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Political lunacy surrounds Mugabe

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President Robert Mugabe turned 88 on Tuesday. But the celebratory messages in the State media cheering him on simply highlighted the fact that factionalism is now an integral part of the former ruling party’s political life, with a pyramid of patron-client networks linking groupings across the country, all linked in turn to inhabitants of towns and villages and to the political elite in the capital.

It is rare for either factional conflict or the politicking through which discordant alliances are made and broken to be referred to directly in public political oratory. They seem to the contrary to be considered improper topics for open discussion.

Most Zanu PF ministers and senior government officials fell over each other to congratulate Mugabe on his birthday and this is understandable. It is no mean feat.

Perhaps they understand better the Zanu PF power matrix and its politics. Mugabe has done little to promote cohesion among party gurus so that he can use the disharmony in his favour, obviously to ensure he remains in power for life.

He’s so far played his cards right. He’s rewarded all his praise singers handsomely with Cabinet posts, stakes in multi-million-dollar mining ventures under the indigenisation scheme, and farms and many other freebies along the way.

This explains why he would do anything to remain President even after losing the 2008 election to his long-time antagonist, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

By default, he remained President and as such continued to wield executive powers which he continues to use to his advantage and that of his party.

This also explains why words to describe Mugabe fail top Zanu PF officials. Everybody must be seen to be glorifying the “Dear Leader”.

One would understand why Zanu PF officials are falling over each other even as it now dawns on everyone in Zimbabwe that Mugabe has become a burden to the country.

Does he have anything new to offer after ruling for 32 years? Does he have any new ideas at all? What could be the major driver of the congratulatory messages?

Are these simply paranoid political fanatics or are they aware of exactly what they are doing?

Instead of Zanu PF working on a succession plan in case of any eventuality, the party is in a quandary and has concluded to field Mugabe as its presidential candidate at the next election.

Yet, one could easily tell Mugabe is tired, but still paranoid. In his interview on the eve of his birthday, he praised the Global Political Agreement that has seen him share power with his political enemies, saying he and Tsvangirai can now share a cup of tea.

Despite the agreement, they have continued to fight over government posts and policy, including Mugabe’s drive to seize foreign-owned companies, which the MDC-T says will ruin the economy.

Zanu PF and MDC-T are also quarrelling over a new constitution, which seeks to limit presidential powers and presidential terms to 10 years and which Mugabe says is meant to stop him from running in the next election.

But, he sounded an unusually conciliatory note in the television interview. That should send alarm bells to Zanu PF heavies for it shows Mugabe can no longer last the journey given his advanced years.

Political lunacy by Zanu PF politicians exhibiting Mugabe as a “demi-god” is not acceptable in a democracy.

It is surprising that instead of calling on Mugabe to retire for the good of the country, his family and in his own good, Zanu PF want him to die in office for their own selfish reasons.

But they should know that the hour of reckoning is not far off.

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