By Jonathan Moyo
WHAT are the reasons behind President Robert Mugabe’s quest for another term in office in the forthcoming general election as it is now clear to e
veryone that there is absolutely nothing good or better which he will be able to do for Zimbabwe which he has been unable to do in 27 years since 1980?
Apparently, there are three reasons and all of them are personal.
The first has to do with what Mugabe sees as the “Kaunda jinx”. With old age obviously getting the better of him, Mugabe is said to be now displaying the typical granny-habit of frequently talking to himself a lot about all of kinds of little nothings. One such nothing about which he has been repeatedly mumbling to himself to validate his 2008 candidacy is that he will not leave office after 27 years like the former president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, who was thrown out of power through the polls after 27 controversial years in power.
To Mugabe, “27 years” is cursed by the ghost of Kaunda’s unceremonious exit in 1991 and for that reason he must seek reelection in March in order to remain in office well beyond 27 years in order to set his own standard. On this score, Mugabe is said to mumble to himself words like “Oh, they think I am like Kaunda and I will go after 27 years. Why? They are mad. I won’t go like Kaunda. I will go in my own way and at my own time. They will see.”
The second reason that Mugabe is said to be mumbling to himself like a jolly good old man while rationalising his divisive 2008 reelection bid is that he is deeply troubled by the fact that allegations that he is an illegitimate president who stole the election in 2002 have refused to go away. Hence Mugabe is said to habitually mutter to himself such things as, “Oh so they think I am an electoral thief! Okay, I will show them who I am. I will run again in 2008 and humiliate them once and for all by showing them that the people are with me. Let them have whatever they mean by free and fair elections and they will not defeat me. No, they just can’t defeat me if we give them their free and fair elections in March and not later.”
Winning “free and fair” elections that will not be credibly disputed by his detractors has become a legacy issue for Mugabe. Opposition and international charges that he is an electoral thief have deeply wounded him. This is because he believes that he is so popular with the electorate that there is nobody in or outside Zanu PF who can defeat him in any popular election.
Indeed, Mugabe’s determination to prove his detractors wrong about his electoral support is one of the key explanations behind his Machiavellian if not meaningless concessions in the ongoing Sadc-mandated dialogue between Zanu PF and the MDC factions being mediated by President Thabo Mbeki who was in the country yesterday in a desperate effort to salvage the dialogue that is now clearly on the rocks.
The third and most fundamental reason that Mugabe is said to murmur to himself as justification for his contentious 2008 reelection bid comes from his profound fear of the “Hague Factor”. Although he does not want to discuss the issue with anybody, Mugabe is said to be only too eager to talk to himself aloud about his fear that he would be dragged to the Hague in the Netherlands by “imperialists or their puppets” on charges of having committed crimes against humanity during his troubled rule through horrendous acts such as Gukurahundi.
The murmurs he is said to make about this fear are to the effect that, “Oh, so now they want me to step down even when the people clearly want me to continue serving them! All because they want to take me to their Kangaroo court in The Hague? What temerity! We shall see. They won’t get anywhere with that. After all they are the ones who have committed the worst atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are the ones who should be put on trial, not me. Anyway, I’m not going anywhere. I will remain here serving my people till I die.”
It is telling that Mugabe’s desire to remain in office for life in order to retain his immunity lest he is prosecuted on allegations of committing crimes against humanity is the only one of his three reasons for seeking reelection in March which has been astonishingly picked up as a campaign issue by some of his opportunistic backers in Zanu PF.
Two weeks ago Vice-President Joseph Msika, who all along had been seen as a towering voice of reason against Mugabe’s hunt for endorsement in Zanu PF, shocked the nation by proclaiming at a party meeting organised by the Harare province that Mugabe should remain in office for life.
Msika’s proclamation opened the floodgates of irrationality bordering on insanity. Last weekend the head of Zanu PF’s women’s league, Oppah Muchinguri, who is also Gender and Community Development minister, made a deathly statement while addressing a party meeting to rally support for Mugabe’s endorsement in Gweru that was also addressed by Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs and Minister of Rural Housing Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Said she: “The late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo died in office and the late Vice-President Simon Muzenda died in office; President Mugabe must also be allowed to die in office.”
Muchinguri’s scandalous statement — which revealed Zanu PF’s morbid manifesto for 2008 — was broadcast on ZTV news on Monday. The essence of that manifesto, whose pillars are the three reasons why Mugabe is seeking reelection as outlined above, is that the ongoing solidarity marches and rallies proclaiming Mugabe’s endorsement as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate next year are all about trying to keep Mugabe in office for life.
As such, Mugabe’s reelection campaign is all about himself and for himself. The reactionary forces in Zanu PF and from other groups allied to the ruling party that have been falling over each other to opportunistically proclaim their endorsement of Mugabe’s candidacy have not put forward even just one rational explanation for their incredulous support for Mugabe beyond scandalously profiling him as a revolutionary who must rule for life.
Yet the simple fact is that there has never been, and there never will be, a revolution that is for and about an individual. Those who confuse an individual with a revolution are repugnant reactionaries who pose danger-most-serious to society and who are thus enemies of the people’s revolution.
Any person who, as head of state and government, wants to rule for life under any pretext is by definition a danger to society. And anybody and any group that supports and endorses such a person’s continued stay in office under whatever pretext is also by definition very dangerous to society.
While it may be possible for some people to stop themselves from going up, it is just not possible for anyone to stop themselves when they start going down. Mugabe is clearly going down yet even he is pretending to be going up through his reelection bid. He cannot and will not stop himself. He needs to be stopped for his sake.
Those blindly supporting and endorsing his ill-fated reelection bid must know that human beings do not get stronger, healthier and wiser as they grow older. The contrary is true because the passing years necessarily steal from any person one thing after another until there is nothing left. When age is in, the wisdom is out. That is why it is a contradiction in terms to describe an aged person, such as Mugabe, as a visionary.
It should therefore go without saying that Mugabe is no longer as strong, healthy and wise as he may have been in the past.
Right now Zimbabweans have become hopeless and helpless as the country continues to face three intertwined challenges that are crying out for systematic attention, namely:
The need for a political settlement to restore national confidence in our system of governance and legal dispensation;
The need for a rational economic rescue package to halt the precipitous economic meltdown and to turnaround the national economy; and,
The need to end to Zimbabwe’s international isolation and economic sanctions.
None of Mugabe’s three reasons behind his 2008 reelection bid addresses any of these challenges. In fact, it is not possible to address these challenges through any presidential election campaign that has Mugabe at its helm.
The weight of the crisis facing Zimbabwe today requires an energetic leader who is among the stronger, healthier and wiser members of our society to lead a national people’s patriotic front that brings together everyone while addressing national and not personal issues.
Professor Jonathan Moyo is Independent MP for Tsholotsho.