Whenever I travel outside Zimbabwe, particularly to other African countries, people I talk to generally hail Mugabe as a champion of the oppressed. They regard him as a hero who stood against western bullies to empower poor, colonised Zimbabweans through a brave land redistribution programme.
This is a mantra that Mugabe and Zanu (PF) have marketed so well to the uninitiated outside world. It is amazing how even a cobbler operating from some corner in downtown Dar es Salaam, Maseru or Soweto can easily become Mugabe’s praise singer on the basis of the fast track land redistribution programme. Most of the time, the conversation ends up with a comparison between Mugabe and their own leaders, whom they think are sorry cowards who need serious lectures on empowerment from Mugabe.
Poor man’s hero
Further, while Tsvangirai has of late come under scrutiny for perceived weak leadership and failure to win elections, those that admire him—and they seem to be still teeming—regard him as the poor man’s hero. They think that he has the grassroots at heart and is championing the cause of the marginalised. Utter rubbish.
The Tokwe Mukosi humanitarian crisis that has been unfolding since the beginning of the year is a good example of how both political leaders—one in power for decades now and the other still chasing the ghost of political authority—do not care a hoot about the people.
Since the dam flooded, displacing thousands of hapless villagers in low-lying Masvingo, we have seen only desperate efforts from humanitarian organisations and some well-wishers. There has been no sign of good will from Mugabe or Tsvangirai. Mugabe found it more convenient to visit Gideon Gono’s farm and laud him for his business acumen – simply because he is rearing egg layers on a large scale.
For all we know, Gono dragged Mugabe to his farm as a way of settling scores with his political enemies in Zanu (PF), and the president was a willing victim. What we do know is that, currently, there is a cold war in that party regarding Gono’s imminent ascendancy to Senate and, most likely, the finance ministry.
There is, of course, fiery resistance from a camp that would love to see Patrick Chinamasa remain at the helm of the helm of the portfolio. Gono must have coached Mugabe on what to say once given the podium during the farm visit.
That is why Mugabe threatened journalists at Zimpapers for a deliberate blackout on Gono – apparently at the behest of the former Reserve Bank governor’s internal foes. While Mugabe did not say who those were directly, there is no prize for guessing that he was training his shot (rather, Gono’s shot) at the likes of Jonathan Moyo, who has a hands-on approach at Zimpapers and could thus be the one who was ordering the aforesaid black out. Needless to say, Moyo has already issued a statement announcing that Gono would not take over from Chinamasa—well, not so directly though.
Prior to the Gono visit, Mugabe was dining with the who-is-who of this world’s richest at Bona’s wedding and, just prior to that, feasting with a chosen few at his 90th birthday. Since Bona reportedly received millions in gifts, and the president was paid a handsome dowry, I would have expected him to set aside a modest $5,000 and give it to the Masvingo families as a token of concern. This is indeed a very far cry from the Mugabe of the early years who used to live in a two-bedroomed house in humble Highfields.
Tsvangirai, too, was busy with other things. He seemed too preoccupied with his power, seeing as it is some hawks were/are calling on him to step down and make way for a new leadership. He could not let that happen because power is too sweet. In that regard, the plight of the Tokwe Mukosi floods must always wait for another day.
Power is sweet
Come to think about it, it should not have taken him a whole day to go and assess the situation in Masvingo and commiserate with the affected people, but he chose rather to make whistle-stop rallies to reclaim his threatened power. I raised the point, during the days of the GNU, that he was finding Munhumutapa too warm to step out into the streets and he has not changed, even in the belly of his failure to remove Mugabe from power. – To comment on this article, please contact [email protected]Post published in: Analysis