo mixed so well with all ranks he was not a proud person. Because of his Humility he recruited thousands to the party and struggle. He was a great example of a National Political Commissar. Maurice Tapfumanei Mhofu Nyagumbo had a short stint in the shoes of the Pc. He died of poisoning in 1989. Cde Moven Mahachi became the PC and his end is well documented. Manyika was the NPC for thirty days. He had taken over from Border Gezi who died on duty. Manyika was pleasured in the frontline he was to die in another accident.

The position was taken by Cde Webster Shamu whose term ended unceremoniously and Saviour Kasukuwere took over. Despite consulting several witch doctors Kasukuwere left in a hurry. Then Matemadanda was appointed and he served for six days before General Rugeje took over. Rugeje was to oversee the elections and he won it for ZANU PF. He was to be replaced by Matemadanda.

Matemadanda made history by being appointed to the same position twice. Was it a comeback or going back? This is the most volatile unpredictable position in the party?

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