Is President Mugabe a despot?

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I HAVE been rightly or wrongly criticised for advancing a proposition that President Mugabe deserves a residual benefit of doubt in respect of all that has gone wrong in Zimbabwe as well as Zanu PF.
Even long after he has departed from earth, President Mugabe’s state of mind and knowledge will continue to haunt many generations not least because he has dominated Zimbabwe’s post-colonial experience for so long but because we generally expect our leaders to know the universe of problems and related solutions.
If anyone had doubt that President Mugabe is a man of flesh, the accident that visited him last week when he fell, was enough that he is human. The context of the fall took the form of an eighth wonder of the world to reflect the exasperation of many about the seeming absence of democratic exit mechanisms for him. It is not unusual for people to link President Mugabe’s accidental fall with old age and certainly with the end of his rule. 
However, if regard is had to how fit he appears to be after the event, and having been given a new five-year mandate by his party, a second mandate to chair the AU, and being the current Chair of SADC, it becomes self-evident that he is not planning to go anywhere soon and he also may be praying for many more happy returns.
People who have been hallucinating about succession necessarily have to pause and think carefully about the subject. What could be President Mugabe’s current state of mind? There is no doubt that he believes that he is not only loved by his party members, by citizens of Zimbabwe but by the people of the continent.
He holds the view that Zimbabwe is where it is because of the commissions or omissions of others.  His position is fortified by the apparent endorsement of his take on nationalism and the promise it holds by his fellow heads of state and governments in Africa.
He also believes in the quietness of his time that he has religiously upheld the values and principles of the revolution by allowing his people to exercise their democratic choices in the past 35 years that he considers the best barometer of who Zimbabweans want and wanted to be at the helm of the political food chain. He makes the point validly or wrongly that he has never sought to impose his will on the governed and takes pride as the last defender of Zimbabwe’s sovereignty.Advertisement

Mugabe’s view on sanctions will always be that they have robbed Zimbabweans of their bright future irrespective of where the true facts may lie. Mr. Chiichiri Muzita in his article entitled: “Sanctions: The inconvenient truth” exposes the fallacy of the proposition that sanctions are responsible in any demonstrable manner for the economic crisis that Zimbabwe faces.
Notwithstanding, President Mugabe believes that were it not for the “evil sanctions” a consequence of the machinations of imperialists and neo-colonialists, Zimbabwe would be a prosperous economy.  He conveniently refuses to take any responsibility for the demise of the economy under his watch.
The compelling empirical evidence presented by Mr. Muzita leads any rational person to a destination where the raising of inconvenient questions becomes the only option.  Such questions are eloquently raised in the article to allow for a meaningful debate to commence whether President Mugabe’s worldview is self-serving or a reflection of despotic tendencies.
Indeed, one cannot attempt to persuasively argue with my elder brother, Professor Mufuka’s proposition that the buck stops and ought to stop at President Mugabe. It is clear that any alternative proposition offends not only Professor Mufuka’s moral fibre but many who hold a similar view that the “old man” is the driving mind behind all the shenanigans that have taken place in the party.
Professor Mufuka makes the point that: “My brother Mawere, I run short of words. The difference between normal human beings and ZANU is that normal people do not go out of their way to harm others. Just imagine Joice Mujuru, a woman who has served Mugabe for 40 years, dragged and disgraced in the newspapers for six months. These people are reprobate. They cannot be redeemed.”
Professor Mufuka is entitled to draw his own conclusions based on a subjective assessment of the facts and circumstances as they are revealed to him but in the world of subjectivism, it cannot be denied that there could very well be many versions than one. What cannot be denied is that even Mugabe has evolved and the person who took the office of Prime Minister in 1980 is different from the person who accidently fell last week.
It may very well be the case that Mugabe believes that nothing has changed because in life we all pass through different phases, yet rarely do we notice any changes in what is taking place outside our knowledge.
One can be allowed to conclude that in the main, President Mugabe has been surrounded by people who principally sing for their suppers and are unlikely to tell him the truth. Like any emperor, he is the last to know what is taking place around him.
By accepting that Mugabe is the driving mind of everything that has gone wrong even in respect of Mujuru who must have known what time it was, one must also accept that Mujuru participated in her own downfall for she could have devised her own strategic defence mechanisms.
Hon. Chinamasa, a lawyer and former Minister of Justice, has already pronounced his opinion that even though Zimbabwe is a constitutional state, Zanu PF is the law and no court has inherent jurisdiction to deal with disputes arising from the actions and conduct of party members. This myopic view is shared by many and one would not like to believe that Hon. Chinamasa is alone in genuinely believing that just and equitable relief for aggrieved members of the party only exists in the four corners of Zanu PF and that the President is, therefore, the law.
It is clear that each day President Mugabe is in office, new factions are created some out of fear but others out of sheer opportunism. In his farewell address, George Washington observed that: “The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty.”
Indeed, it cannot be disputed that the disorders and miseries that have been revealed to Zanu PF members over the years have gradually inclined the minds of free-spirited individuals in the party to seek security and repose in the absolute power (one centre of power) of President Mugabe and the chiefs of the prevailing factions from time to time have turned this disposition to their own elevation.
I agree with Washington’s contention that such machinations undermine public liberty. If anything, Hon. Kereke’s summersault and capitulation in respect of the RBZ debt assumption bill goes a long way towards confirming Washington’s contention that despotism has taken a formal and permanent form in Zimbabwe in that anything can be justified if that thing is attributed to the absolute leader.
It is only when President Mugabe exits that the true confessions will be revealed. In fact, it will not be unexpected to hear from people like Chinamasa that they had no choice but to do what the leader asked them to do even though in truth and fact, such persons acted without the prior knowledge and consent of the leader.
Despotism creates its own dynamic and although the leader may not be personally involved in making the minute decisions, it is often the case that to any rational person, nothing adverse or injurious can be done without the express knowledge and consent of the leader.
In conclusion, there can be no doubt that despotism is cancerous and its cure has to start from the premise of knowledge about its contagion form and corrosive nature. In my world, no single individual’s actions can be toxic but whenever we choose to fool ourselves into believing that the absolute ruler is the sole driver of that which is evil we inevitably get distracted from keeping our eyes on the real prize.
Even the most evil of all despots is not infallible and indispensable. He is after all subject to the same laws of nature that apply to the weakest person in the chain, yet we choose to voluntarily invest in the idea that one person can know everything and do everything that is evil.
In President Mugabe’s bus, there are many who are worse than him but benefit from his isolation from reality because we, the people, choose to ignore that even a despot can be manipulated and without a vigilant citizenry, his worldview becomes the only one available to inform his choices and actions.
If it looks like a duck and walks etc. like a duck, it is a duck and indeed. President Mugabe cannot escape being called a despot hence the immense interest his fall attracted an expectation, rightly or wrongly, that his exit will do more good than bad but like any despot, he is the last to know the liberating aspect of his exit.