The Sunday Mail
BIRTHED during the liberation struggle, the Chitepo School of Ideology — formerly Whampoa Ideological College — was the brainchild of Cde Chrispen Mataire, whose Chimurenga name was Cde David Todhlana or simply JV.
He was the first director of the college when it became operational in 1975. It was renamed Chitepo College by the late ZANLA commander, General Josiah Tongogara, in 1977. Some of the cadres that passed through the college are Cdes Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Happison Muchechetere, Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, Grey Mapondera, Evaristo Mwatse and the late Basopo Mupangara.
Fast forward to April 2016, veterans of the liberation struggle met with their then-patron, the late President Robert Mugabe, in Harare, where they presented several concerns regarding the state of the revolutionary ZANU PF party.
Cde Munyaradzi Machacha (M.M) presented a paper in which the idea of re-birthing the Chitepo Ideological College was raised. The war veterans suggested the need for operationalising the college without necessarily waiting for constructing the institutional structure. Concerns were raised about the deterioration of patriotism and understanding of the party’s ideology within party structures.
The Chitepo School of Ideology was re-established as a result, with Cde Machacha becoming its principal. Our Group Political Editor LOVEMORE RANGA MATAIRE (L.R.M) sat down with him to unpack, among other things, the ideological thoughts of the school, including its milestones so far.
L.R.M: As a starting point, Cde Machacha, can you kindly take us through the re-birth of the Chitepo School of Ideology in an independent Zimbabwe.
M.M: Chitepo School of Ideology is a party school for ZANU PF. Its mission is to train and conscientise the leadership of the party, including the cadres, that the party deploys into Government, parastatals and other key national institutions. We aim to raise the political and ideological consciousness of the entire citizens of Zimbabwe.
Its roots are found in the war of liberation, where in 1977, the party decided to start a party school called Wampoa at Chimoio Farm to train fighting cadres so that they raise their ideological consciousness and that they are prepared to play a pivotal role post-independence.
The school was called Whampoa, a name taken from the early cadres in the struggle who had attended a similar course in China. Whampoa was a military ideological college for the Chinese People’s Army during their struggle against the Japanese imperialists.
L.R.M: Sorry to interject you Cde Machcha, you mention that one of the aims of the college is to train cadres to be deployed in national institutions. Some would say that process leads to party/government conflation. Yet the two are separate entities. How would you respond to that?
M.M: The ZANU PF ideology is a national ideology. Take the constitution of ZANU PF and place it side by side with the national Constitution, you will find that the two mirror each other. In the preamble of both constitutions, there is a clear respect for the role that was played by the liberation fighters and the heroic sacrifices endured by our people —citizens of Zimbabwe. And both constitutions place in high regard these contributions. If you look at the land reform, which was one of the main grievances of the war, both documents clearly state that the land belongs to the indigenous people and that land reform is irreversible.
So all the key pillars of the ZANU PF constitution are already the pillars of the national Constitution, and you cannot then say I accept one and reject the other.
The second issue is that ZANU PF is no longer a political party, per se, but a national heritage. The over 40 years that it has been in power, it no longer looks at the interests of its members only but the interests of Zimbabwe. So, (Nelson) Chamisa’s interests are already taken care of by ZANU PF. We want his welfare to be looked after — his health, his education, his safety, and ZANU PF caters for all regardless of political affiliation.
Thirdly, ZANU PF is in power through the mandate it obtains after every five years from the electorate and once elected, people have a legitimate expectation for ZANU PF to perform and fulfil the promises it would have made during the election campaign period. It is, therefore, equally important for ZANU PF to ensure that those that are then mandated to implement the policies on its behalf — who happen to be Government and its civil service —fully understand its policies, the basis upon which those policies are formulated and the intended outcomes. ZANU PF has a legitimate expectation from the Government to implement its manifesto, its developmental programmes so that we can account for every promise we made to the electorate who put us in power.
Having said that, I can’t see any other way where civil service can perform to its best unless they are made aware of all the details that I have just mentioned and how we arrive at the policies as Government so that they don’t lead from ignorance but lead from a position of knowledge.
We may need to explain the word apolitical.
When we say civil servants must be apolitical, we mean that they must not provide services in a discriminatory manner. They must provide services to all the citizens of the country impartially. But certainly they must run with the doctrine and policies of the ruling party. They cannot entertain other alien ideas except those that the Executive formed.
So being apolitical does not mean they must disregard legitimate directives from the ruling party: It merely means they must service the nation impartially.
L.R.M: The college has been in existence for some time now. What can you highlight as some of the milestones that have been achieved so far?
M.M: We relaunched the college in 2017 but started earnest work early 2018. We have done a lot since then, bearing in mind that Chitepo School of Ideology is a school without walls. We have no campus but we organise our workshops at identified venues and so far we have covered quite a lot for senior party leadership, Central Committee members and we have also trained our Local Government officials. We have been involved even in the public service for reasons of explaining ZANU PF policies and how they impact on Government work. We have also done quite a lot among the youths — youth organisations. So I would say in the past three or so years of our existence, we have covered quite a lot.
L.R.M: At its inception, the college recommended that no MP or ZANU PF representative would be given greenlight to contest unless they pass through the college. Is this still the norm?
M.M: Well, when that was stated, it was a futuristic statement. The party has not yet pronounced on this issue, so it has not been a requirement in the elections that have taken place since then. Even those that contested in the recent elections were not required to pass through the college. But I can see that becoming a requirement in future.
L.R.M: I ask this in the context of whether you as the principal of the college are happy with the level of consciousness exhibited by ZANU PF representatives, either parliamentarians, ministers or those in parastatals?
M.M: I wouldn’t say I am happy nor can I say I am not. Consciousness is built over time. It’s not an overnight thing. We judge a person not so much on where he is but where he could be. We look at our MPs, most of them are young, have recently joined the party and therefore we cannot expect them to be knowledgeable about a lot of things compared to the older generation that has been in the party for many years. But at the level of their age groups, I think they are doing extremely well.
L.R.M: How has the school collaborated with revolutionary political parties in the region?
M.M: The sister parties in the Southern African region — six of them — as you are aware meet regularly to share ideas and cooperate on a number of identified challenges. So parties agreed to start a school in Tanzania, Julius Kambarage Nyerere School of Leadership, where all the six parties send their cadres for training.
It is one such practical form of cooperation that the six have undertaken. The aim being to increase political ideological consciousness of the leadership in the region with the view of further cementing relations between sister parties.
I think it’s a very noble idea which is currently running. The first batch of 20 students have been at the school and they returned three weeks ago. We will be sending a further 20 on June 12. So they will be running courses there and our party will be represented.
L.R.M: Cde Machacha, former liberation movements in the region face an existential threat from those that once colonised us who sponsor post-liberation parties to effect regime change. How far, as liberation movements, do you collaborate on issues of ensuring that the map of liberation is not rolled back and ensuring that future generations will continue to cherish liberation ethos?
MM: Yes, liberation movements have a common vision and a common destiny of delivering on the promise of the liberation struggle.
And, because we share common destiny, we tend to have common enemies because those that fight ZANU PF fight for the same reason that they fight Chama Cha Mapinduzi in Tanzania, ANC of South Africa or MPLA of Angola.
So, because of that, we realise that our strength lies in our unity; our strength lies in the clarity of our vision and our strong commitment to our ideology, and these bind us as revolutionary parties.
We know and make sure that we don’t walk alone but with our people. We put the interest of our people first and we serve our people with all our hearts and try to defend them from any threats that may come either from within or from without our borders.
L.R.M: When are we going to have the physical structure of the college?
M.M: Something is happening: We are building a structure in Harare, which we hope to occupy mid this year. We will build a bigger campus later, probably next year, but in the meantime we are using a facility that we are renovating at the corner of Samora Machel and Fourth Street (Simon Vengai Muzenda Street) in Harare.
That will be the home of the school, and we will expand from there.
L.R.M: Ahead of the 2023 national elections, what role do you think the college can play?
M.M: Our mission is to raise the consciousness of all citizens and ensure we assist the leadership of the party at various levels to know what are the key issues in these elections and how they can articulate them to the electorate, including the methods best suited for the different categories of voters and their localities so that our message resonates well with the people. Our involvement will be from a training point of view.
L.R.M: Young people are custodians of the future. What is the level of enthusiasm of students from tertiary institutions to enrol at the college?
M.M: The enthusiasm from students is overwhelming. We have done a number of courses with students in tertiary institutions, mainly from the Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (ZICOSU) and with the lecturers. I would say that I am seeing a new trend where young people are eager to know more about the history of their country, the history of the liberation struggle of this country; eager to know the party ideology itself.
I am also seeing a huge interest in wanting to know more about our heritage, and now they are capitalising on our national heritage to come up with products and services that are marketable and can make a living for them.
A good example is that in the past some people despised our indigenous foods but there is a huge interest among the young generation who are prioritising our own traditional foods for both health reasons and national pride.
I am seeing a new wave; I think the young people will likely become more revolutionary than our generation. We are cooperating with tertiary institutions.
We have a very good working relationship with the Minister and Permanent Secretary of Higher (and Tertiary) Education.
We also interact at the highest level with Vice Chancellors of State universities. We have had symposiums with them.
We all agree that ideological consciousness is important and that it must find space in all our universities.
There are plans already underway to ensure that all first-year students undergo some form of national orientation so that they are aware of who they are and Zimbabwe’s national interests so that they can proudly serve their nation.
L.R.M: Forty-two years after independence, in simple terms, what can you say is ZANU PF’s ideology?
M.M: Forty-two years after independence, ZANU PF is still a socialist party, still moving to close the gap between the rich and poor, still moving to raise the standard of living of all its people, closing the gap between the developed urban areas and underdeveloped rural areas. It is reaching out to all communities through the policy of devolution, giving power to communities to develop themselves, giving power to provinces so that they are responsible for developing their own GDP.
ZANU PF is also pushing for the policy of Education 5.0 so that our products from institutions of higher learning translate theory into practice and create goods and services that can be consumed locally and even exported.
ZANU PF has come up with policies that can meet the development needs of today while remaining true to its founding principles and founding ideology of socialism.
We are still for the people and we are using modern, technologically advanced methods to make sure that people have the services and the quality of life that they deserve.
In short, ZANU PF’s ideology is socialism with Zimbabwean characteristics. We can’t compare it with the Chinese, we can’t compare it with what is obtaining in some Scandinavian countries or any other socialist country. Ours is uniquely Zimbabwean and uniquely ZANU PF.
L.R.M: As we close this conversation, I want to take you back to a speech you made nearly six years ago at an indaba with the then-patron of war veterans, the late President Mugabe. At that meeting, you raised a number of issues of concern from war veterans. One of the issues was that war veterans are an integral entity of the party and must not be marginalised. Are you happy with developments that have so far happened within the party since then?
M.M: That speech was motivated by the obtaining situation at that particular time, where a group of young people had emerged in the party. Very green, inexperienced and ideologically bankrupt but challenging the legitimacy of the war gurus and wanted them replaced by the so-called G40. We were seeing a departure from the way the party used to be run, how decisions used to be made and as war veterans we felt duty-bound to lay on the table before the patron where things were going wrong. Things were going wrong in the manner in which members were being arbitrarily expelled and suspended. Some lady was going around denigrating and labelling others, with senior leaders being humiliated in public. The party had ceased mobilising members and on issues around its ideology, and was now seeking to build a personality cult around an individual.
I am glad to say that some of the recommendations have since been implemented, especially the recognition of war veterans. The war veterans are now in the party; we have a war veterans league. Very soon it will be going to congress to elect its leadership. We also recommended that the party school, the Chitepo School of Ideology, re-open. The New Dispensation has implemented that and the school is now running.
We also recommended that the party must be run in accordance with its constitution and I can proudly say that is now the order of the day. I can say 90 percent of the issues we raised have so far been implemented. But to demonstrate that the war veterans were correct, you can now see that there is a new atmosphere out there, very peaceful and democratic, with people now able to express themselves, and the party is getting stronger and stronger. The party is becoming more formidable that we are able to withstand anything they throw at us; we will defeat them thoroughly come 2023.
My last words to Zimbabweans is that through the mantra “Nyika inovakwa nevana vayo; Nyika inotongwa nevene vayo”, President Mnangagwa is talking about building the country brick by brick, production and productivity, and inclusive development of not leaving anyone and no region behind.