Tearing up Nationalist Discourses?: Appraisal Analysis of Representations of Joice Mujuru and the ZANU PF Factionalism Dialectic in Zimbabwean Newspapers

Tearing up Nationalist Discourses?: Appraisal Analysis of Representations of Joice Mujuru and the ZANU PF Factionalism Dialectic in Zimbabwean Newspapers

Collen Sabao (Stellenbosch University, South Africa) and Marianna Visser (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0081-0.ch005
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Abstract

The chapter seeks to, through the theoretical lenses of the linguistic discourse theory of Appraisal, analyse the notions of journalistic ‘objectivity' in Zimbabwean newspapers comparatively. The focus of analysis here is news reports of the factional politics within the ZANU PF political party, specifically with regards to the demise of the political career of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and how it is framed within these factional wars. The chapter seeks to comparatively analyse the portrayal of Joice Mujuru and the ZANU PF factional wars within both the public and private owned newspapers (The Herald and NewsDay, respectively). Within the Zimbabwean political landscape ZANU PF, led by incumbent president Robert Gabriel Mugabe, embodies the national narrative. In fact, because of its role in the liberation of the country from the British colonial masters, ZANU PF has technically appropriated the national metanarrative and the story of the Zimbabwean nation-state cannot therefore, since independence in 1980, be told outside the ZANU PF polity and ideology.
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Zanu Pf And Zimbabwe’S Political Historical Metanarratives

Political processes in Zimbabwe over the past three decades have erected partisan political discourses that dictate that the story of the Zimbabwe ‘nation-state’ cannot be defined outside the polity of the Robert Mugabe led Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) political party. In other words, the country’s historical metanarrative cannot be told outside the ZANU PF one. So appropriated by ZANU PF has been the official history of the country’s liberation that popular political discourses cast ZANU PF as the totalitarian embodiment of Zimbabwe’s national sovereignty, unity and the country’s self-definition and self-referencing. ZANU PF has thus constructed a monopolistic monolithic conceptualisation of national sovereignty. The last decade (2004 - 2014) has however witnessed serious factional fights within the party. Fanned largely by succession wars, the factional rifts have emerged as a result of contestations over who would replace the incumbent president, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, whose ‘political career is fast approaching its end’ (“Nicholas Goche”, 2014). The factional wars in ZANU PF, culminating in the sacking of former Vice President Joice Mujuru disaffirms the popular political imaginaries of the Zimbabwean nation-state that ZANU PF allegedly embodied – the crumbling of the nationalist stature. Reportedly, there existed in ZANU PF two major contenders to replace Mugabe and these had fragmented the party into two. Sacked former Vice President Joice Mujuru and incumbent Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa have, for the last decade, been pitted as the major contenders and leaders of the warring factions in the race to succeed Mugabe.

‘The former [faction led by Mujuru], which is also known as the moderates is purportedly pro-business, attempting to push ZANU PF politics to the political centre ground. This is reportedly done to create relations with the international community. Mnangagwa’s factions, also known as the ‘hardliners’ comprises of the ‘old guard’ with members that have dominated Zimbabwe’s political scene since the 1980s’ (“Nicholas Goche”, 2014). It is within this alleged political contestation that Mujuru once revered as one of the outstandingly decorated female freedom fighter was sacked from both her Vice Presidency as well as ZANU PF amid allegations of attempting to subvert Mugabe’s leadership through an assassination of Mugabe. The sacking of Mujuru, whose legacy was highly esteemed with ZANU PF’s nationalist metanarrative evinces cracks within the nationalist party and metaphorically signals in-bred tearing of the once ‘intact’ ZANU PF nationalist discourses. Despite incessant denials by ZANU PF of the existence of factional rifts within the party, the events of 2014 evince a different narrative.

The chapter seeks to, through the theoretical lenses of the linguistic discourse theory of Appraisal, analyse the notions of journalistic ‘objectivity’ in Zimbabwean newspapers comparatively. The focus of analysis here is news reports of these factional politics within the ZANU PF political party, specifically with regards to the demise of the political career of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and how it is framed within these factional wars. The chapter seeks to comparatively analyse the portrayal of Joice Mujuru and the ZANU PF factional wars within both the public and private owned newspapers (The Herald and NewsDay respectively). Within the Zimbabwean political landscape ZANU PF, led by incumbent president Robert Gabriel Mugabe, embodies the national narrative. In fact, because of its role in the liberation of the country from the British colonial masters, ZANU PF has technically appropriated the national metanarrative and the story of the Zimbabwean nation-state cannot therefore, since independence in 1980, be told outside the ZANU PF polity and ideology. The political party, as embedded within its founding principles of nationalism, has always sold itself as the beacon and embodiment of Zimbabwe’s national unity and sovereignty. This can be evidenced for example through its political campaign discourses which are constituted of material highly condemning of all opposition politics and the reiterations of the party’s role in the birth of the ‘national’ in Zimbabwean nationalism and nationhood.

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