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By Silence Chihuri

ZIMBABWE is the story of a once vibrant and probably the most promising Southern African country to emerge from the ashes of colonialism.

After enduring several decades of selective and discriminatory elitist rule, the former Rhodesia had otherwise smarted very quickly from the effects of the de facto apartheid system to embrace the perceived pluralism that was supposed to be born out of the liberation struggle. The economy was then vibrant and the prospects of all Zimbabwe were unbelievably bright. Yet those prospects could never look gloomier than they do now.

Robert Mugabe is one leader who has undergone the most puzzling and bizarre transformation. He kicked off his childhood as a goat tending catholic village boy who through sheer personal motivation and determination, worked his way to become a successful teacher not only marketable nationally, but with a pedigree acceptable beyond national frontiers to see him ply his trade in countries such as Ghana.

However, teaching would not whet Mugabe’s determination and appetite for greater national relevance, and this led him to set his sights on the national struggle, effectively shelving all his personal ambitions. Many Zimbabwean then and several years into his leadership of the country lauded that decision. Mugabe was an instant genius on the liberation platform and let’s face it people, if he was not that good all those excellent (quite a number of whom are now fallen), sons and daughters of Zimbabwe could not have allowed him to rise through the ranks and become leader.

Of course there have been a few conspiracy theories that have been propounded as regards Mugabe’s rise to leadership but the reason why I will not seriously buy into them at this juncture is that nothing conclusive and proven has ever been put forward about all this other than mumbles, grumbles and endless whispers into the national ear. No one and I mean no one, has ever dared to stand up and say my name is so and so who was with Mugabe when this and that happen, and here is the proof for all to see and judge for yourselves. Some ‘witnesses’ have chosen to give half and doggy accounts while others have claimed to ‘spill the beans’ when the time comes, with nothing conclusive at all.

The latest was Enos Nkala, a veteran of the national struggle for that matter, who publicly stated much to national frustration, that he will only give his own piece of the age-old national puzzle from the comfort and safety of his grave. That is really sad for Zimbabwe and because of that, I will continue like any other innocent Zimbabwean, to assume that Mugabe became our leader purely on merit, which has now evidently turned extremely nightmarish for us all.

The difference from the liberation era and all the shadowy goings on associated with it, is that during his tenure of leadership, with the entire country playing witness, Mugabe has allowed us all to peep into the closet of his style and see his other and real side and this has confirmed our fears and suspicions through the acts of sheer brutality that he has continued to perpetrate unto our nation. The way Mugabe has dispensed with critics and turned our once internationally acclaimed police force into a much feared tool of oppression by unleashing them onto hapless citizens some of whom have either died or suffered permanent and horrific injuries, says it all.

The recent beatings and torture of the trade union leaders among a lengthy catalogue of other acts of brutality, and the way Mugabe chose to publicly glorify that, will go down a long way to demonstrate how low the man is prepared to stoop. Mugabe’s transformation has carried on unabated, from being the great leader he once was to this monstrous dictator that he has become today. The man is still trying very desperately, to continue to camouflage himself in the fabric on his bankrupt kind of patriotism and a brand of sovereignty that can only be enjoyed by those who unashamedly lick his bloodstained boots. Mugabe has ceased to be a great leader by all measures and all those who continue to glorify him well past his sell-by-date are only victims of nostalgia that is a result of the way Mugabe has ensured that no one but himself will dominate the Zimbabwean political scene.

"One aspect that Zimbabweans do not understand is why Mugabe is bizarrely applauded by fellow Africans as a great leader"

One aspect that Zimbabweans do not understand is why Mugabe is bizarrely applauded by fellow Africans as a great leader. The main reason and this may not necessarily be the only one, is that Mugabe laid an extremely solid foundation on his leadership. The man new exactly what he wanted to do for his country and how he wanted to impact on Africa and the wider world, and this is why so many African leaders and international envoys used to throng Zimbabwe House to pay courtesy on, and consult Mugabe. Even Mandela once paid homage on Mugabe because in him they saw a leader full of wisdom and great potential.

Mugabe has ironically seen out several leaders from power, among them former Foreign Ministers who later assumed the presidenciy of their countries but still left power while Mugabe clings to it, and among them are Joaquin Chissano of Mozambique’s and Eduardo Shevardnadze of Georgia.

However, regardless of that firm and solid foundation the walls of Mugabe’s leadership have all been cracked and are tumbling down into a messy heap of rubble in the form of our run down economy, the corruption at the heart of the civil service the nasty political struggle in Zanu PF that could very well erupt into a civil war anytime. Also, the fact that even those who are still prepared to worship him would not dare risk adopt his own policies and style of governance in their own countries, shows that the support is itself simply mischievous and reminiscent of their own defectiveness. The real capable leaders who are doing well for their countries have but spoken openly in criticism of Mugabe and have demonstrated their disdain of his policies. Even the fiery Zambian politician Michael Sata, a self-proclaimed Mugabe disciple, had vowed to hound the Chinese out of Zambia while Mugabe woos them home.

Mugabe is a one time great leader who has completely lost his way. The challenge for Zimbabweans is to look from among ourselves once again, and come up with a leader who can front the national redemption crusade. The MDC under Morgan Tsvangirai has clearly shown that the party with him as leader is definitely not up to the challenge ahead. Tsvangirai may have been one of the greatest trade unionist of his time but he has without doubt, shown that he is not the one to retrieve Zimbabwe from the deep pit of malgovernance that Mugabe has plunged the country into.

Tsvangirai may not have necessarily lost his way like Mugabe has, but he has surely lost the steam needed to pull the trucks on national revival and restoration. Much as the Zanu PF party has been irretrievably damaged though bad governance, bad policies and most importantly a leader who has now assumed greater importance than the nation state, the MDC has also been equally decimated through hapless leadership and career politics rather than leadership.

One way or another Zimbabwe is surely poised for civil war because here is a country whose ruling party is divided into two fiercely feuding camps that all have access to the national armoury and a hapless opposition party that is clearly holed. While Mugabe did a great job and played a major part in the liberation of the country it is now clear to us all that as for taking our country into the 21st Century, that would definitely need someone else. On that same token Tsvangirai did a great job in championing the challenge to Mugabe’s dictatorship but again there is need for someone else to take the national torch further.

This is a dire period in the history of our country and the kind of political tourism being championed by Tsvangirai whereby the countryside is toured endlessly, assembling unassuming villagers to listen the same song will not take us to the desired end. As for Zanu PF and those at the heart the party and government, the main issue is to survive personally and the on-going infighting is not necessarily for national good, but rather for personal good.

And sadly the MDC, a supposed symbol of hope and emancipation of the democratic aspirations of Zimbabweans is slowly but steadily falling into the same trap – a symbol of personal fulfilment rather than national advancement. There may be pledges of cold season, wet season, or even hot season or dry season or all the four seasons at once, with no sound ideas and strong leadership, Zimbabwe in on downward spiral that may take a whole generation to reverse.

Chihuri is Zimbabwean politician and lawyer based in Scotland and can be contacted on his email


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