As the news broke that Robert Mugabe has been ousted in a peaceful military coup, I didn’t know whether to celebrate or commiserate. The news filtered through with mixed feelings because on the one hand, his role in the Zimbabwean revolution can’t be ignored whilst on the other, the systemic decline of all the institutions in what was a promising nation is inexcusable.
After 37 years in power, some questions come back to bite all of Africa- what was he thinking? Why are African leaders so addicted to power? Do they understand the essence of seeking power? Are they oblivious to history? Why have we Africans accepted bad governance for too long? Why do we tolerate thieving leaders? Why are we so indifferent in the face of gross injustice and unacceptable pilfering of public funds? These questions baffle me and the answers to them I seek during this existence.
The wretched statistic is that no matter how fanciful we try to cover-up Mugabe’s reign, it has been nothing but an abject disaster. But this scenario is all the same over our great continent. His young wife’s influence over him is pitiful. At 93 years of age, it never dawn on him that he was too old to lead a country. What was important to him was his and his wife’s vanity. As they looted from the state’s funds and funded a lifestyle of exaggerated luxury, they never thought a day like this was practical.
Mugabe was very old and unable to walk without support for more than a few minutes but was going to stand for re-election again at next year’s presidential election. Sad but not uncommon. His wife Grace Mugabe, 41 years his junior was been prepared as a successor should he die in office or unable to continue. If one told you this, you would have to pinch yourself to make sure you are not dreaming. But this is a very familiar scenario around Africa in the 21st century.
Is it any surprise that in the twenty-first century many countries and races around the world still look upon the African continent and Africans with incredulity? The fact is whilst millions in Zimbabweans languished in poverty, Grace Mugabe bought properties in Singapore and Malaysia. Whilst, the country is undergoing inflation at a level last seen only in 1920’s Germany, Robert Mugabe and his family continued to hang on to power with nothing to offer.
As this episode ends in the history of Zimbabwe, where next in Africa would the military/people stand up to the psychosis that is now a normalcy in Africa? Whilst gaining power through elections is the acceptable way to leadership in a civilised society, it appears to me that the only way to oust these dictators and bandits is through force.
Whatever happens now to Robert and Grace Mugabe, I hope the other longstanding offenders around our continent are watching their backs.
By Ashu Asu, London