By Sij Ncube
HARARE, June 6, 2015 – Most Zimbabweans are familiar with this wedding vow: “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, until death do us part.”
The Zanu (PF) politburo probably had this in in mind on Friday when it suspended the Shamu and Langa couples as the purge of suspected allies of former vice president Joice Mujuru.
All in all, the politburo suspended 39 more senior officials from the provinces of Mashonaland West, Bulawayo and Matabeleland South.
But it is the suspension of the previous power Shamu and Langa couples which has sent tongues wagging.
The former Zanu (PF) national commissar and former ICT minister Webster Shamu and his wife, Constance, from Mashonaland West, were suspended for three and five years respectively while from Matabeleland South Andrew Langa, the minister of Sports and Culture, and his wife Clara were frozen out of Zanu PF for two years.
The Langa family appears the hardest hit in the history of the revolutionary party as Langa and his wife went out with their son Moses and Jeremiah, Langa’s brother. They were both also slapped with two year suspensions.They were joined out of the door by family friend and former Radio Zimbabwe announcer Malaki Nkomo.
The joke goes in Matabeleland South that Langa packed the Zanu (PF) lower structures with his relatives, including house-keepers who said are to be holding posts at district and cell levels.
While it is not clear if Langa, the former provincial chairperson for Matabeleland South, would loss his ministerial post, those closely following Zanu PF politics in the province claimed the family was devastated as they appeared dedicated and loyal to President Robert Mugabe and the party.
Those that know him further point out Langa was the first to break the MDC monopoly in Matabeleland South after Zanu (PF) was kicked out in 2000 by the opposition following his by-election triumph in 2006.
But just a single sitting of the politburo, Langa, who loomed large in Matabeleland South until the ouster of Mujuru, has been reduced to an ordinary card-carrying member together with members of his clan.
As for Shamu, the former radio personality during the colonial era, critics claim there are few tears for him due to his alleged boot-licking of Mugabe and other Zanu (PF) leaders. In fact they say his boot-licking is legendary.
He infamously referred to Mugabe as Cremora, that creamy powdered milk product from South Africa and at one-time raised eye-brows when he said he wished to be Mugabe’s first born son Robert Mugabe Junior.
In Hurungwe West, he took his boot-licking a notch higher when he kneeled in the dirty to greet vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a feat, which appears to have done little to stay his suspension from Zanu (PF).
According to political activist, Colins Descent Bajila, the latest purge of relatives should be a lesson enough to families want to use organisations to create political dynasties.
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” said Bajila.
Dumisani Nkomo, another political analyst added his voice on the issue: “It’s dangerous for people to force relatives to belong to one institution. Family members should make individual choices. Politics is about choices not genetics. It is not a chieftaincy.”
Nkomo said as for Shamu, while Cremora (Mugabe) is at the top and he is at the bottom.
“It shows praise-singing and bootlicking does not work sometimes,” he said.
Maxwell Saungweme, a development political analyst, said having a whole family in political party just as in any other organisation is suicidal and preposterous. He was quick to point out that the phenomenon of treating political parties as a burial society was not only limited to Zanu PF but was inherent in the opposition.
“It does not only go against ethical tenets of organisations but will be disastrous. It will be ruddy for the family when things are working out and catastrophic when things fall apart. What is happening to the Shamus and Langas is clear testament to the fact that it’s not cool to create a family dynasty in a political party,” he said.
“We have seen families facing similar fate in other parties. Remember the (Paul and Solomon) Madzore’s who fell out of favour with (Morgan Tsvangirai. The Makones (Ian and Teresa), who are either hated or loved as a family by MDC-T supports depending on which side they belong. General Mujuru fell out of favour with Mugabe and this affected his wife as well. Having whole families in organisations is not only unethical but causes great grief to families when things fall apart.”