Whether he is allowed to retire honourably or not, President Robert Mugabe's image
as an intelligent African leader who led a heroic struggle that defeated Ian Smith and his white racists (who had vowed never to give up power to the African majority in a thousand years”) has been totally destroyed.
By hanging on to power for too long (1980-2017) he has allowed his heroic days to be forgotten or transfigured. He is now a figure of fun or of pity. Neither of which is good for his image.
You see, most members of the “lumpen proletariat” of every country turn out to be iconoclasts. They are therefore always waiting for someone whose egotism has been paraded before their eyes, to fall. So that they can kick him. Whilst he's down.
I am saddened that Mugabe has joined the ranks of the fallen idols because, in his early years in power, he proved that he possessed a genuine inherent intelligence which he had used to acquire seven academic degrees, some from within prison walls (See Wikipedia).
93-year-old Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe
He also demonstrated emotional intelligence in those early years. He appointed a white man as Minister of Agriculture in a country where the landless black masses were baying for white-owned land. “Willing seller, willing buyer” became the order of the day. Some white farmers stayed. Others left. But Zimbabwe prospered for a time, despite the doomsday scenarios created by the Ian Smith gang.
And then, as Frantz Fanon had prophesied, the President was impelled by his associates to become “chairman” of the “business entity” known as Zimbabwe. There were super-shareholders in that enterprise. In-fighting between the various groups with banknotes hidden in their revolutionary berets led to disillusionment and even partial rebellion. But Mugabe ignored it.
However, the Zimbabwe dollar did no such thing. It became more worthless than the Ghana Cedi had been in our worst of years of kalabule.
When the economic rebellion turned political, Mugabe still did not read the signs.
He thought he could escape with rhetoric, the realities that had downed the likes of Mao Tse Dong, Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin, by turning the political screws on his opponents. It didn't work.
But he still couldn't see things for what they truly were.
Worse, he introduced a “Jezebel factor” into the Zimbabwe equation. He came under the spell of a woman who was to become his second wife, Grace Mugabe.
Africans love to gossip about sexual relations between powerful men and their (often numerous) women. When their minds are unhinged in that direction, they “don't know where to stop!” Hence Kwame Nkrumah was made to beget a “snake” with his Egyptian “mummy”; Jomo Kenyatta was cast from the top of Mount Kenya into the depths of the “White Highlands” by a woman called Mama Ngina, where his spirit was trampled upon by the ghosts of those who had once taken an oath subliminally administered by him.
Grace Mugabe was equally transformed: she became “Gucci Grace”; she was rumoured to have spent $70,000 on a single shopping spree in Paris; and there were stories about massive and luxurious mansions in Hong Kong, Singapore and Harare itself – all hidden under her fingernails, so to speak.
Mugabe had ears that did not “hear” about these things. On the contrary, he allowed the “Super-Shopper” to become Appointer-in-chief of Ministers and executives of state institutions.
And she fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Now, Mnangagwa was no Johnny-Threepennies in the Zimbabwe liberation struggle.
He, like Jacob Zuma of South Africa, knew where the bodies were buried.
And there were plenty of bodies. There was the body of Herbert Chitepo, who was blown up in his car in Lusaka in March 1975. There was the body of Josiah Tongogara, chief of the Zimbabwe National Liberation Army, who was “accidentalised” to death one week or so after the 1980 Lancaster House agreement that was to give Zimbabwe independence.
Mnangagwa did not get his nickname, “The Crocodile” for nothing. He beat a hasty retreat to parts where the trolley of Shopping Grace could not reach him. And he showed Mugabe that there is power, and there is also military power. Mugabe had forgotten what Mao had said about power coming out of “the barrel of a gun”?
It is a maddeningly sad situation. Will Mnangagwa, if he becomes President, be able to restore democracy and a stable economy to Zimbabwe?
It is anybody's guess. Samora Machel, the gallant fighter whose unquenchable Pan-African spirit led him to plan joint-military-actions against Ian Smith by Zanla and Frelimo, wouldn't like the current scenario in Zimbabwe one bit. He would have asked Mugabe, “But Comrade Bob, did it have to come to this?”
I suppose Bob could answer that he's not the only leader who has been brought down by the “Jezebel factor”.
Mao was done for – at least as far as reputation goes – by an attractive actress called Chiang Ching, and her collaborators who were dubbed “The Gang of Four”. They invented something called “The Cultural Revolution”, which caused so much havoc in Chinese society that Maoist ideology was eventually jettisoned and replaced with red-toothed capitalism, as smuggled in by Deng Xiaoping.
What did Adam say to The Almighty when he was caught eating the forbidden fruit? “The woman whom thou gavest to me....!”
Who gaveth “Gucci Grace” to Comrade Bob? Only Comrade Bob knoweth.
The joke making the rounds in Harare currently is that “Gucci Grace” is prevailing on Comrade Bob not to cede power voluntarily (as the army is trying to get him to do in order not to trigger AU action against the Zimbabwe army as a haven of coup-makers).
Her objective? To get Emmerson Mnangagwa to divorce his wife and retain Gucci Grace as The First Lady of Zimbabwe, whatever happens to Comrade Bob!
Well, Delilah did conspire with the Philistines against Samson, while Samson, like Comrade Bob, was somnolent, didn't she?
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