When I observe the situation unfolding in Zimbabwe, I cannot help but feel that the ending of this movie will not be a good one. Decades of observing political shenanigans all over Africa have made me very skeptical about African leaders and African democracies. My skepticism is now almost at the cynicism stage.
The Zimbabwean military should not even try to pretend that their soft coup is because they care about the country or its citizens. They only care about themselves and want to stay in power behind the scenes. They are corrupt and just as bad as the man (Robert Mugabe) they have removed from power. And the man (Emmerson Mnangagwa) they are bringing in is also just as bad.
All these corrupt people have been working together the last 20 to 30 years plus, enriching themselves and enjoying life while ordinary citizens were forced to wallow in abject poverty and become economic refugees abroad, 3 million of them (a quarter of the population).
The current crop of leaders were part of the scheme to prevent the Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC from taking over power in 2008 and they allowed Mugabe to unleash violence on opposition supporters such that Tsvangirai was forced to pull out of the second round of the elections, despite clearly winning the first round (the official results showed that Tsvangirai got 47.9% of the vote and Mugabe 43.2%). Where was the army when all these illegalities were happening?
Where has the army been all these decades as Mugabe laid the country to waste and acted with absolute impunity? Why do these people have the attitude that they deserve all the power just because they fought for independence? It is really a sad state of affairs when those with power do not care about putting in office the person chosen by the people.
Zimbabwe has been totally poisoned and destroyed and what we are witnessing now is a game of political musical chairs. Replace one bad man with another, as long as he can guarantee that the army boys are safe and sound from the evils they did previously. Some estimates by the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) say that up to 20,000 people have been murdered by the army and state intelligence apparatus, with most of the deaths related to the Matebeleland uprising back in the mid 1980s.
I found myself laughing in disbelief when I heard that the African Union has issued a statement through its chair Mr Alpha Conde condemning the “illegal” grabbing of power by the Zimbabwean army. The AU is one of the most useless organizations in the world, together with SADC and the UN. I do not even know why they exist.
If the AU were really concerned about legality, why did they allow Mugabe to get away with what was also essentially a coup when he prevented free and fair elections in 2008? Why do they rubber stamp almost every election in Africa as free and fair when the reality is different? They even have no shame to talk about legality of governments?
I will be very surprised if Zimbabwe turns out well 20 years from now. Bad seeds have already been sown and the corrupt system will not be changed easily. Any new leader who tries to correct things may be stopped again by the army. For example, if a new president changes the defence chiefs and replaces them, will they allow that to happen? Or will they also threaten or remove him?
Perhaps removing Mugabe is the lesser of two evils, but it is still an big evil. The man was a brutal dictator and it was plain for all to see. He got people killed and he crushed all opposition to his despotic rule as he turned the country from a proud producing nation into one of the poorest nations in the world.
I still remember to this day how Zimbabweans used to laugh at us when we would visit their country. They called us poor and did not like us going to buy things there. They also said we were dirty people. How things have changed drastically from those days 30 years ago. Now we are the ones laughing at Zimbabweans for allowing one crazy old man (with the help of a corrupt military) to run their country into the ground.
Mugabe is clearly a bad man and terrible leader for the country. Zimbabwe would have been far better off had he stepped down in 1990 after 10 years in power. Most Zimbabweans will probably breathe a sigh of relief that he is gone. But the man tipped to succeed him may be just as brutal if not worse (he is alleged to have been the mastermind of Mugabe’s 2008 “coup”). As the bible says, there is nothing new under the sun.