Political splits and names in Zimbabwe

7421900004_60ace7d381_mThe Zimbabwe political landscape has always been characterized by political parties that frequently go on to spawn new parties.

In cases of party break-ups, the names of the political parties have also undergone commensurate changes. For example, borrowing from the original name of the political party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), several splinter groups affixed the abbreviation with the first letter of a place name. There was the MDC-T for a group centered in Tsvangirai and MDC-M for Mutambara.

A similar process now seems to have taken place with the name of the Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU PF). After the former vice president of the party and country, Dr. Joyce Mujuru, and her sympathizers were fired from ZANU in 2015, they formed a rival ZANU PF. However, according to the organizers, the final two letters do not stand for the phrase ‘Patriotic Front’ but ‘People First’.

This onomastic spin seems to be catching on. For example, Zeb Shumba, a former Tsvangirai advisor, is currently organizing a new break-away party from the Tsvangirai party, the MDC-T. Inspired by the new PF name, Shumba plans to name new party ZimFirst.