27 Jun 2008
The old man defies international opinion and goes ahead with a sham solo election.
African nationalists bow their heads in shame as one of theirs, because of his inordinate quest to cling to power has turned himself into a ridiculous comic character. Robert Mugabe, 84 has transformed himself from a darling revolutionary and nationalist into an embarrassing and underachieving despot. It is becoming clear that Mugabe’s sole reason for organizing the recent elections was to legitimize his stay at the helm of that beleaguered country. He expected those conducting the elections to understand and play along his game. Some of the election officials are now languishing in jail for permitting Mugabe’s opponents to win the parliamentary elections. Even before the elections, many things seemed to be working against the increasingly arrogant Mugabe. His biological clock was ticking faster and louder, some of his cronies were deserting him, the economy was making a mockery of his intelligence and the old man was running out of ideas and political survival options.
The irony of Zimbabwe’s tragedy is such that it has even unified people that usually are at opposite ends of the ideological divide. Populist South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Neo Conservative US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice both referred to the Mugabe regime as a “disgrace”. Indeed few people that have followed the situation in that country will disagree with them.
Though it is a trend in many parts of Africa for presidents to cling to power at all cost, Mugabe’s case is particularly disturbing because his rise to power was celebrated more as an African affair than Zimbabwe’s and he was looked upon as role model. It is an irony that at a time that Mugabe is trying to extend his 28 year rule over a crumbling Zimbabwe, his counterpart in neighboring and stable Botswana is stepping down after completing his two 5 year terms as president. He equally failed to learn from Mandela whose country (South Africa) now supports a disproportionate number of Zimbabwean economic refugees. Mugabe had become so immune to embarrassment that he does not see it as outrageous that his citizens will need millions of Zimbabwean dollars just to purchase a loaf of bread. If you take into consideration that barely five years ago, 1 USD was about 57 Zimbabwean dollars you start wondering what is going on. He has betrayed not only Zimbabweans but the teeming millions of people all over Africa that invested their hope on him. Mugabe owes Africans an apology for subjecting them to his embarrassing rule.
As it became obvious that Mugabe’s ZANU-PF was losing the legislative and presidential elections, observers started focusing attention on the slow, piece meal release of the results. There were concerns raised that the delay may be deliberate and could give time for the Mugabe camp to regroup and device new methods to retain power. Those fears were confirmed when one week later, Mugabe cronies in the ZANU-PF called for a recount of the vote and the other arm of the same cronies known as ‘war veterans’ reportedly started to occupy white farms. The opposition charged that Mugabe was waging war on the people and ZANU-PF itself hinted that Mugabe was ready for a rerun even though official results were not still known. The rerun became a one man show.
Any keen observer of the Zimbabwean political scene will acknowledge that Zimbabweans were voting more against Robert Mugabe than for Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai doesn’t possess some wonderful charismatic or ideological qualities other than
that he is a rallying point against the continued stay of Mugabe. The dire situation in Zimbabwe is such that majority of the people will vote for anybody just to take the old man off their backs.
Unfortunately for Zimbabwe and Africa, Mugabe and those that have unfairly benefited from his misrule were quick to hatch the diabolical plan that has seen many innocent Zimbabweans hacked to death in order to terrorize and intimidate the opposition to withdraw from the race. Mugabe’s tactics have yielded result as the opposition leader withdrew from the race living the old man unchallenged. In the face of mounting international criticism and a UN security Council resolution condemning his tactics, the regime keeps on playing the race and land cards and portraying his opponents as unpatriotic lackeys of imaginary “white imperialists and colonialists”. This is outdated political logic. It is repulsive, cowardly and cheap propaganda directed towards the gullible dispossessed and unsophisticated Zimbabweans. This is once more a case where an educated and intelligent African (in the person of Mugabe) is employing his talents to mislead the same people that he was supposed to be showing the light for them to follow. What a tragedy for this troubled continent!
This is a sample of what some of Africa’s prominent sons are saying about Mugabe and Zimbabwe
Wole Soyinka: “Mugabe, I regret to say, has joined the ranks of the Mobutu, the Sergeant Does, the Emperor Bokassas etc. His credentials as an African nationalist have been bargained away for a mess of power”
Desmond Tutu: “He has really turned into a kind of Frankenstein for his people”.
Nelson Mandela: “Tragic failure of leadership”
Njei Moses Timah