HomeOpinionMugabe Now In Power But Powerless

Mugabe Now In Power But Powerless

PRESIDENT Mugabe may well argue that if the West could accept and endorse the bizarre Kenyan formula in which the winner and loser were forced to cut a deal, there would be no reason why he cannot negotiate like President Kibaki from a position of strength.


In any event, he can point to the numerous examples showing the West’s hypocrisy on the question of democracy.

For the last 28 years, it has not been possible to expose the contempt which Mugabe has for the democratic order. Mugabe has sought to argue that democracy is not so high a value for Zimbabweans to subordinate political sovereignty to.

It has been argued by Zanu PF that the sovereignty of Zimbabwe is under threat justifying the suspension of civil liberties. The absurdity of the situation is that the elections were held under a state of emergency environment in which the incumbent president monopolised the political space and still had the audacity to call it a free and fair election. Mugabe will no doubt try to convince the world that Zimbabwe is engaged in a war against the Western world over the control and ownership of the country’s resources.

By framing the election as an extension of the liberation war, he will continue to argue that Africa should be at one with him and should embrace his brand of managed democracy. The only problem that Mugabe faces is that of legitimacy. Many leaders with the same position would not have made the mistake of getting into a race that they end up losing.

What cannot be changed is that Mugabe lost the March 29 election and sought to change the hearts and minds of citizens through state-sponsored violence. This loss will continue to haunt him personally and it is not clear how he will attempt to rewrite the history.

For the first time, Mugabe faced his peers in Egypt who may have no better democratic credentials apologising for losing an election that his administration was in control of. It is ironic that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission took only 24 hours to count the votes in the run-off elections and yet could not demonstrate the same efficiency during the first election.

In responding to the fact that he went into the run-off election as an underdog, Mugabe has already made the case that indeed he is an underdog in the face of imperialist forces determined to replace him with an alleged puppet.

By framing what is simply an election as a battle between the West and a tiny but rich country, Mugabe who still holds the view that he is the sole and reliable custodian of Zimbabwean sovereignty believes that the ballot is less important than the protection of sovereignty.

Mugabe has made the case that he deserves another term to complete the economic liberation struggle that will see the total emancipation of the country.

In making the argument, he is obviously oblivious to the fact that during his 28-year rule, no significant foreign company has pulled out of Zimbabwe suggesting that his administration has failed to come up with a sustainable alternative to the inherited ownership structure. Many foreign investors have largely discounted Mugabe’s rhetoric and are confidently investing in the country’s rich mineral resources. If Mugabe was a man of his word, why would foreign investors primarily from the very countries that are threatening sanctions find the courage that Tsvangirai has not yet mastered to do business with Mugabe’s administration?

Notwithstanding the rhetoric, Mugabe is cognisant of the fact that Zimbabwe cannot feed itself without the financial support of the Western world. To what extent has Mugabe enhanced the independence of Zimbabwe? Has he been a good protector of the sovereignty of the country?

What practical measures has he put in place over the last 28 years to promote private sector investment in the country? How viable and sustainable is the indigenisation/empowerment project supervised by Mugabe?

Mugabe remains in power but evidently powerless to change the fortunes of the country. The economy is on its knees and there is no evidence that there is any real plan of action to address the serious economic challenges that confront Zimbabwe.

He can seek to argue that the land reform programme is vulnerable if he were to step down but the reality on the ground confirms that the economic situation may have been exacerbated by the manner in which the programme has been implemented.

Even if all the productive assets were to be transferred to indigenous people, there is no mechanism in place to suggest that the country would not be worse off than it already is.

What really was the promise of Independence? Zimbabweans find themselves more vulnerable today than at Independence. It must be accepted that Zimbabwe does not live in a vacuum and political arguments without addressing the concrete economic realities facing the country will not advance any national interest.

Mugabe will never accept any responsibility for causing the economic and political crisis and, therefore, any proposals for a national unity government must be understood in the context of the values and principles that have informed the policies and programmes of his administration since Independence.

It is unlikely that Mugabe can be persuaded to accept the proposition that sovereignty is meaningless without the existence of a democratic constitutional order.

Any new order will have to be premised on an acceptance by Morgan Tsvangirai that the status quo ante remains and the disastrous economic policies will be pursued vigorously.

Mugabe holds the view that his attempts to emancipate the country from the purported grip of imperialism risk being undermined if Tsvangirai becomes the leader.

What is ironical is that Mugabe would have no problem working with Tsvangirai if the latter can assist in removing the targeted sanctions regime.

Why would Mugabe want sanctions to be lifted while at the same time seeking to argue that he does not want any economic engagement with the West? Could Mugabe be envious of the relationship between Tsvangirai and the Western world?

Mugabe was elected in 1980 to deliver on the promise of Independence but regrettably by his own version, the country cannot sustain itself without external intervention.

Clearly it is opportunistic for Mugabe to seek to argue that he needs a new mandate to do what he has not been able to do for the last 28 years.

By Mutumwa Mawere 

Mutumwa Mawere is a Zimbabwean-born businessman based in South Africa.

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