GIVEN some of President Mugabe’s failings over the years, not the least of which was the 2008 financial crisis which led to a whole host of calamities including widespread unemployment, acute food shortages and a record hyper-inflation, it is tempting to say that his desire to seek re-election is motivated merely by self-interest but, actually, it is not.
Here are the facts. Contrary to popular perception, which has been pushed most assiduously by Tsvangirai and his pseudo-liberal apologists, President Mugabe is well alive to the economic frustrations of Zimbabwe’s daily life.
The fact that at 87, he has elected to disregard his own health, his own family and his own personal needs in order to have another go at getting things right only underscores his determination to act in the national interest and in good faith.
In the recent past he has denounced violence and even corruption within his own party- a sign that he is extremely aware of the source of Zimbabwe’s rot. It’s a helpful starting point.
Nor is he keen to take Zimbabweans for fools. Unlike several of his Zanu PF officials who have always proceeded from the offensive premise that Zimbabweans are infinitely gullible and that they suffer from collective amnesia about Zanu PF’s hopeless record in government, President Mugabe seems now aware that Zanu PF’s populist pretence is wearing thin and that the people of Zimbabwe are increasingly seeing through it.
It’s a welcome show of responsibility and an indication that he is prepared to make things better, not worse. And that’s why he has been chiding his ministers and officials both publicly and privately and urging them to put nation ahead of self.
Let’s be frank, there has been a disturbing culture of lawlessness in the country not just amongst unemployed youths who have mostly been responsible for the violence in the country but even amongst Zanu PF Parliamentarians and Ministers whose grotesque corrupt tendencies have virtually subverted Zimbabwe’s economic prospects and the President is being very responsible in pointing this out.
To attend a Zanu PF Central Committee meeting a few weeks back was to be moved by the way he urged his fellow comrades to ‘do the right thing for Zimbabwe.’
In the circumstances, President Mugabe seems very likely to go into the next election with the people’s expectations uppermost in his mind. And until there is clear and compelling evidence to the contrary, he deserves our support and we should accept that he has the best interests of the country at heart.
But my friend and President ‘Moses’ Gabriel Mugabe may need to do more. The fact is that he ought to have chosen a successor a lifetime ago. He hasn’t yet. Of course the argument that Zanu PF would disintegrate without him is as ridiculous as it is fallacious and cannot be embraced by any reasonable person with half a brain.
The reality is that things simply cannot go on like this, Zimbabwe is a mess. There is a dangerous tendency to hoodwink people by comparing our present circumstances to the Zimbabwe of 2008. But 2008 should not be the standard. In developmental terms at least, the size of our country and the vastness of our resources ought to put us well ahead of South Africa and possibly amongst the most developed in the world.
Yet we remain amongst the poorest not because we lack the means but because again and again, public funds have been used for private purposes.
That must now stop and the first step towards the achievement of that goal is change of leadership. As soon as President Mugabe is given a fresh mandate at the next polls, (and every piece of evidence seems to suggest that he will for the scoundrel running the MDC-T has proven that he is a crook in sheep’s clothing who is concerned more about romance and less about the people), he must swiftly move to appoint a young, unbribable and credible successor.
That appointment, it needs to be stressed, shouldn’t be informed by any desire to defer to the interests of the existing factions within Zanu PF. Rather it should be motivated by merit- regard being had to the candidate’s capability, honesty and willingness to act in the national interest and for the common good.
As things stand, Gideon Gono (a man blessed with vast talents and admirable principles) is, by a very long distance, the right man for the job despite the fact that his name has been grossly adulterated by the Wikileaks allegations, his inglorious years at the Reserve Bank and, lately, his stance on the indigenisation drive.
He needs to be forgiven for the sake of this country.
Undoubtedly, Amai Mujuru is another credible alternative except she is too closely associated with the very system that stands accused of having plunged Zimbabwe down the toilet. But, make no mistake, she brings a lot of experience, sensitivity, compassion and is generally regarded as a God-fearing woman. That in itself is not to be trifled with.
Put it this way, whatever President Mugabe’s ultimate choice, he needs to be seen to have settled for a person of untainted reputation who has not just the will but the talents needed to steer this country back on course. That way, not only will he retire with his dignity and legacy intact, he will do so with his head held high.