TO use a cliché, all roads literally lead to Chinhoyi, the venue for the Zanu PF 14th so-called People’s Conference which began in earnest yesterday after the politburo, the party’s supreme decision-making body outside congress, agreed on the agenda of the indaba.
As has been the annual ritual, roads leading to Chinhoyi, the provincial capital of Mashonaland West, have been resurfaced and buildings spruced up in preparation for the hosting of the gathering expected to chart the way for the country in the next 12 months or even beyond.
With the conference premised on the theme “Zim Asset: Growing the Economy for Empowerment and Employment”, citizens are keeping their fingers crossed the indaba would at least inspire confidence in the economy which analysts and commentators are adamant is on a tailspin despite President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF’s overwhelming but controversial July 31 win.
Party mandarins, still in a celebratory mood after the unexpected win against former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC formation, go into the conference adamant the economic blueprint — the brainchild of Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo — is the panacea for Zimbabwe’s socioeconomic quagmire.
Zanu PF provincial chairman for Bulawayo, Callistus Ndlovu, told this newspaper that in line with the theme of the indaba, the revival of the second capital’s industry would top items for discussion.
But critics of Mugabe and his party are equally adamant it would be yet another high-sounding talk-shop in which zealots and bootlickers are likely to use the occasion to praise-sing and hero-worship the veteran politician and other high-ranking party leaders jostling to succeed him.
As at other past Zanu PF conferences or major gatherings, it would not be surprising to hear populists and flattery speeches broadcast live on the cash-strapped State broadcaster, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
This newspaper hopes Mugabe will use the occasion to whip into line factions in his party if he entertains any hopes of leading a united Zanu PF in resuscitating the comatose economy.
Trevor Maisiri, a senior activist with the International Crisis Group rightly observed ahead of the conference: “The party is best advised to seek ways in which it can stimulate capital inflows to kick start this ambitious plan. Without addressing the capital supply side, the document will remain limited in its impact on economic recovery.”
We can’t agree more. Mugabe cannot afford to have a talk-shop at a time he and Zanu PF are faced with real challenges on the economic front – recovery from meltdown, period.