National Question: How can so few hold so many hostage?

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The sun has gone down on yet another year of shattered dreams and broken promises as Zimbabweans brace for more political intrigue in 2012.

Our political gladiators are getting ready for yet another bruising electoral orgy.

By all accounts, 2011 is another year better forgotten, for a nation that has waited in anticipation of a return to political normalcy, following a decade of skullduggery and sheer decadence.

Many waited in the wings, in foreign capitals expecting change and hoping to return home once the political environment became conducive, but that was not to be.

A Hall of Shame memorial institution for some of our political players is not a bad idea. How can so few hold so many hostage to their caprices?

A cursory look back over the year, through the kaleidoscope, reveals a few poignant landmarks on the African landscape. In many ways, 2011 was a year pregnant with developments, while it also was a year of cataclysmic political changes, like no other, on the African continent.

In North Africa, there was the Arab Spring, an avalanche of defining political developments, triggered by the desperate self-sacrifice of a poor street vendor who set himself on fire in Tunisia in protest over having his meagre vending wares confiscated by the same authorities who habitually author the misery of ordinary people, while they themselves live in clover, in the name of government.

The ensuing tsunami of revolutions saw Bin Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi falling off their cosy perches like dominoes.

The Syrian and Yemeni presidents are precariously hanging on with their days numbered.

This is clear evidence that, ultimately, there is only one mortal power, that surpasses any other in any nation — the people’s power.

2011 also saw the inexorable exit of Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast, who attempted to hold back the winds of democratic change, getting swept away, and joining his accomplice, Charles Taylor, at the International Criminal Court.

This is the inevitable music all dictators must face, if they are lucky enough to escape public lynching on the streets.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, young Joseph Kabila hung on to power, by subterfuge, in yet another questionable election, while the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-il went to meet his maker, leaving his youngest son to assume the reins of power, in yet another subversion of democracy.

2011 also saw peaceful transition from Rupiah Banda to Michael Sata in the mature democracy of Zambia, which continues to break new ground and carry the torch of enlightenment and best practices of civilised rule in Africa, while developments in Malawi and Zimbabwe continue to be a blight of grave and shameful concern.

Bingu wa Mutharika is an arrogant man who seems to be copying an exam paper from a classic failure.

In an instant of indiscretion, he has reversed all the progress that had been made since the end of the dictatorship of Kamuzu Banda, and has brought untold suffering to the people of Malawi.

In Zimbabwe, there has been no movement in so far as the so-called Government of National Unity is concerned, with the terms and conditions of the Global Political Agreement remaining unfulfilled, the regional efforts to get things going notwithstanding.

An infantile, ego-driven stubbornness continues, for which several generations of our innocent children will have to pay.

In the background, a quiet succession storm claims the life of one of the most colourful icons of our liberation struggle, General Solomon Mujuru, in a horrible inferno yet to be explained, as the revolution continues to devour its own children.

One thing is for sure: the relentless march to freedom is underway and all the walls are falling down.

No longer are people willing to be taken for granted!

The struggle for freedom from the chains and manacles of dictators, men with insatiable appetites for perennial, unbridled rule over their fellowmen, and monsters who betray the trust bestowed upon them by the people, is intensifying.

One of the epic failures of modern times is the propensity in those with an insatiable appetite for power to think they can forever impose their will upon mankind.

It is a weakness and disease of the feeble-minded and insecure, who feel they can only escape censure for the infractions of their reign if they rule until they enter their graves. Many have failed in this scheme.