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Is Mugabe now persona non grata in SADC?

By Clifford Chitupa Mashiri

Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe had the tables turned against him just across the border when huge crowds of Zambians chanted “Mugabe must go!” at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Lusaka.

Mugabe got a rude awakening in Zambia as protestors chanted "Mugabe  Must Go"
Mugabe got a rude awakening in Zambia as protestors chanted “Mugabe Must Go”

This was a complete opposite to the rented crowd that was bussed by Zanu-PF to meet him at Harare Airport a day earlier.

This was something Mugabe may never have dreamt of as a possibility in his lifetime – to be declared a persona-non-grata in Africa by Africans and neighbours for that matter!

This was not in Western countries which he accuses of imposing “illegal sanctions” on him.

On seeing the video that went viral on You Tube (Watch Video Here) showing hundreds of Zambians waving hands in the air and chanting their protests against Zimbabwe’s tyrant, Grace Mugabe must have cried more than she did when Mugabe left her in Singapore to recover from her appendicitis.

Mugabe disclosed that he left his wife crying in Singapore when he addressed his Zanu-PF supporters saying:

“Ndakavasiya vachichema kuti ndaakuenda, tikati basa rinosungirwa kuitwa, saka tinenge tichinzwa kuti muri kufambasei mberi nekuzorora, nekupora.” (When I left she was crying, but I pleaded with her that I needed to be at work, and we will be checking on her progress.)

While some wonder why Zambians vented their anger at their authoritarian neighbour, as they say in science ‘for every cause there is an effect’ – in this case, it is safe to infer that Mugabe’s premature visit to baby-sit Zambian elections – for the inauguration of a president who was yet to be elected as ballots were still being counted, might have sparked the people’s anger and suspicion.

Screenshot from video of “Mugabe Must Go” demo in Zambia
Screenshot from video of “Mugabe Must Go” demo in Zambia

If these are the signs of the things to come, nonagenarian Robert Mugabe, who is chairman of SADC and incoming African Union (AU) chair, may have to brave for more possible demos against his tyrannical rule and interference in other countries’ affairs in his next visit to Addis Ababa, Pretoria, Maputo, Lilongwe, Windhoek, Luanda and Kinshasa among others!!

Oh, by the way and in Singapore as well! He might find his hotel picketed by placard waving non-Zimbabweans telling him “Mugabe must go!!” That will be the end of the Gushungo dynasty!

But, on a serious note, Zambians could turn out to be Zimbabweans allies in fighting against Mugabe’s tyranny given that now they have a reason to be angry against the aged autocrat.

Reports say, Hichilema who narrowly lost the presidential by-election, claimed that Lungu stole the polls (The Standard, ‘Mugabe must go’ demos rock Zambian capital,’ 25/01/15).

Many Zimbabweans empathise with Hichilema’s frustration at the lack of a level playing field whereby for instance government helicopters allegedly refused to carry his observers to the countryside despite an earlier agreement.

Zambians may want to know that Zimbabweans have had enough of Robert Mugabe’s authoritarian rule especially as he has the temerity to call for by elections in March while sitting on the electronic voters roll since 31 July 2013.

If the nationals of SADC member countries all declare Robert Mugabe a persona-non-grata as Zambians courageously did yesterday, then we would be counting down to the end of the Robert and Grace Mugabe dynasty before it even starts.

In diplomacy, persona-non-grata means an “unwelcome person” who is subject to deportation. Maybe that is what Zambians wanted to do to Robert Mugabe.

Clifford Chitupa Mashiri is a London-based political analyst and former diplomat. You can email him: mashiric@lsbu.ac.uk or zimanalysis2009@gmail.com.

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