Until the beginning of 1974 ZANU seemed under pressure to tell its story to the world without much success. Apart from the crisis of recognition it had suffered since its
Until the beginning of 1974 ZANU seemed under pressure to tell its story to the world without much success. Apart from the crisis of recognition it had suffered since its formation in 1963, there were several other odds staked against it. Its leadership had been scattered, its key sponsors wanted it to merge with other liberation movements and in 1975 it was on the verge of collapse following the assassination of its leader in exile and the imprisonment of the external executive and military high command. This paper documents the various attempts to construct a ZANU history before these catastrophic events and traces the emergence of a new narrative following the search, identification and appointment of a new leader in 1977 in the form of Robert Mugabe. It argues that ZANU invented Mugabe who in turn appropriated ZANU’s various narratives of itself to construct a personality cult disguised as nationalism yet negating any attempts to place ZANU on a sound ideological footing or transform it from a liberation movement into post-independence political party. Mugabe’s ability to suppress alternative or contesting versions of ZANU history largely explains his eventual stranglehold over ZANU PF throughout the years but this hegemonic project had its limits, if not a ‘sell by’ date!
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