From the Editor’s desk: Mugabe shows who rules the roost in GNU
BY NEVANJI MADANHIRE
It would have been mad for anyone to believe that President Robert Mugabe
had at last ditched the service chiefs by not renewing their contracts. If
he had done so, that would have been the security sector reforms everyone is
whining about! It would have been nothing short of miraculous.
The offices of the service chiefs and the individuals that occupy them are
the raisons d’être for Mugabe’s own survival. Without the service chiefs his
political career would have expired quite a while ago; or put another way,
it might never have taken off the ground if they had refused to accept him
as their leader in the mid-1970s.
The parasitic relationship between Mugabe and the individuals that occupy
those offices, therefore, goes back to the days of the liberation struggle.
Indeed, Constantine Chiwenga, Perence Shiri, Paradzai Zimondi and Valerio
Sibanda were at the core of the liberation war. Augustine Chihuri was there
too although he once fell out with them; he was quickly rehabilitated and is
not in a hurry to forget that favour.
It is wishful thinking therefore that Mugabe can sit at a roundtable with
Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara to decide the fate of the wheels on
which his engine runs; it is to underestimate the vigour of his
President Mugabe thrives on his extremist nationalist ideals. Only recently
at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa he exhorted the same by reminding
the other delegates: “We fought imperialism and colonialism and forced them
out of Africa…our founding fathers did not have the means but they stood up
and said no, but here we are absolutely silent.”
He was urging the AU to withdraw their support for the new dispensation in
Libya that toppled the regime of his ally Muammar Gaddafi. The involvement
of Nato forces led by France and Britain in the Libyan revolution, for
Mugabe, was the ultimate signal that the West was preparing to re-colonise
the African continent. The West had become a real enemy threatening not only
Zimbabwean sovereignty but the liberation of the whole of Africa.
His ideals, he wants the world to know, are sanctified by the liberation
struggle which he led together with the current service chiefs; the same who
other members of Zimbabwe’s coalition government want removed. He has never
hidden his contempt for his counterparts in the government mainly for the
reason that they did not participate in the liberation struggle and also
because he considers them stooges of the West.
Ultra-nationalist governments are necessarily authoritarian and
authoritarianism can only be sustained through militarism. The service
chiefs are the face of this militarism. Other important cogs in the
continued existence of his ideals are demagoguery, emotionalism, populism
and propaganda and for these he is helped by the monopoly over the airwaves.
The latest debacle, in which two principals to the global political
agreement, had the bravado to call a press conference to announce a victory
over Mugabe regarding the position of the service chiefs, particularly the
openly partisan Police Commissioner-General has shown beyond any shadow of
doubt that contrary to popular belief Mugabe is in charge. There are tenuous
efforts in certain circles to refer to Zanu PF as the “former ruling party”.
The fact of the matter is Zanu PF is ruling the roost and Mugabe is the
“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world/ Like a Colossus, and we petty
men/ Walk under his huge legs and peep about/To find ourselves dishonourable
graves.” (Cassius referring to Julius Caesar circa 44BC).
Morgan Tsvangirai has been dishonoured. Arthur Mutambara has been
dishonoured, (if he had any honour at all). They have been shown to be
“petty men”. They can no longer stand in front of their supporters and tell
them they have any say in the way the state is being run. If Mugabe’s
spokesman George Charamba stands on a pedestal and makes an announcement and
Tsvangirai stands on the same pedestal and makes a contrary announcement
whom will the crowd believe? Charamba, of course, because his word is Mugabe’s
word and Mugabe’s word is final!
Now the world knows to what extent the government of national unity is
Only last week Attorney General Johannes Tomana was quoted as saying the
2008 power sharing agreement had expired and that Mugabe was solely
responsible for the appointments of service chiefs. This was such a profound
statement from the government’s chief law officer. The statement must have
been received with a great deal of shock from anyone interested in the
Zimbabwean crisis, particularly Zimbabweans themselves.
If the power sharing has expired, then what is there? What government is
ruling the country? Where does that government derive its legitimacy from?
There was a harmonised election in 2008 which was inconclusive regarding the
position of the president. The run-off that followed did not produce a
legitimate result. So, for all intents and purposes, if the power sharing
has expired, this country ceases to have a president. The presidency cannot
automatically revert to Zanu PF as Tomana seems to insinuate.
It has always been clear that in negotiating the GPA Zanu PF was never
sincere; hence more three years on and there are still fundamental issues
that are outstanding. Tomana’s outrageous utterances show that Zanu PF has
unilaterally declared its independence from the GPA.
Tomana is hardly the only Zanu PF personage who has been working in such a
manner as to show the world that Zanu PF wouldn’t care less about the GNU.
Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Ignatius Chombo
has been marauding across the countryside like a hurricane firing
legitimately elected mayors and councillors and replacing them with Zanu PF
apparatchiks. Tsvangirai has proved to be impotent in the face of all this.
The legitimacy he had earned by beating Mugabe in the March 2008
presidential election has now been eroded by the acquiescent way he is
receiving Mugabe’s hammer blows right in the face.
Zimbabweans must be watching all this with a certain helplessness. Former
mediator in the conflict Thabo Mbeki made one fundamental mistake in the
negotiations. By placing the fate of a whole country exclusively in the
hands of Mugabe, Tsvangirai and to lesser extent Mutambara this made the
whole population hostage to the whims of individuals who would want to hold
on to power for power’s sake.
Ultimately, Zimbabwe’s future will be decided by those same hostages but in
the meantime, with Zanu PF we are in for the long haul.
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