Mutsa Murenje

As we mark the 2nd anniversary since the passing on of Zimbabwe’s dictator Robert Gabriel Mugabe, my mind was struck by a disturbing news report in one of the weekend newspapers in Zimbabwe. A report that was carried in The Standard newspaper published on September 5, 2021, made curious but sad reading. In the report, Emmerson Mnangagwa declared that the ruling party ZANU PF would never be removed from power and that it would, instead, rule forever. Mnangagwa was quoted as having said that “ZANU PF rule is here to stay. We are the only revolutionary party with an indisputable rich past and the progressive and inclusive vision for a brighter, more prosperous future”.

Now, it isn’t the first time that we have heard words of this nature. These utterances are eerily similar to what Mnangagwa’s predecessor, the late Robert Mugabe, used to say when he was also in power. Mugabe believed in his invincibility, and he appeared to have learnt this disastrously nocent trait from some of the African dictators who had oppressively and ruthlessly ruled their countries for prolonged periods and yet ended up in exile or in some dishonourable graves. Mugabe never imagined for once that his life could change for the worst. Thus, unbeknownst to him, Mugabe’s dramatic fall in November 2017 at the hands of the military that had propped his rule for close to four decades was a stark reminder that “whoever exalts himself will be humbled”. By the time he died in September 2019, Mugabe was physically and mentally drained and had been starved of any media coverage as the ruthless Mnangagwa sought to dilute his former mentor’s influence.

Also, Professor Jonathan Moyo, a former minister during the Mugabe days is notorious for having remarked that ZANU PF would not reform itself from power. Without a doubt, these remarks betrayed a scatological sense of arrogance and invincibility by Moyo that also suggested that ZANU PF would resist any demands to democratise the polity. For this reason, many within the opposition movement believe that Moyo isn’t sincere in his fight against ZANU PF’s authoritarianism. He comes across as an opportunist and therefore remains a controversial figure in the political arena, mainly owing to his excesses during the time he wielded considerable political power. Although he narrowly survived the vengeful political fire that consumed his former boss, Moyo is in exile and must have come to terms with the difficulties associated with separation from family, friends, and relatives. This serves as a fundamental lesson to all of us and reminds me of what one of my High school teachers said to me when I was in my late teens. He stated thus, “Be nice to people you meet, you never know when you’ll meet them again”. This advice has stayed with me since then and our political leaders would do well to realise that political power is temporary. It may be here today, and it might also be gone tomorrow.

Despite betraying Mugabe as he did, Mnangagwa still vainly attempts to ingratiate himself with the few remaining Mugabe supporters in the hope that they may prolong his imminent end from the political sphere. I have no doubt whatsoever that Mnangagwa’s end is nigh and that he will fall with a thud. Like all dictators before him, Mnangagwa will fall in a dramatic fashion mirroring recent events that ended political careers of the likes of Edgar Chagwa Lungu, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, and Alpha Conde. Should he resist the will of the people in 2023, Mnangagwa’s end might as well be strikingly similar to that of Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti.

To my dear Zimbabweans whom I love in truth, ours remains a struggle for a free, just, and democratic Zimbabwe. We are fighting against a ruthless dictatorship that enjoys the support of fake opposition political parties. Notwithstanding signs of waning political power and influence, the Zimbabwean dictatorship is determined to maintain its political dominance and economic strangulation by curtailing the development of any serious form of political dissent and competition in the political arena. Since its formation in September 1999, the Movement for Democratic Change has been a formidable political outfit that has the potential to turn around the lives of the majority and oppressed people of Zimbabwe. However, suffering from erectile dysfunction of some sort, the party is failing to maintain its vigour owing to a series of divisions and splits.

Mnangagwa is taking advantage of disunity within the opposition movement. The time has come and now is for genuine political opponents to ask themselves serious questions about who they are, who they want to be, and what sort of country they really want. It is high time we held on to the desperate thought that our future in Zimbabwe might be a lot better than our tragic present. Although events of the recent past might suggest that hopes of a free, just, and democratic Zimbabwe are hopeless, impossible, impractical, and unlikely, we are devoted advocates of democracy, and we won’t rest until Zimbabwe is completely transformed politically. As the late Masipula Sithole observed: “unless democracy is sustained by the inner strength of a given society, the democracy project is built on quicksand …. Democracy should find its sustainability from the inner strength of a society, not outside it. This is why it has survived and endured in the small Scandinavian countries, their relative neutrality in a world of superpower rivalry notwithstanding.”

Overall, “[w]e already have a start, we already have capacities, talents, directions, missions, [and] callings” (Abraham Maslow).

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons