Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny
And in this judgment there is no partiality
So arm in arms, with arms
We'll fight this little struggle
'Cause that's the only way
We can overcome our little trouble
What was implanted in my head and heart at the time was the chorus “Africa will liberate Zimbabwe” not knowing the full lyric until much later. However, it spurred my interest in Zimbabwe and was a catalyst in writing my Master's thesis on a comparative analysis on agricultural development in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The song is even more powerful when one pays close attention to the entire lyrics. It aptly captured the situation and mood of Zimbabwe at the time. One would better appreciate the song when you see some documentaries and interviews of events leading to independence. Listening to an important interview granted by Mugabe in anticipation of gaining independence in 1976, illustrated the tenacity of Zimbabweans for a hopeful and bright future. At the time, Mugabe seemed like the thoughtful man who would take his country to the expected future. For example, when he was asked of his role in an independent Zimbabwe, Mugabe declared “for myself, I see a role assigned to me by my people, my party first and foremost. Whatever my party asks me to do I do it”. That was Mugabe in 1976 before he captured the state and the country as his kingdom while squandering the hope and the future the people fought for.
Immediately after Mugabe became the president of Zimbabwe in 1980, things took a different turn from his proposed servant of his people for freedom and pursuit of equality, democracy and progress. First, Mugabe put aside the goal of liberation –freedom, equity and land distribution and embarked on the suppression of the opposition through threats and elimination. One high profile example was several attempts on the life of Joshua Nkomo. The veterans who fought for the independence as guerrilla armies were not spared. After years of neglect and little or no result from their agitation for land distribution and pension, the veterans became Mugabe’s most prominent critics. Their grievances were met with ridicule and coercion. Mugabe dismissed and called them “armchair critics.” He ruled and ruined the country with an iron hand, of which Mahmood Mamdani aptly observed, “There is no denying Mugabe’s authoritarianism, or his willingness to tolerate and even encourage the violent behavior of his supporters.” Mugabe did not only ruled by coercion but by the strong support of his inner circle including his ousted disgruntled former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa whom with the military leaders led by the Army commander, Constantino Chiwenga orchestrated the coup.
Despite his age, Mugabe tried to hold onto power ‘with his dead cold hand.’ On November 22nd, 2017, Mugabe finally sent his resignation letter three days after publicly refusing to resign. The speaker of parliament read his letter to a special joint session of the assembly. Incidentally, the special session was convened to impeach Mugabe, aged 93 after 37 years of rule. The resignation brought jubilation and celebration in Zimbabwe. Perhaps, there is a need for caution. No one knows what the future holds for Zimbabwe. Is this an end of an era or just a continuation of the same pattern?
So far, the situation has been peacefully managed. And for the sake of the beautiful country, I hope it remains so. The question arising is, why now and where were these people in the past decades? The only reason we are witnessing the current event is that Mugabe is 93 years old and since he is not an immortal being, his demise is inevitable, which explains the struggle for power between Mugabe’s second wife Grace and his former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Grace with her husband Robert Mugabe took Zimbabwe as their kingdom, of which power must be transferred to the member of the family – the wife in this case. This plan was not a hidden agenda. Before the sacking of the Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the catalyst for the current situation, Grace Mugabe had spoken in public that her husband should name a successor while pivoting herself as the one. On the other hand, Mnangagwa viewed himself as the rightful heir to the throne having helped Mugabe’s hold to power and in the pillaging of the country. The sacking of Mnangagwa who felt entitled to take-over for his loyalty towards Mugabe paved the way for Grace's possible succession to the throne. This is what led to the silent coup. Hence, the political drama is merely a power struggle for another state capture and control of Zimbabwe. It has nothing to do with the welfare of Zimbabweans and the beloved country’s fate.
What is currently going on in Zimbabwe is not different from some African countries. We have Kenyatta the son of the first president of Kenya as the president of Kenya. There is Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Father and son duo has ruled Togo for 50 years. In 2015, the country voted in Gnasssingbe for the third time. Gnassingbé is the son and immediate successor of Togo’s fifth president—Gnassingbé Eyadema. There is also President Ian Khama of Mauritius. If one follows current political analysis, there is the likelihood that Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma may be the next president of South Africa. Cases of a political dynasty that guarantees a family member replaces another differ from one country to another. For example, one cannot compare the case of Grace Mugabe whose only credence to power is marrying Robert Mugabe to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who began as an anti-apartheid activist and have been in government since 1994. The case remains; that most family transfer of political power in Africa is not by merit.
Also, a political dynasty is not peculiar to Africa nor is it dominant in the continent, the USA for example, in recent time, had the Bushes. There are similar patterns in South Asian countries like the Philippines and South Korea. These countries had their father-son leadership, but they were not immediate as there were some time gaps. They were also based on actual election competition and not a staged imposed or inherited pattern obtainable in some African countries. So, we hope that the people could see the ouster of Mugabe as a lesson that no one is invisible. There is nothing wrong with political dynasty as long as one gets to power by merit in a free and fair competitive election.
As of the time of this writing, the ZANU/PF party has ousted Mugabe as the party leader, and negotiation is still underway to determine who takes over from him. It is very likely Emmerson Mnangagwa will replace Mugabe. One thing for sure, there is no evidence that any of the interested parties have the interest of Zimbabwe and its people at heart. Power grabbing persists while Zimbabwe and Africans, in general, are yet to liberate itself after more than half a century of independence. For how long would this power struggle at the expense of the country and its people continue so that Africans can freely building their countries. As we wait for the next phase of Zimbabwe, we hope that whoever takes power will preside over a free and fair election and the winner will free Zimbabwe for real this time around so that the country could fulfill its destiny.
As Bob Marley continued …
No more internal power struggle;
We come together, to overcome, the little trouble
Soon we'll find out who is, the real revolutionary
Cause I don't want my people to be contrary