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Two heads are better than one

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Former United States President Barack Obama did not assume the US Presidency to be missed by Zimbabweans or Africans when he eventually left the White House. His election and meteoric political ascendancy was based on the fact that he would be a US President and not president of any other country in the world.

guest column: MUTSA MURENJE

Similarly, we don’t expect President Robert Mugabe to be missed by American citizens or any other citizens outside Zimbabwe. He is a Zimbabwean citizen and his primary role should be to serve Zimbabweans.

If he becomes influential to attract attention from beyond the Zimbabwean borders, then so be it. We will give it to him. If he doesn’t attract any attention that shouldn’t also bother us.

His sphere of influence is essentially within his own country. Thus, it is my considered view that attacks against Obama by the Zimbabwean government through its mouthpiece, The Herald, are unjustifiable no matter what angle one looks at it.

It is only American citizens, who have an authoritative voice when it comes to affairs affecting their own country. Americans are also the only people with the perquisite to evaluate the performance of their ex-president.

As for the sanctions against Mugabe and those who have worked with him to undermine democracy in Zimbabwe, renewed by the Obama administration shortly before he left office, the blame shouldn’t be on him or his administration.

As I see it, we should be condemning and blaming Zimbabwean authorities, especially the Mugabe regime, for failing to uphold fundamental human rights and strengthen democratic institutions during the eight years that Obama was in office.

Obama has achieved far greater things in eight years than has Mugabe in 37 years. Mugabe’s only success has been in eroding and reversing the initial political and economic gains that we had at independence. His brutality is widely documented.

He has turned our once beautiful country into an outpost of tyranny and blight on the African continent. We have become a laughing stock. Mugabe has definitely outlived his usefulness and is to Zimbabwe like salt that has lost its sapidity. We continue fighting for the return to democratic rule and good governance in Zimbabwe.

I felicitate with the people of the Gambia for embarking on a wonderful democratic path that we also wish for our autocratically governed country. I was deeply worried about ousted dictator Yahya Jammeh’s reluctance to relinquish power to the democratically-elected Adama Barrow.

Jammeh lost a free, fair and credible election, but had wanted to drag the whole country down with him. I sensed that he had become comfortable for 22 years thinking that he owned the Gambia. He mistook the country for his personal property, hence, his desire to hold onto power.

My little messages to dictators the world over is: A country is never owned by a single individual, it belongs to all its citizens. And, citizens can hire and fire their leaders. That’s what happens in a democracy, that’s the beauty of democracy!

My greatest debt of gratitude goes to the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) for siding with the victorious Gambians against the whims of a ruthless dictator and consolidating democratic rule in the Gambia.

Painfully, we know how Jammeh became president of that tiny country. He rose to power through undemocratic and unconstitutional means.

Thereafter, he had been manipulating electoral processes to deny Gambians the opportunity to have a democratic government. Realising this loophole, Gambians formed a coalition that supported a single candidate against the defeated dictator. Oh, how I love democracy! Zimbabweans would do well to take a leaf from this sound development.

Two heads are better than one. Sadc can also learn from Ecowas especially on how to deal with dictators. For once, I felt I should be a West African! Nonetheless, we can do in the Sadc region what Ecowas did in West Africa.

For the past few days, social media has been abuzz with remarks attributed to the South African and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema.

Malema came back to his senses and felt it was now important to let Mugabe know that he had outlived his stay.

I was stunned by the amount of attention and coverage given to the remarks. I didn’t find anything amusing about the remarks neither did I feel that Malema had said anything that we, Zimbabweans, had not said in the last two decades. Could it be that a prophet really has no honour in his home country? Otherwise, how would one explain that a Zimbabwean calling for Mugabe to relinquish power remains largely ignored?

I find it insulting that it is only when outsiders like Malema speak authoritatively about things they know little about that the whole media pays attention. We have been in this struggle since the 1990s. The Malema you are praising today has been worshipping Mugabe and preaching to the whole world how good he was.

Suddenly, Mugabe has become old and is surrounded by cowards? Cowards are people like Malema, who failed to speak out when the rest of us spoke out. Malema is definitely not an expert on Zimbabwean politics.

We are the experts and our own liberators. It is not for Malema to tell us which political party is good for our country. This is a right reserved to us, Zimbabweans citizens, because we have voting rights.

Above all, Zimbabweans are an erudite people and they definitely know what is good and what is bad for them. Malema should, therefore, focus on his EFF and SA politics. Zimbabwe has its own particularities that aren’t always obvious to a politically malnourished and emaciated mind that Malema has.

In conclusion, I concur with Obama that: “True democracy is a project that’s much bigger than any one of us. It’s much bigger than any one person, any one president, and any one government. It’s a job for all of us. And we’ve got to keep at it”. Indeed, two heads are better than one.
The struggle continues unabated!

Mutsa Murenje is a social activist

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