OPINION by Zhuwao: Factionalism and the search for truth

Cde. Patrick Zhuwao

The ZANU-PF Politburo resolved to establish a commission of inquiry into factionalism.

The issue of factionalism is of such paramount importance to the whole nation that the product out of that exercise must be beyond reproach. The nation is seeking knowledge and truth.

The ZANU-PF commission into factionalism must conduct its work with the same rigour required of academic research.

Consequently, this article is guided by the concept of epistemology within the context of the search for truth and knowledge surrounding the issue of factionalism in ZANU-PF.

I will briefly discuss the concept of epistemology and its relationship to obtaining a deeper understanding of factionalism in ZANU-PF. I will then highlight how the First Lady, Her Excellency Amai Dr Grace Mugabe, used feminist epistemological methods to place the issue of factionalism on the agenda.

I will also motivate for why the commission of inquiry should use a critical social inquiry approach for investigating factionalism in ZANU-PF.

I will conclude by briefly proposing the manner in which the problem statement for the commission of inquiry should be formulated.

Approaches to the search for truth and knowledge

The ZANU-PF commission of inquiry into factionalism is required to generate knowledge on what constitutes factionalism, who is involved, why are they involved, where is it occurring, when does it manifest itself, and how does it is operate, amongst other things.

Based on that knowledge, ZANU-PF will have to decide how it will deal with the scourge of factionalism in a wholesome and holistic manner. This means that the outputs, outcomes and impacts that emanate from the processes around the commission need to be truthful, of sound justification and believable.

It is only if these criteria are met will the demon of factionalism be exorcised from ZANU-PF.

This requires that the search for truth and knowledge around factionalism be conducted in a robust manner. Consequently, an inquiry into factionalism in ZANU-PF needs to be epistemologically sound.

Epistemology, which is also referred to as the study of knowledge, is a branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge and how we come to know.

Epistemology focuses on the philosophical analysis of the nature of knowledge and its relationships to the concepts of truth, justification and belief.

There are four methodological approaches to epistemology. These include positivism, interpretive inquiry, critical inquiry and feminist inquiry.

I will not bore you by outlining what each of these entails.

However, the selection of which approach should be used by the ZANU-PF commission of inquiry into factionalism must be influenced by several epistemological factors.

Some of these epistemological factors include the reason for the inquiry and the nature of the social reality facing ZANU-PF.

It is also necessary to consider the nature of human beings, the capacity of human beings to make choices (human agency) and the role of common sense.

The other factors include determining what makes for good evidence, how to verify an explanation, and establishing what constitutes theory.

The inquiry must consider the relevance of knowledge and the role and place of values.

The examination of the above mentioned epistemological factors will influence selection of the methodological approach.

Agenda setting and the feminist approach

In my last instalment, I sought to impose epistemological considerations onto the diagnoses of factionalism in ZANU-PF.

I argued, and I still maintain, that an inquiry into factionalism must not only transcend interpretive social inquiry and be influenced by critical social inquiry, but must also use feminist methods as demonstrated by Amai Mugabe.

The First Lady successfully and skilfully placed the issue of factionalism onto the national agenda.

On November 1, 2014, all newspapers in Zimbabwe ran headlines relating to the resolution by the ZANU-PF Politburo to establish a commission of inquiry into factionalism.

If anyone still has doubts that Amai Mugabe has a doctorate in social sciences, they should be evaluating their own limited reasoning and mental capabilities.

She has practically demonstrated her use of her education to provide a living example of how the feminist method of social action can be deployed to address a national problem.

Feminist methods of action seek to overcome biases by acknowledging the position of the action initiator, as well as seeking to bring about social change and displaying human diversity.

The First Lady has not only acknowledged her position in society, but has used it to initiate social change and in the process established the foundation for ensuring that biases are overcome.

Amai Grace Mugabe has used some of the feminist methods of inquiry which include raising consciousness, acknowledging the role of emotions, and questioning normal scientific reasoning.

She has raised the nation’s and the ZANU-PF leadership’s consciousness of the need to address factionalism to a point where the Politburo resolved to establish a commission of inquiry.

The First Lady has not sought to hide her emotions. She has displayed them for the nation to recognise that she is human.

She has questioned the normal scientific reasoning which has led simpletons to quickly rush to the wrong conclusion that her entry into politics is driven by the simplistic self-interest rational economic model of neo-liberals and neo-conservatives.

With the First Lady having set the agenda for addressing factionalism, what methodological approach should be used to exorcise the demon?

Critical inquiry

I believe that the ZANU-PF commission of inquiry into factionalism will be best served by a critical social enquiry approach.

A critical social inquiry approach acknowledges that social reality consists of multiple layers and is governed by a hidden and underlying structure.

The reason for inquiry is to smash myths and empower people to change society.

It is important to expose the multiple layers beneath the factionalism in ZANU-PF that are governed by hidden and underlying structures.

I am a firm believer that the factionalism that is within ZANU-PF is driven by the succession issue.

But the succession issue itself has been hijacked by the regime change agenda as evidenced by the fact that the various institutions that have been at the forefront of the regime change efforts, including the so-called independent media, have abandoned their main regime change tool, the MDC formations, in favour of focussing on fanning factionalism with ZANU-PF.

This also explains the behaviour of the MDC MPs at the opening of the Second Session of the Eight Parliament when they chanted ZANU-PF factional slogans.

The MDC formations have themselves lost hope in their ability to effect regime change and are supporting a candidate within ZANU-PF that they believe has a chance to deliver to their erstwhile masters where they themselves have failed.

As the inquiry into factionalism takes a critical social inquiry approach, it is necessary to tackle false beliefs that hide power and objective conditions.

There is a false belief that regime change will lead to economic reforms in accordance to a neo-liberal and neo-conservative economic outlook.

That false belief hides the power and objective condition of neo-colonialism that has been falsely peddled together with the Washington Consensus and its founding “End of History” paradigm that has been rejected by its own initiator, Francis Fukuyama.

It is necessary to acknowledge that human beings are creative and adaptive forces with unrealised potential that is trapped by unseen forces.

The growth of the country’s indigenous tobacco farming sector and the democratisation of commerce as exemplified by micro, small and medium enterprises are ample proof of this.

It thus becomes imperative that Zimbabwe’s human capital that is currently engaged in nonsensical factional contestations be freed from the trap of factionalism.

Can you imagine redirecting all of the effort that is wasted in factional contestations towards national development?

In attempting to get to the bottom of factionalism, it is important that good evidence for the inquiry should be informed by a theory that permeates the surface level.

I submit a theory that factionalism is driven by the regime change agenda which in turn is driven by a neo-liberal and neo-conservative economic outlook that is founded on a neo-colonial drive in pursuit of the further looting of Africa’s resources.

This theory needs to be validated and supported by good evidence.

Good evidence would then provide factual and truthful explanations of events surrounding factionalism.

Such explanations would provide people with the tools of analysis that are needed to change the nature of interactions not only in ZANU-PF but the whole country.

Such explanations would drive the development and validation of theories around the useless and distractive factional contestations.

Such theories would establish the critique that reveals the true nature of factional conditions and thus helps people to take necessary corrective action to eliminate factionalism.

A critical social inquiry approach is premised on the view that truth and knowledge begin with a value position.

The value position is either right or wrong. For ZANU-PF, the value position is that Zimbabwe’s land and all its natural resources collectively belong to the people of Zimbabwe. It is either you believe in that value position or not.

From that perspective, a critical social inquiry approach submits that the relevance of knowledge must be viewed from its dialectic orientation.

Such a dialectic orientation calls for discourse from multiple perspectives around the issue of factionalism in ZANU-PF in order to establish the truth of the matter that is guided by reasoned arguments.

Such an approach will enable ZANU-PF to see and alter the deeper structures that are fanning factionalism through truth and knowledge.

This essentially means that the use of a critical social inquiry approach in conducting the work of the inquiry into factionalism serves the dual purposes of providing knowledge as well as stimulating and initiating corrective action.

The critical social inquiry approach is normally implemented through a participatory action research methodology.

Having selected a methodological approach, the next stage is to define the nature of the problem of factionalism in a robust and holistic manner.

Defining the problem

There is need to fully define the problem that the ZANU-PF commission of inquiry into factionalism is attempting to address.

Whilst, it seems obvious from a superficial point of view, it is important that the problem is clearly defined. The definition of the problem is the most important part of any process of inquiry.

This stage determines the success or otherwise of the work of the commission.

A rigorous identification of the problem of factionalism can be done via four related phases.

The first phase is known as “problem sensing”. It seeks to discern problem situations without placing any boundaries or constraints on the situation. The problem situation normally manifests itself symptomatically through, for example the use of slogans such as “Pasi neGamatox” and “Pasi nezvipfukuto” within the context of factionalism in ZANU-PF.

Further symptoms of the problem situation of factionalism in ZANU-PF include the chaos that characterised the 6th National Youth Conference.

At an even greater scale, the problem situation of factionalism is evidenced by the humiliation that ZANU-PF endured during the tenure of the disastrous inclusive Government.

This was caused by ZANU-PF having moved from having a constitutional majority in Parliament in 2005 to minority in 2008 that was occasioned by the Mavambo Phenomenon.

The second phase of problem searching is aimed at arriving at the meta-problem.

Dunn, in his several works on public policy analysis, refers to the meta-problem as a “problem of problems” that reduces all the problem situations into a single problem.

In this case, the meta-problem appears to be factionalism. I will argue, later, that factionalism is only a superficial manifestation of a deeper and more dangerous problem of neo-colonialism.

The third phase of defining the problem seeks to come up with the substantive problem definition. The problem definition will need to be viewed from multiple spheres which include the political, economic, and socio-cultural perspectives.

It is also necessary to situate the problem definition within history and context.

A common mistake that has been made in the Zimbabwean body politic has been to view factionalism in the absence of its effects on the various spheres of existence.

It is this mistake which has fooled some members of factions into wrongly believing that there is no harm in being factional.

The substantive definition of the problem must incorporate the effects of factionalism on the economy, politics, society and culture.

The matter is bi-directional in that the spheres of the economy, politics, society and culture also impact on factionalism.

There are several other numerous factors that have an effect on and are affected by factionalism in ZANU-PF – international relations for example.

These need to be incorporated in the substantive definition of the problem.

The fourth and final phase seeks to define the problem in a formal specification.

The formal problem specification must match the elements of all the problem situations that would have been identified during the first phase.

There are several tools and methods that can be used identify and structure the problem, including boundary analysis, classification analysis, hierarchy analysis, synetics, brainstorming, multiple perspective analysis, assumptional analysis, and augmentation mapping.

Once a problem has been formally defined and placed on the agenda, the processes of problem identification and agenda setting need to be evaluated to determine if they conform to the values and aspirations of ZANU-PF and the nation.

It is also necessary to establish that the identified problem and the agenda set fit into the context within which the problem is situated.


In this instalment, I have sought to proffer a potential mechanism for discussing how the ZANU-PF commission of inquiry into factionalism could be established.

I have sought to propose a framework for addressing factionalism in ZANU-PF that is rooted in entrenching structures for searching for truth and knowledge by premising the framework on the study of knowledge, epistemology.

I have outlined how Amai Mugabe has set up the agenda for discussing factionalism in an effort to exorcise the demon from ZANU-PF.

I have motivated that the methodological approach to addressing factionalism should follow critical social inquiry methodology which allows for both knowledge generation and action to address the problem.

I have concluded by suggesting a framework for comprehensively defining the problem of factionalism in ZANU-PF.

Compatriots, comrades and friends, I welcome your views on the issues that I have outlined above.

Zimbabwe will never be a colony again. Icho!


Honourable Patrick Zhuwao is Chair of Zhuwao Institute, an economics, development and research think tank focused on integrating socio-political dimensions into business and economic decision making, particularly strategic planning. Zhuwao is the holder of a BSc (Honours) degree in Computer Systems Engineering and an MBA in Information Technology Management (City University, London). He also holds BSc (Honours) and MSc degrees in Economics (University of Zimbabwe), as well as a Master of Management (with distinction) degree in Public and Development Management (University of the Witwatersrand).

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  • Nehoreka weDande

    Honourable, l was following your articles from the beginning with great interest especially your first article. It came at a time where the word factionalism had taken its toll in our revolutionary party. I felt proud to have people of your calibre in our party who can take time to enlighten the mass on what this factionalism is all about. For that l give you props
    However, you left me a very dissapointed man and even confused as you continued with your series of articles. Especially this one. Tjooo Honourable!!!! The jargon is too much. Your article is supposed to be understood by a man in the street also know as a lame man. I am still to comprehend what your really meant in this article.
    Secondly l am dissapointed for the lack of practical solutions to this problem. You spent much on the theory, definitions etc without the practical solutions.

    • rukudzo

      I would recommend Zhwawo does this research and register for a PHD that thesis would be a must read for many a scholars of politics.