At the time of putting this piece together, media reports were patchy regarding suspected military take-over in Zimbabwe couple of days ago. Whatever the unfolding military drama turns out to be, one emerging fact in Zimbabwe’s political ecology is that the ninety-something-year-old dictator’s ironclad regime is nearing its wits’ end, if it hasn’t taken place already.
Since playing the yeoman’s role in snatching political power from the colonial jaws of the Union Jack in 1980s, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe and his political clan have ruled Zimbabwe almost as their fiefdom.
For critical observers, it has become increasingly obvious, over the decades, that almost all the Zimbabwe’s political, as well as civil and other state bureaucratic institutions are micromanaged by the Mugabe dictatorial machine. Drawing lessons from Africa’s “life presidents” or dictators’ handbook, Mr. Mugabe has surrounded himself with family members, sycophants, and some trusted minions.
While his “hosanna gangs” fawningly cheer him incessantly, Comrade Mugabe has been using the politics of fears, jingoistic appeals, his famous role in the nation’s past liberation struggles, and the tired old mantra that the “western countries are the main sources of the continent’s sorry state and for that matter Zimbabwe.”
With this seemingly solid political strategy in place, old pal Mugabe has apparently persuaded himself into thinking that his age-old power grips over Zimbabwe body politic will long surpass his eventual exit.
Arguably, Zimbabweans were economically far better at the time of their independence from Britain than their entire time under clueless and egoistic Mugabe. It is not certain if the majority of the people of Zimbabwe are aware that their beautiful country was buoyant before Mr. Mugabe came to power.
But, as indicated early on, the news playing out appears sketchy; nonetheless, it looks like all the media accounts are authentic and suggest that the country’s military, reported to be more sympathetic toward the recently deposed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has quietly removed Mr. Mugabe from power. President Mugabe and his politically ambitious wife Grace Mugabe are believed to be confined under house arrest in an unknown location within the country.
Regarding Mr. Emmerson “Crocodile” Mnangagwa’s firing from the vice presidency, many observers agree that this dumb political calculus might have spelled the doom for Mr. Mugabe. In this particular instance, Mr. Mugabe has drawn a bad card.
He has bitten; but, hardly did he realize that the “crocodile meat” was more than he could chew with his old falling teeth. In other words, there is a compelling reason behind the nickname “crocodile” as attributed to then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The fact is President Mugabe was fully aware of his veteran Veep’s political savviness, including Mnangagwa’s crocodile-like dangerous nature, especially when anyone crosses his political path. Ironically, boss Mugabe has unsuspectingly become the latest big fish to join the long lists of political victims get swallowed down the slippery throat of “Crocodile” Mnangagwa.
Generally, that is why it raises suspicion among many geopolitical experts that Mr. Mnangagwa, who fled to the neighboring South Africa after Mr. Mugabe kicked him out from the vice presidency post, may be the driving force behind what seems to be a military putsch ongoing in Zimbabwe as we write.
Here, the Zimbabwe military must be bold enough to call its action a coup, because given the precarious socioeconomic, political, and cultural circumstances created by “life President” Mugabe, many of us strongly believe the temporary take-over is nobly justified, regardless of the African Union’s .
What this presupposes is that the African Union needs to sit its spineless and corrupt tail somewhere and let the military clean up all vestiges of tyrannical rule in Zimbabwe before returning to barracks. Honestly, the political culture or conditions under which the poor Zimbabweans are living through cannot be genuinely classified as constitutional democratic order. The people there deserve far better than the Mugabe’s despotic one-party government of ZANU-PF.
Again, if these reports about Mr. Mugabe’s removal are eventually corroborated, and indeed the “old grand pal” is not restored to power, the future of Zimbabwe political culture will forever change; most likely for the better. More so, this also means Mr. Mugabe’s political powerhouse clan built over the years is on the brink of extinction in that it is not guaranteed whoever succeeds him will include remnants of Mr. Mugabe’s trusted hangers-on, let alone pursues any of his polarizing policies.
Certainly, Madam Grace Mugabe widely believed to be undergoing grooming in Zimbabwe’s domestic and interstate politics is going to be blown away quickly, similar to a mosquito playing along stormy seashore.
Another important factor to consider is that it is sheer foolery for anyone in his/her advanced age to conceive the idea that he/she can lay a viable blueprint for a long-term political dynasty that will pave the way for a close family member to take over power.
This is always one of the fatal miscalculations of dictators. Even if it has any chance of success, Comrade Mugabe might have waited for far too long before pursuing his dynastic ambitions.
Keep this in mind: The Mugabes of this world’s brand of politics is long discredited, indefensible, and unsustainable, to say the least. As I have stated several times, true democracy as practiced in US, Britain, and now in Ghana, may not be all that perfect, yet not only is it more humane but also it’s a strong sea wall erected against the tide of one-party rule, despotism, or something far worst.
Surely, there are some few species of dictators here and there; but, like the Zimbabwean dictator Comrade Mugabe, all dictators are on the endangered species list all over in the 21st century habitat. It is why the AU must shut up and stop the blatant hypocrisy by behaving as if all its members are committed to true democracy.
Too late for the AU’s needless marathon; the Mugabe political era is over the steep cliff now! The other one-party ruling clans’ turn will definitely come, eventually.
Bernard Asubonteng is United States-based writer; send your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org