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Ruling from the deathbed: A curse of our times

By Courage Shumba

It would have been a bad precedent for Mugabe to have been removed from office through natural death. It still remains an ugly possibility that he will die in office unless someone sensible and concerned whispers some purpose into the nonagenarian. 

Questions surround truth about Robert Mugabe’s health
Questions surround truth about Robert Mugabe’s health

With age every human being loses energy and vitality and it is certainly cold and abusive on the part of Mugabe’s inner family and those around (him) to keep pushing and urging him on.

What we see playing out in Mugabe’s life is quite concerning and offending, embarrassing at the very minimum. The images of our president sleeping, mouth open, through important regional and international summits or being hackled by the buckle having collapsed or fallen are disconcerting. I could not wish this on any person of old age whatever his race, mistakes or history. It spites the conscience.

Recently rumour had it that Mugabe was dead or had collapsed and others insist he is gravely ill. It will be sad if Zimbabwe has to remember one of its controversial maybe iconic veterans as a frail old man who ruled the country from the death bed.

The excitement generated by rumours of Mugabe’s death or illness are a hard one for me to grind. Frankly I would rather Mugabe takes a rest outside the demanding schedules of state office.

For me the attraction to that cowardly triumphalism which succeeds only through the death of another human being remains obscured by my passion for an alternative emboldened vision which hinges on resuscitating and resurrecting our politics and economics going forward based less on opportunities created by Mugabe’s death but more on the sheer ability of us as a people to side step impediments and bring stability to our country acting together as a people.

Zimbabwe today needs fresh, innovative and energetic minds to stir it away from the precipice.

Frankly it is unrealistic to insist that the most imaginative, innovative and cleverest among us today and by inference the best suited for the highly demanding office of president is an ailing 90 year old.

An argument of this calibre arises from failing to understand the difference between where we are and where we should be and how that affects us going forward in a world that is no longer governed by artificial borders.

It assumes that to lead is to occupy office without creating any connection to the purpose of any such occupation.

I have always felt very worried each time I have had to go through Mugabe’s lack of candour and subsequent fall from grace, the corruption and the failure to deliver as a leader. Mugabe was supposed to be and to have remained a mentor, a hero, a veteran that surpasses time, a standard to be used to judge and hold future generations of leadership in check. That is what we expect from founding fathers.

But Mugabe and his colleagues continue to behave like those human like creatures called Baboons when they set upon an unguarded crop. They destroy whatever is in the way, running amok, cheering one another as they loot and feed. They have no sense of future.

It is this baboon mentality which now holds Mugabe and his party captive in a country which they ought to be living heroes having squandered years of opportunities to make Zimbabwe a success story.

Mugabe is dying with the country crumbling and tightly squeezed between his genitals.

Is it not a pity that Mugabe who should be retired and revered now hides from cameras and public view for a man whose remains are in office? How does he wish promote tourism if he is never seen in the caves of Chinhoyi or in Hwange showcasing our big six or in Vumba showing off our mountains?

Ailing Mugabe about to fall and being aided by bodyguards.
Ailing Mugabe about to fall and being aided by bodyguards.

What is the basis of this presidency if the main actor is now reliant on being secretly wheeled in and out of public view to protect his frailty outside practical considerations of what is demanded by his job from him as a person?

Reader, I repeat that I find no joy whatsoever in what appears to be a one sided molestation of a senior citizen by a juvenile .But what choices do we have when those older and who should be wiser behave like children in nappies and fail to call time on an obscenity being performed for toddlers by grownups?

Who do we turn to? Where do we look? Why is Zanu PF failing to put its house in order and make clear, confident moves to refresh the country with new ideas and new hope instead of holding the country to a standstill waiting for Mugabe to die?

Tsvangirai has a point in calling for the coming together of all stakeholders. I think he misses the point by insisting on fresh elections. To be brutally truthful elections are not going to help us go forward because they are divisive by nature and a country in our situation needs to be coming together almost to being a few degrees blind to the idea of party politics for a while.

What is required as Tsvangirai points out is to bring together all stakeholders and map out a way to govern together in the next five years in some form of return to some multi party government in a responsibility sharing arrangement.

Calls for fresh elections are going to be ignored by the courts to begin with and at later stage resisted by the security forces if the high stakes are not considered. It will be foolhardy to want to push the security forces into a position where they have to make political decisions. The next five years must be used as a way of developing trust and generating the will to hold down a nervous economy and flaring tempers.

What Mugabe must do, if he still can, is to facilitate the coming together of the nation to find its feet and map its way out of the doldrums it finds itself in.

We have to go back to the drawing board to find purpose and strength as a people. Biti is not wrong in his assessment that we are in the waters which favour coups. And a coup will be bad for those that declare and oversee it as well as to those who are subject to it.

In this era such things no longer last if they can succeed at all and when they do crush they do so with uglier consequences. The only option for Zimbabwe is to come to the drawing board and form some of caretaker administration.

Unsteady Mugabe being helped by aides
Unsteady Mugabe being helped by aides

It will be tragic if Zanu PF chooses to remain under some spell in the hope that Mugabe will grow younger and maintain some grip whilst the young Turks strip the economy further. That delusion borders on insanity. For a party that should celebrate liberating the people to run itself down to governing fraudulently is very demeaning.

It speaks of a party with no vision and whose strategists are not revolutionary firebrand patriots by mere crooks whose limited nationalism never venture outside filling stomachs beyond the family name.

For Mugabe to be the most wished for and most anticipated death in a country he fought for is disheartening. We should be praying for him to live longer to protect a legacy of equality and fair opportunity not turning us into economic immigrants and destitute abroad.

Mugabe must take his final step by stepping down and allow Zanu PF to live together with other people beyond 34 years of mayhem, fear, violence and bigotry.

We are now living in a global age. It means our competition is now global and so should be our partnerships. Zimbabwe needs to organise its house and meet the challenges of this new order with confidence. Zimbabwe cannot be allowed to harvest a curse from the blessings of abundance. We need to be more discerning.

Mugabe was our hero in Lancaster. That was in the seventies. Time has changed and so has events. We are not at Lancaster anymore. We are not at war anymore. We do not forget or undermine the huge sacrifice taken in our names to unyoke us from the racism we suffered under white supremacists.

We also refuse to betray the same by standing idly by whilst the meaning of that sacrifice is enjoyed at the expense of the majority of our people by a few misguided malcontents who have no desire to build a happy nation. We refuse to stay away from the challenge to lock horns and even die in search of a victory for the common man.

Mugabe did many brave things in his lifetime and so did Tsvangirai. If there is energy to do more let that be shown by the willingness to be more democratic, to be inclusive, to be accommodating and to accept that Zimbabwe is no longer a playground for a single maoist idea, or a single super liberal experiment but that we have come to the stage where we no longer look for idols, heavyweights or omnipotent players.

We are all in this together to create and sell the best idea that Zimbabwe can gather around for the sake of its economy, its internal relations, everlasting stability and the children who wait to inherit the fortunes we must leave behind.

Courage Shumba is a member of the NCA Party and writes in his own capacity