It is not clear what sit-tightism had to do with drab speeches of sit-tight leaders. Last Thursday, 22nd August 2013 was another “inauguration” of Robert Gabriel Mugabe. The inauguration word-count of the last old man in the world to be sworn in 7th time for another 5-year time in office was almost 4000. The diatribe dubbed speech tasked the listeners (who are certainly as many as those who boycotted the predictable polls that made him another “winner”). The word count competes with his long reign! Obviously there was truly a long diatribe in Africa before Mugabe and there may very well be after him as long as Africans have no zero-tolerance to dictatorship. Perhaps the late former umpteenth (?) Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi at the 64th general Assembly of the United Nations (UN) in New York in 2009 could have beaten President Mugabe’s record in incoherence, self-praise, arrogance and demagoguery packaged as an address. In his list of protocols were “Representatives of War Veterans, Detainees, Restrictees and War collaborators”. This underscores the biometrics of citizenship in Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s 30 years in office. Mugabe with tougue in cheek acknowledged “Former Heads of State and Government” and “Outgoing members of cabinet” . Just think about it; if all former Heads of states were to sit-tight like Mugabe, could
there have been “Former Heads of State and Government” and “Outgoing members of cabinet at inauguration?
My findings show that in Nigeria, from President Shehu Shagari in 1980s to President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014, as many as 9 Heads of States had witnessed Mugabe’s serial inaugurations and left him behind. If Meseuir Mugabe were to be a British Prime Minister through his hide and sit-tight game, the British would not have known such Prime Ministers as Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Prime Minister David Donald Cameron. Mugabe came to power almost same time Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher came to office. Of course if Mugabe were to be a Chinese, Li Xiannia, Yang Shangkun, Deng Xiaoping , Jiang Zemin Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping and the Incumbent XII Li Yuanchao could not have been Presidents of the fastest growing economy in the world compared to impoverised Zimbabwe. Robert Mugabe came to power when Ronald Reagan was in power. The two “Bushes” namely George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton met and left him in office. Indeed President Barack Obama was in the college in the 80s when Mugabe was already a President. By Mugabe’s design, Obama may very well complete two terms in
office before he completes his 7th tenure ! If Mugabe were to be a South African, there would not have been a Nelson Mandela to succeed him! We would have been crudely denied a global moral authority on freedom, democracy, reconciliation and peace that Mandela represents. Since Mugabe came to office as many as 7 Presidents had emerged in South Africa. Four actually were democratically elected after apartheid; namely Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 10 May 1994 – 16 June 1999, Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki 16 June 1999 – 24 September 2008 (Recalled from office), Petrus Kgalema (Kgalema) Mothlanthe 25 September 2008 – 9 May 2009 and Jacob Zuma 9 May 2008 – up to date. Mugabe shared statesmanship with apartheid Presidents; Pieter Willem (PW) Botha 3 September 1984 – 15 August 1989 (Resigned), Chris Heunis 19 January – 15 March 1989 and Frederik Willem (FW) de Klerk 15 August 1989 – 9 May 1994.
Reading the mind of RGM through his inaugural address the continent would have to wait for long to see his back. His speech was certainly not a farewell one. Indeed it might very well be a beginning of history of his elongated rule. A man with selective sense of justice who accepted to be happily knighted in the 90s by the Queen under Lancaster House constitution, said his new reelection is the “first ..under a new home-grown Constitution”! Note the “first” , not his last reelection. 33 years after independence, RGM’s selling point was still colonialism, not open unemployment as high as 80 per cent, multiple digit inflation and currency devaluation and unprecedented human drain in modern Africa. Indeed his opponent in the polls was “Lord Luggard the author of this anti-African, neo-colonial notion” ( his words!) But it was Sir RGM, not Lord Lugard who brutally suppressed Zimbabwean patriots like Joshua Nkomo, Herbert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara, Ndabaningi Sithole, Abel Muzorewa, Edgar Tekere, Byron Hove, Margaret Dongo and left 13 million people with a no-challenger called Morgan Tsvangirai.
According to RGM’ election was over. His speech was however hunted by the spectre of the very election. He almost defined the world in terms of “Our enemies and detractors”! Even friends were qualified; “Genuine friends”. Increasingly xenophobic and insular RGM blackmailed all with the land question. Witness him; “Yes, we regained control over our land and our people are happy. They revel in the ownership of that land which has now come. They are beginning to use it profitably, using it for durable wherewithal.” It is an open knowledge that Zimbabwe is less food secured than when he came to power despite his vote-
catching land reform. But is RGM’ the only land reformer in a country of 13 million people that must cling to power for so long? RGM hinges his sit-tightism to “…. African values” . But it’s time we reminded Mugabe of some time tested African proverbs on the pitfalls of greed, including greed for power; “Greed loses what it has gained.” “.If a greedy eater is near a patient, such a patient can never survive”; “The wealth of the greedy ultimately goes to the community.”
Issa Aremu mni