His refusal to surrender the baton to a successor on the basis of this mythical indispensability would make sense only if two basic conditions obtained.
First, he needs to prove to the world that he is immortal and would thus be around for as long as the animal called Zanu (PF) exists. Second, there must evidence that he, indeed, is managing to hold the party together. The plain truth, on the contrary, is that he is neither mortal nor a cementing factor in the party.
Age is evidently taking a toll on him and, at 90, he has clearly lost his grip on political dynamics. When he gave a lengthy interview to ZBC ahead of his 90th birthday in February, Mugabe was a sorry sight and broken sound. He sometimes wandered away from his thoughts and lost track of what he was talking about. He has been doing that quite often in recent times, characteristically shaking his head as if to rejuvenate his weary faculties.
Last month, I was there at State House when Mugabe, during the impromptu Zanu (PF) celebration of its contested victory in last year’s general elections, said July 31 was the day when the results of the polls were made known as polling had taken place earlier. All along, I thought that July 31 was polling day and remain convinced so because that is the day I cast my vote. Unless, of course, the Old Man was inadvertently admitting that ballots were stuffed well before July 31.
A fading memory of that magnitude betrays failing age. His worsening sight is also a sign of advanced age. Mugabe, therefore, cannot be mortal because there is abundant proof that he is ageing and ageing is a function of mortality. Recent events demonstrate that he is not holding Zanu (PF) together.
He can only rant and rave as his lieutenants fight openly ahead of a crucial congress in December. They know his end is nigh and have smelt the blood.
They are itching to see his back and they are becoming bolder in their jostling for his position. In a rainy December 2004, at a previous Zanu (PF) congress, Mugabe played an active role in elevating Joice Mujuru to the position of party deputy secretary and vice president. For some reason, he was anxious to create a barrier against Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was supposed to benefit from an unsanctioned palace coup in rural Tsholotsho.
Mugabe insinuated that Mujuru must not stop in that position, which meant that she should aim to take over his position. Ten years down the line, Mujuru is still waiting. She is getting restless and must be seething underneath as her boss does not seem to be in a hurry to retire. Any further delay could compromise her chance of taking over the reins.
On the other hand, Mnangagwa, thinks he has what it takes to step into Mugabe’s shoes and use them to ride rough shod over us. I am not sure where or when he got the impression that he can lead Zanu (PF) and Zimbabwe, but it cannot be disputed that he has the ambition. He will therefore not stop fighting for the hot seat, and has managed to create and sustain a living camp to help him. There are other hounds lurking in the woods, but Mnangagwa and Mujuru are leading the pack.
Even though they are still cautious and are not coming out in the open, they are letting action do the talking. That is why senior members of the two main factions led by Mujuru and Mnangagwa went ahead and brazenly tried to impose themselves on both the youth and women’s conferences, despite spirited remonstrations by Mugabe. That is why they bought votes during the two summits, almost reducing their leader to tears. That is why those tasked with the responsibility of preparing for the conferences chose to go for their overnight meetings, instead of sourcing money to ensure the events were a success.
All this means Mugabe is not in control, nor can he stop the fissures in the party. He used to be formidable, yes, but those who want his position know that he is now a spent force and they can do whatever they want, for as long as that will increase their chances of grabbing power. Mugabe might want us to believe that he is in charge, but his juniors are showing that he is not. In fact, the party boss’s extended stay in Zanu (PF) has helped weaken it, rather than hold it together. He has nurtured and sustained acrimony in order to die in office, and the cracks are growing wider. The falcon can no longer hear the falconer and the centre has lost the capacity to hold. – To comment on this article, please contact [email protected]Post published in: Opinions & Analysis