As President Robert Mugabe counts down to his 92nd birthday, most likely, uppermost his mind is the statement attributed to the late political scientist, John Makumbe, “You can rig the elections, but not the economy,” than the challenge of blowing out umpteen candles.
By Cyprian Ndawana
When service chiefs vowed never to salute a President without military credentials, in direct reference to opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, it was obvious to all that election results would go the opposite direction of the establishment.
An uncharacteristic deafening lull before the announcement of results and the subsequent disparities of ballots cast a dark shadow on the credibility of the outcome. And, with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission jittery, its body language spoke more eloquently than words about its partisan nature. It appeared more like a conspirator than natural.
Since the dawn of the current millennium, Mugabe has been heading credibility crisis riddled governments. Although the inclusive government extended to him a much needed olive branch, the reputation of electoral chicanery could not be cleansed altogether.
Subsequent to a series of election results disputes and the free falling economy, Mugabe has been perched on the horn of dilemma. Added to his woes is unremitting pressures from a wife who has an insatiable appetite for travel.
Yet, Mugabe has absorbed a great deal of battering. He consequently is now all but effete. It is written all over his person that in spite of his being fond of toadying followers, he is no longer the live wire he used to be.
Just as a tree, regardless of how huge it might be, bends under the aggregate weight of its branches, he is ultimately overwhelmed. Mugabe is not only bruised, but actually broken. Nature is not a respecter of persons; it visits king and commoner with impartiality.
Despite being accustomed to fawning subordinates, Mugabe is not exempt from the ravaging effects of nature. He is not immune. He has a threshold beyond which he capitulates. He now stands at that omega point.
Wearied by efforts of defending a series of disputed elections, Mugabe has surged under the weight of socio-economic challenges. On the backdrop of an advanced age, wear and tear from running a government dogged by a credibility crisis has intensified his wilting.
Now Mugabe is no longer fit to rule. If anything, he has slumped from being the dynamo to being the elephant in the room. His longevity in power deadened his imagination and has become so familiar with the Presidency that he regards it a right than privilege. He thinks himself more of a monarch than democrat.
Of all the birthday presents one might think of, as I see it, none can be more fitting than drawing his attention to the fact that his perspective is no longer applicable to the prevailing digital era socio-economic dynamics.
At the eminent risk of throwing stones and sticks at the hornet’s nest, it is my national duty to bite the bullet and call a spade, a spade. It no longer suffices to call it a big spoon. Hence, it is prudent that he be told to relinquish the reigns of power.
His birthday offers him an appropriate opportunity to announce his stepping down. By any stretch of imagination, Mugabe no longer has the power — physical and mental, to rule. Put simply, he is no longer compatible, mind, body and soul with the demands of the Presidency.
The Mugabe of now is a complete rundown imitation of the Mugabe of then, who stood ramrod straight delivering the independence inaugural speech. Although it has been said he will rule from a wheelchair, such comments are not nationalistic, but self-serving.
One milestone that speaks clear about his incapacity to continue in office is his failure to act on Health and Child Welfare minister David Parirenyatwa. He was conspicuously silent as if Parirenyatwa’s pocketing of Public Service Medical aid Society funds was a small matter.
Yet, good corporate governance demands that Parirenyatwa, by taking money contributed by the poorly paid civil servants, deserved not only instant dismissal, but imprisonment. Yet, Mugabe looked the other side amid the reputation-tarnishing thievery.
Parirenyatwa violated the law. He brought the party and government into disrepute. Strangely, Mugabe took no action, yet he was quick to flush down the tube many cadres for the flimsy charge of fanning factionalism.
By letting Parirenyatwa go unscathed, even as he performed the Judas act of returning his ill-gotten gains, Mugabe reaped what he sowed. He reneged on enforcing the leadership code, which his party once acclaimed as an effective self-policing tool for leaders.
He encouraged the flourishing of underhand transactions by allowing the leadership code to gather dust. If it had been enforced, Ignatius Chombo, to mention but one, could have had some explaining to do following his divorce proceedings, which exposed not only his mega wealth, but raised question about how he acquired it.
At 92 years old, it is no longer tenable for Mugabe to continue in office. He ought to have retired long back. He is expired and tired. His birthday offers him a propitious opportunity to retire, though much to the dislike of his political spring chicken wife.
It is essential that Mugabe spends his remaining days relaxing out than footling in office. His abstract perspectives are no longer significant. After all, it was said that the mindset that ruined cannot be trusted with reconstruction. Fare thee well, comrade Mugabe.