Freedom Mutanda Post Correspondent
What people have learnt from history is that it repeats itself time and again; politicians don’t learn from history.All leaders the world over have aides and advisers; when a leader fails to sieve advice, his reign quickly comes to an end. The Zimbabwean experience is a telling example of how bad advice can quicken the demise of one who had been at the forefront of nationalist politics for almost six decades, the former President Robert Mugabe, the enigma and nemesis of the West.
A lone voice cried to the imperious Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March!’’ as he walked around Rome surrounded by a host of aides who included Caius Brutus, Casca, Mark Antony, Cassius and others. At that moment, the great Julius Caesar, who bestrode the ancient world “like a Colossus. . . ’’ bluntly told the crowd that the soothsayer was a “dreamer, pass.’’
Unlike Dr Amai, Calphurnia, Caesar’s wife, had warned him against going to the Capitol, a piece of advice, he bluntly rejected.
Fast forward to 2017 and even the run-up to the so-called 2014 Mujuru humiliation and ejection from the party and you see a similar scenario. The former First Lady, Dr Grace Mugabe, went on a frenzy denigrating the person of the then Vice President and Second Secretary of the party, ZANU PF, Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. He was hounded out of the party and Government; next to be removed were his supposed henchmen. Critics cried that the party had to be wary of wolves in sheep’s clothing and no one paid attention.
A story is told of an arrogant king who visited a famed tailor or dressmaker, if you will. He wanted a suit that no other person had worn and he warned the man that he would lose his life if he failed to deliver. Such a demand and the threats thereafter, made the tailor terrified and he went around asking for advice.
He got it. King Arrogant strutted about like a peacock in front of a bemused crowd. No one dared tell him that he was naked until a young boy called out from the throng, “what’s there to ululate and clap hands for when the emperor is naked?’’
Only then did everyone agree with the young man that the emperor’s new clothes were actually not there and the king suffered from the biting cold without flinching. The former President had no clothes on and no one had the guts to tell him he was naked.
It is clear that the President did not heed the advice of his fellow comrades from the liberation war years in favour of the younger members of the party. Wise people say you don’t leave the elderly wife in favour of the petite, beautiful and world wise younger wife. With the passage of time, the husband would know how faithful his first wife was but as the grand dad of Zimbabwean music, Oliver Mutukudzi says, it will be too late to recover.
We have a whole cabinet minister who has issues with the current Government and he has never forgiven the former President for those issues but because he is a veritable strategist and eloquent speaker, he wormed his way into the inner circle of the ruling party and thereafter, destroyed it from within. Protests come from the vanguard of the party, the war veterans, but no one hearkens; the silence from the top is deafening and the war vets are seen as pariahs in the party they fought the war under.
Curiously, the Mgagao Declaration put Cde Mugabe at the pedestal of the nationalist party, ZANU, he founded along with Ndabaningi Sithole, Enos Nkala, Leopold Takawira and Herbert Chitepo among others. In other times, he could have quickly backtracked the moment his bosom buddies proffered advice. No, this time, he was adamant that it is the politics that led the gun. He conveniently forgot that George Washington, was a General during the American war of independence. A good number of American Presidents are former soldiers. Indeed, Cde Mugabe owes his position to the military wing of the party and that is an irrefutable fact.
First ladies, when they become politically ambitious, throw caution to the wind and say, “I can be a president because I am a Zimbabwean.’’
Such talk, reckless as it was, should have been nipped in the bud by the former President. In the eyes of the povo, the “efulefu”, a dynasty was being created and it was put to a premature end by the military.
More importantly, Cde Robert Mugabe must have seen the writing on the wall and backtracked on the “dynasty’’ route that many in Zanu PF were afraid of. He had resisted calls to install his wife as heir apparent in previous interviews and interfaces; what had changed for him to give tacit approval for Dr Grace Mugabe to ascend to the Vice Secretary position when even a kindergarten pupil could tell that she is a green horn and wet behind the ears in politics?
The Ides of March fell on 15 March in the Roman world. Zimbabwe’s awakening fell on the Ides of November when the command element moved in to forestall a dangerous melting of the nation. Kudos to Zimbabweans for heeding the army’s call for peace and tranquillity to prevail during this trying period in our national history.
It is a matter of public record that Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Events of the past week attest to that. Dr Constantino Guvheya Chiwenga was very articulate and referred to the constitution as written. The army had stepped in to arrest a potentially debilitating effect of the internecine power struggle within the ruling party which was a powder keg.
Military interventions elsewhere had resulted in the killing and maiming of opponents but NOT in Zimbabwe. People went about their business and when the Solidarity march ensued, the camaraderie among Zimbabweans was palpable; could it be the dawn of a new era where all Zimbabweans feel they are part of the development agenda of their nation?
Bad advice and the inability of the incumbent to take the best alternative resulted in our present predicament. People make history. One of the G-40 cabal had the nerve to say Zimbabweans were used; this, in essence, means the G-40 cabal think Zimbabweans can’t think on their own-patronising indeed.
One feels sorry for the old man of Zimbabwean politics, a latter day Machiavelli who thought he had followers but the scenes of jubilation in Parliament by legislators from the political divide that greeted the reading of his resignation letter on November 21, 2017 by the Speaker of Parliament, Advocate Jacob Mudenda, is testimony that Cde Mugabe, had lost his way. He listened to toxic advice.
Clearly, his resignation may have softened his landing and put some shine on his chequered political legacy which had started well in 1980 only to flounder in the intervening years. When you want to hear your voice only, you are doomed as a politician. Cde Mugabe’s rhetoric did not save him this time. The people have spoken; those with ears, please take heed.
Tellingly, a large section of the population took to the streets to celebrate his departure but some honestly said the former President could have done better if he had left power a decade or so ago. However, his wife would not let him take a well — deserved rest opting to tell the populace that Mugabe would rule from the grave or while ensconced in a wheel chair. Such type of thinking is treasonous; does it mean that Zimbabwe did not have people who could be leaders.
Going forward, strong institutions and not strong individuals, must be built in order to make politicians be accountable to the people who elected them. General Chiwenga spelt it out clearly that the ideals of the struggle ought to be respected and one of them was a strong democratic tradition.
To President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ball is in his court as he embarks on a new journey to rebuild Zimbabwe. With international goodwill, it will be months and the good old days would be back.
President FD Roosevelt’s 100 days transformed the United States from the ravages of the Great Depression; today, Zimbabwe stands on the threshold of a new era full of promise and hope. When everyone is put on board, success will be the ultimate winner.
The Ides of November have redefined the nation’s history and current trajectory. Why are these criminals on the run if they have no case to answer?