Mugabe is just grandstanding, take no notice

Robert Mugabe's insistence on harmonised elections in 2011 should be dismissed as grandstanding and not worth taking note of. It is unfortunate that the divided party has all of a sudden suspended proper diplomatic decorum for media stunts in communicating with the SADC mediator.

Judging from the tone of statements from Harare, it is now as if Zimbabwe has withdrawn its ambassador from South Africa and the Herald has taken over. Similarly, recent pronouncements by Zanu-pf spokesperson Rugare Gumbo that the party would not allow anybody (SADC) to come and meet with the country’s security chiefs is just hypocrisy.

We haven’t forgotten that in 2002 the South African government commissioned a probe into the role of the military in Zimbabwe’s bloody presidential elections and the ‘explosive’ report is being withheld by President Jacob Zuma despite several court orders to release it to the Mail and Guardian newspaper. Did they not meet with the security chiefs in Harare? After all in March last year, President Zuma in his capacity as mediator met with RBZ Governor Gono and the A-G, J. Tomana as well as MDC’s Roy Bennett.

It is becoming more evident that all is not well in the former liberation movement and that Zanu-pf is coming to terms with two facts of life. One is its realisation that the ballot is mightier than the gun or bullet in order to gain genuine international recognition since Zimbabwe won independence in 1980. The party is now aware that even with the backing of narcissus in uniform there is no alternative to true legitimacy in international relations.

The only problem with Zanu-pf’s interpretation of elections is in reducing them to a bloody ritual of legitimising its leader/s rather than a serious contest of credible candidates trying to win public support for their alternative policies or political party programmes.

Another important fact of life which Zanu-pf has finally come to terms with is the inevitability of ageing and consequently the imperative of succession planning. The party has finally realised that failure to plan is a guaranteed way to planning to fail. For years, succession planning was omitted or deleted from the party’s agenda. Now chickens have come home to roost.

The succession of Robert Mugabe as the leader of Zanu-pf was regarded as sacred and sacrosanct subject out of fear of upsetting the Supreme Leader. However, day-by-day, the party is finally coming to terms with the fact that leaders should come and go in any social movement or organisation, failing which, health will have the final say.

There are two possible explanations about Zanu-pf’s lack of succession planning. One was the mistaken belief in a one-party-state whereby some thought the party and its Supreme Leader would rule for life until all Zimbabweans including those in the Diaspora then rejected the draft constitution in 2000. Another possible explanation is what could be described as narcissistic tendencies of the party’s leadership.

According to medical experts, a narcissistic personality is a condition characterised by an inflated sense of self-importance, need for admiration, extreme self-involvement, and lack of empathy for others. Individuals with this disorder are usually arrogantly self-assured and confident. They expect to be noticed as superior.

Experts say that although many highly successful individuals might be considered narcissistic, this disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviours become persistent and very disabling or distressing. It is also further explained that vulnerability in self-esteem makes individuals with this disorder very sensitive to criticism or defeat (www.mentalhealth.com).

The implications for lack of planning Mugabe’s successor are beginning to be felt through the infighting within Zanu-pf. This is evident from the contradictory statements on the roadmap and embarrassing backtracking let alone attacks on the SADC mediator President Jacob Zuma which are then disowned as ‘personal opinions’. To make matters worse, even the pronouncements of the party’s negotiator/s to the GPA are seldom official until they are endorsed by the politburo.

Accordingly, there are genuine concerns within and outside Zanu-pf that some hardliners or fundamentalists are trying to cover-up for their mistake of lack of succession planning by trying to rush the country through a ritualistic and authoritarian ‘election’ simply to enable Mugabe stand as a candidate then anoint his successor should he win albeit with help from the securocrats.

Another frightening prospect of the simmering succession crisis is its possible deterioration into a tragic war of insurgence directed by warlords of three factions – after the emergence of the ‘young turks’ or the architects of rent-seeking politics as the third ‘entity’ in the party.

However, in view of the possible threat of various sanction regimes – regional (SADC), international or targeted e.g. EU, US, UK, and global (UN) let alone the prospect of a no-fly-zone in a worse case scenario, it is safe to say that Mugabe is just grandstanding, take no notice.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri, Political Analyst, zimanalysis2009@gmail.com