‘Bootlicking’ Mugabe pays off


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ZIMBABWE – Just last week, I engaged the party’s spokesman, Rugare Gumbo, on the issue of Chipangano. I wanted to know from him whether it was Zanu (PF) policy to deploy terror gangs to undermine development projects carried out by NGOs, CSOs, political parties and individuals.His response was: “As the President said at the Heroes Acre, blah, blah, blah…” I stopped listening after the first three words.

That line has been repeated ad nauseum, and I know the reason why. It is not genuine deference, stupid, but a simulation of admiration that seems to be working for this very dishonest, cowardly and wily lot.

History is rich with dramatic versions of the faked grovelling that has worked. Remember Patrick Chinamasa? After the botched Tsholotsho coup d’etat, he went straight before Mugabe, kneeled down and wept.

I have often wondered how his wife, children and close associates felt about that, but who cares? The means justifies the ends; Chinamasa was kept in the gravy train and he is still laughing all the way to the bank.

Then there was Obert Mpofu, Mugabe’s “ever obedient son”. He made that a trademark way of signing off his letters to the President, and I am sure he is not in the mood to abandon that any time soon.

Look at the guy now. He calls himself the King of Matabeleland -and rightly so. He has diamonds on the soles of his shoes, thanks to Mugabe gifting him with the Mines ministry. He has just bought a whole bank, owns conservancies whose size is perhaps bigger than some European countries. He has bought almost all of Bulawayo and he is still active on the market.

Again, who cares? If calling yourself an ever obedient son is what will make you a king, why not just go ahead and call yourself that? The formula, as seen from the preceding, is simple: Stroke Mugabe’s ego, let him go to sleep then dash out to steal or build whatever your heart desires. They are employing that formula in Zanu (PF) and it’s working big time.

It does not mean they like him, no. I have often heard them complain that the old man has overstayed his welcome in the party, all after proclaiming their allegiance to him from the rooftops.

As we all know by now, Zanu (PF) has become so riven with factions it is hardly recognizable. Bitter rivals are burning the overnight candle, plotting how to take over from their leader, and stepping on each other’s toes along the way.

Yet they are united in one thing—singing praises for Mugabe. This is by no means a mere coincidence. They have realised that their power and chances of survival lie with feigning powerlessness before Mugabe.

I will never be convinced that those who publicly crawl before Mugabe mean good to him. That cannot be, because he has in one way or another hurt or humiliated most of them before. For instance, how can the mainstream Mnangagwa faction have respect for Mugabe after what he did to its members after Tsholotsho?

Remember Mnangagwa himself was banished to the vague ministry of Rural Amenities, six provincial chairpersons were suspended from the party and Joice Mujuru was made Vice President, all to spite the Tsholotsho coup plotters.

Remember also that, recently, District Coordinating Committees were disbanded at a time when Mnangagwa was gaining ground ahead of Joice Mujuru.

Well, politics has always been a dirty game, but it would always be difficult to believe Mnangagwa and his followers are sincere when they proclaim allegiance to Mugabe. All they are doing is trying to find a firm position from which to plot their next move. They surely don’t care if Mugabe is dead or live. They might actually prefer that he were dead. They are the Cassiuses of Zanu (PF).

As Caesar says, “Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.”

The same applies to the Mujuru faction. There are so many things that people in that camp do not like about how Mugabe has treated them. I am sure Ray Kaukonde would be the first to agree with me here. It is no secret that members of this group wanted Mugabe to go in 2007.

That is why one of them, Simba Makoni, broke away and led a loose coalition on the eve of the 2008 general elections. Of course, that does not make Mugabe a stupid person. I am convinced that he knows exactly what is happening. He knows the look in Cassius’ eye – but he does not care because it is just that duplicity that has kept him in power for so long. In their treacherous attempts to align with him, they have also become fodder for him. His use of the divide and rule strategy has been made easier by the grovellers.

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