Mugabe surrounded by 'Yes-Men'

HARARE - ‘Yes Prime Minister’ is a satirical British sitcom that was transmitted by BBC Television from 1986 to 1988.

The sitcom followed the events of the premiership of Jim Hacker after his unexpected elevation to Number 10 upon the resignation of the previous PM.

It is now almost 35 years since the election of President Robert Mugabe initially as Prime Minister and subsequently as president of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

There is a no doubt that president Mugabe is a man of flesh who cannot be presumed by any rational person to rise above the limitations imposed on any human being yet the events of the last few months would seem to suggest that he possesses superior powers over other human beings.

There are two versions of the man that seem to be at play — one projected by Didymus Mutasa, former Zanu PF secretary for administration, and the other by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the current co-VP of both the party and government.

Both gentlemen have known Mugabe for a very long time.

Mutasa, who is now outside the Zanu PF bus; believes strongly that the man, Mugabe; has been hijacked and as a consequence, the party has also been stolen by a power-hungry clique.

In an article titled: “Mutasa fires back,” published by the Daily News on January 18, 2015, Mutasa said that no one could expel him from the “real Zanu PF” and vowed to do everything to “rescue” the party from the brink of collapse.

Both Mnangagwa and Mutasa are in agreement that by real Zanu PF, they both mean Mugabe, whose personality and character has subsumed the party.

Like the rank and file membership of the party, the glue that keeps them together is the person of Mugabe.

So when reference is made to Zanu PF, what is implied is that the party is synonymous with the person of Mugabe.

It is self-evident from the unfolding events prior to and after the 6th congress of Zanu PF that both Mutasa and Mnangagwa and the constituencies they represent within the party remain loyal to Mugabe as an individual.

He regards the 6th congress as a “gathering of criminals” and the outcome as illegitimate and invalid.

Some would argue that this is a self-serving position as it would have been unlikely that he would have arrived at this conclusion if Mugabe had intervened in his favour as has been the case before.

Indeed, Mutasa has reasons to believe that he knows Mugabe better than many people yet in this last instalment of the long march, it would appear that Mugabe has turned his back on him and his fellow accused.

It is significant that notwithstanding the fact that Mutasa would not find himself like a barking dog outside a moving gravy train if the great leader did not consent to the actions, he still affectionately refers to the leader as his political father and that the same Mugabe who chose to keep driving the Zanu PF without Mutasa and crew did not reserve a seat for Mutasa in recognition of his loyalty to him.

To Mutasa, Mnangagwa is a beneficiary of theft and the real Zanu PF is one in which he remains Mugabe’s confidant and a passenger in the cockpit. 

The narrative of Mugabe takes a different spin when told by Mnangagwa who, in his farewell speech to party supporters in Chirumhanzu-Zibagwe, his former constituency, effectively sealed Mugabe’s legacy as a “tyrant” who wants to be associated by sycophants.

He is reported to have said that: “Some of us never questioned authority; we remained loyal to president Mugabe (Robert) and the ideals of the party. When we were assigned to various posts, we never complained or questioned but we just said, ‘yes sir’ until today. Those who complained, where are they now?” suggesting president Mugabe is allergic to alternative ideas and choices.

Mnangagwa confirmed a causal connection between his elevation to the position of one of two VPs of the state and party and his loyalty to the person of Mugabe.

He made the point that, loyalty to Mugabe has worked magic for him, a point that seems to have escaped Mujuru and company who evidently mistakenly assumed that Zanu PF and the person of Mugabe were two separate and distinct personalities.

Mnangagwa specifically draws a distinction between loyalty to Mugabe and the ideas of the party as if to suggest that in practice such a distinction exists.

What is clear to Mnangagwa and not to his former colleagues is that the ideals of the party are the ideals of Mugabe.

In making this point, one then has to recognise the futility of any legal or moral challenges to the wishes of the great leader for even if Mutasa were to succeed in asserting a perceived right that may have been injured by the manner in which Mujuru and company have been removed from the leadership positions of the party, it cannot be said that such a ruling by any court could be enforced in the party of “Yes-Men”.

Indeed, Mnangagwa as an obedient son of the leader, who also is the father to Mujuru and company, knows better that complaining or barking like a wounded dog will not assist their purported cause.

In fact, the First Lady made the same point as a warning to Mujuru and company but evidently they assumed that they knew president Mugabe better than what was the real case.

Mnangagwa makes the point that he knows Mugabe’s character and personality having worked with him since 1962.

Although Mugabe is a smart man, it cannot be said that he is a perfect man who needs to be surrounded by “Yes-Men” especially considering that under his watch, Rome has been burning and the visible signs are there to be seen even by his “Yes-Men”.

Mnangagwa also makes the point that: “We have ministers and deputies who were recalled last year because they wanted to put Zanu PF into their own pockets...Zanu PF is a big institution, it cannot fit into your pocket.”

It is common cause that Zanu PF only should exist through its members yet in this case a suggestion is made that by Zanu PF one means Mugabe.

With one great leader, Zanu PF as the recent events have confirmed is not a big institution but an extension of the personality and character of its undisputed leader.

In fact, what Mnangagwa implies in the above statement is that it is suicidal for anyone to attempt fit Mugabe into their pockets as evidently Mutasa is attempting to do by saying that he know the Leader better than the people he accuses of hijacking him.

With respect to the republican values that informs the Zimbabwean Constitution, Mnangagwa, a lawyer by training and presumably the chief legal advisor of the leader, remarked that:  “Let me just tell the youths here, in Harare, we have a road between Zimbabwe House and the State House; if you are on that road, you would think it is easy to turn to any of the places or to enter them, but let me just tell you this, a journey to China is shorter than getting into State House.”

In fact contrary to the assertion of Mnangagwa, the promise of independence was precisely to make the road to any destination including the highest office in the land easy and convenient to traverse.

By insinuating that the journey to China is shorter than getting into State House, he is effectively making a case against Mugabe’s political morality.

In a republican democratic constitutional order, the equality doctrine is a fundamental building block and any person who assumes or deludes himself into thinking that there can be a person of flesh who can rise above others in a manner that excludes others effectively cannot be regarded as a democrat. 

In the recent past, we have seen unlikely persons like US President Barack Obama and even SA President Jacob Zuma assume the highest offices in the land only because of the absence of “Yes-Men” in their countries.

With “Yes-Men”, change is not only an unwelcome development but goes against the grain of what is desirable for when “Yes-Men” surround a great leader, the leader automatically becomes a hostage to gossip and even distorted reality.

Independence promised a government of the people, by the people and for the people and certainly not a government of the leader and his crew, by the leader and his crew, and for the leader and his crew.

In South Africa, the last 21 years of democracy have produced four leaders and even Mnangagwa must agree that this is healthy for any democracy.

Independence promised political pluralism and the attendant diversity of ideas yet it is the considered opinion of Mnangagwa that democracy is an inconvenience and stands in the way of ambitious political actors.

I have no doubt that Mugabe, whose views on governance and democracy are well known, would have a problem at being labelled a dictator when he has steadfastly maintained that he is a product of the will of the people and not a creation of political intrigues and manipulation.

The record will show that Mugabe as Mutasa knew him before the 6th congress believed that no leader must be clothed with powers to anoint his successors and in actual fact, to amend the Zanu PF constitution undermines the values, principles and policies that made Mnangagwa and Mujuru and company belong to the same political family.

It cannot be disputed that Mnangagwa’s legitimacy to be a VP flows directly from the personal choice made by Mugabe and, therefore, his relevance will expire when the appointing authority vacates.

This poses the question as to the relationship between the VPs and the party when regard is had that at the last congress, it was only the relationship between the president and the party that was affirmed.

It is self-evident that only president Mugabe could keep warring Zanu PF factions on the same bus but now it would appear that he is no longer willing to be the glue that keeps the factions together and in so doing, has created a new super faction premised on the great leader principle with all its inherent dangers.

    Post a comment

    Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
    Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
    - Editor

    Your email address will not be shared.