Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Another View: Mugabe is Mad

The following article is an opinion from a Ugandan who lives in Canada and has written several times about the situation in Zimbabwe. When my article was published in The New Vision, there was one from him on the same subject.

While I don't agree with the continued demonising of one person for the woes of this country, I agree with him that there are many factors that dovetail into what is now happening in Zimbabwe [and the West is part of the problem as well as the solution]. Ironically, some of the statements made by H.E. Robert Mugabe have been also been made in our country. I don't remember Mr. Oloya raising the red flag!

I don't think we should call Mugabe mad without basing on a psychiatric assessment, what all of us should do is to engage him and ZANU-PF as well as all the other players to make life better for the ordinary suffering people. My argument is always that MDC is not the magic bullet, the panacea, as it has always been bundied around by many including Mr. Opiyo. Do we ever stop to think that ZANU-PF equally has a large following, that is why in the first case, MDC was not able to win outright. And let us not say that it was electoral rigging because those Zim elections in March were more transparent than many held in other African countries, which have been lauded by observers as "largely free and fair".

No more doubt about Mugabe’s mental health!

ZIMBABWE'S President Robert Mugabe has gone stark raving mad! If there was any doubt about the sanity of the former freedom-fighter-turned-dictator, all that changed last week. At the funeral of a former freedom fighter, Mugabe made it clear that the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) will never rule Zimbabwe—even if it wins a landslide victory.

Mugabe vowing never to allow Zimbabwe to be ruled by what he termed as “lackeys”, promised to personally return to the bush to wage war on a new MDC government. He is reported to have said, “We are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war if we lose it the same way our ancestors lost it.”

Then on Monday, just in case his captive audience missed the point, Mugabe went further to explain why he would not be relinquishing power soon. He is reported byThe Zimbabwe Herald to have said, “We shed a lot of blood for this country. We are not going to give up our country for a mere ‘X’ on a ballot. How can a ballpoint pen fight with a gun?” Okay, at least we now know what is in store for poor Zimbabweans.

But Mugabe conveniently forgot to mention the fact that the MDC is popular because ordinary Zimbabweans are clamouring for change. Moreover, democratic change was precisely why the costly liberation war was fought in the first place against Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence. In his deluded self, Mugabe cannot see that he has run the once vibrant country to the ground through the corrupt practices of his appointed lackeys such that the voices of ordinary citizens no longer count. Mind you, the same citizens he claims to represent!

But, hey, why blame Mugabe when there are enough blames to go around? Several factors have colluded to allow Mugabe to luxuriate in the hallucination of being king of all Zimbabwe. Foremost, ineffectual neighbours have wrung their hands while Zimbabwe burns. To date, only tiny Botswana has lodged a formal protest over the ongoing actions of the Zimbabwean authorities against members of the opposition MDC. It is like a mosquito telling an elephant to behave.

The rest of the member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) have kept their collective heads in the sand in case they are gruffly asked, “What are you staring at?” South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki mildly referred to the political turmoil in Zimbabwe as “an internal affair for Zimbabwe to resolve”.

It should be remembered that Mbeki stood up for Mugabe in 2005 when the US described Zimbabwe as “an outpost of tyranny” and designated it alongside Cuba and North Korea. Mbeki dismissed that label as “an exaggeration”.

Secondly, timid leaders elsewhere on the continent are afraid of pointing the speck in Mugabe’s eyes while ignoring the log in their own eyes.
Tyranny, as it turns out, is something best left out of polite conversations. ‘MYOB’—mind your own business is the mantra adopted by all. And so Zimbabwe convulses while everyone assumes the role of onlooker at a roadside car-wreck, shaking head at the big mess and breathlessly waiting to see if there are survivors.
Thirdly, the lackadaisical attitude of developed nations has also contributed to Zimbabwe’s torturous journey under Mugabe.

There was a time when western nations seemed determined to change the status quo, to shake Mugabe out of the tree. But by talking about Mugabe while doing nothing about him, allowed Mugabe to grow stronger, even more powerful. Along the way, the world became preoccupied with other urgent matters.

The western economy was tanking in major world arenas, and the perennial war on terror seemed to go from bad to worse. Somehow, an African dictator squeezing the last blood from his people did not register on the Richter scale of world political problems that needed urgent action.
Uselessly half-hearted plans of actions were hatched (mostly by Britain) but never went anywhere. Mugabe continued to hold his nose at the world, and do whatever he felt like doing. It did not help that Mugabe could justifiably point to the catastrophic US election that ushered George Bush into power in 2000, and the more recent Russia’s mafia-like coronation of new president Dmitri Medvedev as examples of failures of western democracies.
If a superpower like the US can screw up big time while electing its president, what about Zimbabwe, a neophyte to the game?

Fourthly, the biggest boost to Mugabe’s power madness was the Zimbabweans themselves. Like many African cousins across the big beautiful continent, Zimbabweans once considered their leader as god-sent, spending more time worshipping him than asking whether he really was doing anything for the people.

Whereas Europeans and Americans tend to give their leaders short honeymoons before asking the tough questions, Africans linger a while, worshipping their leaders ad nauseam.

Whatever the leader does, however petty or inconsequential, is treated as big news. And, over time, that kind of adulation transforms into chronic addiction as leaders crave quick fixes like addicts demanding shots in the arm. It becomes normal for the leader to stay afloat, buoyed by a false sense of popularity even as citizens applaud (and curse) him for staying there.

So, now we have Robert Mugabe, a former freedom fighter who is amok like a runaway train, a Frankenstein monster that is part created by his former colonial masters, and part by his people. And nobody knows how to stop him. Short of his heart-string giving out on him (as happened with Nigeria’s Sani Abacha) he is slated to stay there a while—madness, stolen elections and all.

This article can be found on-line at:

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