PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s unpleasant experiences of late are increasingly signalling that the end of his imperial rule is nigh; his reign is likely to end in a disgraceful or tragic manner. The imminent endgame is bound to be dramatic.
Editor’s Memo Dumisani Muleya
After falling at the Harare International Airport in February, being booed and heckled by opposition MPs in parliament during a state of the nation address last month and reading a wrong speech in a bungled opening of the legislature on Tuesday, signs are growing Mugabe is not only too old and frail, but also now reeling on the sunset of his long political career.
Nonagenarians, those aged between 90 and 99, are the oldest members of our societies and survivors of their generation. We ought to respect them as our elders. But watching Mugabe — who has fallen from grace to grass — being jeered and shouted down by opposition MPs is now becoming a familiar sight, showing the curtain is fast coming down on his rule.
While he is in denial and acts like a typical nonagenarian, Mugabe forgets the rigours of running a government are now beyond his capacity. He is just too old and frail for that sort of a taxing job. Even people far younger than him would find it too demanding and strenuous.
So in his own interest, that of his family and the nation, he must retire. He must just let go. He has been in power for 35 years and that’s enough, especially for someone whose rule has become a manual of how not to run a country.
It is really sad what is currently happening in the history of Zimbabwe. The country, once Africa’s jewel in the crown in many respects, has become a laughing stock presided over by a predatory and heartless political class which has colonised the state and is plundering greedily, while prepared to ignore evil, from Gukurahundi to Itai Dzamara’s abduction and disappearance for self-interest.
Those on Mugabe’s payroll, including educated and intelligent people, as well as some journalists, are ready to do anything to defend his rule. Even at a damaging cost to their reputations, they seem not to care. All ultimately for the trappings of power and official largesse, not the country. It’s materialism writ large. The tendency to consider material possessions and comfort as more important than any other value is now entrenched in society and etched on the consciences of those in power. Principles, ethics and morality have been thrown out the window. The mandate to serve the people has been reduced to a vain and hollow slogan.
Dictators reward only a small clique of party, army, police, intelligence, judiciary, legislators, senior civil servants loyalists and praise-singers who will reliably become foot soldiers to fiercely fight dissenters and the opposition with all their vicious might. The inner circle hangers-on stay loyal because either they are on the feeding trough, are corrupt or have blood on their hands.
Of course, the usual threadbare cover for apologia or defence of dictatorship and looting is a nationalism and patriotism facade. Deceptive mantras are used to camouflage the charade, mostly by dishonest or unscrupulous frauds. There is always an absurd subterfuge of trying to apply a veneer of credibility on a vile dictatorship.
Indeed, patriotism has now become a refuge for scoundrels. But then, their masks have fallen irretrievably. People can now see them for who they really are.
How did Zimbabwe come to this point?
There are many answers to this question; however, the important thing is that the history of post-colonial Africa is repeating itself in Zimbabwe. Inherently, dictators who believe L’etat, c’est moi, or “I am the state”, meaning that they are bound by no rules and have no limits, will do anything to hang onto power and plunder. But inevitably, they exit in a disgraceful manner. This is the endgame which Mugabe now faces.