Amid the deepening rift between deposed past President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, an intraparty onslaught is inevitable. Given his dictatorial inclination, as I see it, all hell is bound to break loose unless he is decidedly shut ‘upped’. It has always been apparent that Mugabe was not going to take his deposition lying down, more so that military intervention was a significant component of the strategy to unseat him. He might have tolerated impeachment, but certainly not involvement of men in boots.
By Cyprian Muketiwa
Throughout his three-decades-plus tenure, Mugabe prided himself in being the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces. He gloated as the military took orders from him, fighting wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and other peace-keeping assignments.
He was self-glorified when the commanders declared on the eve of the 2002 presidential election that they would not salute a President without military credentials, in apparent reference to the late opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai eventually won the 2008 elections. He saw no transgression of democracy in the declaration.
What is sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander. Yet, Mugabe is now playing hardball, accusing his successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa of conniving with the military to unseat him. He is bitter and seething with anger over what he now calls a coup d’etat.
According to his evaluation, his exit from power was all but a military coup. Although Mnangagwa speaks about Mugabe with reverence, describing him adorably as the nation’s founding father, Mugabe is not at all assuaged. He does not feel esteemed.
Even the assurance that, “Mugabe and his family are safe, we are dealing with criminals around him,” does not ring true to him. He is aggrieved in his conviction that his stepping down was at the undue pressure from their circumvention of democratic processes.
If ever there is one thing Mugabe urgently needs, it is to be told the plain truth. He needs to be told in no uncertain terms that he is now yesterday’s man.
This is the plain truth that must dawn on him. It is incumbent upon Mnangagwa to convey this verity. He has to hit the ground running to deliver it. Mugabe has to be woken up from his hallucinations, failure which he is destined to be a perennial spoiler.
There is no end in sight to his accusations. As he finds his voice through the private and foreign media, which he used to abhor, he is resolved to churn out charades. His conspicuous absence at the inauguration of Mnangagwa was a forerunner to his political playacting.
Mugabe turned down the Zanu PF youth league at his 94th birthday celebration. Despite being accustomed to lavish birthday parties at which accolades would be showered at him, this time around he opted for a low key one at the Blue Roof, in total seclusion of Zanu PF.
It has since emerged that Mugabe has no kind words for Mnangagwa, whom he accuses of betrayal. Speaking to an African Union high-powered delegation that was recently in the country, he laboured at length to brand the seating government as unconstitutional.
He is convinced that his unseating was a prostitution of democracy, hence repeated calls that the government is illegitimate. His allegations of ill-treatment of his family by the government, particularly his wife Grace, are meant to soil Mnangagwa’s endeavours.
Despite his advanced age, Mugabe is determined to be a thorn in the flesh of the Zanu PF government. He is bracing to stifle Mnangagwa, throwing not only the spanners, but gloves and overalls as well in the works of the said new dispensation.
He indeed is not a statesman. With him now uncharacteristically opening up to such contentious dark chapters of our history as Gukurahundi, and electoral fraud, his motivation is to bring to the fore the collective responsibility of Mnangagwa.
However, anyone who has followed the Zanu PF politics cannot be surprised by the vile outpourings from Mugabe. Amid the turns and twists of his tirades, it has long been inevitable that Zanu PF was headed for a Mugabe-instigated implosion.
What more evidence can one require for the inevitability of the fallout than the news that Mugabe shares the chalice with leaders of the new opposition party led by Ambrose Mutinhiri, who recently renounced his Zanu PF membership and Parliamentary seat.
It never dawned on the Zanu PF rank and file that Mugabe would ever turn his back on the party. They revered him as an infallible leader who dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’ of the party doctrine. He was esteemed as the heartbeat of the revolutionary party.
Yet, at the centre of the furore is the fact that Mugabe is angry over his loss of status. He was used to being the Supreme leader, the one centre of power. He called the shots; the politburo, which is the Zanu PF highest decision making body, comprised of his handpicks.
When it became apparent that wear and tear from aging was taking its toll on Mugabe, there was fear in the party to table the succession motion. Strangely, succession was such a taboo topic that anyone who mentioned it faced punitive consequences.
Subservience was the Zanu PF modus operandi. Mugabe was to the party what Napoleon was in Animal Farm, by George Orwell, where often a hen would say to another, “Under the guidance of our leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days.”
Events such as the Million Man March were of no value to the party, save for the gratification of his ego. When his wife, Grace, told the party that Mugabe was indispensable; he will rule from the grave, no one mastered the courage of their convictions to rebuke her.
His hefty post Presidency entitlements bear a heavy dosage of ingratiation, so is the enactment of a national holiday in his honour. Given the socioeconomic ruination that is evident nationwide, Mugabe is not worthy of the golden handshake.
Despots of his calibre are taken from palace to prison; Mugabe deserves to be criminally charged for atrocities and dereliction of the rule of law. His refusal to release the Chihambakwe Commission report on Gukurahundi and silence over the abduction civil rights campaigner, Itai Dzamara, are crimes against humanity.
How hard-hearted of him to demand cash payments, yet he presided over the monetary policy that wiped out cash from circulation. With his rule culminating in citizenry living in squalid in Eastview, Southlea Park and Solomio, Mugabe has no entitlement to reverence.
It is incumbent upon Mnangagwa to shut him up. At his ripe age, Mugabe is supposed to be easing in his second childhood. Yet, he abuses the gift of longevity by mudding prospects of the nation as it heaves itself from the quagmire he dumped it in.
Mnangagwa has an obligation to atone himself. Given that he is as liable as Mugabe for the ruination of what was once the breadbasket of the region, citizenry will view him with askance if he continues dilly-dalling in his handling of Mugabe.
What legacy could Mnangagwa be restoring other than that of the Mugabe mayhem? There are no ways Zimbabwe can be open for business as long as our roads and airport bear his name. As I see it, there are no treasures in Mugabe’s remnants.
Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana, email muketiwa. firstname.lastname@example.org is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist