By A Correspondent| ZANU PF has just held its primary elections, with the unforeseen results of seasoned politicians falling by the way side in the party’s popular vote.
However that outcome might come to be interpreted, what is certain is that the heart of Zanu PF, its grassroots, remains energized and is speaking out.
Zanu PF’s defining party primary elections have shadowed an ongoing and potentially far reaching legal case by a Zanu PF council chairperson for Chegutu district, Tatenda Gwinji, brought against platinum mining giant Zimplats. The case had its first arguments presented before the commercial courts in Harare on 28 March 2023.
That case which is a challenge against Zimplats failure to honour a commitment to dispose 10% to the local platinum endowed communities could have a significant political and economic impact. After all it is a Zanu PF policy of empowering the majority on the back of Zimbabwe’s resources that is before the courts, which policy has surely remained in the hearts and minds of Zanu PF supporters who cast their vote during the primary elections.
As Zanu PF supporters assert themselves further, having just shown their political appetite, how will their party’s long standing commitment to economic empower on the back of Zimbabwe’s vast resources influence their expression? More recently, there has been a feeling that mineral resources have been captured by a few private and public sector elites.
One cannot shake off the feeling within Zanu PF’s grassroots base that its elected and appointed representatives to government have betrayed party’s elected manifestos once appointed and entrusted to state function.
Hence the lingering political threat to individual political careers from Zanu PF’s ability to self-correct, from the grassroots. The results of Zanu PF’s recent primary elections may be testament to simmering disillusionment with “seasoned” politicians who have failed the people aspirations.
The minister for industry and commerce, Dr. Sekai Nzenza, was one victim of the just ended primary elections, having lost Chikomba East constituency. Dr. Nzenza’s ministry has during the past five years been charged with administering Zanu PF’s policy on indigenization and economic empowerment, which has been abandoned and left to gather bust within that ministry.
She is the minister who in her official capacity presided over Zimplats’ stand-off between local communities deprived their economic aspirations and Zimplats.
The ministry responsible for promoting the empowerment of the people of Chegutu and Mashonaland West has not expressed support for communities fighting for their share in platinum wealth, not even when the same ministry is dragged to court as a complicit defendant.
Tatenda Gwinji vs Zimplats and Others (HCHC 457/22 may prove to be the test case that re-determines Zimbabwe’s political economy, and economic relations between the ruling Zanu PF and its tens of thousands of supporters that came out to vote in the just ended primary elections. It is clear that relations with the electorate will be influenced by aspirations and expectations in mineral rich communities like Chegutu, Mhondoro Ngezi or Zvimba.
As Zimbabwe’s mineral resource wealth continues to draw national and international headlines, the country’s vast mineral resource deposit and the equitable share in its wealth, including by local communities, will remain a concern.
Zimbabwe is far too resource rich a nation to have its broad majority, including local communities, excluded from the extracted wealth and be denied economic dignity. Zanu PF recently held primarily elections have revealed a people eager to participate and entrust their natural resource guaranteed economic aspirations to their party.
Little is being reported in the mainstream media about the ongoing claim by local communities in Mashonaland West against Zimplats, for a share in platinum mineral resource wealth. It is the aspirations of these remote undercurrents, within villages, wards and constituencies, which will determine electoral outcomes.
It is not the end of the matter for Zimbabwe’s aspiration for the equitable distribution of its vast mineral resources wealth, not for the electorate. That narrative is still being written, now within commercial courts and politically by an energized electorate to determine whom shall be entrusted with their aspirations.