By Martins Agbonlahor
How are the mighty fallen, indeed! When war veteran, Robert Gabriel Mugabe assumed the throne as president of Zimbabwe thirty seven years ago, we had high hopes especially when His Excellency himself in building a wholly participatory, all-inclusive, non-racial government urged the white population of Zimbabwe to ‘stay with us…in this country and constitute a nation based on national unity.’
This was a clarion call for all hands to be on deck in shaping the future of the newly independent nation. Blacks and whites yielded and the country produced the desired fruits becoming in reality, one of Africa’s richest countries. However, within a decade and a half, a country which used to be the food basket of Africa suddenly metamorphosed into a basket case itself, no thanks to his Excellency’s inordinate ambition of becoming President for Life coupled with intense corruption and the profligate lifestyle of his wife, Grace Mugabe.
To worsen matters, too – and to pacify “fellow Zimbabweans,” President Mugabe initiated the so-called ‘indigenisation policy,’ whereby white farmers were forcibly driven off their lands and ejected from the country. Now, we are the laughing stock of other nations; and the military once confined to the barracks have intervened by staging a coup though they would employ other contrivances: ‘a transfer of power,’ ‘a minor putsch,’ ‘a peaceful showdown,’ etcetera. To us all, however, the handwriting on the wall is easily discernible: Mugabe has been toppled.
As the brouhaha surrounding the change of power goes almost unabated, there is the clamour for ex-president Mugabe to be replaced by no less a person than Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa who was sacked a few weeks earlier.
Herein lies the crux of the matter, for Mnangagwa himself, had all along, been a witness and in fact, a comrade-in-butchery to Zanu PF’s crushing of the opposition, arrests and detention of journalists and intimidation of real and perceived ‘enemies’ of the state. In this vein, therefore, the idea of installing him as president as is being touted, is not only self-defeatist but comparable to placing a plaster over a gaping wound; and albeit he is being presently romanticised by the military. Mr Mnangagwa should not forget the well-known Shona adage that ‘the stick which was used to beat the housewife also awaits the mistress.’ The fact that you have been spared some punches today does not mean you will not be punched tomorrow by the same military.
It pains to the marrow that Motherland Zimbabwe has been battered and left bleeding throughout these years. However, she must trudge on and flourish for the sake of us all, especially now that Mugabe and his core of kleptocrats are on the verge of being buried in the garbage heap of history. What we need now is a complete overhaul of the system, a cleanse of the Augean stables. These, in practical terms, should drive the final nail into the coffin of gerontocracy and put at bay Mugabe’s ghost that has since stuck with the country like a repulsive body odour.
Now is the time for the Zimbabwean youths who had been ignored and sidelined so much that in order to gain ‘relevance’ (or put succinctly, notoriety), they had to belong to Grace Mugabe’s team of psychopathic killer gangs, the so-called G40 political movement. Others who could not find their way into Grace’s inner circle are scattered all over the world as refugees eking out a bare existence. This must stop. Zimbabwe, we all know, has enough human resources: intelligent, dynamic and energetic young men and women to take up the mantle of leadership. More so, all the opposition parties amongst which are the Zimbabwe First party, the Movement for Democratic Change, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union as well as the African People’s Congress should be allowed to participate FULLY in the upcoming democratisation process and not just, as in Mugabe’s days, given a tokenism approach to participation.
But will Mugabe and all that comes with him vamoose from the political landscape and let democracy reign? Only time will tell.
Martins Agbonlahor is a postgraduate student of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Portsmouth.