Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front

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Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (ZANU PF), the external wing of ZANU following the 1976 split under Robert Mugabe, is the liberation war movement/party that ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. The party's main agenda was to liberate the country from the Rhodesian regime led by Ian Smith and to bring democracy. The party's president from 2017 to current (2022) is Emmerson Mnangagwa.

See Zanu-PF Building.
See Zanu-PF Central Committee.
See Zanu-PF Dirty Dozen.
See Zimbabwe By-elections (March 2022).


ZANU was formed on 8 August 1963 as a splinter party from the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) which was led by Joshua Nkomo. It was formed in Enos Nkala's house in Highfield. People like Henry Hamadziripi, Herbert Chitepo, Ndabaningi Sithole (who subsequently became the party's first leader), Edgar Tekere and Leopold Takawira were the first members of this new party which branded itself as a new political party that favoured confrontational politics as compared to ZAPU's politics of compromise.[1]

In October 1976, ZANU and it's external wing, split. Ndabaningi Sithole persisted in calling his party Zanu, while the external wing, under Robert Mugabe, became the Zanu PF that fought and won the 1980 elections. [2]

The split of ZAPU which led to the formation of ZANU, resulted in the fossilisation of nationalism which took a bimodal form of ZAPU and ZANU PF mediated by the spectre of Shona and Ndebele ethnicities. [1] By and large, the formation of ZANU PF is said to have reinforced ethnic consciousness amongst the Shona and the Ndebele.

Party's Ideology

Officially, ZANU–PF has a socially democratic ideology. The party maintains a Politburo and a Central Committee. However, the party's ideology may be changing as Emmerson Mnangagwa said (in 2018) that all foreign investments will be safe in Zimbabwe and called for increased production and capacity and new investment in the country. It was alleged that The Zimbabwe is open for business Mantra seems to be a retreat on the party's founding ideology.

Socialism as an ideology is against the private ownership of property as argued for by capitalist ideology. Instead socialism is for a society in which the means of production are owned by the whole society. Zanu PF embraced this doctrine during the height of the liberation struggle which also explains the military assistance extended to the country by countries such as Russia, China and Yugoslavia. Ideologically, socialism has been the trump card of Zanu PF since the days of the liberation struggle. There have been fluctuations nonetheless on the party's ideology and it seemed to have embraced some capitalist attributes. This was exemplified with the adoption of IMF AND World Bank prescribed Structural Adjustment Plan. In line with socialist ideas and some concepts borrowed from marxian theories, the party attempted to introduce a one party state in Zimbabwe but the plan was opposed by the likes of Edgar Tekere and was not implemented as had been done in other countries like Tanzania under Julius Nyerere. Some of the programmes that have been implemented by the Zanu PF government also have some socialist underpinnings and these include free primary education introduced during the early stages of independence, BACCOSSI which was a programme rolled out by the government to provide basic commodities to people at affordable prices. There was also the farm mechanisation process meant to boost agricultural productivity in newly resettled areas. The party also has an annual programme in which they distribute farming inputs to people free of charge so as to subsidise the production of staples in the country. The party's ideology has also been criticised by others especially those in the academic world. B Raftouplous argued that Moyo’s statements indicate that he wants a re-assertion of the totalitarian order of the 1980s.[3] Criticism also came from members of the opposition like Tendai Biti who argued that Zanu PF never had a consistent ideology after Independence. The party is also influenced by the Legacy of Pan African ideals which advocate for empowerment of black people.

Objectives of the Party

  1. To establish and sustain a society that cherishes African Values and to create conditions for economic independence, prosperity and equitable distribution of wealth of the nation.
  2. To preserve and defend the National Sovereignty and Independence of Zimbabwe.
  3. To Uphold and apply fully the rule of Law, Equality before the law and Equality of opportunities for all people in Zimbabwe, regardless of race, tribe sex, religion or origin.

Continue to participate in the worldwide struggle for the complete eradication of imperialism, colonialism and all forms of racism.

  1. To support and promote all effects for the attainment of the Pan African goal for the complete independence and unity of African states.
  2. To oppose resolutely, tribalism, regionalism and forms of exploitation of man by man.[4]

The Unity Accord

After independence, the issue of Matabeleland pre-occupied ZANU leaders. The people of Matebeleland had been loyal to Nkomo and during the 1980 elections, they voted overwhelmingly for Nkomo and in 1985 they did the same despite concerted efforts by ZANU officials to coerce them to vote for ZANU PF.[1] This purported loyalty of the people of Matebeleland led to what has been generally referred to as the Gukurahundi Massacres instigated by ZANU to whip out the dissidents of which Nkomo was labelled as 'the father of the dissidents' in the early 1980s.

The signing of the Unity Accord resolved this conundrum which nearly exterminated the Ndebele speaking people. The signing of the Unity Accord saw the swallowing of ZAPU by ZANU leading to the creation of a single political party in the country, something that Mugabe had long wished for, that is the creation of a one party state.Prior to the signing of the Unity Accord on 22 December 1987, what is now known as ZANU PF was generally referred to as the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). After the signing of the Unity Accord, between ZANU and ZAPU, the name ZANU PF was adopted. Since 1987, Mugabe and his old guards began to lobby for the establishment of a de jure one party state. This was thwarted in the 1990s as the majority of ZANU PF officials were in favour of a de facto one party state and this has proved to be a mammoth task for Mugabe as different opposition political parties have been obstructing Mugabe.

Zanu PF Structures

Traditionally the party had what were known as District Coordinating Committees (DCC's) but they were later on dissolved after a restructuring exercise.[5]

This was (2014) the new structure of the party

The Cell

The cell is the vanguard of the Party at the level of the village and the community, representing its interest, expressing its aspiration and mobilizing the membership to work together for their area's development. Members of Cell Execute Committee hold Office for a period of one year.

The Branch

The branch is made up of ten cells. Its Executive Committee is elected every two years at a Branch Conference by delegates representing each of the ten cells.

The District

The district consists of 10 Branches whose delegates elect the District Executive Committee once every two years.

The Province

The province consists of as many Administrative Districts as there are in a Province and all Party Districts. Members of the Provincial Executive Council are elected at Provincial Conference by the delegates representing each Party district in the province. The provincial elections are held once every three years.

The Women's League

Every woman who has attained the age of 18 years and who is a member of the Party is entitled to membership of the Women's League through her Branch Executive Committee. While it is an autonomous body, the League functions within the main structure of Zanu PF. Its main objectives are to promote the rights of women and remove all impediments to their development as full and equal members of our society.

The Youth League

The Youth League is an integral part of Zanu PF. Its major objectives are to mobilize the youth to fully participate in the political, social, cultural and economic affairs of the country. Membership is open to all Zimbabweans between the ages of 15 and 30 years.

The Central Committee

The Central Committee is the principal organ of the Congress and consists of 230 members drawn from the Party's country 10 Provinces. It acts on behalf of Congress when it is not in session and among other things; implement all policies, resolutions, directives, decisions, and programs enunciated by Congress. The Central Committee meets once in three months.

The Politburo

The Politburo is the standing Committee of the Central Committee and implements all the decisions, directives, rules and regulations of the Central committee. It meets at least once a month and is answerable to the Central Committee on all matters.

The National People's Congress

This is the Supreme Organ of the Party and is composed of members of the Central Committee; The National Council of the Women's League; The National Council of the Youth League; The Provincial Co-ordinating Committees ; the various Provincial Executive Councils, and unless otherwise directed by the Central Committee; the Chairman, Secretary, Political Commissar and Treasurer, two members from the Women's League and two members from the Youth League from every District Executive Council of the Party. As the Supreme Policy making organ of the Party, it elects the President and first Secretary, Two Vice Presidents and Second Secretaries of the Party, as well as members of the Central Committee. It formulates, pronounce and declare all Policies of the Party and has the power and authority to amend the Constitution. The Congress, which meets once every fives years, is the Supreme and Ultimate Authority for implementation and supervision of the Policies, Directives, Rules and Regulation of the Party.

The National Consultative Assembly

The National Consultative Assembly comprises of members of the Central Committee, National Assembly of the Women's League and their deputies, the ten Provincial Executive Councils, former members of the Central Committee on account of their contribution to the liberation struggle or development of the country after independence. It receives, hears and debates any major matters of Policy as the President and First Secretary or Central Committee shall from time to time determine. It also makes recommendations to the Central Committee on any matters of policy relating to the Party or Government. It meets at least twice a year. [6]

Party Colours, Symbols, and Slogans

The colors that are usually on Zanu PF party regalia are almost synonymous with those on the national flag save for white. These colours include green, red, yellow and black which appear on the party flag, dresses and shirts, doeks, hats and caps.[7] The party also uses a clenched fist which is said to represent the fighting spirit of the liberation struggle and the fight against neo colonialist tendencies. It was also explained that the clenched fist was not meant to instill terror against fellow Zimbabweans.[8] One of the most popular symbols used by the party is a cockerel which is also the symbol on the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare.[9] The party also has several slogans some of which are used for specific contexts and also some which are generally used by party members when they are gathered. Some of the party's popular slogans go as follows:

  • Pamberi neZanu PF (Forward with Zanu PF) to which supporters respond saying Pamberi (Forward)
  • Pasi neMDC (Down with the MDC) to which the supporters respond saying Pasi nayo (Down with it)

There are also some slogans which gained currency during significant events like the 27 June 2008 elections. The slogan that was popularly used went as follows:

  • 27 June to which the supporters are also expected to respond saying VaMugabe muoffice (Mugabe for office)

Then there were also unique slogans that got popular over a very short period of time. The slogans that were used during the Factional fights of 2014 in Zanu PF which were meant to denounce those that were being accused of fanning factionalism and causing divisions within the party. The popularised slogan went as follows:

  • Pasi neGamatox (Down with Gamatox) to which the supporters would respond saying pasi nayo (Down with it)

Gamatox was the code name that was assigned to those that had been accused of engaging in factionalism and divisive politics. Some of the named individuals included the likes of Didymus Mutasa and former vice president Joice Mujuru

The Succession Battle

The battles to succeed Mugabe can be traced to the late 1990s. The failure of the Structural Adjustment Programmes which had been introduced by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for the purported development of African nations has been attributed as one of the impetus which led to the opposition of Robert Mugabe (who became the leader of the party in 1977), propelling his succession.[10] In 1997, there was a 'stay away' and in January 1998 they were food riots.[10] These events are said to have led to the outcry of replacing Mugabe. Solomon Mujuru whose nom de guerre was Rex Nhongo became a thorn in the flesh for Mugabe as he was masterminding the ouster of Mugabe.

The 1999 ZANU PF Congress in which Mujuru was the centre of attraction was poised to carve the path in as far as the reign of Mugabe was concerned in that, the person to be appointed as the National Chairman of the party was expected to succeed Mugabe for the 2002 elections.[10] Regardless of this, Mugabe was triumphant.

After the 2002 elections, which were marred by vote buying and rigging, which saw Mugabe emerging victorious, the general populace was disgruntled. It has been reported that in the wake of this dilemma, Mugabe acknowledged to Thabo Mbeki (who was the then president of South Africa) and Olusegun Obasanjo (who was also the then president of Nigeria) that he had lost the elections.[10] Mugabe is said to have requested the help of Mbeki to help him search for the successor from among ZANU PF officials and Simba Makoni was also a potential candidate. [10] In spite of this however, the attention shifted from Makoni to Joice Mujuru after she was appointed to be the Vice President in 2004.

In 2003, a former Rhodesian and ZNA soldier, Colonel Lionel Dyck highlighted that, he was working together with General Vitalis Zvinavashe in a bid to oust Mugabe and subsequently forming a power-sharing government to be headed by Emmerson Mnangagwa (who was the then Speaker of Parliament) with Morgan Tsvangirai as one of his deputies.[10] This probably explains the organisation of the Tsholotsho Coup of 2004 in which Mnangagwa and his comrades in arms opposed the appointment of Mujuru.

After the 2004 ZANU Congress, the succession battle was intensifying. Mujuru again was calling for the end of Mugabe reign. This became her rhetoric during the 2006 ZANU PF Conference held in Goromonzi, the December 2007 Extra-Ordinary Congress as well as the 2008 'Bhora Musango' Campaign. [10]

Factionalism within ZANU PF

Reportedly there were two main factions within the party, led by Mujuru and another by Mnangagwa. The two factions were said to be garnering to replace Mugabe. The rift between the warring factions widened during Grace Mugabe's "Meet the People" rallies which saw the first lady embarking on a countrywide campaign denouncing factional leaders.[11] The rallies took place during the month of October in 2014 and were followed by dismissals, suspensions and expulsions of party members believed to be linked to the then Vice President Mujuru. The First Lady embarked on her tours after she was propelled to lead the Women's League and her tours were poised on exposing the rot and or rogue elements within the party, a process which she likened as to the process of removing evil spirits which were brooding within the party.

The Mujuru Faction

Mujuru faction was supported by Secretary for Administration Didymus Mutasa, Spokesperson Rugare Gumbo, National Chairman Simon Khaya Moyo, War Veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda and National Commissar Webster Shamu.

The Mnangagwa Faction

Mnangagwa's faction was also known as the 'hardliners' comprised of ' the old guard' with members that had dominated Zimbabwe’s political scene since the 1980s. Some of the members allegedly supporting Mnangagwa were Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Chinamasa. This faction was also comprised of figures such as Obert Mpofu, Oppah Muchinguri, Supa Mandiwanzira and Ignatius Chombo.

Lacoste Faction

After being appointed Vice President after the dismissal of Joyce Mujuru, Mnangagwa was accused of being affiliated to and leading Lacoste faction which was also working to frustrate the efforts of a rival faction called G40< [1],    , Published:2016/08/01 , Retrieved: 2 Aug 2016</ref>

G40 Faction

Their Main Ambition was believed to be working against the possibility of Emmerson Mnangagwa becoming President, the group is characterized mainly by younger Zanu-PF members who are savvy and educated. The group is said to be led by Jonathan Moyo and Zanu-PF political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere but is fronted by the first lady, Grace Mugabe. The term Generation 40 was reported to have been derived from a constitutional provision in Zimbabwe’s supreme law allowing anyone above the age of 40 to be a presidential candidate.[2]

Suspensions and Expulsions

After it came to light that the Mujuru faction had accumulated a lot of support in the provinces, there was a 'conspiracy' to get rid of its power and influence by suspending and expelling its strongholds. This saw the dismissal of most of Mujuru allies including, Gumbo from office after he was accused of making statements biased towards the Mujuru faction. Amos Midzi the provincial chairperson for Harare was also ousted after a vote of no confidence was passed on him. Sibanda was expelled from party after making negative statements against the president and the first lady. Other provincial chairperson who were affected by the tide include, Temba Mliswa, John Mvundura, Calisto Gwanetsa, Jason Machaya, Callistus Ndlovu and Andrew Langa.[12]

After several months of suspensions and the passing of votes of no confidence in ZANU PF which claimed the scalps of the party's senior members, the party's newly appointed Commissar at the 6th ZANU PF Congress held from 2–6 December 2014, Saviour Kasukuwere officially announced that all suspensions be halted in the country's ten provinces. The announcement came after the Manicaland Provincial Coordinating Committee had moved a motion to impose five year bans on the members that were said to be linked to former vice president Mujuru.[13] The Manicaland Province Youth League Vice chairman Mubuso Chinguno argued that there was need to set stern example against rogue elements by suspending them for an effective five years.[13] The move was nonetheless stopped by the Party's Commissar who highlighted that the move would cause unnecessary turmoil in the country's ten provinces.


The party has oftenly been accused of crimes against humanity and election rigging. State sponsored violence and terror reached its peak during the 2008 elections when for the first time ZANU PF lost its majority in Parliament. ZANU PF militia, war veterans and the army alleged took place in the terror. Matters got worse days leading to the 27 June presidential run off elections. An estimated 180 people died, and at least 9,000 injured from torture by alleged ZANU PF hooligans.[14] The violence was mainly orchestrated in rural areas that saw about 28,000 people were being displaced from their homes.


Nomination Court June 2023

Nomination court on 21 June 2023 produced six presidential candidates for the August elections. They are:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Sabelo J. Gatsheni-Ndlovu, Do 'Zimbabweans' Exist?, Peter Lang, published:2009,retrieved:17 December 2014"
  2. [Diana Mitchell, African Nationalist Leaders in Zimbabwe: Who’s Who 1980], "African Nationalist Leaders in Zimbabwe: Who’s Who 1980, (Cannon Press, Salisbury, 1980), Retrieved: 16 November 2020
  3. Dumisani Muleya Moyo pushes for revival of old doctrines, The Independent, Published: May 30, 2003, Retrieved: December 18, 2014
  4. ZP, The Constitution, Zanu Pf, :retrieved: 25 Apr 2014
  5. Prof Tshuma No mourning over DCC disbandment, Zanu PF website, Retrieved: December 18, 2014
  6. The Constitution, Zanu PF website, Retrieved: December 18, 2014
  7. Bruce Berry Zimbabwe - political party flags, CRW Flags, Published: February 15, 2013, Retrieved: December 18, 2014
  8. Zanu-PF’s fist symbol not violent - Bob, iol News, Published: August 13, 2012, Retrieved: December 18, 2014
  9. Percy Zvomuya Changing times need appropriate symbols, Mail and Guardian, Published: Jan 27, 2012, Retrieved: December 18, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Ibbo Mandaza, The Zanu PF Congress: The triumph of the securocrat state, The Zimbabwean Mail, published:13 Dec 2014,retrieved:17 December 2014"
  11. Mugabe’s wife threatens Zimbabwe’s vice-president in Zanu-PF faction fight, The Guardian, published:17 Oct 2014,retrieved:17 December 2014"
  12. N Thsuma, 7th Boot-Out- Bulwayo Dumps Callistus Ndlovu, "The Herald", published:17 Nov 2014,retrieved:17 Nov 2014"
  13. 13.0 13.1 Zanu PF halts suspensions, The Herald, published: 15 Dec 2014, retrieved:15 December 2014
  14. Zimbabwe, Amnesty, published:2009,retrieved:25 April 2014"
  15. Six Presidential Candidates Submit Papers For Zimbabwe 23 Aug Elections, Pindula, Published: 20 June 2023, Retrieved: 22 June 2023

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