Zimbabwean Vice President John Nkomo said Tuesday that his ZANU-PF party should stop obsessing about its past liberation credentials and instead adopt an economic development orientation to remain relevant to a population that is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with living conditions.
Addressing party supporters and cotton farmers in Masvingo South constituency, Nkomo said Zimbabweans are focused on economic and social conditions, not the 1970s liberation struggle of the past. Having won independence and pursued land reform, he said, it is time that ZANU-PF considered a new orientation.
His comments did not seem likely to be popular in a party that has defined itself as a bulwark against imperialism and neo-colonialism. Most in ZANU-PF believe its liberation credentials have served the party well for three decades.
Nkomo told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that his party should lead efforts to develop the country rather than wait for other parties to seize the opportunity. It is time "for the party to shift from being a liberation movement to a party that is development-oriented if we are to continue being relevant to the needs of our people," he said.
“We cannot continue being a liberation movement, that time is past us,” Nkomo said.
"We should now work on what we achieved after the successful execution of the armed struggle to bring majority rule. People yearn for development and that is what we must be synonymous with as a party," he said.
Political analyst Charles Mangongera says John Nkomo is a lone voice for change in ZANU-PF.