Tuesday, June 7, 2016
Zimbabwe doomed as long as Mugabe stays on
By Jonathan Moyo
ALTHOUGH President Robert Mugabe has of late been displaying bravado by ruthlessly attacking in public some Zanu PF contenders for his 27-year tainted rule, such as Joice Mujuru, and unleashing violence against opposition politicians in police cells, while giving the impression he is still like an invincible lion, the inescapable home truth visible to all and sundry is that he is now behaving like a cornered rat whose quandary is that every escape route it tries is a dead-end.
This became clear after his astonishing yet revealing indication last week that he is set to dissolve parliament in the next few months to enable him to yet again stand for re-election under controversial circumstances that are certain to widen and deepen Zanu PF divisions.
At best, the threatened dissolution of parliament which has angered Zanu PF MPs is designed to give Mugabe assured campaign assistance from the ruling party's parliamentary hopefuls who would be forced to support his divisive candidacy in joint presidential and parliamentary elections he wants to call well before the expiry of his current term in March 2008.
But there could be another sinister agenda to resuscitate Mugabe's dead 2010 plan.
In effect, Mugabe does not want to be succeeded by anybody. Zanu PF factional leaders who imagine that they are Mugabe's preferred successors are living in a fools' paradise because Mugabe does not want any successor.
This is because in his book there will never be a vacancy for the presidency as a long as he is alive.
Witness how, because he has no shame in putting himself above Zimbabwe, Mugabe has become so determined to play all sorts of dirty games in his shocking quest to find any pretext to justify his ambition to remain in office and rule for life. As a result, his public pronouncements have become an embarrassing tale of flip-flops.
In December 2004 he was settling to retire in 2008 while publicly putting his weight behind Joice Mujuru as his designated successor whom he had clumsily imposed on the hierarchy of Zanu PF and government against laid down rules and procedures and to the detriment of the democratic process inside the ruling party.
But by December 2006 at the Zanu PF annual conference in Goromonzi the same Mugabe had changed tack as he was now bad-mouthing Mujuru and asking for a two-year extension of his rule under a deceitful plan to harmonise presidential and parliamentary elections in 2010.
Come March 2007, against the background of a decisive rejection by his own party of his sinister 2010 plan, Mugabe is now asking for a fresh and full presidential term while threatening to cause chaos and mayhem in Zanu PF by dissolving parliament in what is an utterly reckless pursuit of power for its own sake.
Besides his personal and maybe family interest, there is no ideological content, no policy thrust and no enduring national agenda or principle behind Mugabe's latest bid to extend and further entrench his rule through a self-indulgent re-election campaign that would require a premature and ill-advised dissolution of parliament. Even the usual anti-Blair gibberish would not do because Tony Blair is leaving office this July.
And the notion that the defence of Zimbabwe's sovereignty or land reform is possible only if Mugabe is in office is now a silly joke that is not funny. What everyone can now see and understand is that Zimbabwe is doomed as long as Mugabe remains in office. This is not a realisation of people who hate him but people who love Zimbabwe more and who want to put their country first and above any individual.
Yet Mugabe's indication that he will now seek re-election is revealing and most welcome in so far as it validates the fact which he has thus far strenuously denied that his earlier plan to scrap the 2008 presidential election under the pretext of harmonising parliamentary and presidential polls in 2010 was indeed designed to extend and entrench his rule via the backdoor.
What is now clear is that Mugabe believes he needs not two but at least five more years in power which he hopes will translate into a lifetime of his rule to secure immunity from likely prosecution for his alleged human rights violations and other indiscretions.
What this means is that, along with some of his Zanu PF succession contenders who think they are his preferred choice, Mugabe is also now living in a fools' paradise since he apparently does not realise that he has put himself in an untenable lose-lose situation whether it's heads or tails, given that what most people in and outside Zanu PF now want is for him to retire in the national interest.
Mugabe's determination to remain in office until death do him part is apparently driven by a fatal combination of old age, his unquenchable thirst for power, his having a young wife with young children and his getting sycophantic advice from unscrupulous politicians, incompetent bureaucrats and delinquent propagandists all influenced by insecure and increasingly nervous securocrats who are better informed about political developments on the ground and who can see that Mugabe's empire is crumbling.
It is notable that, unlike the dead 2010 proposal which was initially championed by Nathan Shamuyarira who is now conspicuous by his silence on all major issues, Mugabe's latest bid to extend his rule by standing for re-election did not emanate from Zanu PF structures but came direct from his embattled office using the government-controlled media. This is because the desperate bid does not have structural or political support within Zanu PF.
There are some roving Zanu PF political schemers who fancy themselves as kingmakers and who have been hoping and jumping from one faction to another since 2004 and who now, because they are still shopping around either for a leader or a factional home within the ruling party, are encouraging Mugabe to stand for re-election with the promise of their campaign support. These schemers are using their alleged support for Mugabe as a convenient weapon to block the presumed political interests of Joice Mujuru, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Gideon Gono.
Among these Zanu PF schemers are the likes of Elliot Manyika, Nicholas Goche, Sydney Sekeramayi, Oppah Muchinguri, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Chinamasa who, by virtue of his ministerial portfolio, is drafting the legal instrument to facilitate Mugabe's re-election bid that would include the unpopular dissolution of parliament.
Most of them want Mugabe to stay for their own self-interest, not because they think that he is a good leader.
As influential leaders of the Zanu PF youth and women's leagues respectively, Kasukuwere and Muchinguri are key to Mugabe's controversial re-election bid and they are expected to provide powerful endorsements from their leagues. But their tasks will be more than a tall order because the majority of the youth and women in Zanu PF are saying they have had enough of Mugabe whom they accuse of failing to turn around the economy which has become Mugabe's effective opposition.
Against this backdrop, it appears that Mugabe's bid to seek re-election is intended as a ploy to regain lost political leverage in the negotiation stakes for his failed 2010 plan which he hopes to resuscitate through the bid. His strategy is to threaten to dissolve parliament in order to render every Zanu PF politician currently in public office as politically insecure and vulnerable as he himself has become.
Mugabe's hope is that by spreading his political insecurity to make it a shared threat within the leadership of his party, Zanu PF critics of his 2010 plan would be forced to rethink their opposition purely for reasons of safeguarding their own positions which are now in jeopardy as a result of Mugabe's re-election bid.
But Mugabe is in a zero sum quandary. What complicates the game plan for him to the point of being left behaving like a cornered rat, despite his roaring posture of a lion, is that, whether it's about his wish for a two-year extension of his rule under his old 2010 plan or his quest for a fresh and full presidential term under his new 2008 re-election bid that would be preceded by the unpopular dissolution of parliament, there is one irreversible constant: the growing chorus within Zanu PF's rank and file for him to retire now as a statesman or face the inevitability of a humiliating exit at the polls, as happened to Kenneth Kaunda in Zambia, or worse, be thrown out through chaos and mayhem, as happened to Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire.