ZIMBABWE – Wait! I apologize for even thinking about it. Giving birth to a child does not make one a parent. Even kids are mothers today but they are not parents. Being a parent is a lifelong vocation that eludes many grown-ups.
As in dynasties, ‘like father, like son’ is a process, not an incident. A mother is not necessarily a parent and a parent is not necessarily a mother. That is why dynasties, especially political dynasties, are always viewed with suspicion and rightly so.
Once in office or position of power, there is no telling as to what lengths a ruler might go to short-circuit the wishes of the people and conceive a way for one’s own offspring or chosen favorite to take over after his demise.
Ian Khama’s ascendancy to the presidency of Botswana, although intricately camouflaged, was not by accident nor was it through sheer political perseverance on his part.
How do we rate Laurent Kabila and his son Joseph Kabila in DR Congo with Jomo Kenyatta and his son Uhuru Kenyatta in Kenya?
The fact is that when a relative succeeds another, there is always suspicion as to how that happened. Some are separated by time (Jomo and Uhuru Kenyatta), removing suspicion – yet others, (Laurent and Joseph Kabila) are an obvious denial of people’s freedom to choose.
The United States is no stranger to dynasties. Hilary Clinton is trying for another Clinton occupancy of the White House. There have been other families before the Clintons.
The Bushes have a desire for a third Bush in the White House but things are not going well at the moment.
There were, of course, the Kennedys before them and also the Roosevelts but only two families have produced a father and a son president for the US, starting with America’s second president, John Adams, whose son, John Quincy Adams, became America’s sixth President.
More recently, George H. W. Bush was America’s 41st president and his son, George W. Bush became the country’s 43rd president.
Last week, Justin Pierre Trudeau won national elections to become Prime Minister of Canada, a position his father, Pierre Trudeau, who died in 2000, held for a total of 15 years until 1984.
I will not waste time on the rubbish of British and European ‘monarchs’.
Unlike in many African countries and in the nonsensical Arab “kingdoms” where a president literally bequeaths a country to his son, dynasties in western countries appear to emanate from efforts of an individual family member wanting to achieve what another member of the same family achieved or better.
They go through the rigorous party and national elections and that is why their dynasties are envied because of the effort invested.
Zimbabwe is on the verge of “installing” a dynasty. This is both a worrisome and frightening development because it is a dynasty born out of nepotism and a desperate need to hide the excesses of a family that has ruined a once prosperous nation.
Robert Mugabe is now tired, ailing and weak and is no longer in a position to put in a full day’s work. His family, having amassed great wealth, is all too aware that things will drastically change against them should the old man drop dead.
Mugabe himself has clung to power not because he actually wanted to but because he is using the presidency as a shield against prosecution. He has killed too many people and stolen too much from the nation that if he ever steps down, he will leave State House for the grave or for prison on his way to the grave.
No one can rule Zimbabwe with Mugabe alive either in or outside Zimbabwe.
With his nephews in business and cabinet, his wife doing pretty much as she pleases with people and the country, Mugabe is preening his ambitious wife, Grace, to take over the presidency – something that will allow him to step aside and rest while enjoying the protection and lifestyle he has been used to for the last 35 years.
Grace, while a novice with no political power base of her own, has the advantage of sleeping in the same bed with Mugabe: she knows everything about him, security, health, weaknesses, strengths (if any) and can push people around in her husband’s name.
She has amassed wealth, seized farms and other properties and has shown a disdain for the so-called ordinary Zimbabweans.
Her life-style is at odds with everything going on among the people in the country. Grace is vindictive, revengeful, and greedy; she is in a hurry to fortify protection for her ill-gotten properties.
As Mugabe watched, she burst on the political stage drooling with hate and threats. She managed to split the ruling party in two, resulting in the firing of a vice president and more than half the cabinet, not to mention the larger part of national party officials.
Only those who literally worshipped her survived and from these survivors emerged the two vice presidents of whom she said they take notes while she is talking to them.
Only two weeks ago she threatened the vice presidents and cabinet ministers, reminding them that they are not elected officials but hand-picked functionaries. She made them aware that she has the power to send them packing.
She addresses rallies around the country where she goes by helicopter with a full retinue of security and motorcade once only mounted for Mugabe alone.
One of the vice presidents, Phelekezela “Bully Of Gaborone” Mphoko, has been singled out to drive to each and every rally she addresses just to introduce her before she makes her speech although Mphoko is senior to her in the party. (Mphoko is remembered as the Zimbabwe ambassador who roughed up a reporter when he was stationed in Botswana).
Now, she has, once again, split the half of the party she had “kept” for her husband, effectively indicating that she too is in the running “to succeed” Mugabe, a development that leaves the other expectant vice president, Emerson Mnangagwa, dazed.
Now, there is talk among her people to actually institute a constitutional amendment to re-introduce a clause requiring a woman in the party’s presidium, which is made up of three people: Mugabe and his two vice presidents.
The degradation of the nation by Grace Mugabe is painful to watch as people, from cabinet ministers to vendors, are humiliated and threatened daily.
To see a cabinet minister kneeling before Grace Mugabe is the ultimate embarrassment a man could ever be subjected to.
It is worse than embarrassing to look at Grace Mugabe and think of her as the mother of the nation, especially when I think of the hundreds and hundreds of children she made homeless earlier this year after forcibly acquiring a farm to make way for her wildlife sanctuary.
It remains to be seen if some elements within Mugabe’s party will resist the schemes by the materialistic First Lady, nicknamed “Gucci Grace” for her penchant for expensive lifestyle.