President Robert Mugabe (87) is increasingly becoming lonely following the deaths of his close lieutenants, the latest being former military chief, General Solomon “Rex Nhongo” Mujuru.
Mujuru was burnt to death on Tuesday in a mysterious fire at his Alamein Farm, Beatrice in Harare South.
Among those close to President Mugabe who have since died pre- and post-independence and are interred at the National Heroes Acre include (not in any particular order) Vice-Presidents Joshua Nkomo, Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika, Herbert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara, Senator Joseph Culverwell, Maurice Nyagumbo, Herbert Ushewokunze, Eddison Zvobgo and Guy Clutton-Brook.
Others are Air Chief Marshall Josiah Tungamirai and General Vitalis Zvinavashe, Mugabe’s sister Sabina, Gary Magadzire, Witness Mangwende, David Karimanzira, Rekayi Tangwena, William Ndangana, Edgar Tekere and Robson Manyika.
With the absence of this former inner cabal and others, President Mugabe has now been surrounded by newcomers who have been fingered in corruption and they have an insatiable appetite for power.
While he has played a successful political chess game to his advantage in the past, analysts believe the depletion of his legion will undoubtedly leave him lonely and vulnerable.
It will also shake Zimbabwe’s political landscape and will rock Zanu PF, a party becoming increasingly fractious because of internecine clashes over the hot seat.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said: “Naturally, President Mugabe is isolated. He’s never really been an extrovert, so loneliness is not something new. But, his generation is fast depleting – Muzenda, Msika, Nkomo and many others. He’s been shaken to the core.
“This creates a difficult situation for (President) Mugabe in terms of seeking advice. These are the dark days for him, but they (days) will even get darker as most politicians of his generation die.”
Masunungure added President Mugabe will hardly use Mujuru’s death to his advantage, because he was unlikely to reap any rewards from it because he is in his twilight age. However, he said he had the insurmountable task to manage the fallout in the former liberation movement.
“Even if Mujuru’s death is a sad event, he has to do everything to contain his fractured party,” he added.
Another political analyst, who refused to be named said: “Mujuru was the key factor to (President) Mugabe’s rise to power and his consolidation of State power including control over the defence forces, particularly after independence. They share a long history together, and he will definitely miss Mujuru’s company.”
But, analyst Hopewell Gumbo, said:
“All eyes are on Mugabe in the current national political, social and economic crisis. He definitely would love to have trusted loyalists close to him. He may appear isolated age wise and may not enjoy the kind of companionship he had with people like Muzenda.”
University of Zimbabwe political