History repeats itself

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

GOOD day President Emmerson Mnangagwa,

Your Excellency, history abounds with accounts of leaders who stepped down from the world stage due to battered reputations. Oftentimes their undoing was that they overstayed their welcome.

They became puffed up and viewed themselves as infallible, in the end tarnishing their reputations and obliterating the positive contributions they might have made. One such leader is your predecessor, the deposed late Robert Mugabe.

His disgraceful exit, orchestrated by the military, cancelled out the gallantry acts that might have been credited to him. Being the founding head of State counted for nothing as the military ordered him to resign. It is now a hard sell to honour him as a national hero.

It is a misnomer that the main airport and some roads in every city are named after him. Yet his stepping down came after the rollout of military hardware. It is contray to the dictates of civility and democracy that his birthday is commemorated nationally.

His disgraceful overthrow was the antithesis of the dignity inherent in the Presidency. Even as all doors to his continued stay were apparently closed, notably owing to advanced age, his attempts at defying nature led to Zimbabwe’s infamous November 2017 coup d’état.

Your Excellency, it is the norm worldwide that veneration of leaders is linked to their gracious stepping down. Essentially, leadership wisdom hinges on knowing when to quit. As philosopher Confucius stated, to go too far is as bad as to fall short.

It is no secret that Mugabe went too far. The longer he stayed, the more his popularity sagged. He resultantly lost the election in 2008, only to be salvaged by the military which went on to remove him in 2017. It was inevitable for him to ultimately fall short.

Methinks William Shakespeare must have been divinely inspired when he said: “All is well that ends well.” His presage perfectly dovetails with the ancient wisdom that the art of strategic leadership is measured by the ability to calculate a well-measured retirement roadmap.

Mugabe, having been studious, credited with a chain of degrees, his end was not supposed to be induced. Yet, he overestimated his charm. He was strangely oblivious of his depleted personal appeal. All did not end well with him. He had to forgo the National Heroes Acre as his final resting place.

It was apparent that his moral authority to lead the nation was depleted. Things fell apart as both physical and mental frailties took their cumulative tolls on him. Verily, the centre could not at all hold. He lost both energy and flair.

Mugabe was, nonetheless, keen on staying put. His failure to recognise that he had passed his optimal point brought him indignity which resulted in his deposal. He was deposed, thereby suffering perpetual stigma and torment for ejection.

Your Excellency, at no point has Zimbabwe ever been stuck at crossroads as she is now. Her viability has been withered like the scriptural dry bones. She has brought about disrepute not only to herself, but to regional countries for their failure to proffer her remedial counsel.

It is impossible to inculcate the patriotism to citizenry given that even simple things like the National Sports Stadium is derelict, condemned as a venue for international football matches. 

Public service infrastructure nationwide symbolises immeasurable neglect.

There has been a worsening of the socio-economic conditions after the fall of Mugabe. Now, citizenry is in dire straits. Consequently, it is my earnest submission that your takeover did not usher in the requisite blueprint for national transformation.

As I see it, the conspicuous fall of standards of living is testimony that Zimbabwe is a failed State. Her citizenry, including graduates from higher learning institutions, are leaving for Britain en masse to be caregivers. Indeed, the severity of the ongoing poverty is torturous.

Essentially, the country is in a state of disaster. Methinks your acceptance of the delimitation report that was disowned by seven of the nine Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) commissioners was not stately. It thrust the country deeper into a socio-economic crisis.

Your Excellency, given the misgivings that surround the delimitation report, it is a safe bet that the harmonised elections will be likewise contentious. Although there is no legal requirement for consensus, duly, the dissenting commissioners had a democratic right to be heard.

Considering that the delimitation report is a key factor in the electoral process, it was utterly injudicious to accept it given that the majority of commissioners had dissented.

It could have earned you credit had you been fair with the dissenting majority.

It is my considered view that you owed it to citizenry to go public with the bone of contention between the two Zec factions.

It amounts to gross disregard of electoral stakeholders, particularly political parties and the electorate that you gazetted it unperturbed.

It is little wonder that concerns were raised over the conduct of Zec and your subsequent gazetting of the report.

Given that constitutional law fundis are raising fundamental questions, most probably the report, in its current form, could be found wanting.

Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo emboldened you, when he told you that you cannot lose elections when you are the incumbent.

He further advised you not to be bothered by what the opposition says.

I pray that the manner in which you and the two minority commissioners handled the report was not influenced by him.

Your Excellency, it is in relation to such crisis times as the one unfolding in our midst that Karl Marx said: “History repeats itself, first as a tragedy and second as a farce.”

  • Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana is a public-speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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