WHEN President Emmerson Mnangagwa sauntered into the ZANU PF Midlands Convention Centre, the venue of the Party’s 20th Annual National People’s Conference in Gweru on Friday last week, there was neither a spring in his step nor sign of it.
Instead and unsurprisingly, there was an unnerving feeling that he would waver and be hauled back to the ugly liberation struggle-infested memories born in Gweru that somehow refuse to let go of him and halt what seemed like a long march towards the big chair he now occupies.
But this was by no means anything akin to the long march he endured in the aftermath of the pre-independence gathering in Gweru.
It was, instead, a long march to the country’s economic development, a path he has neatly carved since he took office in 2017.
There is always an uncanny feeling about returning to places that resurrect memories of a past that always hovers above your head like a hangman’s noose.
Incredibly, with each step he took towards the top table was a triumphant, trademark waving of his cap, and a poised grin to the appreciative ZANU PF faithfuls who have seen unprecedented economic prosperity in just five years.
There was nobility in his step, a seemingly detached feeling that it was in Gweru where the toddler steps of the ugly scars of near death, torture and abuse that have marred his life, were nurtured.
Perhaps for him, this capped the perfect homecoming, having been barely on his feet for the vanquished G40 sponsored 7th Youth Interface Rally at Mkoba Teacher’s College in Gweru on September 1 2017 after he was poisoned during the 6th of those rallies on August 12 2017 in Gwanda.
“Anga aenda murume uyu,” said late former President Robert Mugabe at the Mkoba Rally.
That too must have invoked ugly feelings in his mind in Gweru on Friday.
But his infectious smile must have doused any feeling of that kind.
With the way President Mnangagwa is going on about business, you get another unnerving feeling that he believes Zimbabwe is yet to arrive, that he knows what is at stake and that he is equal to the task.
And so it was in Gweru on Friday last week.
This time around, there would be no planning for a bloody armed struggle as it was at Mtapa Hall on May 24 1964 at the ZANU inaugural Congress.
There be would be, instead, a gathering of likeminded people plotting to navigate the current economic storm that has been wrought by the same enemy he is now too familiar with – the whites.
They are waging another war, an economic war supported by some in our midst; an economic war designed to subdue the will of the masses.
“The holding of this Conference, following defining elections in the history of our country, is fortunate,” said President Mnangagwa.
“It was here in Gweru, at the iconic Mtapa Hall, in May 1964, where resolutions were passed to wage our protracted armed liberation struggle.
“That critical decision set the tone for scaled up militancy, resistance and the direct military confrontation of the brutal and racist colonial regime of Ian Douglas Smith.
“At Wha Wha and Sikombela, among other places here in the Midlands Province, many of our founding fathers and luminaries were incarcerated, detained and restricted by the Rhodesia settler-regime.
“Party cadres and the membership in general should never forget this rich liberation war heritage.
“We must continuously learn from our past.”
Indeed we must learn from our past.
The ZANU 1964 Congress would mark the beginning of what would be an agonising 16-year brutal struggle against the relentless enemy for him and thousands of children of Zimbabweans who are still contending with the scars of that painful war.
That enemy has yet to give up on Zimbabwe and is now hiding behind black faces who form the opposition today.
In Gweru, President Mnangagwa had no kind words for them.
“The Conference provides us with another opportunity to gather as members of one united family and leadership of our colossal Party, from the various structures,” he said.
“We meet today in a joyous atmosphere following the convincing victory by the people of Zimbabwe and, indeed, our revolutionary Party, over the machinations of our country’s perennial detractors and their local Trojan horses who masquerade as opposition political parties.
“Together in unity, we defeated them all and successfully defended our sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
There would be, as usual, that all-encompassing, stirring spirit of the liberation struggle at the Midlands Convention Centre; the driving spirit that catapulted all and sundry to take up arms against the enemy.
This is the same spirit that has, without doubt, been spurring his economic development thrust.
“The course of our Party as we march forward towards ‘Vision 2030 through Devolution, Industrialisation and Modernisation’ must continue to be inspired by that same spirit of fortitude and resilience as we deepen our revolutionary development,” said President Mnangagwa.
“A lot of work lies ahead.
“We must all fold up our sleeves and work hard.”
While his (President Mnangagwa) has been a long, anguish-ridden walk to the economic development of the masses, there is little doubt that he will navigate with ease through the many barricades that have been planted by the West as they did during the liberation struggle.
However, just like during the liberation struggle, the people’s will will prevail.