Mnangagwa is his own detractor


THE deposal of former President Robert Mugabe in November 2017 was welcomed with song and dance. Citizenry thronged streets of Harare in joy, posing for selfies with soldiers and shaking hands with them. Even the ones in the diaspora also joined in rapturous happiness from wherever they were.

by Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana

Among the thousands that swelled the streets were members of civil society organisations and opposition political parties. Despite his ailing health, the now late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai took leave from bodily aches and pains to cast his prominent figure in the crowd.

Although the military-aided removal of Mugabe was in word and deed an internal Zanu-PF affair, nonetheless,  the populace was delighted. His ratings had fallen to a single digit. He was loathsome to citizenry because he symbolised the socio-economic meltdown.

It must have dawned on him that he was human after all. As I see it, when the military hardware rolled out of the barracks without his command,  it became apparent to him that he was a man like all other men. He wore his trousers one leg after the other as all men do.

It was time for reckoning. He felt winds of change blowing. His umpteen years as Commander-in-Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces was on the brink of ending. His fate was sealed by an institution which ironically rendered him the kiss of life in 2008 after he lost the presidential elections to Tsvangirai.

Several factors were at play in his induced exit. Essentially, Mugabe had long been regarded as the elephant in the room. His intermittent travels to Malaysia for medical care resulted in a yawning leadership vacuum that resulted in acrimonious factional fights.

Yet, he held on firmly to the belief that he was invincible. His overrated estimation of himself was plainly his Achilles heel. No wonder, pride contributed to his unbundling.  Also,  his wife was his bane. She fuelled flames of dissent. She was as unhinged as she was ignoramus.

With raging power struggles within Zanu-PF on the backdrop of his advanced age on one hand, and failing health on the other, odds were mounted against him. Added to that were a free-falling economy and whims of an imperious First Lady who was an absolute fishwife.

It could only spell one thing for Mugabe subsequent to the military’s resolute decision to cross the rubicon. His days which had long been numbered had eventually counted down to zero. It was time the elephant, despite its massive weight, got pushed out of the room.

Indeed, the writing had been on the wall that his tenure was progressively winding to its conclusion. But, politically,  Zanu-PF had created a demi-god in Mugabe. Hence, men in boots marched in to the fray. They looked him in the eye and showed him the distinct red card.

If politics is by all accounts a dirty game,  it could not have been any dirtier for Mugabe. As I see it,  he felt excruciating pain as Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, the cadre he had dismissed barely a fortnight ago from party and government, stepped in as his successor.

Incidentally, it was the same military that had bailed Mugabe when he lost elections in 2008. It declared that it did not salute a leader without military credentials. Obviously, that was in direct reference to Tsvangirai, who had won the elections ahead of Mugabe.

Now, with the Mnangagwa coronation, it became apparent that  the bullet prevails over the ballot. It stands to reason that the military is the kingmaker. It cannot be by accident but by design that for the second time, the military deemed it its mandate to directly decide on politics.

Readmission process of Mnangagwa into Zanu-PF and electing him as first secretary were of subsidiary significance.

It was  rubber-stamping an appointment  the military had already made. After all, all party provinces had endorsed his sacking by Mugabe without a whimper.

Anyway, life had to move on. However, comparisons are inevitable. Ordinarily, it is imperative for anticipating future prospects for citizenry to compare the leadership of Mnangagwa with that of his predecessor. But, this norm does not apply when it comes to headstrong Zanu-PF.

My sworn conviction is that the welfare of citizenry is not essentially determined by any leadership traits of a particular leader but by the system they represent and uphold. Granted, Zanu-PF is a rigid entity that is primarily concerned with self-preservation.

When Mnangagwa said that Zanu-PF would rule despite citizenry wailing, (tichatonga muchingo vukura) it was this rigidity he was referring to. Before him, former Vice-President Simon Muzenda told party members that if Zanu-PF fielded a baboon, vote for it.

Despite a litany of mantras by Mnangagwa, the change of guard has zero rewarding prospects for the populace. It signifies the slouching of a reptile in which the shedding off of the old skin does not change the nature of the creature, in spite of its new skin.

It would be for academic purposes only to compare and contrast their leadership philosophies. What is of paramount significance is to realise that whoever leads the party, regardless of varying leadership thrust, their singular objective is the preservation of the party.

It was precisely for party preservation objectives that on his ascendancy, Mnangagwa bought trucks for all Zanu-PF constituency leaders and chiefs. Also, he created offices for bigwigs who lost elections. Indeed, the party cares for its own rank and file.

This explains why he heaved traits of the old dispensation, in their entirety, into the said new. There is not a single ideology that differentiates the second republic from the first. He changed labels without changing contents, just like wearing the old regalia inside out.

There can never be a second republic or a new dispensation when the stench of the old subdues the aroma of the said new. With all due respect, Zimbabwe can never be open for business in such foul conditions. As I see it, all these mantras are rhetorical nonsense.

Me thinks Mnangagwa is his own detractor. His holding on to the notion that sanctions on Zimbabwe were imposed illegally impedes economic recovery more than the sanctions. It is time he rose above Zanu-PF humdrum. He risks missing the opportunity of being distinguished Statesman if he does not implement reforms.

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Cyprian Muketiwa Ndawana cell phone +263776413010 email muketiwa@mmsb.gmail.com is a public speaking coach, motivational speaker, speechwriter and newspaper columnist.