To many, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe is a political mahogany, the epitome of longevity, surprises and unpredictability. To others, he is a fearless fox, who cannot be cowed or intimidated from saying his mind. Yet, others see him as a master political mathematician, who does his political calculations meticulously well.
Put all the above attributes together, you begin to have a better perception of President Robert Mugabe, who at 90 is not only the African oldest ruler, but he is still swimming boldly and fearlessly the political waters of Zimbabwe. In terms of African sit-tight presidential award, Mugabe managed to come third after President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola. In the African political climate, where one`s political survival depends on a combination of political craft and pragmatism – and occasional brutality ““ Dr Mugabe has excelled shrewdly. Mugabe has out mastered his political nemesis and has always come back strongly whenever one thinks his political obituary has been written and his enemies ready to read his political Nunc dimittis or recite: “Do me a favor – Drop Dead.“ You must have been a James Hadly Chase`s fan, mustn`t you?
“Lord, let your servant depart in Peace“¦.“
“Do me a favor – Drop Dead?“
You hear those songs? Aha! Those have been the same old songs, sung by Mugabe`s foes ““ from Former Prime Minister Tony Blair of the UK, President George Bush of the USA to the European Union. What of Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition MDC? You better don`t ask dude Morgan how many times a day he has recited those songs – even in the midst of “I will marry you“ promises to those women. After dribbling the swarm of women he promised to marry, in a Maradona style, Morgan Tsvangirai has recently found out that outsmarting those women is much easier than surviving politically. Now Tsvangirai is facing his old political lover turned enemy, secretary-general Tendai Biti in a bitter fight for the political survival and control of their MDC party hierarchy. No time for any “Do me a favor“¦.“ rubbish. Or you mean this time around, Morgan Tsvangirai is rather busy shouting at Mugabe, his once political nightmares. “Do me a favor ““ be our referee?“ Whatever!
Mugabe has metamorphosed from Tsvangirai`s political cancer to referee? Not even Tsvangirai`s vow to munch comrade Biti like his favorite nyama meat or Biti`s squeezing of Tsvangirai`s balls, which Biti believes his opponent has overused, can draw the attention of the new FIFA accredited referee, who seems not to care. Those who think President Mugabe is a spent force, better think twice. But President Mugabe`s enemies are not always far from him. Blair, Bush and the rest might well be far swallowing their pride in defeat, President Mugabe`s own Zanu PF party and close friends are not allergic to the “Nunc dimittis and “Do me a favor“¦“songs. It is natural that children take over from parents when the elders are too old or no more. It is therefore quite understandable to hear that Vice-President Joice Mujuru or Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa of justice are positioning themselves for Mugabe`s job in case the president decides to relinquish power. Relinquish what? Power? Tell me why Mugabe should not act like a true African leader? A respectable African Statesman, you could say. So why are you talking about words that do not exist in the African political dictionary? Why do you want to make Uncle Mugabe a “lawbreaker“ or “ungentlemanly?“ Don`t even go there!
Are you still singing the Nunc dimittis or reading “Do me a favor – Drop Dead?“ Whatever you are busy with, while praying that President Robert Mugabe would vacate the political arena, just do me one favor. Look back! What can you see? Grace Mugabe! Who? The First Lady and the wife of President Robert Mugabe!
Grace Mugabe enters the Zimbabwean political arena!
Where are those queuing tirelessly and endlessly for Mugabe`s retirement or political oblivion? Houses set on fire with inhabitants brutally roasted. Perceived competitors for the highest job mercilessly eliminated. Innocent political opponents harassed, manhandled and often gone missing. All these heinous crimes committed for the sake of one thing: enhance one`s chances to the political apex. To take over the mantle of power and leadership from Uncle Mugabe, who has been there for 34 years ““ and still shows no sign of fatigue or retirement at the age of 90. A true fox he is, Mugabe has never let his true intentions known to his contenders. One thing for sure, only very few people ever had the thought that Grace Mugabe had any political ambition ““ talk less the possibility of succeeding her aging husband. One should forgive those who never suspected Grace Mugabe`s political thirst; but how could one not have suspected Mugabe`s political mathematics? This is a man who is stubbornly hanging on to power at all cost all – these years. You expected him to just wake up one day, call his village elders and ask them to plead with the gods and the good people of Zimbabwe to take over power from him? Don`t forget too, he would of course, decide to surrender his bank accounts to them as well. A common psychology and some elements of political antenna would have made some of us know that rulers like Mugabe would do everything within their power to not only remain in power, but to equally make sure their wealth and influence are fully protected if and when they happen to release their grip on power. The Mazowe Valley investments, amongst others, need to be protected and there is no better trusted person suited to do this than Grace herself. She cannot achieve this task without any political muscles. Does this perhaps explain why leaders such as uncle Mugabe would rather retain power within their families ““ or cronies, for the less “greedy“ (if we can agree on the definition of “greedy“) ones?
Can you now see Grace Mugabe entering the Zimbabwean political stage gallantly?
You cannot? We have a case of myopia here! Ok, let`s take it this way. Ordinarily, without the surname, one would have wondered how Grace, 40 years President Mugabe’s junior, could have the impetus to challenge political timbers and juggernauts like the Vice-President and liberation struggle icon, Joice Mujuru or Dambudzo Mnangagwa of justice, who were part of Mugabe`s liberation struggling during the time Grace was perhaps still wearing a nappy playing outside with the sand. However, we are in Africa. And the surname of Grace is Mugabe. The powerful president of Zimbabwe, who persistently refused to give up power or discuss his retirement plans, hence, keeping interested candidates guessing what his next political move would be. But if not for anything, the recent appointment of Grace Mugabe as the Zanu-PF Women’s League leader and the various endorsements of her appointment by many prominent Zanu-PF heavyweights clearly confirmed that Grace Mugabe is rather heading for a political luminance than oblivion. Interestingly, If the leadership position was such a “terrible“one, or Grace Mugabe was forced to accept it, she perhaps would not have allowed any open congratulations from the women after her appointment. More than interesting too, Grace Mugabe reminded those who cared to listen that it would be difficult to reject such an endorsement, once acceptable to the Zanu-PF party. Perhaps, many Zimbabweans must have forgotten how many times they heard such from Robert Mugabe during his 34 years of rule. Definitely, if the endorsement if not for anything, it has given Grace Mugabe not only her political base, but clout as well. Still waiting for President Mugabe to tell you when he wants to retire or who to succeed him?
For the sake of clarity, just like any other Zimbabwean, Grace Mugabe has every right to contest for any elective post. It is not the first time the world has experienced women in political dynasty. Democracy, coupled with emancipation have given many women related to powerful leaders opportunity to aim at the top political jobs.
Imelda Marcos (Philippines), Sonia Gandhi (India), Khaleda Zia (Bangladesh), Cristina Fernandez (Argentina), Hilary Clinton (USA), Sandra Torres (Guatemala), Nana Kanadu Rawlings (Ghana), Yingluck Shinawatra (Thailand), Gloria Macagal Arroyo (Philippines) to mention just a few, are no strangers to this exclusive political club. So in the spirit of equity and fairness, why must auntie Grace not be allowed to join the elite club? Unfortunately, unlike, in the USA political waters, for example, where Hilary Clinton swims, the Grace Mugabe`s Zimbabwean political water, differs clearly. While in the USA, accountability, thorough scrutiny and the rule of Law are the orders of the day, the Zimbabwean political territory lacks clear rules. It is the rough winner takes it all political terrain with deadly political land mines. It is a place, where access to the political power means absolute control of the political process. This is where auntie Grace Mugabe would have a clear advantage over, say Hilary Clinton, if the former enters the exclusive club. With the husband still calling the shot in Zimbabwe, who dare challenge Grace Mugabe?
Perhaps, Mugabe might not really want the wife to succeed him or contest for the presidency ““ for now, but for sure, he wants protections for his own interests if and when he relinquishes power. With the wife having enough political clout, Mugabe, the political fox is indirectly sending a strong message to those contestants for the highest job: take Grace Mugabe seriously and support her first before thinking of your own political ambitions. With this kind of message, Mugabe is using a single stone to kill two birds. He wants his wealth and interest safe and protected. Furthermore, with the arrangement, the wife will not only have great influence over others presidential aspirants; the arrangement could equally assure Grace Mugabe of the highest job ““ if not now, in the future. Little wonder why Zanu PF political heavyweights like Oppah Muchinguri, Edna Madzongwe (Senate President) and Mable Chinomona (deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly) have recently turned into Grace Mugabe`s praise singers, urging other party supporters to throw their weight behind Grace.
But the new “support Grace first“political arrangement does not come without casualties. The two major contenders for the presidency Emmerson Mnangagwa (Justice Minister) and Joice Mujuru (vice resident), the widow of the murdered former Army Chief, Solomon Mujuru, could pay the ultimate price. Will they freeze their ambition in a political cooler and support Grace Mugabe first or damn all the consequences and fight all the way to the top? If they refuse to support Grace Mugabe project, expect the emergence of another dark horse to take the leadership of the Zanu PF party.
“You see what is happening to the MDC. The party will get to 20 parties because of divisions and if we are not careful the same thing will happen to our party,” Grace Mugabe warned in her speech against divisions in the party.
Whether Grace Mugabe`s warning is borne out of selfishness and personal aggrandizement or pure patriotism, is yet to be seen. Regardless, one thing is sure, Grace Mugabe, the game changer has entered the Zimbabwean political waters. It is now left to be seen whether she can swim or be drowned by the forces in the water.
The above story is a parody. It is entirely fictitious; therefore none of the characters mentioned in the story are real