Mugabe's vindictive rule

HARARE - ON July 27, President Mugabe addressed a huge crowd at Bulawayo’s White City Stadium.

He made a number of pledges, among them reviving industries and bringing water to the city.

“We have to look at the situation of our people in urban areas . . . water, water, water...We did Mtshabezi Dam long ago to bring water to Bulawayo . . . these areas have to be looked at.

“I mentioned water without addressing the situation. I understand that lapha koBulawayo you are getting water three times a week? Why? There is no water? Ligeza ngaphi?”

The problem of water in Bulawayo is common and causes known; so the question “why?,” was merely rhetorical.

After all, this is the city that attracted international headlines when it proposed days and times that residents would conduct synchronised flushing of toilets.

Innovative but embarrassing.  International media described the sessions as the “big flush”,with an obvious tinge of derision.

“So, we will do our best and it is an urgent matter,” Mugabe intoned.

“You can’t have people in a city like this one not having adequate water. There has to be adequate water.”

Mugabe also said it was imperative for Bulawayo to retain its status as the industrial hub of Zimbabwe, regaling the crowd with a tale about how he followed his own father to the city many years ago.

“This is the City of Kings, it’s the city that has made many people. It is the city that once upon a time prided itself as leading in industry. Young men drifted to this city. Even my father drifted here. For 10 years he was here and I also followed him. It is Bulawayo that has a history that we can never forget.”

Mugabe may want to reflect on the cause of closures of these industries since the days of his father in the city and today when he is president; also whether the indigenisation scheme, in its current incarnation, would help resuscitate these firms and create jobs for people in the city.

Water shortages and deindustrialisation are not peculiar to Bulawayo.  These are problems that have affected Harare too, where Mugabe held his last rally. Again, he made a number of promises that would, presumably, help uplift the human conditions of Hararians.

He would suffer “heart failure”, he said, if Harare went to the MDC.

To Mugabe’s chagrin, Harare and Bulawayo did not seem to take heed of his emotional blackmail; they, largely, voted MDC. 

Mugabe, nonetheless, won the hotly disputed election.  But it appears he cannot get over his rejection by residents of the two cities.

He seems to have disowned the people of Bulawayo and Harare as a result.

So the water problems in Bulawayo (and of course Harare) he said needed urgent redress suddenly no longer concern him?  Bulawayo, a city he claimed to be connected to through his father’s southward sojourn?

The socio-economic hardships caused by deindustrialisation, evoking Mugabe’s memories of yesteryear, no longer matter? 

So much for electioneering.
Mugabe’s vengeful demeanour can be described as “vindictive rule.” 

Or “selective rule,” which is not exactly new if you consider beneficiaries of Zanu PF policies over the years.

Deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi was toppled after millions of Egyptians took to the streets, demanding he step down over what they saw as his failure to act as the president of all Egyptians and his attempts to monopolise power and serve only his Muslim Brotherhood group’s interests.

Of course Mugabe is secure and is unlikely to suffer a Mursi-like rebellion. 

Mugabe’s remarks, though, belie a deep-seated problem that has stood in the way of a democratic ethos since independence. It is that undiminished desire for a one-party State. 

The premise being everyone should vote for him and his party.

This disposition explains the now commonplace persecution of members of the opposition, some reported to have gone to live in mountains soon after the recent election, following threats.

And now, vindictive rule, much more structural than physical in nature, designed to hurt residents of the country’s two main cities.

Mugabe should be a “national” president.

“National” as opposed to “party” presidency should rise above party political interests, post-election.

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