PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week gave a narcissistic interview to the state-run television channel, ZBC, in which he spoke with instances of slurred speech and rather incoherently on a wide range of issues.
Editor’s Memo Dumisani Muleya
He touched on infrastructure, women in politics, electoral promises and jobs, management of the economy and his contentious succession battle, among other issues, in the interview to mark his 93 birthday.
Mugabe, who turned 93 on Tuesday, will tomorrow celebrate his birthday North Korean-style by throwing a lavish yet ironic party which will be characterised by the usual razzmatazz at the Matopos outside Bulawayo.
The party will be riddled with irony; for he will be feasting, in fact pigging out, and dancing with his cronies in a sea of poverty within the surrounding impoverished villages and among subalterns. For marginalised villagers it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to wine and dine with Zimbabwe’s failed dictator.
Besides the carousal to celebrate the life of a leader who postures as anti-imperialist and incorruptible is being held at Rhodes Estate Preparatory School of all places.
Founded in 1932, its completion was funded by the estate of Cecil John Rhodes who is buried in the surrounding Matobo Hills, close to King Mzilikazi’s grave to further complicate the irony. The school, steeped in British public schools traditions, is next to Rhodes’ summer-house, now a museum. To cap it all, one has to use Robert Mugabe Way which joins Matopo road to go there from Bulawayo.
Add to that the Gukurahundi atrocities outrage; it really becomes a scandal to have festivities while dancing on a graveyard of innocent victims of state-sponsored terror.
Sometimes trying to understand Mugabe’s political actions and theatrics is a journey through hell’s gate indeed.
Probably that’s why Albert Einstein once said politics is more difficult to understand than physics.
Enough of the politics of irony writ large and Mugabe’s theatre of the absurd. The real issue here is to unpack the politics behind his interview, as it were.
The first unmistakable observation is that his soporific interview was useful in its futility. While brimming with egocentrism and narcissism, as well as delusions of grandeur and woolgathering antics, it was instructive and gave us an insight into his innermost thoughts, not just about his standard denial of his disastrous leadership and its devastating consequences on the nation but also about his succession.
Effectively ruling out his co-vice-presidents, particularly the ambitious Emmerson Mnangagwa, as potential successors, claiming they were neither popular nor acceptable to the people, Mugabe in the process however hyped his wife Grace whom it’s now clear he is increasingly fancying as his successor. That, or someone close to them. This is all driven by self-interest and dreams of a dynasty. The way they now behave shows they think Zimbabwe is their fiefdom and thus fantasies of dynastic rule. We are witnessing the rise of a dynasty although it may fail.
Mugabe’s plan, and it filters through his interview, has always been to be president-for-life. Hence, he says he is going nowhere and this was confirmed by his wife who even had the temerity, the folly if you like, to claim even his corpse can win re-election.
She previously said Mugabe would continue to rule from a wheelchair or from the grave. Grace also insinuated Mnangagwa can lose an election to a chicken.
The takeaway from Mugabe’s interview is that he is going nowhere; he wants his wife or another acrony to succeed him; Mnangagwa must forget it unless he grabs power; it’s about him not the nation and its people; in others words it’s the politics of narcissism or narcissistic leadership. He is self-centred, very egotistic and vain.
Mugabe comes out of the interview as a pathological narcissist and a treacherous Machiavellian, not an astute elderly statesman he should be. This is the politics behind his latest interview.