SINCE President Mugabe launched his election campaign last week, he has not disguised the fact that he is a worried man. He has not only adopted an off-message campaign but he canâ€™t stop talking about his adversaries in the presidential race, old rival Morgan Tsvangirai and the nascent opposition of Simba Makoni.
Mugabeâ€™s strategy which is firmly anchored in the tired anti-Western and anti-imperialism mantras received a major jolt with the defection of Makoni and politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa, and the realisation that Tsvangirai cannot be discounted from the race. Now realising the challenge to hand, Mugabe has revised his strategy to factor in crude tactics meant to tarnish the image of his opponents.
Government spin doctors have been wheeled into the fray to design campaign messages which place the opposition at the heart of the national crisis.
It is preposterous for Mugabe to believe that he can launder his contemptible record as a leader by telling the electorate that Tsvangirai was never close to the front during the liberation war. Voters at the moment are looking at Mugabeâ€™s record as a leader 28 years away from the warfront. What is more apparent with Mugabe today is his record of failure which he is very much aware of hence he scarcely mentions inflation and the embarrassing value of the Zimbabwe dollar.
As Makoni said this week, “ideas, not insults will take the people forward”.
“What has now become the tragic climax of their mortal combat (Mugabe and Tsvangirai) is a political thinking that says any Zimbabwean who generates new ideas to pull our country out of the mess it finds itself in is an agent of the West.”
He added: “What is completely laughable about this warped political thinking is that before the emergence of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn all the epithets that described this thinking were directed towards the MDCâ€™s Tsvangirai but now the same Tsvangirai has gone into the Zanu PF archive to pull out the same clichÃ©s and direct them at (Makoni.”)
Bereft of any inkling about extricating this nation from the current low, Mugabe has elected to attack others while at the same time elevating himself to the pedestal of a god. It is this quest to deify himself that has come to haunt our ageing leader. Mugabe is worried because his godliness has been exposed by the departure of Makoni and Dabengwa from his fold. Mugabe â€” a control freak who has over the years cowed his lieutenants into revering him â€” feels exposed and cheapened. “How dare they walk away from me?” The myth has been exploded!
Firstly, he regards the degree of reverence shown to him by his followers as the most accurate measure of patriotism and outright personal sacrifice for the cause of Zimbabwe. Those that sing the loudest in support of demagoguery are considered to be most patriotic, notwithstanding their record of failure. The safest way to safeguard a portfolio in government is to give kudos to the incumbent for every obtuse move he makes. Mugabe therefore regards Makoni and Dabengwaâ€™s defection as outright confrontation with their maker. It is challenging the anointed leader. It is running away from a god and anyone taking this route can only do so to join Lucifer.
But not any more. Mugabe is not god neither can he claim to be the custodian of all canons of patriotism. He is not the personification of national emancipation as Edgar Tekereâ€™s book revealed. Today Mugabe looms large as a cenotaph of failure. He should not be allowed to capitalise on his personal distress to seek sympathy from the electorate he has over the years shown great contempt for. Gukurahundi, Operation Sunrise and murambatsvina, and price controls are cases in point.
His campaign therefore is not about national recovery. It is instructed by the fear of losing the throne. It is a selfish undertaking in which the electorate is being asked to endorse failed policies as long as these keep the opposition from taking over.
Mugabe is definitely quacking and is currently striking a pathetic look of one who is beginning to feel the impact of being disliked by former comrades. This will not win him votes. It is a chink in the armour for the opposition to take advantage of. Whatever the results of the poll, the cast has been broken and Mugabe is busy trying to put it back together. It will take more than papering over the cracks this time round.