By Jonathan Moyo
PERENNIAL wisdom from divine revelation and human experience dictates that all earthly things great or small, beautiful or ugly, good or bad, sad or happy, foolish or wise must finally come
to an end. It is from this sobering reality that the end of executive rule has finally come for Robert Mugabe who has had his better days after a quarter of a century in power.
That Mugabe must now go is thus no longer a dismissible opposition slogan but a strategic necessity that desperately needs urgent legal and constitutional action by Mugabe himself well ahead of the presidential election scheduled for March 2008 in order to safeguard Zimbabwe’s national interest, security and sovereignty.
One does not need to be a malcontent to see that, after 25 years of controversial rule and with the economy melting down as a direct result of that rule, Mugabe’s continued stay in office has become such an excessive burden to the welfare of the state and such a fatal danger to the public interest of Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora that each day that goes by with him in office leaves the nation’s survival at great risk while seriously compromising national sovereignty.
If there is one unified truth among otherwise divided Zimbabweans, a truth now also ringing true within key governmental and non-governmental centres of regional, continental and international opinion, it is that the country’s seven-year-old economic recession will worsen as it gets wider and deeper beyond fuel shortages unless and until there is a far-reaching political settlement of the five-year-old Zimbabwean leadership question.
So what should President Mugabe do? The leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai, says Mugabe should be dragged to the negotiating table by the likes of presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo and forced to talk a political settlement with the MDC. But calling for inter-party talks now is really flogging a dead horse not least because there’s really nothing to negotiate given the depth of “Mutually Assured Demonisation” (Mad) between Zanu PF and the MDC. No wonder Zanu PF and its government, gloating over reported divisions within the MDC as if they cannot feel the heat from the ethnic fires that are burning inside the ruling party, have been quick to dismiss inter-party talks by reminding Tsvangirai that his party is in parliament where a lot of talking is done.
On March 18 Trevor Ncube wrote an incisive analysis of the Zimbabwean predicament ahead of the general election in this paper which disappointingly concluded that President Mugabe was needed now as never before as the solution to the crisis gripping the country and challenged him to appoint able and dynamic deputies to succeed him.
Mugabe has publicly demonstrated his leadership incapacity to make way for an able and dynamic successor by succumbing to manipulative tribal pressure from a clique in his party on November 18, 2004 at a politburo meeting that unprocedurally and unconstitutionally amended Zanu PF’s constitution to guarantee the imposition and ascendancy of Joice Mujuru to the vice-presidency three days before the Zanu PF membership was due to elect a new top leadership and central committee.
Curiously, this real coup whose tribal story has not yet been told took place on the morning of the same day during which, later in the evening, a coup plot was allegedly hatched at Dinyane High School in Tsholotsho giving rise to the so-called Tsholotsho Declaration.
Inter-party negotiations or appointment of able and dynamic potential successors are no longer viable options for Mugabe not only because Zimbabwe has now reached a point of no return to Zanu PF but also because the required critical solution must focus not just on Mugabe but also, and more importantly, on Zanu PF itself where there is internal dictatorship, institutionalised patronage and refusal to reform.
This leaves Mugabe with one real option that he must now exercise: to resign in terms of the constitution of the land and to allow Zimbabweans to choose a constitutional successor now. The nation is bleeding and it would be very irresponsible to expect Zimbabweans to wait until 2008 for the presidential election.
The Zanu PF proposal that the next presidential election should be held in 2010 together with parliamentary elections due then is pure political madness gone too far all because of the politics of patronage and must be rejected with all democratic and legal force possible.
Apart from the obvious yet very important fact that a voluntary constitutional resignation to make room for a constitutional successor now would indelibly guarantee him an honourable legacy and avoid the risk of looming instability in our country, the following are among compelling reasons why Mugabe must follow the constitutional exit door by resigning now.
First, Mugabe is now leader of a shelf political party that exists only in name even with those seemingly high numbers in parliament because, in real terms, the hearts and minds of the bulk of its members have ideologically emigrated to a new all-inclusive third way beyond current party boundaries, the so-called third force which in fact is a people’s movement, such that Zanu PF membership is now only for strategic survival purposes in practical and not ideological terms which are temporary.
Mugabe could of course reverse this were he to resign now and give the remaining scattered faithful ones in his party some hope to inject a new dynamism before time completely runs out with the result of consigning Zanu PF to the fate suffered by Unip in Zambia, Kanu in Kenya and the MCP in Malawi.
The rot in Zanu PF smells in government where the Cabinet has become no better than a status club in which ministerial positions have no strategic policy value as they have become instruments of patronage to gain personal access to national resources and the illusion of power and influence.
This explains why government has now resorted to ruling through “GBO” (Government By Operations) led by jittery security arms, implemented an undeclared state of emergency and roped in the Reserve Bank to pursue an unprecedented law and order approach to monetary policy in order to criminalise Zimbabweans, whether as individuals, families or businesses, to make them insecure and vulnerable to inhuman and barbaric attacks in the name of restoring order reminiscent of the Gukurahundi days.
This evil has been dramatised by the destruction of houses and business properties that has affected the whole nation and invited the possibility of international intervention to the detriment of our sovereignty.
But the most compelling reasons for Mugabe to resign now have to do with his own fallen standing in and outside the country. The prevalence of unkind jokes about him on text messages and the Internet say it all. Mugabe now lacks the vision, stature and energy to effectively run the country, let alone his party.
He is without compassion, maybe because he is now too old, too tired and not in the best of health. His failure to visit stranded families left homeless and suffering from the irrational acts of his own government speaks volumes of his cold and cruel leadership style.
From all discernable indications, Mugabe has lost influence and is now viewed with suspicion or cynicism or both by his peers in the Sadc, African Union and across the developing world where he used to enjoy considerable authority. Of course, Mugabe is still respected as an old man and he still makes very interesting bombastic speeches that are applauded for their entertainment value and which are full of sound and fury but signifying precious little at the level of policy and action.
Given the foregoing, President Mugabe has no reason whatsoever to continue in office as that is no longer in his personal interest and is most certainly not in the national interest. He just must now go and the fundamental law of the land gives him a decent constitutional exit that he must take while he is still able to do so to save the nation and preserve his legacy.
*Prof Moyo is MP for Tsholotsho and former Information minister.