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Dhumisani Karakadzai - Political Correspondent

Where has it gone wrong for Mugabe and ZANU-PF?   – BY: DHUMISANI KARAKADZAI

If you want to be a good leader, we all know the obvious things one needs, but I think you also have to have empathy. A good leader needs the ability to try to see things from other people’s point of view. You need a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion – and Mugabe has shown no compassion whatsoever to his own people.

When more and more power is concentrated in one man, such as Mugabe, the more difficult it is to change his own world view. He becomes even more authoritarian. He reacts badly to criticism; and if people criticise him, they get taken out or squeezed out.

In that situation, people around you only tell you what you want to hear, which affects the impartiality of your input. You start getting more and more unreliable data, and your decisions start to get more and more skewed and bizarre.

For instance, about the famine, when people tried to warn Mugabe that farming had collapsed and that what few crops that had been planted, had failed, one of Mugabe’s ministers said: “No, no, I’ve flown over the country and all looks nice and green.” That’s what Mugabe wants to hear, and his ministers all know you don’t ever bring him bad news.

A real leader needs to get the real input and absorb it with empathy and then act upon it. Mugabe lives in a totally delusional world now and I think that is the biggest danger Zimbabwe faces. 

What’s happening now is that the chiefs are under more and more pressure from Mugabe. He put them on salaries, gives them cars, and then expects them to be agents of political control. If their areas turn against ZANU (PF) and Mugabe, then the chiefs will come under enormous pressure and will be changed, if necessary the chiefs’ are coming under ZANU (PF)’s control.

The other thing is Zimbabweans have actually resisted – peacefully. The opposition movement (Movement for Democratic Change), from its very formation in early 2000, was a platform that was dedicated to non-violence, and it’s kept that up. It hasn’t been given nearly enough credit for that. However, it is up against an army and police force that are extremely well established. These aren’t people into whose gun barrels you’re going to put carnations. They are not people who are going to be using just teargas everyone knows that they are pretty hardcore.

What Has Gone Wrong? - Robert Mugabe

I think that there has been reluctance on the part of the opposition leadership to push young people into the guns of these oppressors. You could argue that we’ve actually lost far more people over the last 10 years to disease and HIV and a collapse of health and agriculture than we might have done in a short, sharp revolution, but that is difficult to say.

The Global Political Agreement has been breached by ZANU (PF) in major ways, all the way along. Most importantly, the electronic media is still completely dominated by ZANU (PF), as are the police and the army. And the process of public consultation, nationally – with town hall meetings and meetings in the countryside to decide what should go into a new constitution draft – was also deeply flawed. In fact, what’s been happening is Mugabe’s people have broken up these get-togethers where the people are critical of ZANU (PF). They get beaten up and intimidated. So the process of consultation has been a joke. It’s been a disaster.

Mugabe said that they would have a referendum on a new Constitution early this year, and if the answer was a resounding “yes” from the public, then they would have elections in June under the new Constitution; and if they vote “no”, they would still have elections in June, but under the old Constitution. But they basically have the same underlying conditions that they had in the 2008 elections. The dollar might have gone, but Mugabe is still in charge of the forces of intimidation.

The chance of having a free and fair election under the conditions I’ve described is infinitely small. One thing that is necessary before you go anywhere near the next election in Zimbabwe, is to completely reform the voters’ roll, which is a joke. There are thousands of voters who are over 100 years old in a country that has one of the lowest lifespan averages in the world – I don’t think so. There are ghost voters: almost a third of the registered voters are actually dead! Others are infants.

So Tsvangirai and MDC is faced with this terrible conundrum, which is that either it can pull out now and just bring the whole ‘unity’ government down and Mugabe would go it alone, or it can stay with it through the constitutional vote and into the next elections and almost certainly lose because of fraud and intimidation – even if the MDC is the most popular party.

My biggest worry now is the diamonds discovered in Chiadzwa. This has effectively given Mugabe a new lease on his political life. It has changed everything. Diamonds in Chiadzwa were discovered in 2006 and started being mined by freelancers until about 2008. Then Mugabe’s people stepped in and now the Chiadzwa diamonds are the exclusive domain of Mugabe and the military. So, suddenly, this huge extra amount of money comes flowing in.

The farms, the mines and businesses eventually run out of money and the economy just gets smaller and smaller. One would sometimes hope in those situations that was where you would find the solution, with just no one making money anymore – but then the diamonds changed the whole dynamic.

It’s depressing. The timing of the diamond finds is extremely demoralising – it has refinanced Mugabe’s regime, made them more determined to cling to power. Mugabe has pretty good security, and the concern there is that if your method of changing power is through assassination, it tends to create a knock-on effect. There was apparently a very early attempt by a chef, who put ground glass into Mugabe’s food in the ‘80s, but I don’t think that was political – it was some bizarre witchcraft.

There was a period of about two weeks where we had seen the raw data and realised the huge extent of the turn against Mugabe. There was much negotiation behind closed doors. Specifically with some of the Western diplomats helping to put together an exit package from Mugabe – amnesty and financial guarantees etc. – and it looked like it was really going to happen, that he would stand down I think Mugabe was feeling his age and his wife, Grace, was saying: “It’s enough.” Then Mugabe had meetings with the generals and decided to go another way altogether. For that brief window, though, it looked like change was going to happen.

But political parties that are born of liberation wars, and become the government, can be particularly stubborn about ceding power. They can be quite Messianic – believing they have a right to continue in power indefinitely.

In South Africa, you are on your fourth president, but Zimbabwe is still on its first. Mugabe is so associated with power, and the ZANU (PF) party would be very vulnerable without him. He has painted himself into this corner, as he never allowed a successor to be groomed – such is the characteristics of the dictator.

I don’t think that Mugabe has been bullied or controlled, but I do think that he’s not hands-on in the day-to-day running of the country. He has always delegated, that’s always been a style. He’s never been a hands-on guy in terms of how it’s done.

With the possibility of Robert Mugabe’s presidential post becoming available due to his sudden death, serious illness, retirement, resignation or removal from office or any other cause than his functions shall be assumed and performed by Vice-President; or where there are two Vice-Presidents—
(i) by the Vice-President whom the President has designated for such an eventuality; or
(ii) by the Vice-President who last acted as President in terms of this section.

 A person performing the functions of the office of President shall not exercise the power of the President to declare war or to make peace; or to enter into any international convention, treaty or agreement.

So if anything happens to Mugabe right now who gets the responsibility as the president of Zimbabwe? Does the remaining ZANU (PF) member follow the procedures mentioned above or do they ignore the guide lines?