Candid Comment: Mugabe’s Phoney Revolution

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s campaign team is claiming he is fighting to retain power because he wants to defend the revolution and empower the people 100% — whatever that means.

 

The pretensions that Mugabe is a revolutionary are captured by quoting serious revolutionaries like Ernesto Che Guevara and outrageously using their symbols, memory and history to preserve tyranny.

Che’s Guerrillero Heroico (heroic guerilla) picture — consisdered by some to be the most famous photograph in the world — is also abused to safeguard naked autocracy.

Even rap artists like the late famous American musician, actor and social activist Tupac Amaru Shakur also have their legacy abused in defence of the dictatorship.

This is barely surprising coming as it does from a repressive party driven by deceptive propaganda and myths.

Using Tupac’s messages is entirely inappropriate. Most of Shakur’s songs are about growing up amid violence, ghetto adversities, racism, problems in society and conflicts with other rappers. Tupac’s work advocates political, economic, social and racial equality, as well as his raw descriptions of violence, drug and alcohol abuse and conflicts with the law.

This is absolutely irrelevant to Mugabe’s campaign. The quotes which are used in Mugabe’s adverts are clearly taken out of their original context and opportunistically superimposed on his campaign.

Mugabe is not like Che and indeed the Argentine Marxist revolutionary is wholly unlike Mugabe.

Che, a politician, author, physician, military theorist, and guerilla leader, whose stylised image became an ubiquitous countercultural symbol worldwide, was a revolutionary at heart, driven by experiences and observations which led him to fight for a world revolution to end economic inequalities and poverty through a radical ideology.

He fought in Latin America and Africa for his ideals moving from one place to another as soon as his mission was accomplished. Although he has been venerated and reviled in a multitude of biographies, memoirs, books, essays, documentaries, songs, and films, he is not a phoney.

By contrast, Mugabe is clearly not a revolutionary. His history, actions and policies past and present cannot support such a claim. Mugabe’s claim to a revolutionary mantle and mythical façade have been shattered by history. Even his contempararies have clearly stated that he is anything but a revolutionary. It has become clear that at the very least Mugabe hijacked — after he was forced to reluctantly assume a leadership role — the cause of a failed revolution to grab and monopolise power.

He was not driven by profound ideological beliefs in his quest but by an opportunistic desire to lead and dominate as soon as he was thrust by a combination of detention, coups and dangerous accidents of history to the helm.

Zanu PF, which Mugabe leads, is also not a revolutionary organisation. At the very least it is a mob party motivated by gaining power to access state resources by all means necessary. It has no cohesive, coherent or discernible ideology to talk about. It also does not believe the era of ideology is gone and has been replaced by an age of pragmatism.

In other words, Mugabe and Zanu PF are ideologically nondescript.

Where in the world have you heard a revolutionary who complains that his policies — in this case the land reform programme — did not succeed because the imperialist power (Britain in this case) refused to provide the money and resources to finance them?

Mugabe is claiming Britain reneged on its promise to fund land reform. This can’t be the thinking and language of a revolutionary. Imagine Che complaining his programmes did not work because the US and Britain did not give him the resources.

Even after taking over in 1980, Mugabe did not reform the settler colonial state along the lines of a revolutionary programme. He was happy to even assume instruments of coercion and legal relics of the colonial regime. The new state did not at all reflect a society emerging out of a revolution. Its fabric and pillars remained untouched, while some of its aspects were preserved up to this day.

Mugabe and his sclerotic party’s motives and objectives underlying their current fading domination are clear: power, position, reshaping society in their own image to consolidate their rule and primitive accumulation.

One should remember that none of these interests would be served if they relinquish power. That is why Mugabe and his party are fighting tooth and nail to cling to power. They are also clinging on because of their fear of prosecution for human rights abuses, but the primary motive is without a doubt self-interest.

Zanu PF’s story in many ways is a tale of violence and power conquest, plunder, theft and robbery which destroyed the economy. Of course, there is a lot of good things Mugabe and Zanu PF did, but they are currently hopelessly overshadowed by their legacy of economic ruin, poverty and violence. No doubt they will be remembered more for the tragedy — not revolutionary change — they visited upon the country than the good work they did in the past.