'Mugabe's AU post immaterial'

HARARE - Analysts and prominent political figures say the assumption of the ceremonial chairmanship of the African Union by President Robert Mugabe will neither dim the critical spotlight on him and his warring Zanu PF party nor help to resolve Zimbabwe’s well-documented political and economic crisis of the past 15 years.

In interviews with the Daily News on Sunday yesterday, analysts also said it was very unlikely that Mugabe would also be able to impact positively on the myriad problems affecting the continent given the ceremonial nature of the position, his advanced age and Zanu PF’s ongoing factional and succession wars.

They said while the position was an honour for Zimbabwe — albeit a costly one for the cash-strapped country as Mugabe and his officials were likely to travel even more than before at a huge cost to the fiscus — a positive change in the country’s fortunes would only happen if Zimbabwe’s leaders improved their poor governance record.

“Of course, this is a huge honour for Zimbabwe to lead the AU. But just as we have seen with the president’s leadership of Sadc, that does not in itself translate to positive spin-offs for the country.

“The hope is that with the president back under the continental spotlight, this will by implication mean that both his government and his ruling party will realise that they too are even more under the microscope and hence the need to behave and govern the country better,” said analyst Shephard Muntungwa.

Ibbo Mandaza of the think tank SAPES said when individuals who became leaders of the AU chair were controversial figures like Mugabe, there was bound to be a lot of negative talk.

“But the post of AU chairmanship is not about individuals but the organisation itself. The question then is whether the organisation has the capacity to deal with conflict. Can they deal with Boko Haram, for example?

“Over the years the AU has shown that it has no capacity and one cannot therefore blame the incoming or outgoing chairman for its failures. At the end of the day, the post is ceremonial and is more rotational and less about heads of state.

“Who even knew the person Mugabe has replaced as AU chairman. It is only the controversy that surrounds Mugabe that is causing hype otherwise everyone will soon forget about him,” Mandaza said.

MDC spokesman Obert Gutu said Mugabe represented the past and not the future of Africa.

“Africa deserves a new breed of leaders who believe in transparency, democracy and good governance.

“Mugabe and Zanu PF stole the 2013 elections and it grossly offends all democratic and progressive-minded Africans to have the AU being led by a man who has trashed democracy in his own party and has reduced his own country from a breadbasket of the continent to a basket case,” he said.

Former Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said all patriotic Zimbabweans should welcome Mugabe’s appointment as AU chairman.

“We agree with his stance that African resources must be utilised by Africans for their benefit.

“We however would want to see more of what we preach, the democracy we talk about in flowery language being practiced at home. It must help us build truly democratic institutions which advance peace and tolerance not just talking about it at the top of our voices.

“We want to see the advancement of all forms of freedoms, including economic and freedom of expression,” Gumbo said.

Speaking at a Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI) public forum in Harare ahead of Mugabe’s assumption of the AU chairmanship, analyst Charles Mangongera the significance of the recently concluded Zambian elections was not so much its outcome, but the reception that Mugabe had got there.

This, he said, underscored the disdain that a growing number of people in the region now had towards the new AU and Sadc chairperson.

“Despite feeble attempts by ZBC and other State-run media houses to create the impression that Mugabe got a rousing reception, many neutral observers who have seen footage of the jeering would agree that this is a significant departure from the usual applause that Mugabe has always been greeted with when he graces regional capitals.

“Although it is probable that (Zambian opposition leader Hakainde) Hichilema’s supporters were frustrated by what they considered to be a rigged election, it is clear that their attitude towards Mugabe symbolises the resentment that many in the region and on the continent, particularly among the young generations, have towards Mugabe,” Mangongera said.

“The reason I am raising these matters is that as Mugabe assumes the chairmanship of the AU, there is an expectation that he will carry the monumental responsibility of dealing with the myriad challenges that the continent faces and therefore his stature and integrity will be very critical in determining the extent to which he is able to do this,” he added.

“In my view the Zambian incident, which as I have argued above, symbolises some kind of collective resentment of Mugabe, is a good measure of his reputation and stature in the region, which has obviously been dented by his continued stay in office and his brutal response to growing opposition especially in the period 2000-2008,” Mangongera said.

“But more importantly Africa faces the challenge of a growing population, which is increasingly becoming young, but has not enjoyed the fruits of independence for more than four decades now,” he said.

“The biggest problem today is that of a ruling class that seems so distant from the citizens, a ruling class that has used the State as an avenue for personal and factional elite accumulation at the expense of economic and social progress for a majority of the citizenry.”

“...Mugabe himself is a good example of this ruling class given the fact that he presides over an economy with 85 percent unemployment and in which half the country’s skilled personnel is in the Diaspora,” Mangongera said.

“Many on the continent, who are oblivious of the scale of Mugabe’s brutality, wonder why Zimbabweans have not occupied Africa Unity Square and sent him packing to Zvimba,” he said.

Zeroing in on what he called “the irony of Mugabe’s chairmanship of both Sadc and the AU in the context of events that we have seen unfolding in ZANU PF over the last three months” — which culminated in the brutal purging of former Vice President Joice Mujuru and her allies, Mangongera said this had precipitated a serious crisis in the ruling party.

“Hitherto this, Zanu PF had exhibited a façade of elite cohesion but the fissures finally resulted in an implosion that is unprecedented in the party’s 50-year history,” he said.

“It is highly unlikely that those who have now assumed control of the party apparatus will be able to reach out to those that were purged to rebuild elite consensus. It is also highly probable that Mugabe’s departure will take away any pretence of civility and bare knuckles fights will ensue as soon as he exits the stage, itself a threat not only to the party but also to national peace and stability,” the political scientist said.

“The question therefore becomes whether Mugabe will be able to deal with the myriad challenges that I cited above when he is faced with an imploding party back home,” he said.

“I submit that the fight to retain control of the party will consume Mugabe, who in any case is exhibiting signs of frailty, so much that he will not be able to offer the kind of leadership that is required to tackle the multiple crises the African continent faces.”

“As a shrewd power player Mugabe will be cautious to avoid the experience of former ANC and South African President Thabo Mbeki who became so consumed with his mediation role in the Zimbabwean crisis by the time he got off his private jet in Johannesburg to se that Luthuli House had recalled him from his position as President of the Republic,” Mangongera said.


Comments (22)

Those African leaders who approved our president to be the AU Chair, when our president will be longer in power, they will be be the ones to say Mugabe was a dictator like what happed to Idi Amin. Amin also become chair of OAU (AU) despite being ruthless but when he disposed African leaders said Amin was a dictator.

maths - 1 February 2015

This statement by Rugare Gumbo and many other black politicians has never made any sense to me “We agree with his stance that African resources must be utilised by Africans for their benefit”. Any government is responsible for whoever comes into their territory. I have not heard of instances where foreign powers came in the cover of darkness to mine or steal natural resources without the full knowledge of the respective governments. Are there any African governments giving foreigners resources for free? What is this idiot Gumbo talking about? It's laughable when idiot Mugabe says “Africa for Africans” and that “the colonialists missed oil”. Oil is explored by advanced equipment only found in the West or other advanced economies so Western companies have to do the oil drilling. As a result in Angola, for example, USA owns most of their oil there with the blessing of the government there. US companies, especially Chevron, dominate the market in Angola. Beligium's Petrofina, France's Elf, Italy's AGIP, Sweden's Svenska petroleum, Brazil's Petrobars, Japan's Mitsubishi and Britain's BP – are the other owners. It is the same story in Nigeria, Uganda, Chad, Cameron, Congo, Egypt and Libya and Algeria. Poor African countries have no choice in the matter. Let's see if the new AU chairman, Mugabe, can change this. Having an abundance of natural resources is one thing but exploring and exploitation of these natural resources is quite another. Money is needed to explore and exploit these natural resources which Africa does not have.

Musona - 1 February 2015

which explains why most African countries with the poorest people have the most richest natural resources. So what accounts for poverty and for their low GDP? the answer is because of their GMA.i.e their gross mental attitudes. Most of these leaders never think of improving their countries but rather think of themselves and families. The graph of where our country was before the mugabe administration took over is painful to look at. The question is, what is he capable of doing for Africa if he has grossly failed back home. No wonder the jeers he got in Zambia

pride - 1 February 2015

If Mugabe can fail to fix pot holes from state house to Munumotapa hotel , fix sewage pipes clogged with shiite at matapi hostels where shiite is always oozing day in day out then i am sorry AU is just a useless club of lazy idiots pretending to be african leaders .

Diibulaanyika - 1 February 2015

I have tried to think very hard how it is possible that the AU doesn't recognise that mugabe is a failure as we the people of zimbabwe unanimously lable him. what seems to defeat my logic and perhaps that of many of you my dear friends is that most if not all african leaders seem to see otherwise. the question that i am restling with right now is; are we wrong in our conclusion that mugabe is a failure or is there something that we as the people of zimbabwe have not understood that they understood? you see friends, we have for a long time passed these bad comments about this man but it seems to me that we have not looked inwardly perhaps for us to discover what it is that one man can be popular elsewhere while very unpopular at home. may be when we have discovered why this phenomenon, we may be able to make sense of what exactly is going on. until now, i remain confused.

taurai - 1 February 2015

persident Mugabe forever. long live president. u r an icon.

wind - 2 February 2015

What can you expect from a bunch of criminals and dictators-they will always back their kind. If they can not realise that Mugabe is too old to hold such a post then 'Cry the beloved Africa.' Then an idiot @wind talks of Mugabe forever. No counrty in the world has ever faced ruin like Zimbabwe under Mugabe. I know you benefit from the beers that Zanu buys you to keep Mugabe in power but stop and think of your chlidren and their children's chlidren.

Referee - 2 February 2015

Backward-looking people, people who blame colonialism and slavery for our own problems back Mugabe. It's much like how Jews never stop blaming Germans each time they want money or each time Palestine gets ears from this world. These are tactics used to control conciences of people. Forward-looking people look for present solutions to present challenges and bashing the west is surely not part of it.

selele - 2 February 2015

Its a rotational chairmanship

Cde Ben - 2 February 2015

The ruling parties and their associates are the ones stealing natural resources from African countries. In Zimbabwe diamonds were discovered and the government invited the Chinese but not even the Minister of Finance Tendai Biti knew what was happening the diamond revenues! Only ZanuPF mafia knows where the diamond money is. It is hypocritical for people like Mugabe or Gumbo to talk of people in African countries benefiting from natural resources because their party stole the diamonds NOT the foreigners. Equatorial Guinea's president's son is filthy rich he has homes (villas) in California and Paris with a fleet of expensive luxury cars all from his father who is stealing resources from the state. In Angola Dos Santos is the richest man in the country followed by his daughter - both stealing state resources - oil.

Musona - 2 February 2015

Thomas Sankara woye!!

selele - 2 February 2015

Theoretically, Sani Abacha, Nigeria's former military ruler, was a billionaire – and not in naira, but in dollars. Upon his death in 1998, the Nigerian government uncovered over $3 billion linked to the sadistic despot held in personal and proxy bank accounts in tax havens as diverse as Switzerland, Luxembourg, Jersey and Liechtenstein. Following a series of negotiations between the Nigerian government and the Abacha family, Abacha's first son, Mohammed eventually returned $1.2 billion to the Nigerian government in 2002.

Musona - 2 February 2015

Another theoretical billionaire was Mobutu Sese Seko, the former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over his 30-year reign as ruler of the resource-rich Central African country, Sese Seko amassed a personal fortune estimated by various sources (including Transparency International) at somewhere between $1 billion and $5 billion. Experts believe virtually all of it was illicitly acquired from the nation's coffers and stashed away in Swiss banks. While his reign lasted, Sese Seko earned an international notoriety as a poster boy for the excesses of typical African despots. He owned a string of exotic Mercedes cars and divided his time between plush palatial residences in Paris and Lausanne, Switzerland. He also developed a special taste for pink Champagne and flew in fresh cakes from Paris for his consumption.

Musona - 2 February 2015

But one of the wealthiest, albeit lesser-talked about African leaders to emerge from Africa is Nigeria's former military president, Ibrahim Babangida. The gap-toothed military general and self-acclaimed “Evil genius” is unofficially one of the richest men in Nigeria and in Africa. The 70 year-old former military ruler governed Nigeria from 1985 to 1993 and is widely believed to have laundered some $12 billion earned from an oil windfall during the 1992 Gulf War. To date, Babangida has not provided any reasonable account for the money –all of which disappeared mysteriously. Since incredibly wealthy and influential Nigerians are typically above the law, Babangida walks around as a free man today. At the moment, Babangida's wealth is invested through several proxies in a string of businesses owned or managed by wealthy Nigerian businessmen. One of the more popular Nigerians who has consistently been fingered as a front man for Babangida's financial interests is billionaire Mike Adenuga who debuted on the FORBES World's Billionaires list in March 2011.

Musona - 2 February 2015

Equatorial Guinea's President, Teodorin Obiang, who has ruled the poverty-stricken, albeit oil-rich country for 32 years (2011). Obiang is the only African dictator whose wealth has been estimated by FORBES. But Obiang is stupendously wealthy by any standards. In 2006, FORBES estimated his fortune at $600 million, and even though his government frowned on the list and was quick to accuse FORBES of counting state property as his personal assets, it has been well established that Obiang has a virtual grip on the country's bank accounts and treats it as his personal piggy bank. Obiang's eldest son has gained an international infamy for his outlandish lifestyle and expensive toys, which include a $10 million car collection, a $30 million Malibu mansion, a $38.5 million Gulfstream jet and $2 million of Michael Jackson memorabilia.

Musona - 2 February 2015

In Kenya, there is former president Daniel Arap Moi, who is unofficially one of the richest men in the country. During his 28-year rule, which lasted from 1978 to 2002, Moi famously channeled nearly a billion dollars from his country's coffers to family-owned bank accounts and private estates across the world using a web of shell companies, secret trusts and front men, according to Kroll Associates, a corporate investigation and risk consultancy company. Kroll produced a detailed report of Moi's illicitly acquired fortune. According to the report, Moi's assets, some of which are held in his children's name, include substantial cash reserves to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, a 10,000-hectare farm in Australia and controlling stakes in oil companies, banks and shipping companies, among other concerns. But don't expect the aged former president to be prosecuted any time soon; he has since settled into retirement and has now taken upon the rather fashionable role of elder statesman. He used to advise the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on matters of state.

Musona - 2 February 2015

Maybe Rugare Gumbo wanted to say “We agree with his (Mugabe's) stance that African resources must be utilised by African Heads of State for their personal benefit” NOT ordinary African folk.

Musona - 2 February 2015

Taurai -that is a valuable contribution. We Africans are not serious people by nature, and hence the failure of the African continent. RG Mugabe is actually a sick man who suffers from (NPD) Narcissistic Personality Disorder. That is the reason why we are a failed state and no democracy here in this country. Do you remember Mnangagwa saying that he is where he is by remaining a yes man? He meant every word he said! RG does not take opinions and oppositions. He believes in steeling the thunder all way. Because of his condition, he believes that he should be loved by the population, he comes up with populist policies which have dismally failed our country. So why have Zanu-PF left him this long? A few individuals have tried and have had their fingers raped up. Collectively Zanu-PF have not tried to remove him because, by nature, we Africans are selfish. Take a look at the recent 6th congress, the idea was to vote RG to go on retirement, alas that was not to be. Why? selfishness. 80% of Zanu-PF members are there the Mafia protection and spoils. That is the plain phenomenon of our society. No shame.

Mbareboy - 2 February 2015

It should have read as: 80% of Zanu-PF members are there for the Mafia protection and spoils.

Mbareboy - 2 February 2015


Psychology Mazivisa - 3 February 2015

This is just a piece of sour grapes from the idiotic and puppet paper which the daily news has entrenched itself in. This is not news its just hogwash and wishful thinking.

reason - 3 February 2015

don't worry guys, one has already said it all that it a rotational appointment. @ the other end look @ it this way: you have an unwanted sick & unproductive donkey of an old age. The only way to get rid of it {if it doesn't want to rest by itself} is to give it hard work & lots of load. it will not surely bare the burden and will soon die. They are appointing the old man positions which are not consistent with his age, health & abilities. The concept is: lets get him to get exhausted as much as possible so that he runs out. KKKKKKK hhehehehahaeheh pidigu pasi dhiii...

springboard - 3 February 2015

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