“I am sorry” is all that President Robert Mugabe should have said a long time ago before leaving centre-stage. Such remorse, whether genuine or not, would have left him with some semblance of integrity. Waiting to die on the job (I would have said “in office” but we are told he now works from home most of the time, if he is not flying somewhere), will erode whatever legacy Mugabe had hoped to leave behind.
guest opinion BY Moses Chamboko
Electing to die in power demonstrates that Mugabe does not care about his legacy, at all. He does not care about his colleagues that have been around him for many years. Neither does he care about his family. Most disappointingly, he does not care about Zimbabwe. If that was not the case, he would have stepped down at least 10 or so years ago.
As a nation, we have reached a point in time when it does not matter who comes next for as long as Mugabe goes. If you are burning in a furnace, I am sure anything will be better than being in there. This is the situation we find ourselves in.
The “tree-planting video” that has gone viral showing Mugabe failing to push soil into a hole, rather, shovelling it out of the hole, would be funny if it wasn’t sad. Mugabe had no clue what he was doing or what was going on until the first lady came to his rescue. As per Zanu PF tradition, none of the aides around him had the guts to take over that shovel and do the right thing.
When Grace says she is the one in charge, we must take her seriously. If the video that has gone viral is anything to go by, indeed Grace is running the show. Vakuru vaya vazokura! [Mugage is now of very advanced age] It reminds me of a village elder many years ago who was in his advanced age but renowned for not leaving the fields. However, at the end of the long day of toiling, there would be more weeds than crops where he had worked. He insisted that he knew what he was doing and had the energy to do it yet he was achieving the opposite — kutema mbeu vachisiya bundo [cutting plants out instead of weeds].
Undoubtedly, Mugabe has reached that point in life. Who is abusing President Mugabe? This is the one question we need to unpack as a nation. Finding answers might lead us to the solution for our protracted crisis. Using a medical analogy, this is attending to the cause, not symptoms. At his advanced age, it is a matter of time before Mugabe succumbs to the dictates of nature. Nothing in that video suggests otherwise.
Nelson Mandela once argued that the reason Mugabe would not step down was his fear of prosecution for gross human rights violations. This may have been true at least that time in the past, but given where we are as a nation and Mugabe’s advanced age, it would be unnecessary, unchristian, unAfrican and inhumane for anyone to think of tormenting a 92-year-old man who started off reasonably well and went astray along the way. We stand ready to forgive him if he steps down even today. There is never a wrong time to do the right thing. Should he drop dead on the job, we will not forgive him posthumously and that will forever haunt those who abuse him, including his close family.
The diabolic and ruthless cabal that is forcing, urging or enabling Mugabe to remain in power is the one that must be dealt with decisively. This cabal comes in many forms; there are those who can’t survive for a day without his protection owing to their gross injustices of the past, then there are those who see each day that Mugabe is in power as an opportunity to loot. there are also those who are filthy rich and yet they can’t account for their wealth — they don’t even know what “tax return” means.
Then there is his close family that can’t think of anything else other than the comfort and privileges of being members of the first family. There is also the abused voter who believes that voting against Mugabe and Zanu PF attracts war, at best hunger. Lastly and rather ominously, there is the opposition that would rather fight among itself than come up with effective strategies to remove Mugabe and the mafia masquerading as our leaders.
To make matters worse, Zanu PF has no succession plan, not at all. They are waiting for the day when they will, like vultures, fight over the carcass in which the law of the jungle will apply.
This will take us many years back, probably never to recover again, at least in our lifetime.
Between Christmas 2016 and Easter 2017, let there be genuine resolve, practical action and visible traction in the opposition family to rid ourselves of the ghost of repression, destruction, regression, violence, lawlessness and impunity that has tormented us for nearly four decades. Let us not be pre-occupied with positions, as that is not the purpose for our struggle. Rather, we must strive to find common ground and get rid of Mugabe and Zanu PF so we can get on with the most important but overdue task of rebuilding our country.
Zimbabwe is our motherland. Together we can do it!
Moses Chamboko is a pro-democracy activist and interim secretary general of Zunde.