Comment: Mugabe in Catch-22


The nation waits with bated breath to see how the Zanu PF politburo meeting scheduled for Wednesday is going to deal with the WikiLeaks controversy that has exposed a number of Zanu PF bigwigs and their rather unromantic sentiments about their leader, President Robert Mugabe, among other issues.

While the generally acceptable course of action in a matter of such nature would be to have all those who exposed national secrets to Western diplomats effectively dealt with, that course of action is fraught with pitfalls.

If, for instance, these people are to be ejected from the party, it will literally finish off President Mugabe politically.

It is significant that the majority of those high profile politicians, some of them for long regarded as President Mugabe’s confidants, have all expressed disenchantment over his continued stay in power.

It is particularly important to note that some of the people who engineered Tracy Mutinhiri’s ejection from the party are themselves guilty of a higher crime if the same standard they used is to be applied in their own cases. This is definitely a case of double standards!

On the other hand, it will also be crucial to appreciate that all the “culprits” have a democratic right to express their own opinions on any matter, including the length of President Mugabe’s tenure, as long as the opinions do not constitute the crime of treason.

The grand exposure by WikiLeaks has happened at a sensitive phase when Zanu PF is readying itself for an election and that means President Mugabe has to tread carefully, like one walking on egg shells.

If he is to take drastic measures about those who lived by double standards, expressing love for him during the day and hatred at night, that can literally derail his campaign trail long before it has even started.

The matter now is: He cannot tell anymore who, among that coterie of praise singers, is really for him or against him.

The fact that President Mugabe had to confide in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai about his concerns over WikiLeaks is the clearest indication yet that he is in a Catch-22 situation where he can no longer distinguish between friend and foe.

But it cannot be ruled out that “ever obedient sons and daughters” who will show remorse over their political sins will receive pardon, just like those who initiated the Dinyane debacle in 2004 were given a new lease of political life after literally begging for forgiveness.

The matter needs to be handled soberly because if emotions get into the way, like the military junta and one Jabulani Sibanda is calling for, the long-term repercussions are too ghastly to contemplate. This is a very decisive moment that needs to be negotiated with wisdom.